LAST UPDATED: November 7, 2019
Best Cycling Backpacks: A Comfortable and Waterproof Way to Carry Gear
Pack everything you need when commuting by bike with these top cycling backpacks
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON November 7, 2019
If you commute by bike, one of the biggest obstacles is carrying all your work gear. It might be a laptop or a full change of clothes and heavy-duty bicycle lock, but either way, a basket probably isn’t going to suffice. Whether you’re cycling for business or pleasure, you need something you can rely on to keep your stuff safe, dry, and easily accessible. Take a look at our cycling backpack top picks for a convenient solution to your luggage needs.
Thirty-liter water-resistant TPU and canvas roll-top backpack with an expandable main compartment designed for up to 15-inch laptops or other large essentials. Includes a ventilated back panel and removable sternum strap for guaranteed comfort and a range of secure pockets and attachment points for maximum usability.
- Available in different colors for custom styling
- Added extras include elastic side pocket for water bottle or bike lock, on-strap bottle opener, and loop attachment for safety light
- Although the material is water-resistant, rain can get in through a roll-top opening
- Internal frame structure affects balance and can cause the pack to fall over
This daypack's large compartment can fit a hydration system or be used as a laptop pocket. The bag includes side pockets and a front pocket for extra items. It's available in 10 different colors.
- Mesh die-cut back panel is ventilated, and the straps are breathable and well-padded
- You can adjust the chest strap for comfort, and the bag is compact yet fits a lot of items
- Bag does not fit properly on larger people
- Water bottles may slip out of the side pockets
- Main zipper doesn't operate very smoothly
This hydration pack includes a two-liter bladder and has a total capacity of 18 liters. The shoulder, chest, and waistbands are adjustable, and the bungee cord system can hold a cycling helmet.
- You can fit a lot of things in this day pack, and it's durable
- BPA-free for safety and has reflective stripes for visibility
- It fits a wide range of people, small and large
- Zippers may fail prematurely, and the straps are a little wide and stiff
- Tube for the bladder is also a little long
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Cycling Backpacks
- Carry your necessities. Whether you're a commuter or simply like to ride your bike on weekends, a good cycling backpack will carry all sorts of supplies, from a laptop to extra clothing to your wallet and keys.
- Lightweight. Whether you're looking for the best budget cycling backpack or a more upscale design, both have one thing in common: They're lightweight. Unless you plan a cross-country expedition and require a bigger bag, cycling backpacks are strong yet won't weigh you down.
- Affordable. Since biking backpacks are typically small and compact, they aren't very expensive. They're a great investment if you need storage and don't want to put bags on the bike itself.
Types of Cycling Backpacks
It's important to drink a lot of water if you plan on riding all day. Fortunately, there are a lot of lightweight hydration pack options that can take care of your needs. In addition to a reservoir that holds liquids, these bags also contain storage space for other essential items.
This type of backpack looks similar to a standard backpack you may see on a hiker. They generally feature 20 liters or less of storage space. You can typically fit laptops and other gear inside of them, and they are ideal for day trips. They are small and compact.
This type of backpack is designed with the hardcore cyclist in mind. They typically have between 20 and 30 liters of storage space and are useful if you plan on taking an extended trip or need a lot of gear when going on a mountain bike adventure. They're built for comfort when riding long distances.
Bike messenger Rob Honeycutt founded Timbuk2 in his San Francisco garage in 1989. The company designs a variety of backpacks, messenger bags, and travel bags, including the Timbuk2 Spire Backpack.
Osprey, based in Southwest Colorado, was founded in 1974. The company is renowned for its high-quality packs, which include everything from backpacking and climbing packs to small hydration bike packs. We recommend the Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack.
TETON Sports is based in Cedar Hills, Utah, and designs a wide variety of outdoor gear, including sleeping bags, cots, tents, hammocks, and backpacks. One popular product is the TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack.
Cycling Backpacks Pricing
- Under $50: You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a decent quality cycling backpack. Options in this range may have fewer features and may not be as durable as higher-end products.
- $50 and up: More expensive backpacks may have more storage space and feature water-resistant material. These backpacks tend to be more durable.
It's not hard to work up a sweat if you're an avid cyclist, and it can be very uncomfortable when your backpack sticks to your shirt. If you want the best backpack for cycling, look for products made out of breathable fabric and/or mesh that promote air flow, so you're not dripping wet when you ride.
Determine how much storage you need before investing in a cycling backpack. It's a personal preference; some people want to carry a lot of items, while others prefer a more minimal approach. It's good to have at least a couple of pockets to store items such as your cell phone and keys. You may also want a bag that can hold an iPad or laptop.
An inferior backpack will dig into your shoulders and constrict your neck. A backpack should be comfortable when you're riding and stay put as you pedal. The best cycling backpacks for commuting will have extra padding in the straps as well as adjustable chest and waist straps. Extra padding will also allow you to carry heavier items.
While you may not plan on riding in the rain, sometimes the weather changes unexpectedly. Ideally, you should purchase a cycling backpack that stays dry when exposed to wet conditions. Look for water-resistant material, or alternatively invest in a rain cover to keep your items protected in a downpour.
- Reflective Properties. Safety is paramount when you're riding your bike, and you want people to see you on the road, particularly if you ride in low-light conditions. Some bags have reflective accents that alert other road users to your presence. You can also buy a reflective cover to make yourself more conspicuous.
- Bike Light Attachment. While reflective details are helpful in promoting visibility, if you want extra protection, look for backpacks that allow you to attach a bike light to them. A light has to shine on reflective stripes to make you more visible, while a bike light alerts others to your presence without that condition.
- Laptop Pocket. If you use your bike to commute to work, you may have to travel with your laptop. Many cycling backpacks have padded pockets and sleeves designed especially to protect your electronic devices. Generally, backpacks can accommodate 15-inch laptops. However, there are some brands that can fit those that are slightly larger.
Best Cycling Backpacks Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This water-resistant TPU and canvas roll-top backpack has a 30-liter capacity. It features a ventilated back panel and removable sternum strap for comfort. The bag has a laptop sleeve that can hold a 15-inch computer, books, jacket, or other large items. It also has smaller compartments for a phone, writing utensils, etc.
The Spire backpack comes in several different colors, including black and navy blue. It has webbing and external pockets for a bike lock, carabiners, or a water bottle. The bag is lightweight and very compact when it's loaded. It also sits high on your back, which is great for cycling.
One downside with this bag is that rain may get in through the roll top opening, even though the material is water-resistant. Also, the internal frame structure can cause the pack to fall over, and if you have a laptop that's bigger than 15 inches, you may not be able to close the bag properly.
This textile day pack has a large main compartment, which can be used as a hydration reservoir pocket or to accommodate a tablet or 14-inch laptop. There are two stretchy mesh side pockets for water bottles and other items, as well as a front pocket with a mesh organizer and key clip.
The Daylite bag comes in 10 different colors and has a mesh-covered, die-cut foam back panel that is both comfortable and ventilated. The chest strap is also adjustable for added comfort, and the straps and the back of the pack are breathable and well-padded. The bag is designed to attach to other Osprey packs, and while it's small, it packs a lot more than you’d expect.
However, the side pockets are a little shallow, and water bottles may fall out. Also, it may be difficult to open and close the main zipper. In addition, if you're a larger person, the pack won't fit your frame properly.
This 18-liter backpack comes with a two-liter hydration bladder that's durable and easy to clean. It features a notched foam stabilizer and mesh for comfort and adjustable shoulder, chest, and waist bands to accommodate men, women, and children of various sizes. It also has a bungee cord system for cycling helmets.
The bag is robust and very spacious. Even with the hydration system, you can still fit a lot of items into the backpack. It features reflective stripes for visibility and it’s BPA-free. The backpack fits well even if you're 6 feet tall and 300 pounds. Overall, it's a great alternative to more expensive day packs.
One issue is the tube from the bladder is a little long and may not stay tucked into the bladder pocket very well. Also, some users have complained that the zipper breaks after a short period of use. In addition, the shoulder straps are wide and a little stiff.
The Miracol backpack comes with thermal insulation to keep your drinks cool for up to four hours. It's ideal for running, hiking, cycling, and biking when you need to keep your body well-hydrated. The backpack is also very durable thanks to military-grade materials and able to keep your stuff safe in different conditions. The backpack has multiple pockets to store all your necessities, from larger items to accessories such as phones, keys, and more. The built-in 2L bladder also allows you to carry your water conveniently. It's made from EVA material and is BPA-free, which makes it safe for use. Furthermore, the backpack is made from quality and durable materials, so you'll use it for quite a while.
The backpack might become uncomfortable after a while, though. If you need one to bring on long rides, we recommend some of the other options above. This particular backpack gets heavy when fully loaded, and the waist strap tends to ride up.
This is a tactical backpack made of heavy-duty materials that repel water and are impact-resistant. The military-grade webbing is sturdy, reliable, and anti-fading. You'll be able to use it for cycling, backpacking, hiking, and much more. Additionally, the backpack has ergonomically designed straps padded with foam to fit the shoulders, chest, and waist comfortably. Drivers can enjoy rides while easily carrying all of their necessities. The backpack features one main pocket to fit a 3L water reservoir and two front pockets for storing all the small items. The hydration bladder is made of BPA-free and tasteless TPU materials, and it has a quick-release valve for easy water refills. There's also a 360-degree rotatable mouthpiece to ensure easy drinking and an on/off valve to adjust the water flow.
However, we recommend cleaning the hydration bladder before usage because it might have a chemical smell. Also, some users complained about the design of the water delivery system. It seems that the system doesn't deliver water quickly enough for drinking while riding.
- Whether you’re commuting or cycling for pleasure, there are some features you need to take into account when choosing a good backpack: size, breathability, level of waterproofing, and how comfortable it is to carry.
- Even if you’re wearing a hi-vis jacket, a cycling backpack will greatly reduce how visible you are to motorists in the dark. You can affix reflective tape or select a pack made from reflective material.
- Decide what you’ll be using the cycling backpack for before buying so you can be sure it meets your needs. Do you need a hydration bladder for expedition-level trips? How about space for shoes and a helmet or separate pockets for wet gear?
Q: How big does my cycling backpack need to be?
It depends what you’re carrying and, in most cases, bigger doesn’t always mean better. The best cycling backpacks are big enough to carry everything you need but aerodynamic enough that they don’t affect your stability on the bike.
Q: Why can’t I find a completely waterproof cycling backpack?
Actual 100 percent waterproof backpacks are hard to come by because the material needed to provide that level of protection can be extraordinarily heavy. Most are made from treated, water-resistant material, and a high-quality nylon shell should be sufficient for most people.
Q: Can I put my cycling backpack in the washing machine if it gets sweaty?
Check the individual care instructions for your cycling backpack. Each is constructed differently with different materials, and machine washing often ruins the water-resistance of a fabric.
Available in a range of colors and with a whole host of extras, the Timbuk2 Spire Backpack is our top cycling backpack.
Our best value pick is the versatile Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack.