Best Cycling Backpacks: A Comfortable and Waterproof Way to Carry Gear

Pack everything you need when commuting by bike with these top cycling backpacks

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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.

  • Best Overall
    Timbuk2 Spire Backpack
    Summary
    Summary

    Thirty-litre 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 ventilated back panel and removable sternum strap for guaranteed comfort and a range of secure pockets and attachment points for maximum usability.

    Pros
    Pros

    Available in different colours 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.

    Cons
    Cons

    Although the material is water-resistant, rain can get in through the roll-top opening. Internal frame structure affects balance and can cause the pack to fall over.

  • Best Value
    Rupumpack Insulated Hydration Backpack
    Summary
    Summary

    A durable, 18-liter, water-resistant nylon daypack with ventilated mesh padded straps for extra comfort and 11 diverse compartments for maximum practicality. Also includes insulated BPA-free 2.5-litre hydration bladder for long trips. Available in different colours.

    Pros
    Pros

    Built-in reflectors on the shoulder straps provide added safety when cycling in the dark, and two extra pockets on waist strap allow easy access to valuables when on the bike.

    Cons
    Cons

    Straw and valve on hydration bladder have been known to leak. Chest strap placement may be better designed for men than women.

  • Honorable Mention
    Pacsafe Metrosafe 7 Liter Anti-Theft Sling Backpack
    Summary
    Summary

    Seven-liter sling-style backpack in durable and water-resistant black nylon with two lockable zipper compartments, RFID blocking interior pockets, and a Lock-a-Bout smart zipper system for maximum security.  The shoulder strap is adjustable and padded for comfort yet wire reinforced to protect against slash-and-grab theft. Comes with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty.

    Pros
    Pros

    The backpack is reinforced with steel mesh for even more protection against theft. The bag is low profile and extremely lightweight at just 1 pound when empty but roomy enough to carry everyday travel items and a 7-inch tablet.

    Cons
    Cons

    The strap is designed for use over the left shoulder and doesn’t fit properly on the other side. Probably not big enough for a change of clothes or shoes.

Tips

  • 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 your 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?

FAQs

Q: How big does my cycling backpack need to be?

A: 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?

A: 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 a 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?

A: 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.

Final Thoughts

Available in a range of colours and with a whole host of extras, the Timbuk2 Spire Backpack is our top cycling backpack.

Our best value pick is the smaller but versatile Rupumpack Insulated Hydration Backpack.