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Best Cycling Backpacks of 2024: Carry All Your Belongings with Ease

orange backpack in the alley way

Cycling backpacks are accessories tailored specifically to make your life easier when you ride.

The features of cycling bags differ greatly between manufacturers and intended purposes . Things you should consider before you choose a cycling pack include:

  • How you like to ride
  • The size/weight of what you need to carry
  • The duration of your trip
  • The terrain
  • The weather conditions where you live

Premium cycling bags should be waterproof or water-resistant, lightweight, breathable, comfortable, and durable. The best commuter backpacks will be larger than regular cycling backpacks, as they require a padded pocket to protect your laptop.

The right backpack should be compact, yet have enough space for all of the gear you need for the ride. This includes basic repair tools, water, clothes, work equipment, your laptop, and more. Size and features vary, so make sure to choose one big enough and with the right spec for your needs.

What features should a good cycling backpack have?

  • Ventilation
  • Stable when loaded
  • Padded straps
  • Chest and/or hip closure
  • 15-25L volume
  • Variety of pockets
  • Hydration (off-road)
  • A laptop pocket (commuter)
  • Weatherproof

Looking for waterproof commuter bags?

The waterproof cycling backpack we have covered in this article is the Thule Pack’N’Pedal. This stylish backpack is covered in more detail below. Most of the other packs have waterproof rain covers that can be pulled over the pack when needed.

In the rest of this article, we cover a range of the best-reviewed and most popular cycling backpacks. Whether it is a mountain trail or the daily commute to work, we’re going to help you choose the right bike backpack for the job.

Best Cycling Backpacks

1 . osprey – raptor hydration pack (14l) .

The best osprey backpack for mountain biking!

osprey raptor 14 backpack

  • 14L gear carrying capacity 
  • 84.5oz liquid carrying capacity
  • Strap magnet holds bite valve
  • LidLock helmet and Blinker light attachment points

Osprey is the maker of premium backpacks and they back that up with a lifetime repair guarantee. Their Raptor cycling backpack easily delivers on all of that renowned quality.

They have designed the Raptor to be feature-rich. These features range from a lightweight sternum strap magnet for easy access to water to scratch-free electronics and sunglasses zippered hip-belt pockets. 

The main pocket has a removable roll-up tool belt to keep your maintenance tools organized. The capacity of the bag is 14 liters, leaving room for 84.5 (2.5L) of liquid. 

Finally, the Raptor backpack is especially comfortable to ride with.  A ventilating ‘AirScape’ back panel paired with a padded hip belt for stabilization makes the bag joy to use even when fully loaded. 

Buy from REI.com

2 . CamelBak – Chase Protector Vest Hydration Pack (6+2L)

CamelBak Chase Protector Vest cycling backPack

CamelBak is a brand that makes some of the highest-quality cycling products, famous for its thermal water bottles. The CamelBak Chase Protector cycling backpack has a two-liter hydration pack and six-liter gear storage with organizational pockets, stretch overflow pockets, and a secure place for your phone and other valuables. 

Other unique features of this pack include the 3D ventilated mesh harnesses with adjustable sternum straps, exterior clips for carrying armor and your helmet, and all-weather abrasion resistance. 

  • Weight: 1 lb 12 oz
  • Great organization
  • Mud and muck resistant
  • 8 compartments

Buy on Amazon

3 . Osprey – UL Stuff Pack (18L)

osprey ul stuff pack

  • Weight: 0.2 lbs

The Osprey UL Stuff Pack is an ultra-light cycling commuter backpack at a very competitive price.

This 18-liter bag is built with bright yellow material for maximum visibility . Weighing just 0.2 lbs, the UL Stuff Pack is the lightest on the market, but this means the design is basic with no extra straps for stability. However, it’s still durable and comes with Osprey’s lifetime guarantee.

Finally, this cycling backpack also has ample storage of 18L despite its compact size. Osprey designed this cycling pack to fit into its own bag, perfect for neat storage on bikepacking or touring trips. 

Buy from JensonUSA.com

4 . SealLine – Urban Pack (26L)

Best waterproof cycling commuter backpack

sealline urban pack

  • Weight: 3lbs
  • Fits up to 15″ laptop
  • Made of waterproof materials
  • External bike light attachment

SealLine is a specialized bag brand that prides itself on its versatile products. The Urban Pack is a premium-quality cycling commuter backpack that delivers on that promise.

This innovative bag is constructed with waterproof material with welded seams, finished with a roll-top opening and QuickClip flap closure. A notable feature is its color-coded interior with a padded laptop pocket.

This pack has a unique suspension system that includes soft padded straps and a breathable padded back panel to make your commutes extra comfy.

5 . Camelbak – Mule Commute (22L)

The urban model of Camelbak’s famous Mule pack

camelbak mule commute 22 backpack

  • Fits a laptop in a weatherproof sleeve
  • 3L hydration pack available as an extra

Camelbak is one of the widely recognized cycling backpack brands. Their Mule commuter bag is of exceptional quality and highly functional, like all of their products.

This commuter backpack is designed with innovative features including an Air Support™ back panel with Body Mapping Technology that cushions the back without sacrificing ventilation. 

For storage, 2 large mesh pockets help keep your cargo organized, including a weatherproof laptop sleeve and Command Center shoulder strap pockets for quick access to small valuables and electronics. This bag can also fit a 3L hydration reservoir for days spent on the trails. 

To protect you this bag has 360-degree reflective accents and an attachment point for a light. 

6 . Tomshoo (20L) cycling backpack

Tomshoo cycling backpack

tomshoo cycling backpack

  • Mesh cover to hold helmet
  • Removable pouch on shoulder strap for cellphone

The Tomshoo backpack is one of the best small cycling backpacks available. It is also a budget-friendly option packed with many of the features seen in its premium competing models .

It’s got a 20-liter capacity, more than enough for you to take all the essentials you need for a day on the mountain trails. This bike bag is made from lightweight, waterproof, and tear-resistant nylon fabric, making it durable and resilient. It also includes a rain cover.

The Tomshoo lightweight cycling backpack is designed for sports and outdoor activities. It also functions perfectly for light daily usage. It features a hydration system with a convenient tube attachment.

The porous mesh design allows for maximum breathability and comfort, even on hot summer days. Ergonomic and padded shoulder straps also help provide extra back support while you ride.

7 . Osprey Siskin 8 Hydration Pack (8+2.5L)

Osprey Siskin 8 Hydration Pack

  • Weight: 1lb 7oz
  • 2.5L water resevoir
  • 8L U-zip storage compartment and front fabric pocket
  • Bike helmet attachment
  • Zippered slash pocket

The Osprey Siskin 8 hydration pack is an innovative cycling backpack with unbeatable durability  and Osprey’s lifetime guarantee. 

This riding backpack fits tightly with an upper-side compression to balance and secure your load. A sternum strap magnet holds the hydration pack bite valve for easy drinking on the move.

Atilon foam in the backpanel evenly distrubutes load across the entire back panel for a more comfortable fit. In addition, the soft-edged harness provides comfort and stability by contouring the shoulder.

Finally, the Siskin 8 has three pockets for storage, totaling eight liters. These include the main compartment, and easy-access front mesh one, and a scratch-proof pocket to protect sunglasses and electronics. 

8 . Ortlieb – Velocity PS Pack (17L)

ortlieb velocity ps pack

  • Weight: 1lb 12oz
  • Roll-top closure with hook and loop fastener
  •  Removable inner sleeve 

The Ortlieb Velocity PS Pack is a solid urban commuter option with a simple, streamlined design and look .

This bicycle backpack is lightweight, yet comfortable and durable. It is designed to be extremely convenient to use with roll-top closing. When closed, you can secure the bag further with a hook and loop.

The Velocity PS has one main pocket and an inner removable sleeve for separating files or a laptop. The straps make for a comfortable, stable, and secure fitting. It has a foam back, ergonomic shoulder straps, and a removable hip belt.

Finally, the back rear corners are reinforced for extra durability and the IP64 material is resistant to water splashes and light rain. 

Buy on REI.com

9 . The North Face Borealis Women’s (27L)

Best women’s backpack for everyday cycling

The North Face - Borealis 27L Backpack - Women's - Tin Grey Dark Heather/TNF Black/Minimal Grey

  • Weight: 2lbs 1oz
  • Comfortable, supportive design

The Borealis is a premium sports backpack centered around a highly breathable and comfortable design that makes it a pleasure to use.

This pack comes with articulated shoulder straps, a rounded back panel, and soft fabric for a comfy all-day feel. In addition, The North Face us a FlexVent suspension system to support your back. 

The pack is made with recycled RipStop nylon and has two external water bottle pockets a front pocket with internal organizer pockets, and a laptop sleeve in the main compartment.

Finally, you can take advantage of the external bungee cord system to attach a jacket to the outside of the bag. 

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12 Best Cycling Backpacks: Reviewed For Bike Commuting

Best for commuting.

Thule 100070 Commuter Backpack, Black

Best Overall Backpack for biking

Timbuk2 Spire Laptop Backpack, New Black

Best Small Backpack

Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack, Solar Yellow,...

If you're a regular cyclist, whether for commuting, exploring or working, you need a good quality cycling backpack. There are so many brands and styles on the market designed especially for optimum functionality when cycling.

We have narrowed down the most common types of cycling and found the best backpacks to match. Read on to find a comprehensive list of the 12 best cycling backpacks for a variety of uses. They’re sure to help you find the best option for your needs, your budget, and your preference. We look at the cycling laptop backpack, bike pannier backpack, and hydration backpacks.

Cycling Backpacks Compared

Reasons why cycling backpacks have become popular.

Cycling backpacks have become popular in recent years because of the increase in biking as both a leisure choice and a transportation option for commuting. Instead of dealing with a regular backpack with unsuitable designs, features, and dimensions, you can and should treat your body, back and your bike to a specially-designed bag.

That's not to say that all cycle-suitable backpacks are the perfect choice, as there are some multi-purpose backpacks which are excellent for cycling... some of which you’ll see in the reviews list below.

Commuting to work

Cars are just not economically or environmentally-friendly, and parking can be expensive. Bikes remain a popular choice when getting to and from work. When cycling to work , you need a backpack which is big enough to carry all of your daily items like a laptop, clothes, spare shoes, food and books. We recommend choosing an ergonomic backpack with a smart design if you pedal to work.

Hydration when riding

When embarking on a long journey, you're often exerting yourself energy and need regular hydration. Stopping to open your pack and haul out a drink bottle is out of the question. That's why hydration backpacks are popular with long-distance cyclists. Hydration backpacks have a bladder nestled inside the bag, with a tube reaching from the bladder to your mouth so you can sip as you ride. These bags offer great value for money as they can be found for under $25.

Exploring the wild

The adrenaline of going fast and flying over bumps and rough terrain is an addictive one. The popularity of dirt bikes and mountain bikes has risen and so too has the product range surrounding these sports. If your bike of choice is a mountain bike or dirt bike for exploring the outdoors and wild terrain, then you'll need a bag with a low profile, well-fitted tight straps and possibly a hydration feature.

Delivering food or goods

Bike delivery is another emerging market where riders require a certain type of bag to deliver their goods. If you deliver food or goods via bike, you will need a pannier or messenger bag to attach to your bike. These allow maximum storage without weighing down the body with heavy or delicate goods.

Storing your bike after riding

Fold up bikes are a cool new option for cyclists. Especially for people who have to count subways and buses into their daily commute to the city. You can easily fold up these bikes to create a compact unit so you don't need to be the awkward commuter taking up space on crowded public transport vehicles. You still require a bag to carry the folded up version and luckily we have a great choice reviewed below.

best cycling backpack

What To Look For In a Good Bike Backpack

Before you make your selection, consider what type of backpack you need, according to your lifestyle and hobbies. The following list covers our top-rated picks and looks at 12 best cycling backpacks that will suit every type of bike and rider.

As stated previously, what you require your backpack for is the most important question to ask yourself. You don’t want to end up with a backpack designed for students when you’re out on the trails for hours. Similarly, a bag for long-distance road cycling is not ideal for mountain bikers.

  • Lightweight

Biking with a heavy load on your back is no fun at all. You need a backpack made of sturdy yet lightweight materials so when you load it up, it’s still light and comfortable as you ride. Backpacks on our list range from approximately - 1 – 4 lbs.

Comfortable straps

You need your cycling backpack straps to be well-fitted, not too tight, not too loose, and of course, comfortable. You don’t want to be shuffling or trying to adjust straps as you cycle as it will be unsafe on the road or trail. For extra security and safety, go for a backpack with shoulder, hip, and chest straps to avoid a slipping and falling backpack.

Water repellent

A waterproof material is also an important feature as you don’t want your laptop or important papers getting wet on the way to work. A waterproof cycling laptop backpack is always an intelligent choice. Not all backpacks are waterproof , but most are water resistant. This means they repel rain and light water such as a spilt bottle but wouldn’t be able to cope with being submerged underwater. Luckily, most people don’t go swimming and cycling at the same time, unless they’re a triathlete!

Anti-theft features

If you’re storing valuables such as a wallet, phone, watch, devices or keys then you need to consider security in your backpack . To avoid theft, think about locks, slash proof materials, and discreet access points. These options are widely available in modern bags, with innovative features being common.

If you’re likely to be cycling at night, or at dusk on the way home from a late shift or study, then you need to be seen. Some backpacks have light clip options, reflective stripes, and even LED features. These brands help keep you safe and visible for drivers.

Laptop compartment

Carrying a computer is common among professionals or students. A secure pocket, preferably with crush-proof casing or sleeve is vital in protecting an expensive Macbook, PC or Ipad. It's important to be aware of the size of your PC and ensure you get a bag that’s large enough for your particular device.

Style & design

Do you prefer a sleek, slim shape or a bit more bulk to give you extra storage room? Personal preference is always a key indicator in determining which bag to buy. We have added a wide variety of colors and styles of backpack so you can look awesome on the roads, trails or dirt.

Built-in hydration

Water backpacks are made especially for carrying hydration bladders inside the main compartment, with built-in straws which allow you to sip when riding. These are not necessary for short distances or commutes to and from work but if you're a keen mountain biker or hit the long-distance roads, you may need to think about a lightweight hydration pack.

12 Best Cycling Backpacks Reviewed For All Riders

1. timbuk2 spire backpack.

Timbuk2 Spire Laptop Backpack, New Black

Best For Street Bikes/Commutes

  • Waterproof = No - Waterproof Roll Top 
  • Weight = 2.4 Lbs (Without Gear) + (30L)
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes - 15 Inches
  • Hydration = No

This is my pick for the best cycling laptop backpack. I can see both professionals and students riding to work or school with their laptop, food and clothes in this pack. It's definitely not for any long-distances or intrepid biking but is ideal for shorter rides through urban streets.

It has a laptop pocket, a tablet sleeve, and a waterproof roll top to keep your stuff protected. However, do be aware that some customers have found the waterproof roll top to be less effective than advertised. Even so, for most people it’s sufficient.

The comfort level is high, with a ventilated back, and adjustable straps to get a perfect fit to avoid slipping and sagging when cycling.

Why is this the best cycling laptop backpack?

Timbuk2 has designed this backpack with apple macbook's in mind. These computers fit comfortably when riding to work and we love the extra protection of the waterproof roll top.

  • Low-profile, non-bulky
  • Protected storage pockets for laptop and tablet
  • Pockets for a water bottle
  • Loop in the front for storing a U-lock
  • Not waterproof (water resistant)
  • Shoulder straps too narrow for some

2.  Thule Pack n Pedal Commuter Backpack

Thule 100070 Commuter Backpack, Black

Best For Street Bikes

  • Waterproof = Yes, Waterproof Cover
  • Weight = 2.56 Lbs (Without Gear)

My pick for the best backpack for cycling to work is the Thule Pack n Pedal Commuter Backpack. It has a high-visibility rain cover stashed away to use whenever the weather turns sour or you need extra visibility for safety.

Just like the Timbuk2 Spire, Thule is another great option for protecting a laptops, tablets or papers, due to its internal and detachable compartment. We love the fact that this 'sleeve' is not fitted to the riders back and sits on the top area of the bag. We do however class this backpack as more of an 'overall' bag rather than a laptop only backpack due to its extra features.

It has an expandable helmet pocket on the exterior of the bag so you can neatly store your helmet post-riding. It has enough space (24 litres) for books, pens, spare clothes, and the previously mentioned dedicated sleeves for a laptop and a tablet.

Staying safe when biking home from late work or school sessions is another aspect this Swedish brand has covered. There is an attachment on the exterior of the rain cover so you can easily hang a light to warn motorists. Additionally there is space to hold your helmet after riding. This comes in the form of a secure attachment that rolls out and clips your helmet in place.

While some reviewers have found that the reflective strips peel after a while, this is a well-loved backpack for people who travel to work and school via bike.

Why is this the best backpack for cycling to work?

All the extras included in this smart design. High visibility rain cover, light attachment, portable laptop sleeve, and post ride helmet holding ability.

  • High-vis cover for safety
  • Padded back panel for air flow and comfort
  • Ample room for lots of items
  • Reflective strips tend to fade and peel
  • No hip strap

3. Osprey Daylite Daypack

Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack, Solar Yellow,...

  • Waterproof = No – Water Repellent
  • Weight = 1 Lbs (Without Gear) + (13 Liters)
  • Laptop Compartment = No

The top pick for a small cycling backpack is the Osprey Daylite Daypack. It's not specifically a cycling backpack, but it may as well be. It has adjustable shoulder, hip, and sternum straps for secure wearing as you cycle.

It’s small and compact, yet roomy enough to carry enough daily items such as food, pens, and a small laptop or tablet. While it doesn't have a dedicated laptop sleeve, it has a sleeve which can be used for a tablet (or a hydration bladder).

Plenty of reviewers have mentioned it fits their 15-inch laptop too. It's ideal for light travelers and commuters, as it as organizer pockets for phones and hooking keys onto the key clip. We love it for cycling because it securely tightens to the chest and hip, keeping it locked to your body.

This isn't a good backpack for people who carry a lot of items or for those who regularly commute in wet weather conditions. Also, if you're super tall, I wouldn't go for this bag, the straps might be too tight and uncomfortable.

Why is this the best small cycling backpack?

Coming in at 13 liters and boasting shoulder, hip and chest straps means you will get a secure yet small day pack.

Read more about Osprey backpacks here

  • Small and compact
  • Fits a hydration bladder
  • Fits a 15-inch laptop or a tablet
  • Durable and well-made
  • Comfortable fit for most people, except very tall, broad people
  • Not ideal for overnight or weekend trips
  • Small side pockets

4.  Lixada Waterproof Cycling Backpack 18L

LIXADA Cycling Backpack, 18L Bicycle Backpack...

Best For Mountain Bikes, Dirt Bikes

  • Waterproof = Yes
  • Weight = 1.54 Lbs (Without Gear) + (18 Liters)
  • Hydration = Yes

This is a quality choice if you’re searching for a waterproof cycling backpack. The Lixada waterproof cycling backpack has been designed for total cycling comfort, with a breathable back, adjustable shoulder, hip and chest straps, and is a compact size.

This 18L capacity bag is made with plenty of features such as double zippers, adjustable straps for the chest and hip, and a built-in whistle. It also has a mesh cover to hold onto your helmet when you’re not riding.

In terms of storage, there are plenty of options. Large and small pockets, open side pockets and secure zips hold everything you need. There is also a detachable pocket for your phone. It also comes with a waterproof rain cover for protecting against heavy rain. This bag is not ideal for students or work commuters carrying a laptop as the dimensions and storage areas aren’t quite right. But it’s perfect for mountain biking trips or outdoor days on the bike.

Why is this the best waterproof cycling backpack?

The waterproof nylon is not 100% waterproof but by coupling it with the rain cover it is our favorite practical backpack for cycling.

  • Room for a hydration bladder
  • Breathable back panel to reduce sweating
  • Really affordable
  • Compact and small
  • Too small for overnight trips
  • Not ideal for carrying laptops

5.  Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack

Insulated Hydration Backpack Pack with 2L BPA...

Best For Mountain Bikes

  • Weight = 1.5 Lbs

Our top pick for the best mountain bike backpack is awarded to the Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack. It has an insulated bladder compartment so you can keep your water pack cool as you ride. It’s advertised as "leak-proof", but there are quite a few mentions of leaking in customer reviews. However, the bag is so affordable that you could use your own hydration pack instead of the one supplied.

The 4 hour cooling period is especially great for summertime bike sessions. There's plenty of room for storing spare clothes, food, cameras, and smaller items for a long bike on the tracks. The stretchy mesh at the front is great for expanding to fit a helmet or jacket. The shoulder and waist straps are padded and adjustable, to keep you comfortable and slip-free during the ride.

Why is this our best mountain bike backpack?

Mubasel goes above and beyond with extra features. A 2 Liter FDA approved bladder is included along with a brush cleaner for cleaning purposes. The thermal insulation also provides extra cooling capacity for longer and this compact yet spacious design means room for all your necessities.

  • Lots of storage space
  • Water keeps cool with the insulated hydration pack
  • Breathable back panel
  • Too small for larger, taller people (best for small to medium-sized heights)
  • Hydration pack supplied can leak

6.  Ibera All Weather Bike Panniers

Ibera Bicycle Bag PakRak Clip-On...

Best For Panniers, Food/Goods Delivery

  • Weight = 4 Lbs (Without Gear) + (30 Liters, 15-L Each Bag)

The Ibera pakrak bike panniers (that’s a mouthful!) are a great choice if you need a bike pannier. They come in a set of two and are designed to fit with all pannier carrier racks. These pannier packs are mounted on the side of the bike by attaching them to your pannier carrier rack at three separate points to avoid swinging and shifting when riding.

There are plenty of large and small compartments for various items, and elasticated straps to hold down any overflowing items. Straps are also kept from flying into your spokes with its smart and slim design.

These pannier backpacks have reflective trim to keep you visible and safe on the roads. Waterproof materials and an extra cover will keep your possessions dry on rainy days. 

Why is this the best bike pannier backpack?

The sleek and smart design and 1680D Nylon material help make this our top pick. It is quick and easy to release, slim when riding and also water resistant.

  • Well-designed
  • Small and large compartments
  • Comes with a rain cover for wet weather
  • Reflective trim for visibility
  • Plastic hooks aren’t as sturdy as they could be
  • Prone to light fraying over time

7.  Mubasel Hydration Backpack

No products found.

Best For Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes, Long Distance

  • Weight = 8 Lbs (Without Gear) + (2-Liter Bladder)

The best hydration backpack for biking goes to the Mubasel Hydration Backpack. It’s super lightweight so it won’t bug you or strain you as you ride. It has an FDA-approved, 2-liter water bladder, and extra storage pockets for wallet, keys, phone, and even an extra clothing layer. This is a small backpack and suitable for hydrating when riding and not a lot else! 

Some reviewers have noted that the straps can slip as they ride, and are most suitable for taller, larger frames. Another potential issue is that it has a plastic-like taste when drinking. Be sure to run it through warm water for an extended period before using. Apart from that, it’s a sturdy, affordable, lightweight, and comfortable hydration pack.

Why is this the best hydration backpack for biking?

It is small, compact and comfortable for riders. If staying hydrated and carrying essentials when riding is what you need then this bag is excellent value for money.

  • Fits 2-liter water bladder
  • Keep your water cool for 4 hours
  • Chest strap doesn’t fit all body types (best for taller people) 
  • Slight plastic taste from the water bladder

8.  Waterfly Packable Sling Bag

Waterfly Packable Shoulder Backpack Sling...

Best For Dirt Bike

  • Weight = Unknown - Very Light 

The top dirt bike backpack on our list is a little different, in the sense that it is a sling pack which crosses over the body. It's great for dirt bikes because it is very lightweight, doesn't have straps or tags to fling around. We love it because it straps tightly to the body for security. It has enough room for small items such as a phone, camera, wallet, keys, iPad, and a light jacket or layer.

It also folds up into itself when you're done with it which makes it even more compact. It's not for long trips or for people who need to carry a lot of stuff on their dirt bike ride. It's best for people who only need to take the necessities but don't want to stuff their jacket pockets. The material is thin, so heavy items aren't a great idea.

Why is this our best dirt bike backpack?

The extra waist strap keeps this small sling bag strapped even tighter to your body. This works well when off road as the instability of a ride wont affect the movement of your bag.

  • Super affordable
  • Folds up into a small package when not in use
  • Enough room for all dirt bike trip necessities
  • Not waterproof
  • Thin material

9.  Proviz Sports Reflect360 Backpack

Proviz Sports Reflect360 100% Reflective...

Best For Street Bikes, Road Bikes

  • Weight = 1.7 Lb (Without Gear) + (30 Liters)
  • Laptop Compartment = Yes - 15-Inch
  • Hydration = Hydration Bladder Compatible

If you need a high visibility backpack for safety reasons then the Proviz Sports Reflect360 Backpack is for you. We’ve chosen this one because it’s extremely reflective, which means super safety during night rides. It has a decent capacity, enough to fit a laptop, books, food, and clothes.

It would be great for students or professionals who often ride home after late shifts, classes, or gym sessions. The adjustable chest, shoulder, and waist straps ensure the bag doesn’t shift or slip as you ride. The 100% CE EN Certified material means you’re guaranteed a quality product.

Cycling weekly loves this bag, stating it offers 'unbeatable visibility for nighttime commuting '. We agree and if safety is a concern for you then we have found the perfect solution.

Why is this best high visibility backpack for cycling?

The technology that Proviz has developed makes them the leader in visibility for cyclers. Stay safe on the roads with this bag!

  • Super reflective design
  • Adjustable waist and chest straps
  • Ventilated back panel
  • Lots of space
  • Slightly expensive
  • Reflective layer prone to slight peeling

10.  Rockbros Folding Bi ke Carry Bag

ROCKBROS Bike Travel Bag for 16-20 inches...

Best For Fold-Up Bikes

  • Waterproof = Yes - Waterproof Interior, Water-Resistant Exterior
  • Weight = 5.46 Lbs (Without Gear)

A folding bike backpack has been a relatively new but fantastically designed product. The Rockbros folding bike carry bag is a great choice for anyone who commutes with a folding bicycle. It’s a simple design with a functional, well-made construction. You attach the bag to your handlebars as you ride, then pack the folded bike into the bag when you're done.

Sling it onto your shoulders and away you go. The interior is padded, waterproof, and designed to protect your bike from dust, moisture, scrapes, and hard knocks. The prices aren't too bad either, so you don't need to spend too much for a reliable back for your folding bike.

Why is this the best folding bike backpack?

The padding and the waterproof design help to seriously protect rather than just cover your bike. many other brands do not offer this level of protection.

  • Attaches to the bike's handlebars when the bike is in use
  • Can be worn comfortably on the back
  • Protective material on the inside
  • Thick, sturdy, well-made materials
  • Shoulder straps aren’t padded

11. Fancywing LED Cycling Saddle Bag/Backpack

FANCYWING LED Cycling Saddle Bag/Bicycle...

  • Weight = ⅓ Lbs (Without Gear)

The winner in LED cycling backpacks is the Fancywing Saddle Bag/Backpack. While not technically a backpack, this is a great option for people who bike at night or early morning in high-traffic areas.

While not for people who need to transport large items such as laptops or clothing, it’s ideal for small items such as a phone, keys, and wallet. If you’re commuting to work or college , this isn’t for you. But if you’re a regular leisure or fitness rider, this will keep you and your items safe and secure.

Why is this the best LED cycling bag?

This particular bag is remote controlled and has the ability to give signals for drivers. We love this aspect as it promotes even safer practises on the roads and goes above and beyond in caring for riders.

  • Super bright for maximum safety
  • Waterproof exterior
  • Easy to attach and remove from the bike
  • Rechargeable batteries, (comes with a USB charger)
  • Displays LED turn, cruise, and emergency signals with the remote control
  • Doesn’t hold larger items

12. Hikpro 20L Lightweight Daypack

Best for street bikes, commuting.

  • Waterproof = No – Water Resistant
  • Weight = ½ Lb (Without Gear) + (20 Liters)
  • Laptop Compartment = No (But Easily Fits One)

The choice for the best backpack for biking to college goes to this super-cheap option from Hikpro. Most college students have a very small budget, so this backpack is on the mark, price-wise. The backpack is made with durable yet very lightweight material to hold up during the college year. Biking to college usually means shorter distances and fewer items carried.

A laptop, a book or two, some snacks, and little items such as pens, a phone and keys are usually the maximum. This bag has more than enough room for these. Definitely not for long distances or wilderness excursions, but ideal for short trips to and from campus.

Why is this the best backpack for biking to college?

Its cheap, strong enough to carry books and laptops while also versatile enough for hiking , carrying gym clothes and everyday use.

  • Very affordable
  • Super light
  • Large capacity
  • Strong & durable fabric,
  • Reinforced at the base
  • No chest or hip/waist straps

Different Bags for Different Bikes

For riding long distances, you’re going to need enough room for necessities such as food, extra clothing layers, a hydration pack or water bottle. It also needs to be streamlined so that it won't slow you down. The best backpacks will be a light-yet-sturdy bag which won’t strain your back or shoulders.

Mountain Bikes

Travelling into deep, rugged terrain can be isolating and dangerous at times. Things like: food, water, tools, maps, first aid items, are smart choices for riders. These need to be kept to a minimum as high speeds and changing direction are core aspects when going downhill.

This means you need a slim bike backpack with durable material, and preferably a hydration pack. Fit and comfort are also crucial, you don't want to chafe or deal with slipping straps when swooping through the trails.

Bikebros states that suspension is a critical factor to consider when purchasing a mountain bike. Think of your backpack as as your own personal suspension when riding and how it should be tight and compact.

Being fast and motorized, you need a backpack which doesn't have hanging straps and loose tags. A compact backpack with secure closures is ideal to ensure everything stays tucked away tight. You also need a backpack with adjustable shoulder and waist straps which allow you to move freely while ensuring that the bag remains tight to your body.

Street Bikes

Regular everyday street bikes are great for short distances such as commuting to work or school. People often carry laptops and tablets so specific compartments, security features and waterproof materials are a good idea.

You don’t need a hydration pack, but you do need enough space for storing clothes, work documents, and potentially minimal groceries. A slipping backpack when navigating busy urban streets isn’t a safe idea, so well-fitted shoulder straps and a waist or chest strap are paramount.

Fold-Up Bikes

Carrying a bike inside a bag is not easy. You need it to be compact yet simple to carry. Adjustable straps to fit comfortably to your back and shoulders are key. You also need a bag with padding so the bike is protected, and you don't suffer hard protrusions through the bag as you wear it.

Panniers can come in top-loading or side-loading styles. They’re designed to carry food and other items, usually for delivery. You’ll need a pannier rack attachment to attach to your bike. This will allow the pannier bags to be secured to the bike. Some pannier bags come with their own racks, while others are compatible with most racks.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Will my shoulders hurt when carrying a backpack on a bicycle.

If they’re properly fitted and tightened to your body, you shouldn’t experience soreness. If the backpack has a hip strap, the backpack can be suspended slightly to take the weight off the shoulders.

However, if the backpack is heavily packed or the straps are too loose or too tight, you may experience some strain after a long journey.

Will I sweat when riding with a bag?

Yes, especially if you’re riding in hot weather, and for long distances. It also depends on what you’re wearing. It’s not necessarily because of the bag, but because of the exercise itself. However, many backpacks are made with breathable back panels to increase the amount of airflow between the bag and your back.

Is a water repellent bag sufficient for commuting to work?

I would say yes, most of the time, but always take note of the bag’s water resistance before buying. Especially if you are commuting with a laptop, tablet, or phone in your bag. It’s not worth risking your devices becoming damaged by rain on the way to work. Go for a waterproof backpack if you want to be extra careful, or at least find a waterproof cover for your backpack.

Can you clean or wash a bicycle backpack?

Yes, you can sponge the backpack down with a damp cloth or sponge with a bit of gentle detergent for stubborn or wet stains. If the stains are dry, i.e. dirt or dried mud, a quick brush or dry wipe should suffice.

Where’s a good place to buy cheap backpacks?

Amazon is a great place to find a cheap backpack. There are often specials and sales on, so keep checking to find the best price at the time.

A good bike backpack will be the difference between a cumbersome commute, an irritating mountain biking trip or a painful road journey. Find the best biking backpack for your specific style, routine, preference, and environment.

The best way to nab the right one is to consider all of your needs, then match them up to the best cycle backpacks on the market. Use our guide and top 12 list as a starting point as this will find the perfect backpack for you.

best travel backpack for biking

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​The 8 Best Commuter Backpacks for Carrying All You Need

We tested tons of backpacks for rainy-day riders and haul-it-all commuters.

See at-a-glance reviews below of the five best commuter backpacks, then keep scrolling for full reviews of these and other great options, plus helpful buying info.

Po Campo Ara Reflective Backpack

Po Campo Ara Reflective Backpack

Our 2021 Gear of the Year pick for its reflective fabric and plentiful pockets

Chrome Lako 3-Way Tote

Chrome Lako 3-Way Tote

Converts from a backpack to a tote

Timbuk2 Lane Commuter Backpack

Timbuk2 Lane Commuter Backpack

Lots of high-tech features, no unnecessary space

Osprey Radial Bike Commuter Backpack

Osprey Radial Bike Commuter Backpack

Ergonomically designed with lots of space inside

Skog Å Kust BackSåk

Skog Å Kust BackSåk

Lightweight and durable at an excellent price

Comfort Is Key

Whatever bag you buy, make sure the harness (on a backpack) or strap (on a messenger bag) is comfortable when the bag is loaded with the weight you’d typically carry. Some riders like the extra stability that a waist strap offers, and some packs have a sternum compression strap to help balance unwieldy loads. The straps themselves are also something to consider: Some are wide, some narrow, some with more padding than others. And if hot and humid conditions don’t keep you from riding, do yourself a favor and look for a pack that’s designed with ventilation between it and your back.

Consider What You Carry

First, the obvious: If you haul a ton of stuff, you’ll need a roomy bag. If you don’t, you can get away with something smaller. Let’s say you need room for a laptop, lunch, and a change of clothes. Look for a backpack (over a messenger bag) that has a padded sleeve to keep your device safe, plus enough room to fit the rest of your belongings. If your attire is more business than casual, choose a bag with a larger, protected main compartment that will keep collared shirts from wrinkling. And for those rainy days, consider a waterproof bag or one with a rain fly that can be easily deployed when the weather turns.

Backpack, Bag, Hand luggage, Product, Baggage, Luggage and bags, Pocket, Everyday carry, Hiking equipment,

How We Selected These Bags and Packs

We tested the first nine bags on this list, with cyclists on our test team taking them out on errands in all types of weather and stuffing them with clothes, helmets, laptops, lunch, and more. For the two models we didn’t test, we researched the market, surveyed user reviews, spoke with product managers and designers, and used our own experience riding with similar bags to determine the most promising options. We evaluated these commuter bags on performance, value, comfort, durability, aesthetics, and off-the-bike appeal. Here are the best backpacks for cyclists.

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Ara Reflective Backpack

Po Campo’s Ara backpack earned a 2021 Gear of the Year award for its proprietary reflective fabric called Visi-Hemp, made from organic hemp and recycled polyester. We also loved how it felt broken-in from day one, and it has all the pockets a bike commuter could need, including two water bottle pockets, two hidden pockets, a padded sleeve for devices, many interior pockets, and a mesh harness to stash your helmet.


Lane Commuter Backpack

This is by no means a roomy bag, but if you’re a smart packer and you want something for day trips or to just carry your laptop, lunch, and a spare jacket to the office, the 18-liter Lane can handle it. A magnetic outer pocket (no zipper) is easy to access but still secure enough that you can trust your phone, wallet, and cash won’t end up on the ground. (If that makes you feel uneasy, there is a second pocket with a zipper.) It also accommodates a 15-inch laptop that’s accessible from both the main compartment and a side zipper (if you don’t want to dig through the whole bag to get it out). It’s comfortable, too. Padded mesh strips on the back increase airflow and cut down on sweat, and one of our testers liked how the easily adjustable straps comfortably wrapped around the front of her shoulders. Despite the Lane’s compact size (spend $40 more for the Parker if you want more space), our 13-year-old tester used it all summer for two-wheeled trips to the pool, stuffing it with a towel, a phone, sunscreen, a U-lock, goggles, keys, a lunch bag filled with snacks and drinks, and a mask. And on a few occasions, he even had to deploy the rain fly when storms closed the pool early and he had a 2-mile ride home ahead of him.


Osprey radial.


For commuters who put in serious miles, in all conditions, and carry a laptop, shoes, and a ton of other stuff, it doesn’t get much better than the Radial. Its harness offers a lot of adjustability to fit different-size torsos and includes a ventilated back panel that conforms well and lifts the pack off your body for better airflow. The main storage compartment has a sleeve for a 15-inch laptop, expands (with external zippers) to create more space, and also has a zippered pocket for shoes. Stash your U-lock in the large front pocket, and attach your helmet with a small rectangle of plastic that slips through the helmet vents to secure it. A small zippered pocket on the side is big enough to stash a wallet, snacks, or other small items you want easy access to. On the other side is maybe the neatest feature: a wattle bottle pocket that’s angled back toward you, which makes grasping and inserting your bottle easier. One thing to note: The harness and what Osprey calls the “kickstand” (a hard plastic frame on the bottom that allows the pack to stand up without support) brings the bag’s weight up to a little over three pounds when empty.


Skog å kust backsåk waterproof backpack.

BackSåk Waterproof Backpack

This roll-top backpack is made from 500-denier waterproof PVC with welded seams that seal out moisture. It’s light, simple, and a great deal if you just need a backpack that can hold a day’s worth of clothing and gear and keep it from getting wet—we loaded it up with a laptop, change of winter clothes, shoes, a six-pack of beer, a spare jacket, a bottle of wine, and a helmet. We also loved that because of its minimalist structure, it packed down small for storage when not in use. The straps are easy to adjust and dry quickly when you ride through rain. The one downside is that the outside marks easily. Our test model is bright yellow but got covered with black marks from the CitiBike racks. So if that will bother you, go with the black one.


Peak design everyday backpack.

Everyday Backpack

Even if you’re not a photographer, you might benefit from a camera commuter backpack thanks to its superior interior organization, which will keep all your gear separated and protected. Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack features a padded 15-inch laptop sleeve, 8 liters of internal expansion space with customizable internal dividers, and four optional straps to attach items to the outside of the bag as well. Its 100 percent recycled nylon canvas fabric is weather resistant with PU and DWR coatings to ensure all your tech stays safe no matter the weather. Dual side zippers allow you to quickly access gear from the side, and the MagLatch top flap offers secure yet easy one-handed access to the main compartment.


Topo designs daypack classic.

Daypack Classic

The 20-liter Daypack can store way more than you’d think. Our tester was able to fit two changes of clothes, cycling shoes, a makeup bag, a sunglass case, a laptop and charger, and a bunch of snacks, eliminating her need to pack a separate gym bag. The Daypack has a laptop sleeve that fits a 15-inch computer, and it’s water resistant, so it’ll hold its own in a light sprinkle (but not much more, so don’t rely on it if the sky looks threatening). The straps are comfortable, with light padding to protect your shoulders without making you feel (overly) sweaty. And if you commute in the dark, the leather tab on the back is a great place to attach a light.


Reload c-series small.

C-Series Small

A black-owned business out of Philadelphia, ReLoad Bags has been making custom messenger bags since the early 2000s. If you don’t want to design your own, purchase one of the company’s stock black bags, available in a variety of sizes and styles. This C-Series Small bag is a great option for commuters with its roll top enclosure, water-resistant main compartment, and daisy chain webbing on the front, for instance. Although this model is only water resistant, you can opt for the Small Flight Pack for extra protection at an extra cost. But no matter what style you choose, ReLoad Bags all come with a lifetime warranty as a testament to their quality craftsmanship.


Rapha roll top, rapha roll top backpack.

Roll Top Backpack

Rapha’s smart-looking 25-liter bag is constructed with water- and abrasion-resistant material. A strap down the center creates a series of loops for holding a U-lock or attaching things by carabiner. The fancy clip that cinches down the roll top section is self-retracting, so it always tightens to just the right amount. The ergonomic back panel and padded straps keep the Roll Top sitting comfortably on your back. Those straps have reflective tabs, and the entire bottom of the bag is a reflective panel, so the bag keeps you visible to cars from the front and back. There’s a small pocket on the interior and one on the exterior for easy access to a phone or key card.

preview for HDM All Sections Playlist - Bicycling

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9 Best Waterproof Biking Backpacks for Commuting

Are you tired of backpacks that claim they are waterproof? If you are, then this article will be the last one you'll need to read. We've spent the past month water testing many of the best cycling backpacks claiming they are waterproof but are just barely water resistant! We've weeded out the junk and compiled this list with only the best waterproof cycling backpacks to buy.

But before that, let's face the facts:

Biking by yourself or with friends can be very enjoyable even more so when the weather is beautiful, and the sun is out. However, just like changing gears, the weather also changes regardless of our preferences. It's a common issue all cyclists and bike commuters will inevitably encounter. 

We never know when it will take a turn for the worse, and there is always a need to carry items with you while cycling. In those cases, a waterproof bike backpack is one of the best ways to ensure that your items and cycling gear stay safe. Here are the top 10 best waterproof biking backpacks to consider: 

Best Waterproof Biking Bag

Here are the top waterproof cycling bags that we recommend:

  • Skog Å Kust BackSåk Waterproof Biking Bag
  • LOCALLION Waterproof Cycling Backpack
  • Chaos Ready Waterproof Commuting Backpack
  • IDRYBAG Waterproof Dry Cycling Backpack 
  • Relentless Recreation Waterproof Backpack
  • The Friendly Swede Waterproof 
  • Timbuk2 Especial Medio Cycling Laptop Backpack 
  • Thule Pack-n-Pedal Commuter Backpack Waterproof
  • Overboard Roll Top Waterproof Pro-Sports Backpack

Waterproof Biking Backpack Reviews

All the best bike commuter backpacks listed above are very good bags that are not only stylish but are also much more than just a regular water-resistant bag that will ruin your gear. We've reviewed each one down below so you can get a better feel of what to expect:

Skog Å Kust BackSåk waterproof backpack - Best Overall

Skog Å Kust is one of the top brands producing actual waterproof biking backpacks. Their BackSåk waterproof backpack proved itself as one of the best throughout our testing, so we had to give it the first place on the list. This waterproof biking backpack is stylish and affordable. 

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With the BackSåk, you get to various choices in colors, a whopping eight options. Moreover, it comes in two sizes that you can choose from, one with a 35L capacity that is 19 inches tall and the other is 25L and 16" tall. They are relatively large and are convenient to carry just about any gear you need to take commuting. 

BackSåk is made using heavy-duty 500-denier PVC, which means it'll be more than enough to keep water out of the backpack. Moreover, it offers excellent comfort features such as a sternum clip and thick shoulder straps with sufficient adjustability. It also has neatly designed inner compartments that will allow you to organize your gear. 

This cycling backpack is excellent and genuinely waterproof for biking. Its main compartment is IPX-6 waterproof rated. So, you can even swim across a river or submerge it in shallow water without having to worry about the items inside. However, it itself isn't " foolproof !" So if you don't close it properly or completely submerge the entire thing in water, then obviously your gear may get wet.

With that said, it is still a very good waterproof biking bag!

  • Waterproof Rating: IPX-6
  • Materials: Waterproof 500D PVC
  • Dimensions: 25L Size - 6" x 11.5" x 16" or 35L Size - 16.73" x 11.65" x 3.15"

Reasons to Buy

  • This option uses a reflective material that provides some level of visibility in the night. 
  • It floats well in water. 
  • They are sold in two sizes. 
  • It has thick shoulder straps and a sternum strap that improves the comfort.

Chaos Ready Waterproof Backpack

Next up is the Chaos Ready Waterproof biking bag. This bicycle backpack, as the name implies, is ready to handle even the harshest weather conditions. So, in case you accidentally fall into the water while mountain biking, you won't need to worry about your gear. But it isn't meant to go swimming with as it is only good enough for a few quick submersions or regular heavy rain.

This cycling backpack features a polyurethane lining with a buckle closure system that protects all items inside. Moreover, the exterior material is made with 500 PVC tarpaulin and offers almost 100% waterproofing while remaining flexible and lightweight. 

To sweeten the deal even further, Chaos Ready offers a lifetime warranty with this waterproof backpack. And when paired with the incredibly low price, we know this is one of the best water proof cycling backpacks you could find as it is fully waterproof.

  • Materials: 500 PVC Tarpaulin and Polyurethane lining. 
  • Waterproof: Class 3 protection for heavy or light rain and quick submersions.
  • Dimensions: 17.1" x 11.7" x 2"
  • This backpack is impervious to water for most use cases. 
  • It is lightweight but still offers enough internal space to hold your items.
  • There are two mesh pockets and an outer pocket to store items you need to access quickly. 
  • They offer a lifetime warranty. 

IDRYBAG Waterproof Dry Backpack

Another excellent water proof bag for biking is the IDRYBAG dry sack. Like the previous options, this cycling backpack also features the 500D material that has proven to be completely watertight. Further, it has a very neat design that completely stops water from getting into the top. 

With this backpack, you have four color options to choose from that will get you compliments all day. It has sufficient back padding and a waist strap to secure it on your back. Moreover, there are enough internal compartments to organize your gear. 

If you need an excellent waterproof biking bag, this is undoubtedly a reliable option. 

  • IPX6 rating.
  • This option comes in three sizes 20L, 30L, and 40L capacity, which will hold most of your cycling gear. 
  • It is easy to close offers multiple carrying options. 
  • One of the most affordable water proof cycling backpacks you can own. 

Relentless Recreation Dry Backpack for Cycling

Relentless Recreation has another good waterproof backpack that you can use for biking. Like any great waterproof commuter backpack, it must at least use 500D PVC tarpaulin. It has a sizeable 30L capacity and multiple compartments and pockets to house your items. 

This commuter daypack is available in three color options and is very lightweight while remaining durable enough to secure your gear even in the worst weather. When we tested this option, we had absolutely no leakage even after hours of riding in the rain. However, it doesn't have very comfortable straps and isn't very breathable, so we wouldn't recommend it as an everyday commuting backpack. 

  • It is a reliable commuter daypack that you can depend on to keep all your items dry.
  • It is built with 500D PCV that is known to offer IPX6 waterproofing. 
  • It is a cheap waterproof backpack that you can have as your backup cycling bag for the rainy season. 

The Friendly Swede waterproof backpack

This backpack is a beautifully designed, waterproof cycling backpack. It is perfect for carrying your laptop and other cycling gear while commuting. Moreover, this unisex backpack is sold in three color options, but our favorite option is the white and black versions.

As a dry bag, it uses 500D PVC tarpaulin and is very durable and water resistant. It is also lightweight since it weighs in at just one and a half pounds. Internally, the waterproof backpack is completely watertight and has multiple compartments to store a 13-inch laptop, phones, and a camera. There are also three external pockets, but they aren't fully waterproof, so don't store items you wouldn't want to get wet in them.

  • It is built with 500D PVC.
  • They offer a three-year manufacturer's warranty on it. 
  • It is easy to roll up and offers great waterproof protection.
  • It is compact and lightweight but large enough to carry enough cycling gear.  

Overboard Waterproof Pro-Sports Backpack

The Overboard Pro-Sports Backpack is a versatile waterproof bag for cycling that can be used for more than just cycling. It is pretty large and offers excellent durability and comfort from the breathable shoulder straps and padded back panel. The backpack even features a sternum strap that allows you to secure the it around your back for fast-paced riding.

It is built using PVC tarpaulin which is very water resistant and comes in 2 sizes and two color options. Moreover, it has plenty of internal and external pockets to store everything. With this waterproof bike backpack, you won't ever have to worry about bad weather as it is entirely waterproof. 

  • It has a lot of internal storage compartments.
  • This backpack is built with PVC Tarpaulin so that no water will get inside.
  • You can use this bike for any type of sport. 
  • It has comfy straps and a padded back with excellent airflow.

Timbuk2 Especial Medio Cycling Laptop Backpack

The Timbuk2 Especial is one of the best waterproof backpack for commuting you can buy. It is a large backpack that offers plenty of internal compartments to store your items. However, some reviewers didn't like how deep the compartments are and how inaccessible they are to view. 

But we didn't mind that at all. We loved the fact that we could store all our cycling gear in an organized fashion. Moreover, in terms of waterproofing, it has an internal watertight drop liner, and we've ridden in the rain for a few hours, and nothing inside was wet. Granted, it wasn't extremely heavy rain, but it was enough that it would've soaked the items in any other "water-resistant bag."

These waterproof bike backpacks are very durable and ideal for bike commuting in any weather. It features reflective bits that boost visibility in the dark. Besides, it has breathable shoulder straps and flexible cooling panels at the back. There are also provisions to route headphones on the backpack so you can leave your iPod or phone inside.

  • It is built with 500D Ripstop Condura Nylon that boots waterproofing and durability.
  • You get tonnes of compartments and space to haul all you need.
  • It is very comfortable, thanks to the thick shoulder pads and chest strap.

Thule Pack-n-Pedal Commuter Backpack

The Thule Pack-n-Pedal is a stylish roll top commuter backpack that offers excellent protection from water. You can get this backpack without ever having to worry about water damaging items stored inside. To ensure that your items are safe, Thule built this backpack to feature a watertight main compartment. Moreover, the roll-top compartment completely seals the top of this waterproof backpack for biking.

While the main internal compartment offers excellent waterproofing, the rest of the backpack provides IPX4 waterproofing, which is just water-resistant or almost waterproof. However, Thule includes a rain cover that you can put over it to protect all the inside items. The cover can be reached quickly and is easy to put over the it.

Size and comfort are also very sufficient with the roll top Pack n Pedal waterproof backpack. It measures 18.9"x13.4"x6.7" and weighs just 2.56 lbs. For comfort, it features padded shoulder straps and thick back padding. 

It also comes with a helmet attachment that you can use to clip in your helmet to the backpack. Overall this is one of the best waterproof bike bags with excellent waterproofing to consider.

  • IPX4 Waterproof and an included rain cover with a reflective screen. 
  • It is large enough to carry all your cycling gear. 
  • There is a removable laptop compartment inside that can hold a 15" laptop.
  • Thule has included a helmet attachment. 
  • It is comfortable to commute with even over long distances.
  • It looks great even though there is only one color available. 

LOCALLION Cycling Backpack - best waterproof biking backpack for Visibility

Our last waterproof cycling backpack is from a brand call Locallion. It offers excellent comfort thanks to the breathable back materials. Moreover, it has comfy shoulder pads with good adjustability and a waist strap to stabilize the it while cycling.

The Locallion backpack comes in 8 different colors and is a very cheap waterproof backpack that provides good waterproofing. However, we don't think it is the best option for cycling in VERY heavy rains as water leaks through the zippers. It is made with water resistant nylon fabric, but this material isn't very waterproof, so it'll only offer a short window for you to get out of the rain. 

Apart from the not so great waterproofing, this option makes up for its shortfall by offering exceptional features. It has multiple internal compartments, side mesh pockets, and even an emergency whistle. And the already low cost makes it an even better deal.

  • This option has safety reflectors that improve your visibility .
  • It offers good enough waterproofing for biking in light rain.
  • The breathable materials used to design this one makes it perfect for cycling when it's hot outside. 
  • It has multiple sections inside to help to organize your gear.

Buyer's Guide: Choosing the Best Waterproof Commuter Backpack

Making the right decision when selecting a backpack for bike commutes can make all the difference in your riding experience. A good commuter backpack should be sturdy, roomy, and comfortable to wear, with features like padded straps and water bottle holders to help you stay organized and comfortable on the go. In addition, if you frequently commute in wet or rainy conditions, it's essential to choose a backpack that is waterproof or water-resistant to keep your gear and belongings safe and dry.

Here are some key factors to consider when selecting the best waterproof commuter backpack for your needs:

Size and capacity

Consider the size and capacity of the backpack to ensure that it is spacious enough to hold all of your gear and belongings. Look for a backpack with a roomy main compartment and additional pockets and compartments for organizing smaller items like a laptop, phone, and keys.


Choose a backpack with welded seams and waterproof zippers to ensure that it is fully waterproof and able to keep your gear and belongings dry in wet conditions. If you don't need a fully waterproof backpack, you might consider one that is water-resistant, with materials that are able to repel water and keep your gear dry in light rain or drizzle.

Comfort and fit

Look for a backpack with padded straps and a comfortably padded back panel to ensure that it is comfortable to wear, especially if you are commuting long distances. Consider features like compression straps and a waist strap to help distribute the weight of the backpack evenly and prevent it from feeling too heavy or bulky.

Convenient features

Consider features like water bottle holders, a laptop compartment, and small zippered pockets to help you stay organized and make it easy to access your gear and belongings on the go. Some backpacks also have a luggage strap, which allows you to easily attach the backpack to your luggage while traveling.

Choose a backpack that fits your style and personal preferences. Some people prefer a traditional backpack style, while others prefer a messenger bag or duffel bag. Consider the look and feel of the backpack to ensure that it is a good fit for your needs.

Finally, consider the price of the backpack to ensure that it fits within your budget. While you can certainly find high-quality waterproof commuter backpacks at a variety of price points, it's important to find a backpack that meets your needs and is a good value for the price.

Wrap Up 

Waterproof bike backpacks are hard to find, and most of those that you do find are barely resistant to water. The items we listed are the best waterproof backpack for biking we've seen over recent years. So we recommend you giving those a shot first. 

You won't be disappointed with them in any way. The Skog Å Kust BackSåk, The Friendly Swede, and Timbuk2 Especial Medio are the ones we consider as the best cycling backpacks with waterproofing. We loved the features and style of those three and would highly recommend giving them a go.

While waterproof backpacks are good, you can also go the cheaper route to  make any bag waterproof  by adding a rain cover to your backpack. So if you already own one, there is no need to go and buy special "waterproof bicycle backpacks" since rain covers are just as effective.

You may also be interested in: 7 of the Best Bike Pedals with Strap: Keep Your Feet in Place While Cycling

What are the best waterproof backpacks for biking?

There are many great options for waterproof backpacks specifically designed for biking. Some top choices include the Skog Å Kust BackSåk Waterproof Biking Bag, the LOCALLION Waterproof Cycling Backpack, and the Chaos Ready Waterproof Commuting Backpack. These backpacks offer excellent waterproof protection and are also very durable and comfortable to wear while cycling.

Is a waterproof bike bag worth it?

Yes, a waterproof bike bag is definitely worth it, especially if you frequently bike in wet or rainy conditions. A waterproof bike bag can help protect your gear and belongings from getting damaged by water, and it can also help keep you comfortable and dry while cycling.

Who makes the best waterproof backpacks for commuting?

Several companies make high-quality waterproof backpacks for commuting, including Skog Å Kust, LOCALLION, and Chaos Ready. These backpacks offer excellent waterproof protection and are durable and comfortable to wear while commuting.

What are the best commuter backpacks with a padded laptop sleeve?

Some great options for commuter backpacks with a padded laptop sleeve include the Timbuk2 Especial Medio Cycling Laptop Backpack, the Thule Pack-n-Pedal Commuter Backpack Waterproof, and the Overboard Roll Top Waterproof Pro-Sports Backpack. These backpacks offer a padded laptop sleeve to protect your computer while commuting and other features such as padded straps and multiple zip pockets for organizing your gear.

Is a laptop backpack with a padded laptop compartment the best choice for commuting?

A laptop backpack with a padded laptop compartment can be a good choice for commuting, as it can provide extra protection for your computer. However, it's important to consider other factors, such as the overall size and capacity of the backpack, the comfort and adjustability of the straps, and the presence of other convenient features, such as water bottle holders and zip pockets.

What are the best commuter backpacks with a roomy main compartment?

If you need a lot of space for your gear and belongings, you might want to consider a commuter backpack with a large main compartment. Some good options include the Relentless Recreation Waterproof Backpack, the Friendly Swede Waterproof, and the Skog Å Kust BackSåk Waterproof Biking Bag. These backpacks offer a spacious main compartment and other convenient features like waist straps and two water bottle pockets.

What are the best commuter backpacks with a luggage strap?

A luggage strap can be a very convenient feature for a commuter backpack, as it allows you to attach the backpack to your luggage while traveling easily. Some good options for commuter backpacks with a luggage strap include the IDRYBAG Waterproof Dry Cycling Backpack and the Overboard Roll Top Waterproof Pro-Sports Backpack. These backpacks also offer other useful features, such as a padded laptop sleeve and padded straps for comfort.

Last Updated on October 14, 2023 by Daniel White

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Cycling Bags

Best Waterproof Cycling Backpack: Top 9 For Commuters

By Pete Reynolds

Updated Dec 07, 2023

This post may contain affiliate links, which help to keep Discerning Cyclist rolling. Learn more .

As a cyclist, having a reliable and waterproof backpack is essential for any journey in all weather conditions.

A high-quality waterproof backpack should protect your belongings and keep you comfortable and ready for any adventure. A good quality waterproof backpack should also have plenty of pockets to keep all your belongings organized and easily accessible, and quite frankly, it should make you look good while doing it. Ergonomic, functional, and stylish.

We’ve made a list of our best waterproof cycling backpacks so that you can transport your stuff without worrying about its safety. Rain or shine, these rucksacks can handle it all.

Best Waterproof Backpack for Cycling

Here’s our list of the 9 best waterproof cycling rucksacks.


Chrome Industries URBAN EX 2.0 Backpack

Rolltop backpack with welded waterproofing and attachment loops for d-locks.


Ortlieb Velocity 23L

Ergonomic waterproof backpack with an excellent warranty.


Ettore Eclipse Cycling Rucksack

Value for money hi-vis drybag with heavy duty Tarpaulin.


Timbuk2 Spire Laptop Backpack 2.0

Smart looks and a tidy interior for the discerning commuter.


Rapha Travel Backpack

A compact, refined backpack for commuting or overnight trips.


Osprey Arcane Rolltop 25

Everyday backpack with IPX4 waterproof protection to keep your belongings safe.


Thule Paramount

Streamlined and expandable water resistant backpack designed for everyday use.


Elops Cycling Backpack Speed 520

Well priced, minimalistic waterproof backpack from Decathlon.


Camelbak Mule Commute 22

Surprisingly roomy weatherproof bag with some great additional features.

Waterproof Cycling Bag: Key Features

When searching for a waterproof backpack for cycling, it is crucial to consider several key features that will ensure that you can protect your belongings, whatever the weather.

A good backpack shouldn’t just protect your stuff but enhance your overall cycling experience. After all, it shouldn’t just be a dry bag but should have features that specifically help cyclists’ in the saddle.

Materials play a vital role in the performance and durability of a waterproof backpack. Look for high-quality, waterproof fabrics that provide reliable protection against the elements. Materials such as nylon or polyester with a waterproof coating or laminate are excellent choices. Reinforced seams and a good closure system are also crucial, as they prevent water from seeping in through the stitch lines or via any openings.

Easy access is another great feature. Opt for a rucksack with a thoughtfully designed main compartment, allowing quick and hassle-free access to your essentials. It’s also great if they’ve got some well-placed compartments and external pockets so you can keep your stuff organized.

Size is also an important consideration. Find a size that strikes the balance between having enough storage space for your daily needs without hindering your comfort whilst on the bike.

Reflective details are well appreciated, especially for those who plan on cycling at night or early in the morning. You want to be able to ride with confidence, even in low light conditions. It’s a safety feature that’s too often overlooked unfortunately.

Finally, what does the bag do to ensure you’re comfortable? After all, you don’t want to arrive at work a sweaty mess in humid or warmer conditions. Look for breathable bags with specific technologies that ensure airflow between your back and the backpack.

Best Cycling Commuter Backpack for Rainy Days

Here’s our list of the best cycling commuter backpacks for rainy days.

1. Chrome Industries URBAN EX 2.0 Backpack

Prices are approximate

  • Materials: 600D Poly / PU coating on surface & TPU backing with Polyester lining
  • Capacity:  20L
  • Weight:  830g
  • Size: 44 x 37 x 15cm

Rolltop design.

Welded waterproofing.

Rugged, urban aesthetic.

Introducing the URBAN EX 2.0 20L Backpack from Chrome Industries , an excellent companion for urban cyclists seeking both style and functionality.

Thoughtfully designed with the needs of a modern cyclist in mind, this sleek roll-top isn’t just a pretty face. It’s constructed from rugged materials, such as a welded waterproof construction and PU-coated zippers that will keep your possessions dry in a downpour.

It’s also got exceptional attention to detail when it comes to the storage solutions inside. It features multiple compartments in the interior for organisation, as well as a neat external space (with reflectors for visibility!) for your D-lock.

With a mesh-covered back panel for ventilation, you won’t arrive at your destination covered in sweat either.

Safe, stylish and ergonomic; it’s an excellent choice for a waterproof cycling backpack for commuters.

2. Ortlieb Velocity 23L

  • Materials: PD620, PS620C (PVC coated polyester)
  • Capacity:  23L (17 & 29 models available)
  • Weight:  880g
  • Size:  50 x 30 x 16cm

Velcro roll closure with lifetime warranty.

Great colour options.

Detachable waist & chest belt.

Introducing the Ortlieb Velocity 23L Backpack, a waterproof backpack that’s a great marriage of form and function.

With its generous 23L capacity, the Ortlieb Velocity is designed to accompany you on both daily commutes and longer journeys, providing ample space for your essentials without compromising on style. It even comes in 17L and 29L models. We especially like the 17L; a great option if you just need to take a few documents or a small laptop to work and back.

The backpack features a robust PVC-coated polyester fabric, which not only resists daily wear and tear but also ensures exceptional water resistance. Rain, splashes, or accidental spills are no match for this backpacks waterproof construction and roll-top closure system.

But it isn’t just waterproof, it’s comfortable too. The padded shoulder straps distribute the weight evenly across your shoulders, minimizing strain and allowing for a more comfortable and enjoyable journey. The removable waist strap is also a nice touch if you don’t always need the support.

It’s a well designed, well tested backpack with a timeless aesthetic. And, if that isn’t enough to convince you, maybe the solid guarantee on the velcro closure will.

3. Ettore Eclipse Cycling Rucksack

  • Materials: Made from Heavy Duty 100% Waterproof Tarpaulin with heat welded seams. Elasticated external storage area and side mesh pockets.
  • Capacity:  30L
  • Weight:  Unknown
  • Size:  45 x 27 x 17cm

Great price.

Heat welded seams.

The Eclipse from Ettore is a simplistic, well designed waterproof backpack and is a great choice for commuters who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on something to keep their things dry.

Aesthetically, the all-black backpack is inoffensive and discreet. With just an elasticated net and side netting on the outside, as well as a useful handle on top, it’s certainly not trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to looks.

And nor does it need to. It does it’s job extremely well without too many extra thrills. It’s made predominantly of a heavy-duty Tarpaulin, a material renowned for its waterproofing properties. It’s also got waterproof zippers, as well as heat sealed seams.

It’s definitely one of the bigger bags, so it’s not just good for commuting, but it would definitely be a reasonable choice for bikepacking on a short trip. It’s got more than enough space at 30L for your everyday needs, and a bit more just in case you need it.

The internal compartment has a smaller pocket for your accessories, such as your phone and keys, and not much else.

It’s a great value, simple dry-bag that serves as a waterproof backpack, and not much else.

4. Timbuk2 Spire Laptop Backpack 2.0

  • Materials:  Water-resistant material (Mostly Nylon)
  • Capacity:  26L
  • Weight:  900g
  • Size:  50 x 31 x 15cm

Very sharp aesthetic.

Easy-access flap-top closure.

Also great for students.

The Timbuk2 Spire Laptop 2.0 Backpack is the pinnacle of sophistication, practicality, and elegance when it comes to waterproof backpacks. But, it’s not just beautiful, it’s rugged as well.

When it comes to protecting your precious devices, this backpack leaves no stone unturned. Equipped with a dedicated padded compartment for laptops up to 15″ and a water-resistant fabric that safeguards your valuable electronics from unexpected weather conditions, providing peace of mind no matter the forecast.

It’s a particularly great choice for interns and students, who’ll not just appreciate the tidy internal and external organisation, but also the integrated bottle opener, which is really a nice touch.

The compartmentalisation of the bag is phenomenal. The outer pocket is especially noteworthy for quick-to-reach items, such as keys, a pen or your phone.

Whilst it doesn’t boast the waterproofing capabilities of some of the other bags, its water resistant Nylon outer will be fine in every situation other than a heavy downpour. It’s comfortable, breathable, water-resistant, and oh-so stylish.

5. Rapha Travel Backpack

  • Materials:  Nylon exterior, polyester interior
  • Capacity:  25L
  • Weight:  976g
  • Size:  42 x 25 x 17cm

Incredibly smart.

Comes with detachable rain cover.

Modest, stylish branding.

By far the classiest backpack on this list, the Rapha Travel Backpack is a masterclass in subtly, modesty and refinement. With it’s very simply branding, it’s a nod to the cycling culture in which Rapha has become such a staple name.

Crafted from a high quality nylon exterior and waterproof zippers, your belongings will be safe and sound inside. And comfortable as well, because the backpack comes with loads of padding on the interior, meaning your laptop will be well out of harm’s way.

Beyond it’s waterproofing, it boasts a number of thoughtful features. The spacious main compartment is easily big enough for a short trip away, fitting a change of clothes and toiletries with no issues.

It’s also got a range of interior pockets to organise, as well as a low-key quick-access pocket on the outside for essentials.

It’s a popular bag no doubt about it, and, whilst not the cheapest on this list, is a great investment for those who’re looking for a top quality waterproof bag that serves for the cycle to work as well as any overnight trips.

6. Osprey Arcane Rolltop 25

  • Materials:  100% polyamide
  • Weight:  990g
  • Size:  52 x 32 x 21cm

Well ventilated.

Environmentally conscious.

Reflective details.

The OSPREY Arcane Roll Top 25 – Daypack delivers in style and performance. Well, what would you expect from the titans of the backpacking industry?

It’s no surprise that when it comes to durable backpacks, Osprey are still dominating worldwide. The brand name at this point practically speaks for itself. The arcane RT 25 is no exception. It’s got remarkable waterproof features and is constructed from premium sustainably sourced materials.

It’s roll-top closure adds another layer of protection, preventing you ( or at least what’s inside your bag! ) from even the most torrential storms.

The range from Osprey is designed with ‘subtle functionality’ in mind, and it’s an excellent bag for those who want a bag that quite frankly they don’t have to think about. It’s also well ventilated and has great support.

It comes in a small range of nice colours, the ‘pine leaf green’ being a particularly cool option.

As is almost always the case, if you want a good product, you’ll have to pay the price. But, for anyone familiar with Osprey, you’ll know that it’s a price worth paying.

7. Thule Paramount

  • Materials:  420D Nylon
  • Capacity:  18L (27L also available)
  • Weight: 2.4lbs (1.1kg)
  • Size:  53 x 30 x 24cm


Solid 420d construction.

Streamlined, smaller model.

The nimble 18L Paramount Backpack is a (nearly) pocket size water resistant backpack that’s extremely convenient.

It’s got a great dedicated phone pocket concealed next to your back, meaning you can keep your pockets free when you’re pedalling. It’s also got a floating laptop sleeve that sits comfortably on your back whilst your riding, meaning you won’t feel it sag or being thrown around when you’re on two wheels.

You can unzip the side pockets and drastically increase the capacity, meaning it can be a relatively big backpack when you want it to be. Commuter by weekday, overnighter by weekend.

The brightly coloured interior also helps you to see your things inside, so it doesn’t have the ‘black hole’ effect that you unfortunately get with so many other cyclists’ backpacks.

The Nylon construction and roll-top also mean that you’ve a fairly water resistant product that’s absolutely enough for most conditions.

8. Elops Cycling Backpack Speed 520

  • Materials: TPU laminated and PU coated polyester fabric (100% Polyamide Lining 100% Polyamide Coating 100% Thermoplastic Polyurethane)
  • Weight:  N/A
  • Size:  N/A


The next on our list is the Elops Cycling Backpack Speed 520 from Decathlon. A simple yet efficient backpack made with cyclists’ needs in mind.

It’s waterproof for up to 60 L/sqm/h, which Decathlon describes as ‘heavy rain’.

Undoubtedly it’s most interesting features are on the outside. The ‘yellow sunflower’ is a great colour option for those looking for a backpack which isn’t black.

The colour, as well as the built-in reflective straps, also really help with visibility when it comes to riding on the road in the dark. Even we have to admit that safety probably comes before aesthetics here.

Whilst the material is a little ‘sticky’ for loss of a better term, there is a good amount of padding, support and ventilation on the straps and back to stop it from being too uncomfortable when you’re in the saddle.

It’s an affordable backpack which is waterproof, reasonably comfortable, and has a fair amount of storage versatility on the inside.

9. Camelbak Mule Commute 22

  • Materials:  Waterproof (materials not specified)
  • Capacity:  22L
  • Size:  43 x 29 x 23cm

Command Center™ harness for organisation.

Roomy enough for daily essentials. 

The Camelbak M.U.L.E.® Commute 22 Backpack boasts a plethora of characteristics and features that make it a standout choice for the modern commuter.

Whilst it’s only 22L, it’s deceptively big inside, and can easily store your daily essentials (and more!).

It’s got a seam-sealed construction, reinforced zipper and a waterproof fabric (not specified) which form an almost impenetrable shield against rain.

Not only is there water resistance on the outside, but the laptop sleeve is completely weatherproof, giving you peace of mind that should there be a leak, your most precious valuables will be safe.

It features a trademarked Air Support® back panel with body mapping technology, meaning that the warmest parts of your bag get the most attention when it comes to ventilation.

An excellent option for the commuter who wants to make certain that their laptop is safe and secure inside.

Best Waterproof Cycling Bag Brands

When it comes to the best waterproof cycling bag brands, it’s essential that you invest in something that’s going to last, after all, you don’t want any mishaps. There’s a number of reputable brands that have a reputation for quality and are setting the benchmark of a good backpack.

Rapha is an excellent choice when it comes to cycling goods generally. Their products are made by cyclists, for cyclists, and they always have intelligent features that are considerate of our specific needs. And, they also look great too!

Chrome Industries are a brand with deep roots in cycling. Operating for almost 30 years and specialising in products for bike messengers, they make rugged bags that can take some serious beatings on the bike. They’re always considerate of comfort, as the messengers their bags are designed for often have extended periods on two wheels.

Lastly, Osprey are another giant in the industry. Whilst they aren’t renown for their cycling goods per se, they are known for making backpacks and rucksacks that are intended for long term travel. Their bags have a diversity , a durability, and a performance which is practically unparalleled.

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Best cycling backpacks 2024 — carry your stuff on the bike the easy way

Best cycling backpacks 2024 — carry your stuff on the bike the easy way

This article contains links to retailers. Purchases made after clicking on those links may help support road.cc by earning us a commission but all of our reviews are fully independent. Find out more about road.cc buyer's guides.

Panniers, attached to a rack at the back of the bike, are the classic form of cycling luggage, but many people like to simply use a backpack for the office commute or running errands by bike. The best cycling backpacks should be functional, durable and comfortable, and have features to help keep your stuff organised and dry. In this article, we'll round up the best cycling backpacks you can buy right now.

best travel backpack for biking

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The main advantage of a backpack is its convenience. Simply pack all your essentials, throw it on your shoulders, and you're ready to go without the hassle of dealing with pannier hooks or impacting your bike's handling. Additionally, the ease of carrying off the bike makes backpacks one of the most popular ways of transporting stuff on the bike.

There are lots of cycling backpacks to choose from, ranging from super organised with lots of internal compartments, or super simple, lightweight single-compartment bags. The right one for you will depend on your preferences. 

It's also worth looking out for reflective detailing for night-time visibility, plus waterproofing to keep you laptop dry in an unexpected downpour. 

How we review cycling backpacks

Our reviewers, with many years of riding experience between them, use products for at least a month before writing up their findings and delivering final verdicts.

Since road.cc towers is based in the centre of Bath, these cycling backpacks have undergone rigorous testing during our reviewers' daily commutes to work, enduring the varied weather conditions that the UK presents. 

Cycling backpacks are assessed on their quality of construction, performance, durability, weight, comfort and value, with the overall score reflecting both the backpack's function and value compared to items of a similar spec, quality and price. With a huge review archive, we can keep it fair by comparing like-for-like. 

Why you can trust us

All cycling backpacks featured in this buyer's guide have undergone thorough reviews by our team of reviewers. Since we've reviewed a lot of backpacks over the years, all of the ones featured have scored 8/10 or more to be considered for inclusion. No matter how big the brand is or sales figures, a product must meet our high standards to be featured in this guide. 

And of course, the road.cc team members who put together these guides are seasoned cyclists themselves. Our first-hand experience ensures that the product selections are carefully curated. 

Several of the items below have also earned recognition in road.cc Recommends , indicating they have received high scores in reviews, and have been selected for this buyer's guide by at least three different individual on the team. If you do want to see your on-bike carrying options, be sure to check out our guide to the best bike pannier bags and pannier racks  too. 

The best cycling backpacks: our top picks

Oxford Aqua Evo 22L Backpack

Oxford Aqua Evo 22L Backpack

The Oxford Aqua Evo 22L Backpack is a great pack that does exactly what it promises to do – carry your stuff comfortably, securely and dryly. If you're about town in all weathers, it's ideal.

Inside, the backpack features a laptop sleeve, a couple of smaller fabric pockets and a zipped mesh one, and outside there's an 18cm-deep pocket with a waterproof zip (17cm opening), which is pretty handy if you don't want to unroll the whole thing. 

The shoulder straps are well padded (and mesh-backed for ventilation), and you get webbing chest and waist straps which are easily adjustable for a comfy, secure fit, as are the buckles for securing the opening. 

Apidura Packable Backpack 13L

Apidura Packable Backpack (13L)

Apidura's Packable 13L backpack is an excellent cycle-specific backpack that squashes down to almost nothing when not in use. It's made from a tough, waterproof rip-stop polyester that measures 7 x 8 x 9cm in its packed form. 

There are a surprising number of technical features too, such as adjustable straps, elasticated mesh pockets capable of carrying water bottles, reflective dots to add visibility on the bike, and most impressive is the fact that all the seams are tape-sealed for waterproofing – a real feat at this size, weight and price.

Also, it's worth noting that Apidura offers a lifetime materials and workmanship warranty, and will help with repairs where needed.

Proviz Reflect360 Cycling Backpack

Proviz Reflect360 Cycling Backpack

The Proviz Reflect 360 Backpack is a stunning way of boosting your visibility when riding at night. During the day the backpack is a subtle grey, but when a car's headlights fall on it, the entire bag reflects back the light.

As a backpack, the Reflect 360 fulfils its task well. It's spacious with a 30 litre capacity which is more than enough for a change of clothes, sandwiches and any other stuff you need to transport. There's a laptop sleeve too and the fabric has good waterproofing keeping your belongings dry in all but the very heaviest of downpours.

Craft Cadence Backpack

Craft Cadence Backpack

The Craft Cadence backpack is designed for commuting cyclists to carry pretty much everything they need in a stylish and comfortable manner. It's great quality and is waterproof. 

There are three storage areas to the bag: the 21-litre compartment, and two zipped pockets on the outside. Inside the main compartment are two Velcro straps holding an eight-pocket organiser sleeve. This includes a pocket for a 15in laptop plus a large, zipped pocket. There's also an A4-sized pocket and some smaller ones, plus two pen holders with a key strap.

Osprey Metron 24

Osprey Metron 24

The Osprey Metron 24 is a great pack for commuters with a 24L total capacity and a grand total of 14 storage compartments and pockets, plus two compartments that hold covers. 

Osprey makes the Metron using nylon from recycled sources, and it's said to be abrasion-resistant in case of a spill. The Metron 24 is about as feature-rich as they come, one of the great features being the helmet holder, and it offers brilliant practicality in a neat design. 

You can get a smaller 18L messenger or 22L roll-top version if you know you'll need less capacity, but the 24L tested here might turn out to be the sweetspot for most.

Camelbak H.A.W.G Commute 30 Backpack

Camelbak H.A.W.G Commute 30 Backpack

The Camelbak H.A.W.G Commute 30 Backpack is a well-made commuter backpack that is capable of carrying heavier and bulkier loads comfortably. It is well-made and backed by a lifetime guarantee.

It's not completely waterproof but the majority of the bag is made from a tough, water-resistant material, as are the zips. If that isn't enough, there is a water-resistant internal bag that can also hold a laptop easily.

More highly rated cycling backpacks

Altura Heritage 12L Backpack

Altura Heritage 12L Backpack

Altura's Heritage 12L Backpack is part of their traditionally styled Heritage range and this canvas bag certainly looks the part. It's made from a 97% cotton, 3% polyester 12oz canvas, with a water-repellent wax finish that can (mostly) handle pretty heavy rain. 

Inside is a padded sleeve designed for up to 15in laptops, plus a couple of mesh pockets, a zipped organiser pocket, and a keyring. The padded straps are adjustable, and the chest strap is removable too. The 12-litre main body closes with a zip and then rolls up for protection from rain.

Tester Lara said, "I found this size spot on for a day's commute – it takes a compact change of clothes, shoes, a laptop and the inevitable bits and bobs, though doesn't leave much space for shopping on the way home. The quite narrow shaping and thick fabric keep the contents all safe and secure, too."

Sundried Triathlon Backpack

Sundried Triathlon Backpack

The Sundried 50L Triathlon Backpack is a huge event weekender bag with so many useful pockets including four bottle holders, plus handy shoe and helmet compartments which standard rucksacks don't cater for very well. The Sundried helpfully separates these essentials for safe and easy-access storage.

Sundried's backpack measures 75 x 45 x 26cm with – as you might have guessed from the name – a capacity of 50 litres. That's a lot. With a bag so spacious that you can pack a serious amount of weight into it, it's great that it has a padded back and supportive straps that can be adjusted easily for a secure and comfortable fit.

While not strictly designed for commuting, reflective piping extends across all sides for visibility, so you could use the backpack for early morning or evening commutes, and 15-inch laptop sleeve made of mesh is also included. 

Elops Cycling Backpack Speed 520

Elops Cycling Backpack Speed 520

The Elops Cycling Backpack Speed 520 is a waterproof pack from Decathlon and it's a thoroughly practical and versatile bit of kit that's ideal for commuting and more. The design is simple but not basic, with attention to detail in its zips, reflective strips and internal pockets, and despite its 25L size, it folds down quite compactly. 

It's also comfy to wear thanks to chunky padding and supportive side straps that really hug as you move. 

Apidura City Backpack

Apidura City Backpack

The Apidura City Backpack is a lightweight and fully waterproof backpack designed for urban riding and daily commuting. The City's simplicity is one of its most appealing features. The bag features a welded waterproof construction to keep your belongings dry in any weather and its features are minimalist, with only the essential pockets. The 20-litre capacity of this bag proved to be more than enough for carrying office essentials and even some extra for a weekend-long trip.

Inside, there's a suspended laptop sleeve for secure storage and the sleeve has one zipped pocket for storing pens or other small items you don't want to fish from the bottom of the bag. On the side, there's an easy-access zipped pocket for keys and the like. Otherwise, the bag is one single rectangular pouch with flap closure that's 50cm in height, which can be extended to 56cm, and 30cm wide.

Best cycling backpacks: how to choose and what you need to know

What size backpack is best for cycling.

There's a huge range of options in rucksacks for cycling, from bike-specific packs with lots of pockets and hidey-holes to help keep your stuff organised, to walking daypacks that can be used on the bike, to ultralight bags for minimalists.

You don't want to carry too much on your back, so our recommendation is around 20-30 litres, though we have listed a couple of bigger bags for those who absolutely must take along the kitchen sink.

Are cycling backpacks waterproof?

Yes, many of the cycling backpacks listed are at least water resistant with some of them being fully waterproof. Backpacks vary in how well they keep out the wet. Roll-top bags made from seam-welded waterproof materials will generally keep out almost everything. More conventionally-constructed bags need liners to keep clothes and electronics dry; some have built-in rain covers that help.

Is it hard to ride with a backpack?

Factors such as the weight of the backpack, its design and how well it fits will impact how easy or hard it is to ride with it. We would suggest buying an adjustable backpack so you can distribute the weight evenly on your back making it more comfortable and easier to ride with. Look for backpacks with adjustable straps, padding on the shoulders and back, and a ventilated design to further enhance comfort during rides. 

The more you're going to carry, the thicker the padding on the shoulders and back needs to be. The downside of this is that a thickly-padded bag is more likely to make your back sweaty in hot weather, so look for cooling channels and vents in the padding to keep that under control.

As we've already mentioned, if you'd like to keep your back free of any extra weight and carry your luggage on the bike instead, consider  pannier bags and pannier racks instead. Just be aware that these will affect the total weight of your bike and the handling of it too, and it's important to make sure the weight is evenly distributed on each side of the bike. 

What should I look for in a cycling backpack?

When choosing a cycling backpack, you should consider water-resistance, number of storage compartments, padding and reflective details. 

In terms of the number of storage compartments, it's horses for course. Some love to have a place for everything, others prefer to rummage in one compartment. Tip for rummagers: get a bag with a light-coloured interior.

If you're using your backpack for commuting during the darker months it's important to consider reflective detailing. A backpack will cover a large part of your jacket in winter, so a bit of extra visibility is a good idea to compensate for the patches of reflective material that will be hidden. Proviz takes this to its logical conclusion with its Reflect 360 pack, which is entirely made from reflective fabric. If your pack doesn't have enough reflective patches, Proviz and others make reflective covers to boost your visibility.

Can I use a cycling backpack for other activities?

Yes, definitely. Cycling backpacks are often designed with many versatile features meaning you can use them for commuting, hiking, travelling to races and also for everyday use. 

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best travel backpack for biking

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

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16 Best Bike Bags to Wear While Pedaling Around Town

Comfortable Bags to Wear While Riding a Bike

For many of us, the pandemic has been a time to embrace another mode of transportation: the bike . The humble bicycle has allowed us to explore our own neighborhoods in a new way, and expand our reach once we felt comfortable venturing further afield again. With this hobby, though, came the realization that biking requires its own set of luggage. 

Yes, you could repurpose the travel backpack you already own while cycling, but an ideal bike bag has slightly different qualifications: it's ideally even more lightweight, made with breathable material, and won't get in your way while riding. We went on the hunt for the best cross-body bags, fanny packs , backpacks, and saddle bags to wear while pedaling around town. Below, 16 of the best bike bags for every occasion, whether you're only toting the absolute essentials or bringing along a full-on picnic .

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

All products and listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Cross-body bags

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Bellroy City Pouch

Cross-body bags can be tough on a bike, because if they sit too low on your hip, you'll be bumping the bag with every pedal. The key is to get one with an adjustable strap and a fairly slim profile. Bellroy's City Pouch fits the bill, and has a convenient slip pocket on the outside for need-to-reach items, but a zippered main compartment to keep everything else safely tucked away. Other useful features include an interior key clip and expandable fabric sides, giving you more room when you need it.

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Alexander McQueen Graffiti Logo water bottle crossbody bag

Does anyone need an Alexander McQueen water bottle bag? Of course not, but if you're a fan of the brand or are looking to splurge on something frivolous, it'll sure look good wrapped around your shoulder as you pedal around town. Practical touches include a drawstring-close top and an adjustable (and removable) strap.

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Fjallraven Kanken Art Sling

Made from recycled poly and organic cotton, with some of the proceeds benefiting Leave No Trace and The 2 Minute Foundation, this bag was designed to call attention to the amount of plastic waste found in oceans worldwide. It's also a great biking bag, as it's compact but roomy, with an exterior front pocket and large main compartment, plus adjustable straps then let you tighten it to hit at your waist, so it's not clanking against your hip or thigh as you ride.

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Timbuk2 Especial Stash Messenger Bag

When you're headed out for the day and a small cross-body just won't cut it, you can count on this Timbuk2 messenger bag to have enough room for a picnic blanket, sweater, snacks, books, or whatever other bulky items you want to bring along. It will work just as well as a commuter bag when you return to the office again or as a carry-on, and will keep you well-organized in any scenario: It has plenty of compartments inside and out, a water bottle holder, key clip, bottle opener, and a waterproof laptop compartment. The exterior is water-resistant too, with reflective touches to keep you visible on the road.

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Hydro Flask Packable Bottle Sling 

For those who rely on rental bikes, the problem of storing a water bottle is real, as many don't have bottle cages. If you're not carrying a backpack, and aren't headed out for too long, this Hydro Flask sling bag is your best bet (and much more wallet-friendly than the McQueen option). Along with your water bottle, there's space inside small stretch pockets for keys, cards, chapstick, and, depending on what model you have, a phone. It's also a great bag to have once we're traveling more frequently again, since it takes up very little room in a suitcase or duffel bag.

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Fanny packs

best travel backpack for biking

Lululemon 1L Everywhere Belt Bag

Lululemon's Everywhere belt bag will keep your things organized—inside, there are three pockets, one large and two small, on either side of the main compartment. The strap is adjustable, so you can wear it around your waist or slung across your chest, and it comes in about a dozen colors. You won't get a full-size water bottle in here, but I've fit a Kindle Paperwhite, iPhone, keys, sunglasses, chapstick, cardholder, and mask inside with no problem.

best travel backpack for biking

Cuyana Convertible Belt Bag

When you're only looking to carry your phone and a card or two, but need to be hands-free, this Cuyana belt bag will do the job, and looks a bit more put-together than a nylon fanny pack. Wear it around your waist or across your chest, and know that if you need a touch more room for things like earphones and hand sanitizer, you can add on a circle pouch that can slide onto the strap.

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Baggu Fanny Pack

Traveler senior editorial operations manager Lale Arikoglu likes this Baggu fanny pack for bike rides. With two compartments, it's roomier than most fanny packs; it also has a long enough adjustable strap to be worn across the body, over the shoulder, or around the waist. The nylon fabric makes it machine washable and weather-resistant. Plus, it comes in a variety of basics and fun colors like watermelon and pool blue.

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Cotopaxi Bataan Del Día Fanny Pack

Travel bookings editor Meredith Carey recently brought this fanny pack on a trip to Colorado , and was surprised at how much she could fit inside (both a Nalgene and her bike lock made the cut). Like many Cotopaxi products , this one is made from leftover fabric, so no two bags are exactly alike. And despite its size, it weighs just four ounces.

best travel backpack for biking

Baboon to the Moon Fanny Pack

This Baboon to the Moon fanny pack—which can be worn around your waist or looped around your chest—is a favorite of senior editor Megan Spurrell, who uses it when she is traveling light; it can fit the basics (phone, wallet, keys), and has a clip to attach a water bottle to. In case she winds up doing any errands throughout the day, she'll slide a Baggu reusable bag inside, which rolls up to next to nothing and can be looped around your handlebars or tossed in a bike basket when it's full.

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Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole tote pack

Patagonia is known for its sturdy, rugged bags that are made to last. That durability can sometimes mean bulkiness, but not with the Ultralight collection. This tote pack—which can be worn as a backpack, on your shoulder, or carried by its top handles—weighs under a pound (13.05 ounces, to be exact) and stuffs down into its own pocket for a smaller footprint when empty. On either side, you'll find stretch mesh water bottle pockets, and there are both internal and external zippered pockets. Plus, the fabric is weather resistant, so you don't have to worry about surprise rain showers, and both compression straps and a drawstring closure mean you can fit a day's worth of gear inside without it spilling out.

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Rains Rolltop Rucksack

Another solid waterproof option: This rolltop backpack from Rains, the same company that makes some of our favorite rain jackets . Designed specifically for cycling, it has an outer pocket for keeping a wallet or metro card handy, a loop strap meant to link a bike lock onto, a padded back, and adjustable shoulder and chest straps. There is a side zipper to access the laptop sleeve, handy if you plan on bringing the backpack through TSA later on.

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Tigre de Salón Briska Backpack

The best bike bags, especially when traveling, are ones you can use all day. Spurrell likes biking with this buttery soft leather backpack, which she picked up on a trip to Medellín but can be purchased online via Tigre de Salón. It's roomy enough to fit a Turkish towel, book, snack, and a few other essentials, and doesn't cover your back in a smothering way when riding a bike (helpful for hot summer days). Plus, it has adjustable straps and since it's made of a thick, natural leather, it'll stand up to the elements and only look better over time.

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On-bike bags

best travel backpack for biking

Rapha bar bag

If you're looking to take the weight off your back completely, you'll want a bag that can attach to your bike. This Rapha bar bag is great for regular bikers, whether you own a bicycle or not, as the quick-release buckles let you take it on and off the bars with ease, and a detachable longer strap means it can double as a belt bag once you park your bike. Other pros: It's made with a waterproof fabric, and has both internal and external zip pockets. (For longer rides when you're carrying more gear, find larger saddle and bar bag options here .)

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REI Ortlieb Back-Roller Urban Bike Pannier

For serious bikers, or those who don't want to or aren't able to carry anything heavy, an on-bike bag is a great option for hands-free storage. This Ortlieb model is easy to clip onto bike racks and is fully waterproof. It has enough room for a spare pair of shoes, coat, or your lunch and a change of clothes. And while it's a little awkward to carry off the bike (you'll have to hold it by the top loop), it looks nice enough to bring into the office or to a restaurant.

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Axiom Seymour Oceanweave P25 Twin Panniers

When you need even more space—say, if kids are in tow or you're bringing along lunch, get a set of twin panniers for maximum storage. Axiom makes this one out of oceanweave material created from reclaimed fish nets, and coats it with polyurethane for water resistance. It also gets points for reflective logos on the back and exterior side pockets. You'll need to get a rack separately, but it's designed to fit most, with velcro hook and loop closures and a bungee hook mount.

best travel backpack for biking


Best Mountain Bike Backpacks

From simple designs for lunch laps to high-capacity options for all-day epics, we break down our favorite mountain bike packs of the year.

Mountain bike backpack (standing with Thule Vital 8)

Switchback Travel ( Jason Hummel )

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Mountain biking can take on many forms, from hot laps on the backyard trail to long, winding singletrack through the alpine. Regardless of the riding style you gravitate toward, nearly every trip out requires you to carry water, snacks, tools, and other gear. The most common carry method is a mountain bike backpack, and below we break down our top picks of the year. Designs vary pretty widely, and important considerations include carrying comfort, interior volume, water-hauling capacity, and pockets and organization. For more background information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.   

Our Team's Mountain Bike Backpack Picks

  • Best Overall Mountain Bike Pack:  Osprey Raptor 10
  • Best Budget Mountain Bike Pack:  REI Co-op Link 15 L
  • Best High-Capacity Mountain Bike Pack:  Patagonia Dirt Roamer 20L
  • Best Bike Pack with Integrated Back Protection:  Evoc Trail Pro 10
  • Best Minimalist Mountain Bike Pack:  CamelBak Chase Vest 50 oz.

Best Overall Mountain Bike Pack

1. osprey raptor 10 ($165).

Osprey Raptor 10 mountain bike backpack

With a versatile, do-everything design and plenty of practical features, Osprey’s Raptor 10 and women’s-specific Raven 10 earn our top spot. We’ve tested multiple variations of the pack over the years, and its all-rounder nature and premium build continue to impress: The Raptor’s 10-liter capacity is spacious enough to fit extra layers, lunch, pads, and a small bike pump for longer rides, but it’s equally easy to compress it for quick lunch laps. For organizing gear, the pocket layout is extremely well sorted with a grand total of 10 zippered and stretch pockets, including a dedicated space for tools with a built-in roll pouch at the base. Carrying comfort is another highlight, and in the techy stuff and during all-day efforts, the wide shoulder straps—Osprey dubs them their “winged” harness—nicely distribute weight and give it a well-balanced feel. Tack on a quality 2.5-liter Hydraulics LT reservoir, best-in-class helmet carry, and burly 210-denier nylon construction, and the Osprey was our runaway favorite.

No pack is perfect, however, and we did have a few quibbles with the Raptor and Raven during testing. Specifically, we wish the hydration hose had a stronger magnet where it attaches to your sternum. The bite valve pops off fairly easily, and we’ve found it dangling on a couple occasions mid-descent (one tip: feeding the hose through the stretchy fabric on the sternum strap will keep it close to you if it happens to pop off). Additionally, the hipbelt pockets are set back a little far and can be slightly hard to access, although they’re a nice size for storing small items like snacks or lip balm. Finally, the Raven and Raptor are a healthy investment at $165 for the latest versions. You can save a little with an alternative the CamelBak Mule 12 ($130), but no pack puts it all together as well as the Osprey. And if you need a little extra room, both the Raptor and Raven are offered in a 14-liter version for $175. See the Osprey Raptor 10   See the Women's Osprey Raven 10

Best Budget Mountain Bike Pack

2. rei co-op link 15 l ($80) .

REI Co-op Link 15 L mountain bike pack

You can often rely on REI for quality gear at a good discount, but most of their know-how is in the hike and camp spaces. That said, we were pleasantly surprised with their budget-minded bike pack, the Link 15 L. Organization is often compromised among cheap designs—a complaint we had with the $90 Osprey Katari below—but the Link has a large main compartment, designated pouches for your wallet and bike tools, and an included 2-liter water bladder (there’s also nice routing for the tube to snake up and out of the pack). Plus, there’s no shortage of outside pockets, where it’s easy to stow a muddy layer and kneepads mid-ride. It’s true you can’t snug it down as nicely as premium alternatives, and 15 liters is likely overkill for some, but the Link is pretty well balanced thanks to the moderately wide and cushioned hipbelt (most entry-level packs use more basic and less comfortable webbing designs).

What do you give up for the REI Co-op Link's lower price? Overall refinement is a step down from pricier alternatives, and the water bladder design in particular could use improvement. Specifically, we wish it were easier to re-insert after filling—a quick-disconnect tube would certainly help—and despite being positioned on your lumbar spine to keep the center of gravity low, we occasionally felt unwanted pressure on our lower back. Compounding this, the back padding tends to crease and rub around the lumbar, which isn’t ideal for hours-long rides. For these reasons, the Osprey Raptor/Raven 10 above and other premium alternatives like the CamelBak Mule and Evoc Trail Pro below outshine the Link 15 L when it comes to overall comfort and performance. But for new or occasional riders, there’s a whole lot to like. See the REI Co-op Link 15 L

Best High-Capacity Mountain Bike Pack

3. patagonia dirt roamer 20l ($159).

Patagonia Dirt Roamer 20L mountain bike pack

Patagonia entered the mountain bike gear arena with their flagship Dirt Roamer series (jackets, pants, etc.), but hydration packs are new to the stage. The Dirt Roamer 20L here stands out as a high-volume pack that sticks to Patagonia’s ethos with a sustainable and streamlined design. The pack has a generous main compartment that’s accessed with vertically oriented zippers (we appreciate that it has two zippers for opening small sections at a time) and a separate side-access sleeve for the water reservoir. And although the design is relatively simplistic, it doesn’t skimp on organization with internal elastic loops and small pockets for separating gear. Whether you’re headed out on an all-day ride or shuttling in camera gear for the perfect photo op, the Dirt Roamer is well equipped for the job.

Sweaty backs are part of the mountain bike experience, but we found that the Patagonia fell short of alternatives like the Dakine Drafter and CamelBak Mule Pro below in terms of ventilation. Even though it boasts a mesh backpanel, we were quick to heat up and often found salt deposits from sweat on the rear of the pack. Additionally, we noticed more movement and bounce than expected off jumps and drops despite the four-compression-strap layout. To be fair, some level of movement is to be expected given the capacity, and the wide, oversized waistbelt helped with stabilization. In the end, the Dirt Roamer 20 is too much pack for many riders, but its high-capacity shape and creative zipper design make it a quality option for gear-intensive adventures. See the Patagonia Dirt Roamer 20L

Best Bike Pack with Integrated Back Protection 

4. evoc trail pro 10 ($240).

Evoc Trail Pro 10 mountain bike pack

If you gravitate toward steep and rugged descents or have a propensity for gap jumps, exposed skinnies, and other features that push the risk-reward ratio, a pack with integrated spine protection is worth considering. Within this category, we love the Evoc Trail Pro, which is snug and balanced on the roughest trails and boasts the brand’s Liteshield Plus back protector—a built-in pad engineered to absorb shock and prevent the spine from overextending in the event of a crash. On top of the helpful safety feature, the Trail Pro boasts the best hipbelt of any pack we tried: It’s supremely comfortable even when pulled snug, and stretchy Velcro straps that sit under the buckle reduce pressure and friction around the navel. And unlike many options here, the Trail Pro’s hipbelt pockets are large and easily accessible—great for on-the-go snacking and keeping your phone handy. A final bonus: The Trail Pro is offered in two sizes for dialing in a more precise fit, which is a rarity in the market.

We strongly considered the Evoc Trail Pro 10 as our top all-around pick—it’s that good. However, at $75 more than the next-most-expensive pack here (the top-ranked Osprey Raptor), it’s a hard sell for many riders, especially considering you’ll have to purchase a water bladder separately. In addition, those who aren’t pushing the limits in terms of terrain, air time, and/or speed will likely find the back protection superfluous. Another small complaint we had is that the spine protector negatively impacts breathability, so the Evoc lands on the warmer end of the spectrum (it’s noticeably hotter than standard designs like the Osprey Raptor or CamelBak Mule, although the panel can be removed). For a boost in breathability, Osprey’s Raptor Pro also includes built-in spine protection and features a slightly more ventilated backpanel design. That said, the Osprey is pricier at $280 and only available in an 18-liter capacity, while you can get the Trail Pro in 10, 16, and 26-liter versions. See the Evoc Trail Pro 10

Best Minimalist Mountain Bike Pack

5. camelbak chase vest 50 oz. ($105).

CamelBak Chase mountain bike vest

CamelBak is one of the original manufacturers of hydration packs, and their products are tried and true. The Chase Vest is no exception, featuring a thoughtful blend of running vest-like carrying comfort and organization with a cycling-specific feature set. One major draw of the vest style is its stability: The Chase is comfortable and doesn’t bounce or shift around, even on rugged trails or when catching air. The practical pocket layout is also praise-worthy, especially given the pack’s relatively low volume—the shoulder strap pocket even fits an iPhone, which has been particularly handy for checking our location on unfamiliar trails. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that the Chase Vest offers the easiest access of any design here.

One tradeoff to the Chase Vest’s snug, well-balanced fit is breathability. The nature of the vest style is that it covers more of your body—thereby making it feel warmer and more restrictive to airflow on midsummer rides. Another issue we ran into was that the CamelBak reservoir was hard to fill and felt heavy in the vest (there’s less pack to handle the bladder's weight and bulk when it’s full of water). Instead, we think of the Chase Vest as a great alternative to a hip pack: It has a larger capacity than most waist designs, includes a water reservoir and a nice array of pockets, and carries a load better thanks to the snug fit around the back—all at a very reasonable price point to boot. See the CamelBak Chase Vest   See the Women's CamelBak Chase Vest

Best of the Rest

6. camelbak skyline lr 10 ($135).

CamelBak Skyline LR 10 mountain bike pack

On the heels of CamelBak’s Chase Vest above is their Skyline LR (short for “low rider”), which is designed to maximize support along the lumbar region. How it works: By positioning the water reservoir and main compartment along the lumbar spine, the pack effectively focuses weight at the lower back and hips to keep your center of gravity low. We wore the Skyline LR on the Whole Enchilada in Moab—a trail with no shortage of drops, technical pedals, and chundery rock fields—and found it offered a supremely comfortable ride with minimal movement or shifting. We were also very pleased with the magnetic drinking hose attachment: It locks into place once attached, which keeps the hose from releasing and flopping around while riding (an issue we experienced with the Osprey Raptor above). And the tube easily disconnects from the bladder, which eliminates the hassle of having to re-route the hose after refills.

With its somewhat goofy shape, the Skyline LR 10 pack won’t be winning any fashion awards. But a positive of the layout is that the pack is a great breather, making it a solid mid-capacity option for riders who prefer the unrestrictive feel of a low-riding hip pack. Pocket access was another nitpick—a common theme with many of the packs here—as the side-wing pockets sit pretty far away from your hips and are tricky to reach without twisting your body. But if you prioritize function over looks (which many mountain bikers do), the Skyline LR 10 excels as a versatile and comfortable pack for when the going get rough. Note: There’s limited stock of both the Skyline and women’s Solstice at the time of publishing, but the packs are available at a hefty discount (around $70 on Amazon currently) while supplies last. See the CamelBak Skyline LR 10   See the Women's Solstice LR 10

7. USWE Airborne 3L ($120)

USWE Airborne 3L mountain bike pack

USWE (pronounced “you-swii”) is a Swedish brand with origins in dirt biking, and they brought that expertise into the MTB space with a unique—and eye-catching—harness design. The trademarked “No Dancing Monkey” system offers a secure, adjustable, non-restrictive fit that attaches to your chest with a single buckle (i.e., no sternum strap). The elastic straps stretch to accommodate heavy breathing but also manage to stay taut and snug enough for when your heart rate lowers. We were admittedly skeptical of the cumbersome-looking setup, but we found the harness effectively prevents major bouncing even with the 2-liter water reservoir filled. Storage is limited at just 3 liters (there are 9 and 15L capacities available), but we appreciate that USWE included a detachable 1-liter pocket, and you can purchase add-ons like a waterproof phone pocket and camera harness to boost organization.

The Airborne 3 is most similar to the CamelBak Chase Vest above, and we found that their fit and overall level of comfort were quite close. What pushes the Airborne down our rankings? For one, it lacks stretchy dump pockets for easily stowing layers, and without shoulder strap pockets, access to snacks and tools is slightly less convenient. It’s also worth noting that the design/location of the harness strap could be uncomfortable for women with larger chests. All that said, this pack has gained a lot of traction in the professional riding and racing community and for good reason—its figure-hugging, no-bounce harness works really well. See the USWE Airborne 3L

8. Thule Vital 8L ($160)

Thule Vital 8L mountain bike backpack

Thule likely isn’t the first brand that comes to mind for backpacks, but we’ve been impressed with the quality of their hiking, travel, and MTB collections. The Vital 8L here stands out in one key way: its secure and extremely practical hose attachment system. Rather than the button-sized magnets or plastic hooks used on other designs, Thule utilizes a strip of magnets (about 5 in. in length) along the right-hand shoulder strap to keep the hose in place while riding. You simply pull the nozzle as usual to drink and then release, and the hose reconnects to the strap automatically. It’s an elegant and very secure solution that we found works flawlessly.

For the rest of the pack, the Vital stacks up pretty well to big hitters from Osprey, CamelBak, and Dakine. Organization is good overall—we especially liked the mesh pockets right at the hips that are well sized for snacks and easy to access without having to remove the pack. And the Vital carries weight relatively low, which keeps it solidly in place even during steep and technical descents. At 8 liters for the biggest size, the Thule likely won’t do the trick for most full-day efforts or times of year when you need extra layers. Additionally, they omitted a helmet carry, which could be a dealbreaker for some. Overall, it’s not a home run and is a little less of an all-rounder than our top picks, but the smart hose solution and excellent all-around build quality make it a good offering nonetheless...  Read in-depth review See the Thule Vital 8L   See the Women's Thule Vital 8L

9. CamelBak Mule Pro 14 ($160)

CamelBak Mule Pro 14 mountain bike pack

If it’s not readily apparent, CamelBak leads the charge in mountain bike pack offerings, and their top-end design is the Mule Pro 14—a souped-up version of their bestselling Mule hydration pack. In terms of best uses, the pack’s larger capacity (the standard Mule is 9.5L), 3-liter water bladder, easy-to-use helmet carry, and highly breathable layout make it a great choice for long rides (the extra space also comes in handy if you haul kiddos around on a Mac Ride or Shotgun seat). For staying cool, there’s extensive use of open-weave mesh on the shoulder straps, and the sculpted backpanel has suspended mesh to keep air flowing. And injury-conscious riders will appreciate that CamelBak offers a compatible impact protection panel for an additional $55—at $215 all in, the setup handily undercuts the $240 Evoc Trail Pro above.

Why is the Mule Pro ranked here? While it has a lot of great features, including a second battery sleeve for e-bikes, it lacks the refinement of our top picks. The contoured shape impacts comfort—the base is pretty firm, and we had some complaints about rubbing along our lower back. Usable interior space is also impacted by the backpanel, and we found it difficult to truly leverage the higher capacity with bulkier items like pads. Finally, in contrast to the brand’s Skyline LR 10 above, the Mule’s hose magnet (which sits on the sternum strap) doesn’t hold well and pops off easily while riding. These complaints are enough to push the Mule Pro below alternatives like the Evoc Trail Pro (if you want back protection) and Osprey Raptor (for a traditional pack), but it remains a solid do-everything option.  See the CamelBak Mule Pro 14   See the Women's CamelBak Mule Pro 14

10. Dakine Drafter 10L ($160)

Dakine Drafter 10L mountain bike pack

Dakine first made its name in the surfing and windsurfing market in the 1980s, and the brand has more recently zeroed in on the winter sports and mountain biking spaces. The Drafter 10 here meets many of our pack needs: It has a versatile 10-liter capacity, durable construction, and very breathable backpanel design (it rose to the top in this category, alongside the Mule Pro 14 above). It has some thoughtful features, too, including compatibility with the brand’s DK Impact Spine Protector (a $50 add-on), e-bike battery storage in the main compartment, and exterior straps that nicely accommodate knee pads. On paper—and on the trail—it checks many of the boxes for the average rider.

How does the Dakine Drafter 10 compare with Osprey’s Raptor 10 above? The option for spine protection is unique to the Drafter, and we prefer its hydration hose design, which can be fed and secured along either shoulder strap rather than the across the body. They also differ in reservoir placement—the Dakine’s is along the lumbar, while the Osprey’s is vertically oriented. In this case, we think it’s a wash: The lumbar location keeps weight concentrated lower, but the Osprey’s is more evenly distributed and closer to your back. What pushes the Raptor ahead for us, however, is its very comfortable carry. We struggled getting a good fit with the Dakine, and the flared shoulder straps put extra pressure on the inside of the strap, which led to rubbing. Along with a minimalist waistbelt and the fact that it weighs an extra half-pound (something both our testers noticed), the Dakine can’t match the standout carry-ability of the Osprey.  See the Dakine Drafter 10L   See the Women's Dakine Drafter 10L

11. Osprey Katari 7 ($90)

Osprey Katari 7 mountain bike pack

The Osprey Katari 7 rounds out our list with a sleek build and sub-$100 price tag. Like with the REI Link 15 above, it’s not all cost-cutting here: Even with its no-frills, essentials-only design, the Katari can carry a bunch of water (it comes with the same 2.5L Hydraulics LT reservoir as our top pick), is offered in three capacities (1.5, 3, and 7L), and features functional stretch side pockets for small items you want easy access to. For riders who need a lot of water but not much else—think multi-hour rides in hot or desert-like regions—the concept makes a whole lot of sense.

Unfortunately, the Katari has a few notable faults. Most significantly, all our testers complained that the pack puts essentially all the weight on your shoulders. Combined with a minimalist backpanel that priorities ventilation over structure, the pack felt floppy and bounced around far more than expected for such a lightweight design. And while we like the concept of the vertical main compartment zipper (similar to that of the Patagonia Dirt Roamer above), the Osprey only has one zipper, so you can’t strategically open certain portions of the pack and will need to be mindful to prevent items from spilling out. In the end, it misses the mark for us, and we think the $10-cheaper REI Link is the more complete and well-executed budget design. But if simplicity wins out for you—the REI is admittedly pretty big with its 15-liter capacity—the Katari is a worth having on your radar. See the Osprey Katari 7   See the Women's Osprey Kitsuma 7

Mountain Bike Backpack Comparison Table

Mountain bike backpack buying advice.

  • Mountain Bike Backpack Capacities

Carrying Comfort: Shoulder Straps and Hipbelts

Pockets and organization, hydration reservoirs, additional mountain bike pack features, fit and sizing, women’s-specific mountain bike packs, breathability and ventilation, pack weight, build quality and durability.

  • Mountain Bike Backpacks vs. Waist Packs  

Mountain Bike Backpack Capacities

Like backpacks designed for other activities, mountain bike packs are available in a variety of capacities depending on your gear needs and the length of your typical ride. On our list above, designs range from the small and minimalist USWE Airborne 3L to the super spacious Patagonia Dirt Roamer 20L. For all-day and remote outings that require substantial water intake and a full workshop of tools, a bigger option like the Dirt Roamer or CamelBak Mule Pro 14 makes a lot of sense. If after-work hot laps are more your style, a smaller model like the Airborne or 2.5-liter CamelBak Chase Vest might be sufficient. And the sweet spot for many will be somewhere in between (including our top-rated Osprey Raptor 10). Below we break down the various pack volume ranges by category and best use(s).

Mountain bike backpacks (lined up together)

5 Liters and Under: Just the Essentials/Quick Rips Packs with 5 liters or fewer of carrying capacity, like the USWE Airborne 3L and CamelBak Chase Vest, are best suited for quick rides that require minimal gear and water. That said, 5 liters can fit a surprising number of essentials: keys, a bike tools, a phone, a thin jacket (like the Patagonia Houdini), and a bar. This volume can also suffice if you have additional organization on your bike in the form of an under-seat tool bag or a storage compartment on (or in) your frame. And finally, small packs are a nice option for races when you’re able to refill water and resupply at aid stations.

Mountain bike pack (wearing CamelBak Chase Vest)

6-9 Liters: The Essentials “Plus” If you’re venturing out on a longer ride, you probably need space for the essentials and then some. With 6 to 10 liters, you can fit a more protective rain shell, additional water, and a heftier first aid kit. However, this capacity is a bit of a tweener size, in our opinion: slightly larger than minimalist designs (like the USWE Airborne and CamelBak Chase mentioned above) but not quite big enough to keep you comfortable and hydrated during all-day outings. In our experience, packs in the 6- to 9-liter range (like the Osprey Katari 7 ) are best for rides that don’t last more than a few hours.

Mountain bike backpack (stuffing jacket into Osprey Katari 7)

10-15 Liters: The All-rounder Capacity The 10- to 15-liter volume is the goldilocks capacity for us and the range we’d go with if we had to choose just one pack. The versatility is hard to beat: You can use compression straps to reduce unwanted space during hot laps but then expand it into a voluminous pack for longer or more gear-intensive rides. At this volume, there’s enough space to carry a couple liters of water, and you won’t have to make as many compromises when packing (no need to decide between the brownie or the warm hat—bring them both!). We tested packs of this size on the Whole Enchilada in Moab—a classic big ride with 7,000 feet of descending —and had plenty of room to fill our reservoirs to the brim, stow additional layers for the cold morning, and bring an array of snacks and gels.

Mountain bike backpack (pointing to map)_0

16L+: Long Epics and Gear-Intensive Days If you’re an adventurous rider who gravitates toward big, epic days like Gifford-Pinchot traverses and backcountry trips to the Chicoltins, a larger pack is likely your best bet. Packs in the greater-than-16-liter category, like the Patagonia Dirt Roamer 20L and Evoc Trail Pro 26L , provide ample space for multiple layers (even a puffy jacket) to accommodate unpredictable mountain weather. They have no problem fitting items like a water filter , robust repair kit, navigational gadgets, and even more specialized equipment like an SLR camera kit or trail work tools. Keep in mind that packs this big are more likely to feel unwieldy when stuffed full—you’ll want to be cognizant of weight distribution when packing—and are decidedly overkill for the average ride, but they have their place for lengthy and gear-heavy outings. 

Mountain bike pack (Patagonia Dirt Roamer on the ground)

Reading the product descriptions above, you’ll see we make numerous references to pack comfort. A lot of factors come into play for a comfy-riding design, including fit and sizing (detailed below), but first and foremost are the shoulder straps and hipbelts. Starting with the former, we prefer light padding that offers enough cushioning for hauling a laden-down pack—a full water reservoir can weigh a surprising amount—but isn’t so bulky that it feels like it’s too far off your body. Additionally, shoulder strap shape is important, and you’ll see a number of the best options have an opened-up, winged layout to reduce restriction and potential pressure points as you reach forward to the handlebars. In general, you get nicer padding and more thoughtful shoulder strap designs as price goes up, including on packs like the Osprey Raptor 10 , CamelBak Chase Vest, and Evoc Trail Pro.

Mountain bike backpacks (fast corner with Osprey Raptor 10)

Hipbelts fall into two basic camps: webbing-only or wider shapes that feature a mesh lining. If you’re wanting only the basics and don’t plan to haul much weight or water at a time, a webbing-only belt like what’s found on the Osprey Katari can do the trick. But there’s a reason that pack is ranked at the bottom of our list—it’s just not that comfortable. The webbing strap feels restrictive when you pull it snug, is unable to distribute much weight to take it off your shoulders, and doesn’t do as good of a job keeping the pack from bouncing around through technical sections. As a result, if you’re getting a standard backpack (i.e., not a vest-style design like the CamelBak Chase), we think it’s worth opting for a wider belt. Most are very lightly padded and have a wider shape at the hips that keeps the pack close to you for better support, and some include pockets for small items like snacks.

Mountain bike backpacks (airborne with Thule Vital 8L)

It’s hard to capture your friend sending a rock-roll with a cracked phone, and no one likes a soggy, squished granola bar. For these reasons (and many more), well-designed pockets and compartments are an important consideration when choosing a pack. Some riders prefer the simplicity of a single large pocket (like what you get with the Patagonia Dirt Roamer ), while others will appreciate a wider assortment of smaller spots for keys, a wallet, a phone, and bike tools. It’s also nice to have a separate space or external straps to stash a wet or muddy layer without dirtying or soaking your other gear. Final organizational features to consider include a dedicated tool kit pouch, a helmet attachment (like Osprey’s LidLock mechanism), an e-bike battery pocket, a water bladder sleeve (which we cover more in depth below) and a blinker light attachment—just to name a few.

Mountain bike backpack (detachable pocket on USWE Airborne)

In general, we’ve found that most mountain bike packs don’t prioritize pocket accessibility—perhaps as a way to discourage fumbling with gear while riding. That said, we appreciate the ability to quickly retrieve items like a snack or our phone, because stopping and taking off a backpack just to grab a bite of a granola bar can be a real annoyance. A few designs above are better equipped for the job than most. The CamelBak Chase Vest , for instance, has handy pockets on the shoulder straps (one major draw to the vest style), while the Evoc Trail Pro boasts large hipbelt pockets that are easy to access while riding.

Mountain bike backpack (phone in shoulder pocket)

Most mountain bike packs come with a hydration reservoir (also commonly referred to as a bladder), but some brands, like Evoc, require that you purchase one separately. On our list, Osprey, REI, Dakine, Patagonia and USWE all use HydraPak-brand reservoirs (though they might add their own design features), while CamelBak uses their own line of bladders. Below we break down important design considerations between the various sizes and styles. Reservoir Capacities Hydration-equipped mountain bike packs generally come with a reservoir in the 1- to 3-liter range—and most of the time, this decision is made for you when you purchase your pack. For example, the REI Co-op Link 15 L features a 2-liter reservoir, while the CamelBak LR 10 comes with a 3-liter bladder. That said, it’s often possible to mix and match reservoirs. If you’re biking in particularly warm weather or know you’ll be out for a long time without the ability to refill, bumping up to a larger model can be a good idea—just make sure it fits inside your pack. And while it’s also possible to swap in a smaller-capacity reservoir, the easier solution is to just fill your existing bladder halfway. Pro tip: If you go this route, invert the reservoir after filling and suction out air through the hose to mitigate sloshing.

Mountain bike backpack (reservoir attached)

Openings Styles: Slider vs. Twist Cap Reservoirs generally feature one of two primary opening mechanisms: a top opening that folds and seals with a slider (like those from HydraPak) or a large, threaded opening with a twist-off cap (like those from CamelBak). The slider on a HydraPak bladder is arguably easier to fill solo thanks to the bigger opening. We’ve also found the lid on many CamelBak designs to be a bit finicky—we’ve soaked our packs after failing to line up the threads precisely or tightly enough on several occasions. This is largely a matter of personal preference, however, and the opening style on your bladder may or may not be an important consideration for you.

Mountain bike backpack (filling reservoir)

Bite Valves Bite valves are a convenient way to hydrate while pedaling, and the mechanism is very simple: Gently compress the valve by biting down, and water will begin flowing through the hose as you suck. The primary difference between valves is the on/off mechanism: CamelBak’s and Osprey's feature a lever, while most HydraPak designs twist open and closed. We've found the majority of bite valves are fairly easy to use and leak-free, although we’ve found that CamelBak’s require less suction, which is certainly a bonus (they claim their Crux reservoirs  offer 20% more water per sip, which lines up with our experiences). Bite valves are imperfect and occasionally fall off—we’ve already lost one on our Patagonia Dirt Roamer—but fortunately, it’s an easy and cheap (typically under $10) replacement.

Mountain bike backpacks (bite valves)

Hose Attachment: Magnet or Clip When you’re pumping corners and scaling rooty trails, your hands aren't free to reach to resecure your bladder hose as they might be when you’re running or hiking. With that in mind, we really value an easily accessible hose attachment, and especially one that doesn’t flop around while riding. Most hoses are held in place by a quick-release magnet or clip. The majority of packs above use the former, which makes attaching and unattaching very easy—place the magnets close to each other and let physics do the rest. The magnet is located either across the body on the sternum strap (common on Osprey packs but also found on the CamelBak Mule Pro) or on the same side as the hose (like the Dakine Drafter  and Thule Vital).

Of note: We’ve found that the hose occasionally squiggles out of place with the across-the-body design. To combat this, Patagonia, REI, and most CamelBak packs have a clip to keep the hose in place, which involves unclipping it in order to sip—a somewhat tedious step to execute while riding, but arguably worth the effort for the added security. 

Mountain bike backpack (magnetic bite valve attachment)

Reservoir Shape and Placement Water is heavy and prone to leaking, so the location of your reservoir is a detail that shouldn’t be overlooked. Some packs, like the Patagonia Dirt Roamer, house the reservoir in a separate compartment to ensure it’s protected from sharp equipment (and to help keep your gear dry if it leaks). Others have a sleeve inside the main compartment with a clip for suspending the reservoir to keep it from slipping downward as it empties.

There are also differences in bladder positioning: Some packs have vertically oriented pockets, so the reservoir lays flush against your back, while others (like the CamelBak Skyline LR 10 and REI Link 15) position the bladder low on the lumbar spine. This will largely come down to what feels most comfortable for you, but we’ve found the low reservoir placement to be great in terms of overall stability. Finally, it’s important to note that some bladders—including those that come with the LowRider and Dakine Drafter—are specifically designed to fit in their respective pockets, meaning they can’t be transferred between packs.

Mountain bike backpacks (CamelBak packs next to each other)

Helmet Attachment A dedicated helmet attachment system is nice if you’re looking to stow your lid during an uphill car shuttle, on a hike-a-bike section of trail, or grabbing a bite après-ride. Some riders also carry their bike helmet on their pack during long climbs on forest service roads, particularly in hot conditions. Depending on your use of the feature, this could be an important consideration or inconsequential (we land on the former). But few things scream “gaper” more than a helmet dangling by its chin strap, bouncing and clanking around as you walk into the brewery after your ride. If you anticipate using a helmet carrying system, designs range from quite simple (like the compression straps on the REI Link 15) to fairly sophisticated (like the chin strap slot on the CamelBak Mule Pro ). Our favorite is Osprey’s LidLock system, which is essentially a well-laced bungee strap with a rigid plastic plate to secure the helmet in place.

Mountain bike backpack (helmet attached)

Integrated Back Protection Riders pushing their limits and learning new tricks may benefit from a pack that incorporates back protection, like the Evoc Trail Pro. How it works: An impact-absorbing panel at the back safeguards your spine against rocks and other sharp objects that could cause damage during an unintentional spill while also preventing it from overextending. Importantly, there are two levels of protection available, and both the Evoc Trail Pro and CamelBak Mule Pro (with the $55 Impact Protector Panel add-on) boast level 2 protection (EN 1621-2), which meets the highest standard for impact absorption in the event of a crash.

Mountain bike pack (Evoc Trail Pro on aggressive trail)

In terms of downsides, protector panels inevitably add weight and bulk, but the good news is that they’re removable for less demanding rides. This also means they’re easy to replace—like a mountain bike helmet , a back protector’s integrity is compromised once impacted, and we highly recommend purchasing a new panel after a crash. Of note: Evoc will evaluate any of their protectors’ integrity and send a replacement for free if it’s been damaged.

Friction points are inevitable during long days in the saddle, and it’s essential that you find a pack that fits. In addition to being more comfortable, a well-fitting pack will also feel more stable while riding. Most designs are only offered in a single size (the Evoc Trail Pro and Patagonia Dirt Roamer are two exceptions), but the good news is that adjustable sternum, waist, and shoulder straps are nearly universal. With the ability to move and adjust the straps, we’ve had no issues sharing a pack among riders of multiple sizes. No two bodies are the same, however, and we highly recommend trying packs on before you buy to ensure you can get a snug (but not restrictive) and comfortable all-around fit.

​​Mountain bike backpack (USWE Airborne harness closeup)

While most of the packs on our list (and on the market) are one-size-fits-all, many do come in a women’s-specific version. However, the differences between men’s and women’s designs are relatively minor. In the case of the Osprey Raptor (men’s version) and Raven (women’s), the Raven has a slightly shorter torso length and comes in different colorways. For the Mule Pro, CamelBak states that the women’s model has a different fit and shape than the men’s version, including a more contoured shoulder harness. In the end, we recommend going with whichever model fits and feels best—regardless of the labeling.

Mountain bike backpack (wearing the Osprey Raven 10)

Since mountain biking is a highly aerobic and often sweaty sport, breathability is a top consideration for many riders. And while many of the packs we tested advertise ventilated backpanels and sweat-wicking technology, overall performance varies quite a bit—striking a good balance between a snug fit and maximum airflow is no small feat. The Patagonia Dirt Roamer and CamelBak Chase Vest, for example, sit close to the back and don’t rank highly in terms of overall ventilation. Conversely, the mesh backpanels on the CamelBak Mule Pro, Dakine Drafter, and Osprey Raptor/Raven are positioned farther away from the body (or have offsetting to padding to create some space), allowing air to flow between your back and the pack. We called out any notable outliers—on both sides of the spectrum—in the write-ups above, but if you tend to run warm or prefer long, hard days in the saddle, you’ll likely want to opt for a suspended mesh design over a close-fitting backpanel.

Mountain bike backpack (CamelBak Mule Pro backpanel)

Pack weight is dependent on multiple factors, including capacity, fabric thickness, and number of features—among others. On our list above, the lightest option is the CamelBak Chase Vest   at a scant 10 ounces, while the heaviest is Dakine Drafter 10L at 2 pounds even. While that’s a relatively small range, it’s important to consider what you’re getting for the added heft. In the case of the Dakine Drafter, that means thick fabrics that hold up well to long-term use, dedicated e-bike battery storage (among myriad other pockets), and exterior straps for accommodating bulky items like knee pads. By contrast, the Chase Vest is decidedly minimalist with its streamlined coverage, flimsier build, and limited feature set.

A final consideration is the weight of your typical load—stuffing the lightweight Chase Vest with an SLR camera and extensive toolkit would likely make for a bouncy, unwieldy ride. If you’re partial to long days in the saddle that require a lot of gear, we’d recommend going with a burlier (i.e., heavier) pack. From our experience, the most balanced designs land in the 1- to 2-pound range.

Mountain bike backpack (riding with the Dakine Drafter)

Given the inherently rough nature of mountain biking, the packs above are all designed to withstand considerable use and abuse. However, some are better equipped for the job than others. Fabric denier is a common measurement of fabric thickness, and we've included the listings for the pack body when available in the table above. Materials like heavy-duty nylon (often 200 denier and up) as well as strong, waterproof zippers are good indicators of overall durability. While none of the packs above threatened to unravel at the seams during testing, there were a few that stood out in terms of all-out toughness and build quality, including the Evoc Trail Pro and Dakine Drafter —the two heaviest designs on our list, which is no coincidence. 

Mountain bike backpack (closeup of Evoc logo)

Mountain Bike Backpacks vs. Waist Packs

Out on the singletrack, you’ll likely encounter folks who are adamant wearers of waist packs (also known as hip packs or fanny packs) and others who are proponents of traditional backpacks. At the end of the day, a decision between the two designs largely boils down to your intended use(s) and personal preference. By nature, backpacks tend to have more volume (7-25L), which translates to more water-carrying capacity and additional space for a windbreaker , snacks, and tools—a great fit for longer days out. Waist packs, on the other hand, are lower-volume (typically 1-5L) and better suited for shorter rides or days at the bike park. Most waist packs fit just the essential items (e.g., a granola bar, tool, and phone), and some offer detachable holsters for securing a water bottle.

Mountain bike backpacks (hip pack alternative)

One consideration to keep in mind is that overloaded waist packs can feel unstable and bouncy, while backpacks distribute weight more evenly and keep the load closer to your back. However, with more coverage comes less breathability. Waist packs are generally cooler on hot summer days, but don’t be fooled—your lower back produces a lot of sweat, and the thickness and construction of the hipbelt can have a sizable impact on ventilation. Some riders also like the added assurance of having full coverage along their back in the event of a fall—although for the utmost in protection, you’ll want to go with a dedicated protector pack like the Evoc Trail Pro. In the end, both have their places and we find ourselves rotating between designs depending on the adventure of the day. For our favorite waist packs, we currently swap between the simple Dakine Hot Laps 1L and feature-rich Patagonia Dirt Roamer 3L . Back to Our Top Mountain Bike Pack Picks   Back to Our Mountain Bike Pack Comparison Table

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Best bikepacking bags 2024: A buyer's guide for multi-day adventures

We share the best bikepacking bags for multi-day adventures and how to choose the best for you

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Female cyclist riding a bike that's equipped with some of the best bikepacking bags

The quick list

  • 1. Best for large loads
  • 2. Best for small loads
  • 3. Best for heavy loads
  • 4. Easiest to use
  • 5. Best bar bag
  • 6. Most versatile
  • 7. Best for bulk
  • 8. Best for volume
  • 9. Most streamlined
  • 10. Best small bag
  • 11. Easiest access
  • 12. Most serious
  • 13. Most durable
  • 14. All-rounder
  • How to choose

How we test

The list in brief ↴ Saddle packs 1. Best for large loads 2. Best for small loads 3. Best for heavy loads 4. Easiest to use Handlebar bags 5. Best bar bag 6. Most versatile 7. Best for bulk 8. Best for volume Top tube bags 9. Most streamlined 10. Best small bag 11. Easiest access Frame bags 12. Most serious 13. Most durable How to choose How we test

The best bikepacking bags will let you travel light on your bike while still carrying all the luggage you need for a multi-day trip. While bicycle touring is a long-established pursuit, bikepacking is far newer. 

Certainly, its roots are to be found in traditional touring and Audaxing, but whereas touring usually means a specialist touring bike designed for stability and mounting points for a rack and panniers , most of the best bikepacking bags can be attached directly to the bike's frame, giving you much more flexibility in what you ride and where you can go.

The resurgence in self-supported bike racing on both road and mountain bikes coupled with the interest in all things gravel has led to greater exploration of multi-day rides that piece together both on and off-road sections, all in the pursuit of fun and adventure. 

Today it appears that bikepacking could well be on its way to becoming as firmly rooted in cycling culture as traditional touring - and the development of specific bikepacking bags that don’t require pannier racks has certainly aided its growth.

Coupled with the best bikes for bikepacking , these lightweight bikepacking bags, mounted to the frame, handlebars and seatpost, allow you to carry varying loads on both roads and trails. This makes them adaptable for a range of self-supported trips, from mini-adventures to ultra-endurance events and more. 

We've got loads of bikepacking advice on the website - check out our bikepacking guide that contains everything you need to know to get started and our bikepacking kit list with absolutely everything you need to go bikepacking . 

There's a whole array of clothing designed to help you squeeze in that bit more, like the best cargo bib shorts , with pockets for an extra energy gel or bar . And our guides to the best gravel and adventure bikes and the best touring bikes will help you select the perfect steed for your next bikepacking adventure.

Whether you're planning on a quick over-nighter equipped with little more than a camping stove and a bivvy bag or a trip of a longer duration, we've found the best bikepacking bags and multi-day bike bags on the market. And If you’re new to bikepacking, at the bottom of the page our buyer's guide gives you more detail on all of the things to consider when buying bike luggage.

blackburn outpost seat pack

Best for large loads

11 liters is a lot of carrying capacity, and the waterproof Blackburn Outpost does its job very well. The roll-top design is easy to use and attaching it to the bike is very simple. It did catch the tester's legs a little though, so check your saddle/leg/bag combo.

Read more below

Topeak Backloader Bag

Easiest to use

Available in 3 sizes, the Topeak Backloader features waterproof fabric whilst an air purge valve and compression straps reduce its bulk and stabilise the load. Pricing is good although the bag is a little heavier than some on the market.

restrap bar pack 10l

Best bar bag

With a 10-liter capacity and a roll-top closure, Restrap's Bar Pack is perfect for larger loads. There is a smaller compartment to separate the cargo and allow access to some items on the go whilst the waterproof fabric kept everything dry.

Chrome Urban Ex Handlebar

Most versatile bar bag

Whether used for long trips or commuting, on or off the bike, Chrome's Urban EX bar bag ticked a lot of boxes. The roll-top closure was easy and secure to use, the tough fabric proved durable and the included shoulder strap added extra convenience.

Evoc Top Tube Pack

Best small bag

Evoc's Top Tube Pack might only have a 0.5 liter capacity, but the bag's rigid sides and waterproof zip keep the contents secure and stable. Attachment is simple, with just 3 Velcro straps and the addition of a cable port is a nice touch for keeping any handlebar tech charged up.

Restrap Frame Bag Large

Best for serious bikepackers

The 5 Velcro straps used to secure Restrap's frame bag hold it very securely, and meant that it didn't sway or wobble at all. There is access to the 4.5 liter capacity from either side and a divider to help organization whilst the bag is virtually waterproof save for the handy cable port hole.

Best bikepacking bags

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

Saddle packs

Best bikepacking seat pack for carrying large loads.

Blackburn Outpost Seat Pack with Dry Bag which is one of the best bikepacking bags

1. Blackburn Outpost Seat Pack with Dry Bag

Our expert review:


Reasons to buy, reasons to avoid.

The Blackburn Outpost seat pack is a clever solution to add a lot of capacity and flexibility without bolting anything onto your bike. The bag itself is a roll-top dry sack and sits in a separate carrier that attaches to your bike, so it's easy to remove the bag for access in camp. 

However, it does recommend not attaching to a carbon seat post (but we have in the past). It provides a great level of waterproofing, and its position does act as a bit of an ass-saver, but the extra weight up high does take a bit of getting used to.

The Velcro attachment straps were unfortunately noticeable on the back of the legs when pedalling, something worth considering if you're planning on being in the saddle for multiple days.

Read more: Blackburn Outpost seat pack full review

Best bikepacking seat pack for smaller loads

Miss Grape Cluster 7 Waterproof Seatpost Bag which is one of the best bikepacking bags

2. Miss Grape Cluster 7

The Cluster bag is the smallest of Italian brand Miss Grape's seat post bags at 7 liters, which means that it works well for shorter seatpost lengths and shorter trips, although webbing loops on top allow stowage of extra items outside the main compartment. The rubber straps help to prevent damage to the bike and ensure a stable fit. 

The roll-down top ensures water resistance, which we tested in a storm. Loaded up, the bag can sag a little, although it avoids sway and doesn't rub against the thighs as you pedal.

Read more: Miss Grape Cluster 7 seat pack full review

Best bikepacking seat pack for heavy loads

Tailfin AeroPack S which is one of the best bikepacking bags

3. Tailfin AeroPack S

There are several rear bikepacking Tailfin setups, all of which will require the Tailfin rack system. The whole setup with carbon option will set you back over £300 / $400, although there is an alloy rack version that is £70 / $90 cheaper, but a couple of hundred grams more in weight (but you do gain three extra mounts for the ability to add other bottle cages or luggage).

The frame-mounted system boasts to be quick release unlike traditional racks, coming free in a claimed 30 seconds, with either QR or thru-axle compatibility. The seatpost connection is secure and kind to carbon frames and is designed to wrap around any size or shape of seatpost, including deep aero.

The total maximum load for the racking system is a substantial 9kg. With two Transcontinental Races under its belt, the fully waterproof system has won plenty of fans. On test, we found the system to be ace, with the design simplicity and ease of use making you forget the price on the first ride.

Read more: Tailfin Aeropack S Rigid Seat Pack full review

Best bikepacking seat pack for ease of use

Topeak Backloader Bag which is one of the best bikepacking bags

4. Topeak Backloader Bag

The Backloader from Topeak has been specifically designed for bikepacking as a streamlined way of carrying gear. It is constructed using what Topeak says is a lightweight, highly water-resistant and durable fabric.

The pack has compression straps to help condense its waistline, which should reduce the pendulum effect, and a built-in air release button helps reduce the inner bag further. Available in 6, 10 or 15-liter options, it uses both clips and a Velcro mounting system attached to the saddle rails and seat post.

Handlebar bags

Best bikepacking handlebar bag on test.

Restrap Bar Pack which is one of the best bikepacking bags

5. Restrap Bar Pack

Restrap's 10-liter Bar Pack is made from durable, waterproof nylon. It has an easy-to-use roll-top that's closed using two buckles, with this main compartment complemented by a smaller secondary compartment that uses a Velcro closure. Essentially this means that you can still access items while on the go. On test we loved this combination, with the roll-top being a real winner.

The bag's generous 10L capacity allowed us to carry all we'd want to in a bar bag, with the compression straps doing a neat job of keeping everything in place. The additional details of both a D-lock holder and bungee webbing only added to the Bar Pack's functionality and appeal.

Read more: Restrap Bar Pack full review

Best bikepacking handlebar bag for versatility

Chrome Urban Ex Bar Bag which is one of the best bikepacking bags

6. Chrome Urban Ex Handlebar Bag 2.0

The Chrome Urban Ex is both well-designed and well-made. The roll-top closure makes it easy to access your gear and is suitably robust. Likewise, the rest of the bag feels equally durable, with a tough waterproof fabric on the bag's exterior and a decent level of padding on the inside of the bag. Its smaller size means that it's great for everyday use while still being practical for longer trips. The inclusion of a shoulder strap only helps to increase the bag's versatility. 

Read more: Chrome Urban Ex Handlebar Bag 2.0 full review

Best bikepacking handlebar bag for easy carrying of bulky kit

Topeak Frontloader Bar Bag which is one of the best bikepacking bags

7. Topeak Frontloader

With an 8-liter capacity, the Topeak Frontloader bag is a good option for light but bulky items like a sleeping bag. There's a harness which can remain attached to the bars and a separate, removable dry bag that opens at each end. An air valve lets you compress the contents down more. The bag and harness combined weigh 500g and will take a maximum 5kg load.

With one sealed pocket, the Frontloader isn't the best bag for access while on the go, but it works well to add plenty of extra carrying capacity. It's stable and doesn't affect the bike's handling, although it can interfere with control cables on some bikes.

Read more: Topeak Frontloader bar bag full review

Best bikepacking handlebar bag for large volume

Ortlieb Handlebar Pack QR which is one of the best bikepacking bags

8. Ortlieb Handlebar Pack QR

Rather than the more usual straps or permanent bolt-on support, the Ortlieb bag has a plastic bracket on which the bag hangs. This attaches without tools to the bars, making it easy to remove when not required and preventing the bag from rubbing on the frame.

The 11-liter capacity means that you can pack a lot into the bag, although it's a little wide for drop bar bikes, when the side mesh pockets are really only suitable for gel wrappers.  Ideally, you need at least 44cm bar width to take full advantage of the bag's capacity. 

Read more: Ortlieb Handlebar Pack QR full review

Top tube bags

Best top tube bag for streamlined space.

Restrap Race Top Tube Bag which is one of the best bikepacking bags

9. Restrap Race Top Tube Bag

The 1.5-liter capacity and narrow design of the Restrap Race bag means that it's less likely to interfere with your pedalling, while mesh side pockets let you add extra stowage for items like gels. It is attached to the bike with Velcro straps and a bungee cord.

Waterproofing proved fine for moderate rainfall and the bag feels durable. There's plenty of room for a phone, arm warmers and snacks, although we'd have liked better internal compartmentation. 

Read more: Restrap Race Top Tube Bag full review

Best top tube bag for smaller capacity

Evoc Top Tube Pack which is one of the best bikepacking bags

10. Evoc Top Tube Pack

The Evoc Top Tube Bag provides 0.5 liters of extra carrying capacity for those things you need to get to easily on your ride. Its rigid build means that you can fit heavier items like a (smaller) phone as well as gels and the like. There's a waterproof zip and an internal mesh pocket that helps with organisation.

The bag is easy to attach to the bike via three Velcro straps and remains firmly in place. There's adequate space, it's durable and the Evoc bag isn't expensive for a quality build.

Read more: Evoc Top Tube Pack full review

Best bikepacking frame bag for ease of access

Lezyne Energy Caddy XL which is one of the best bikepacking bags

11. Lezyne Energy Caddy XL

This useful ride companion is best for those outings where you want to keep heavier items out of your pockets, or simply need to carry more ride essentials. The fabric is robust and water-resistant and the zip is easy to operate on the move.

Attached to the top tube and steerer with Velcro, we found that these straps were a little long on our test bike, so the bag would work best on oversized tubing.

Read more: Lezyne Energy Caddy XL full review

Best bikepacking frame bag serious bikepackers

Restrap Frame Bag which is one of the best bikepacking bags

12. Restrap Frame Bag Large

Restrap offers the Frame Bag in three sizes, with the Large offering 4.5 liters capacity and its 50cm length fitting a size 56 frame perfectly - it should work for a 54 too.

Attachment is via three rubberised Velcro straps on the top tube plus two more on the down tube and a further one on the seat tube, making sure that the bag doesn't move around as you ride. It holds its shape well too and is good for heavier items.

Full-length zips on both sides and a central divider, along with internal pockets help with organisation. It's waterproof, save for some ingress through the cable port on the top of the bag.

Read more: Restrap Frame Bag Large full review

Best bikepacking frame bag for durability

Ortlieb Top Tube Frame Pack 4L which is one of the best bikepacking bags

13. Ortlieb Top Tube Frame Pack 4L

This half-frame bag is designed to make the best use of real estate inside the front triangle without compromising water bottle access. Compatible with anything from carbon road frames to full suspension mountain bikes, it's the ideal place to keep smaller items that you need to access easily, including snacks, electric items and toiletries.

Ortlieb says that the bag is fully waterproof and uses sturdy Velcro straps to attach to the top, head and seat tubes. There's a 3 liter version available as well.

Thule backpack

Thule Vital 8 Backpack

Space in bikepacking bags is always at a premium, so an effective way of adding a little extra capacity is making use of a rucksack. First thing to highlight is the general good advice of letting your bike bear the load rather than your shoulders - heavy kit is still best carried on the bike, and I’ve found going for a smaller sized backpack like this helps to limit the inclination to overpack (and helps stop your kit rattling about so much, too).

There are additional benefits in using a rucksack. I’ve appreciated the convenience of keeping my valuables in the Thule Vital 8, rather than storing them in a top tube bag and having to fish them out and stuff them in my pockets when walking into shops to pick up supplies (and often overstuffing my pockets with those as well!)

Beyond that, by making use of the hydration pack that comes with the Thule Vital 8, that means the space that my water bottles take up can be used by a larger frame bag, which is a more efficient way of using the main triangle of the bike. Of course, you can get this benefit just by using a hydration pack in a full frame bag, but it is easier refilling when the bladder is in your backpack rather than in your frame bag.

The range of pockets and stability when riding with the Thule Vital 8 backpack is great (the latter is somewhat helped by the fact you can’t pack too much into the 8l volume the bag provides). The one downside is that the clip for the stash space (useful for stuffing a windshell or waterproof) has to be undone for you to fully open the main compartment. This adds an extra step and means that the waterproof jacket tends to flop out. It’s frustrating as if the clip was simply on the other side of the zip, neither of those things would be an issue.


Buyers guide to how to choose the best bikepacking bags, do i need a seat pack for bikepacking trips.

Seat packs are the modern alternative to racks and panniers - but some do feature a lightweight supportive rack. These offer great versatility as you can fit them to almost any bike in a matter of minutes (you'll need to look at specific models if you run a dropper post though).

These seatpost bags typically mount using straps around the seatpost and through the saddle rails. Check that you have plenty of seatpost available for the size of the bag attachment, and smaller riders may find they'll have to opt for a smaller capacity bag here.

Waterproofing varies between models and also has a noticeable impact on cost. Opting for a fully waterproof seat pack (or any bikepacking bag for that matter) will make your life much easier at the end of a long, wet day in the saddle. Alternatively, invest in some good dry bags to pack inside your bags to keep your kit dry.

Often with a generous capacity, a seat pack can be a great place to store bulkier items such as your sleeping bag, clothing and bivvy bag. It may take some time to get used to the feeling of riding with a full seat pack, as your centre of gravity will be raised higher which will affect handling, hence why they are best used for lighter items.

What should I store in a handlebar bag?

Handlebar bags offer great storage capacity at the front of your set-up, both for drop bar and flat bar bikes. For bikepacking trips, the larger bags offer more space, although they're best suited to large and bulky items just like seat packs, as they can be harder to get in and out of quickly.

Mounting-wise, it might take a bit of fiddling to get your dashboard set up just right, especially if you are using a bike computer and lights too. Bar shape will also play a role in system compatibility, although many will work across both straight and drop bar cockpits. However, you will need to consider how they work with the space between the shifters, how much drop there is on your bike from bar to front wheel and your front-end cabling before deciding on capacity.

You might find a handlebar harness is a good alternative for you. This allows you to mount anything from a tent or sleeping bag to a drybag or small duffel bag in front of your bars. Again, like any front bag, you'll need to think about cockpit size, shape and braking, with disc brakes being preferable and cantilever the least compatible.

Best bikepacking bags

How do I choose a frame bag for bikepacking?

Do I need a full or half-frame bag - and how do I pack it?

Choose between full-frame bags that fit inside the whole front triangle down to the bottom bracket, or smaller half-frame bags that run along the top tube and leave space for your water bottles. If you're going for the first option, you'll need to think about how else to store your water, for example using a bladder and hose system in the frame bag or on your back.

Although frame bags can be a great way to make use of space on the bike for storage, you'll need to carefully check for compatibility. Smaller frames, sloping top tubes and suspension can make fitting tricky, which is why some people opt to go for a custom-made frame bag.

The other important point about frame bags is that you'll need to learn to pack them well. This narrow space doesn't lend itself to bulky items but is better suited to storing flatter kit, thus resulting in the bag bulging less and reducing the possibility of interference with either you and your pedalling or cranks. If using a half-frame bag, this is a great option for small items that you like to keep close to hand, including snacks, electricals, and toiletries.

Best bikepacking bags

Are there other bags well-suited to bikepacking?

Yes, frame, seat and bar bags aren't the only way for you to carry your gear on a bikepacking trip.

Having a small bag that you can gain easy access to while on the bike can be a game changer in terms of not having to dismount, which is easier said than done when you have a fully laden bike to balance, and you can simply reach in while on the move for food or electrical items.

Snack pouch bags can be very versatile, often with Velcro straps meaning you can fit them to almost any bike. If you don't want to wear anything with pockets on a short blast or you are looking for extra storage on a week-long trip, these little bags can make a big difference.

Topeak Versacage

The obvious alternative to bags strapped to your frame is to cantilever them over your wheels in the form of panniers. These will significantly increase your carrying capacity, but that in turn will slow your progress.

If you have a bike intended for touring or bikepacking, you might find the forks come with leg mounts for extra bottle cages, and there are also after-market options that allow you to clamp on additional mounts. These immediately give you increased carrying capacity, either for water or an extra bag.

Bikepacking bags can only really be assessed by using them extensively; what may be unnoticeable or seem inconsequential at home might turn into a real issue after 3 nights away or 100km into a tough ride. Luckily, Cycling Weekly has a number of keen and experienced bikepackers on hand to put the bags through their paces. 

Ease of attachment, stability on the bike and packability are all key considerations for all bikepacking bags, whatever their size. Durability and weatherproofness are also key, as is how the bags interact with the rider in use.

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After winning the 2019 National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships and claiming the plushie unicorn (true story), Stefan swapped the flat-bars for drop-bars and has never looked back. 

Since then, he’s earnt his 2ⁿᵈ cat racing licence in his first season racing as a third , completed the South Downs Double in under 20 hours and Everested in under 12 .

But his favourite rides are multiday bikepacking trips, with all the huge amount of cycling tech and long days spent exploring new roads and trails - as well as histories and cultures. Most recently, he’s spent two weeks riding from Budapest into the mountains of Slovakia . 

Height: 177cm

Weight: 67–69kg

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The best cycling kit bags | Five bags to carry your gear to rides and races

Get your riding gear in order with these versatile carry-alls

Russell Burton / Our Media

The best cycling kit bags can make for a great alternative to the backpacks if you're travelling to or from the start of a ride or race.

Cycling kit bags provide a compact, structured solution when you're heading on a riding holiday and can also be used for organising your kit while commuting.

Here are five of the best cycling bags as tested by BikeRadar.

Best cycling kit bags in 2024

Ogio endurance 7.0 duffel bag.

best travel backpack for biking

  • Price: £95 / $170 as tested
  • Pros: Comfortable to carry; bright lining helps when locating items; vented compartments
  • Cons: Could use another strap

There’s a pocket for every conceivable item, from snacks and bottles to helmets and shoes . The soft-lined hard case for glasses and electronics is useful.

You get enough storage for a long weekend’s worth of kit, and the main section is lined with a bright material, which makes small items easy to find.

It’s comfy to carry full, thanks to broad shoulder straps and a padded back panel. The expandable wet-kit pocket is handy, and the shoe compartment is vented to aid drying.

The only chink in the Ogio Endurance's armour is that there’s no carrying handle, just the shoulder straps.

dhb Transition bag

best travel backpack for biking

  • Price: £75 / $95 / €85 / AU$130 as tested
  • Pros: Easy access to gear; plenty of pockets; removable helmet holder
  • Cons: Webbing gets caught in the zips

The Transition bag scores points with its numerous pockets, aiding kit organisation. These include a main compartment that’s easily accessible thanks to a long double-pull zip, a separate shoe section, stash pockets on the side and top, and removable helmet webbing.

Side straps cinch in non-full loads well. A decent back panel and shoulder straps make it comfy to wear, with the former also stopping it collapsing. Waist and sternum straps add stability.

The downsides are the top of the bag is a little floppy when opened up, and the helmet webbing is prone to catching in the zips. There’s also limited wet/dry separation.

Mudhugger Kit bag

best travel backpack for biking

  • Price: £38 as tested
  • Pros: Changing mat avoids soggy feet
  • Cons: Doesn't keep structure when empty; not the largest

The Mudhugger represents excellent value with two sturdy bags and a changing mat included in the price. The larger bag is huge, and has a sleeve on one side to neatly stash the mat in.

We found the slightly smaller one handy for separating dirty kit from clean, and big enough for a single day’s riding kit if we were limited on space.

The padded changing mat keeps feet warm, dry and comfortable when you’re stripping off post-ride. We’d have liked the mat to be larger though.

We also found the mesh sleeve in the smaller bag can snag when you’re stuffing kit in. Both bags collapse when empty, making them trickier to fill.

Scott Travel Softcase 70

Scott Travel Softcase 70L case

  • £250 / $260 / €250 as tested
  • Pros: Solid construction; big wheels; protects items well
  • Cons: Pricey; would benefit from kit dividers

The Softcase 70 has plenty of features to make travel easier, and we found the two internal compartments spacious, with the red colour making it easy to find items.

The large wheels handle rough terrain well, and the 1000D nylon construction gave peace of mind when transporting more delicate items.

A kit divider in one of the internal compartments wouldn't go amiss.

  • Read our full Scott Softcase 70 review

Thule RoundTrip duffel bag

Thule RoundTrip duffle bag

  • £110 / $160 / €130 / AU$249 as tested
  • Pros: Plenty of pockets; easy to organise; well-priced for quality
  • Cons: Storage cells can't be removed

Thule's RoundTrip has a variety of kit-specific pockets that keep helmets, shoes, tools and dirty clothes from coming in contact with one another.

The quality of construction for the not-so-expensive price tag impressed us, but it would be nice if the internal storage cells could be completely removed rather than hidden out of the way.

  • Read our full Thule RoundTrip duffle bag review

Also consider...

The following products scored below four out of five in our test, but are still worth considering.

Sea to Summit 90L duffle bag

Sea to Summit 90L duffle bag

  • £160 / $200 / €160 / AU$300 as tested
  • Pros: Sturdy and weatherproof; brightly coloured lining; easy to store
  • Cons: Pricey; doesn't hold shape; no internal organisation

Sea to Summit's 90L duffle bag feels built to last thanks and does a good job of keeping your belongings together.

The bright lining helps when locating items, and the configurable straps make it easy to carry for short distances.

It lacks internal kit dividers and we found it struggles to keep its shape unless brimming with contents.

  • Read our full Sea to Summit 90L duffle bag review

Vaude Rotuma 90 trolley

Vaude Rotuma 90 trolley case/bag

  • €263 as tested
  • Pros: Easy to access compartments; reinforced body protects valuables; eco-friendly materials
  • Cons: Pull handle feels a bit flimsy; more external pockets would be helpful

Vaude's Rotuma 90 trolley offers plenty of space and protection to carry your kit safely for short getaways.

The rolling design makes moving the bag easy with the wheels feeling sturdy on rough terrain, though this can't be said for the handle which could be stronger.

  • Read our full Vaude Rotuma 90 trolley review

Ion Universal Utility Bag

best travel backpack for biking

  • Price: €30 as tested
  • Pros: Deals with wet gear well; neoprene side pockets protect valuables
  • Cons: Items can get lost in the deep, dark lining

As simple as they come, Ion’s bag suits those who just want to chuck kit in and go – especially wet and muddy gear.

Shoulder and hand straps aid portability, and a single sturdy zip keeps the contents secure.

Two neoprene side pockets add organisation, plus a bit of protection when carrying it on your shoulder. It’s light and relatively cheap.

Unfortunately, we found locating small items can be difficult, because of the bag’s depth and black material. If you stand it on the floor, the top is prone to collapsing in on itself.

Ion claims it can be used as a wheel bag, but we couldn’t fit a 650b wheel in, with the tyre deflated.

Topeak Pakgo GearPack

best travel backpack for biking

  • Price: £130 as tested
  • Pros: A good range of kit-specific pockets; quality construction
  • Cons: Struggles with large helmets

Topeak's offering scores points with its specific pockets for items such as shoes and a helmet, making it easy to organise your kit. Efficient use is made of all the internal space (as long as you pack well), and its cuboid shape aids ‘car Tetris’, too.

The bag’s construction is good, with plenty of carrying handles, as well as sturdy zips and waterproof materials, plus water-drain ports.

We struggled to fit bulkier open-face helmets in the designated pocket and found it better to carry lids separately, because it leaves room for other accessories, such as hip packs .

The side pockets would be more useful if they were expandable. The bag is also an expensive proposition.

What about cycling rucksacks?

The best cycling rucksacks enable you to carry your kit when out on the road or trail. They are usually smaller and feature an ergonomic design that takes into account riding position and ventilation.

If you want to carry even less on the trails, check out our best hip packs .

Five things to look for in a kit bag

  • Make sure the bag is large enough to carry what you need.
  • Decide if the way the bag has been divided into its respective sections works for you. Most will feature separate areas for storing clean and dirty kit.
  • Consider if helmet storage is important. Helmets are odd shapes and they don't fit nicely into all bags, so you may have to carry it separately.
  • Make sure the bag is comfortable to carry when fully loaded. Virtually all use either shoulder straps or a carrying handle.
  • Consider if you need the bag to be weather-proofed if leaving it out in the elements.

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Bikeradar newsfeed, best cycling backpacks 2024: commuting rucksacks rated and reviewed, bikepacking bags explained | everything you need to know about handlebar bags, frame bags and more, bike frame bags explained – how to carry more on your bike (and the different types of frame bags you can use), best hip packs: 9 mountain bike bum bags ridden and rated.

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10 Best Bike Commuter Backpacks, Tested

  • Buyers Guide

What makes for the best bike commuter backpack? What makes it different than any regular pack? While you can technically use any backpack to commute, bike commuting packs have a few features that will make your life easier on and off the bike.

Commute-ready comfort

Bike commuter backpacks need to handle active use. That means keeping you as cool and comfy as possible while you pedal out the daily grind. A lot of elements come together in creating a pack that’s comfortable enough for daily commuting use.

Ventilation is a key feature to consider. While it’s almost impossible to avoid some sweating, a well-ventilated design can go a long way to staying as dry as possible. Airflow channels in the back panel and breathable shoulder straps will help keep sweat patches to a minimum.

Sufficient padding for your daily load will make a big difference to bike commuting comfort too. You’ll want a back panel that’s well-padded and ideally cushions your back against any hard or irregular objects inside the pack. Wide shoulder straps will help distribute the load and should also offer a good balance of padding and ventilation. An adjustable sternum strap and waist belt will keep the pack secure against your body and prevent the load shifting around while you’re on the go. A simple webbing waist belt will likely be sufficient, allowing your hips to move freely while still stabilizing the load.

When choosing a bike commuting pack, think about your torso length, how tall the pack is, and where it’s likely to sit on your back as you ride. The goal is an unobtrusive design that prevents your helmet from hitting the top of the pack.

Bike commuter backpacks come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important to pick one that’s not only suitable for your specific body shape but also complements your load. If you carry a lot, you’ll need a large bag. Commuting with just the essentials? You’ll be able to cut the bulk and roll with a smaller pack. If you need a little flexibility when it comes to volume, consider packs with roll-top openings or external carry attachment points that will allow you to adjust to changing loads.

Bike commuting backpacks: Mission Workshop Rambler

Organization for smaller and larger items

Unless you’re using additional carry options like panniers or handlebar bags, your bike commuting pack will need to hold everything you need for the day. For some, that might include a change of clothes and work shoes. Probably a laptop. Maybe documents and folders. Packed lunch. Cables and chargers. And at the very least your essential EDC. Whatever you need to carry for your commute, your pack should provide the level and style of organization you need. If you like using organizational pouches, a more minimalist bike commuting pack might fit your needs. Alternatively, you might enjoy packs with built-in organization for a variety of different items. Features such as a helmet carry solution and the ability to separate shoes from clothes can come in very handy for carrying both on and off the bike.

Work-appropriate aesthetics

While your bike commuter backpack will be putting in the hard graft during your daily cycles, it’s important to remember you’ll be carrying it off the bike too. Consider what style would be appropriate for your particular work environment. Is it a casual workplace where anything goes or do you need to maintain a more formal appearance? Since your pack will be accompanying you from your bike into your day-to-day work, make sure it conveys a suitable work-ready style.

The more visible you are when cycling, the better. Look for features such as reflective detailing and attachment points to secure a bike light. Also consider how visible your surroundings will be while wearing the pack. You should be able to turn your head to look behind and to the side and not have the pack obscure your view. Depending on how low the pack sits, this might not be an issue, but additional features like compression straps and roll-top closures can help compress the pack into a compact size that won’t obstruct your view.

Bike commuting backpacks: Osprey Metron

Durability and protection from the elements

Sure, you’re not climbing mountains during your commute (well, probably not). But regular commutes will still take their toll on a pack. So consider bags that offer quality materials and long-lasting construction. A durable pack that will last for many years not only offers better value for money but also peace of mind that your gear won’t spill out and scatter across the road because of fabric rips or failed stitching.

Weather protection will also go a long way to bike commuting peace of mind when rain, snow and mud strike. Unless you live in a particularly wet environment, you won’t need a completely waterproof pack. Water-resistant material finishes, roll-top closures, and water-repellent zippers all help keep the elements out. If you need added protection, you may want to consider seam-welded construction or a rain cover. You can also store electronics or clothing within their own waterproof pouches/bags inside the pack.

Bike commuting backpacks: Ortlieb Atrack BP

Now let’s take a closer look at the 10 best bike commuting packs to suit a range of loads, styles, and organization needs…

Osprey Metron (US$180)

Editor’s Pick

Bike commuting backpacks: Osprey Metron

Right off the bat, this is probably the best bike commuter pack on this list for most people. While it’s not from a small company and it doesn’t have that small-batch feel, the feature set, styling, and construction are almost perfectly thought out. This pack can fit in the world of the Spandex-clad commuter just as well as the more casual commuter doing three miles to work.


Let’s start with the overall silhouette. The pack is decently narrow at 13.79in (35cm) at its widest. It has a tapered shape and flares out slightly at the top but still fits within the limits of your torso. The pack has low-profile mesh side flat pockets that will fit a cycling water bottle without adding too much width. Depth-wise, the pack is also decently shallow at 10.24in (26cm), but it has a special helmet carry feature that expands the depth significantly when needed. Height-wise, the pack sits moderately high at 18.91in (48cm), but not high enough that your helmet will constantly bang against it. The total volume of the pack is 26L, but you can expand or compress the front significantly. With all these features comes a weight penalty, 2.6lbs. It’s cycling, grams count.

Bike commuting backpacks: Osprey Metron

On the bike

The pack’s tapered shape and simple webbing hip belt let your hips rock freely; it really stays out of the way of your pedaling. The biggest advantage of this narrow silhouette is keeping a decent aero profile and giving you the freedom to look behind you, something wide bags won’t allow. The pack sits slightly high on the body, so try to keep your heavy objects low to prevent arm fatigue. The side gusset has two tall mesh flat pockets, one zippered. You can barely tell they’re there, in a good way. They blend into the silhouette of the pack and are accessible while riding due to their position and design. These pockets work perfectly for quick-grab items like your phone and wallet.

Osprey Metron

The back harness is extremely comfortable and well vented. It features a semi-suspended mesh with molded foam underneath; it will not chew through your jersey. The suspended mesh will also give some separation between the main volume and the rider’s back; you won’t feel any irregular objects poking through. The shoulder straps are lightly padded and decently breathable as they are partly made of mesh. They feature a sliding/removable sternum strap with a whistle side release buckle. There are also load lifters, they mostly keep the pack close to your back to avoid clearance issues with your helmet. As a cherry on top, the pack includes a rain cover that’s conveniently stuffed in a zipper pocket on the bottom of the pack.

Bike commuting backpacks: Osprey Metron

Organization/General   The pack is jam-packed with bike commuting features. The face of the pack has a hidden helmet carry feature. It is comprised of a molded plastic retention unit, attached to a bungee cord that will keep your helmet snug against the pack. There is a tight mesh compartment hidden at the back of the face that will fit a U-lock. On top of that, there are dual compression straps that will hold loose apparel and any bulky objects (8L – 26L expansion).

Osprey Metron

There is a spacious sunglasses compartment lined with a non-scratch material that will fit large, wrap-around style cycling sunglasses. Directly on top of the sunglasses compartment, there is a crescent zipper opening that contains the organizer compartment. It is a deep compartment with three elastic mesh organizer flat pockets, stacked onto three nylon compartments. Excellent for your commuting items and bike tools/spares. There is also a key clip in a red color that pops out nicely and is easy to spot. The main compartment is voluminous. It has a 15” padded laptop compartment, document or tablet sleeve, and an isolated zipper compartment that will fit a pair of shoes or dirty clothes that you definitely will have if you bike commute. This is such an excellent feature that you don’t see often.

The pack is made from 500D Nylon with a 210D liner.

Osprey Metron

I genuinely think there is nothing else you can add to make it a better bike commuting pack. At $180 MSRP (Metron 24), this Osprey pack gives incredible bang for your buck.

Osprey Metron

Ortlieb Commuter Daypack City 21L (US$170)

Best Waterproof Option

The Ortlieb Commuter Daypack is probably the most minimalist pack on this list. The pack is fully seam welded, rolltop design, waterproof, and shows mastery in this type of construction, like all other Ortlieb products. Like the Osprey Metron, this bike commuting pack can also fit both hardcore and casual commuters.

Bike commuting backpacks: Ortlieb Commuter Daypack City

The overall silhouette of the bag is simple and very futuristic-looking. The best way to describe the shape is the capital letter “D” when seen from a top orthographic view. The flat part of the “D” would be the back harness. In terms of proportion, the pack looks deceivingly wide and short when empty, although it isn’t. Once you fill the pack out, the depth increases and the width decreases, due to its patterning.

The pack measures 11.8in (30cm) in width depending on how high your roll-top sits. Height-wise, the pack measures 19.7in (50cm) when the roll is fully compressed, as you’d normally use it. Fully extended, the pack measures around 25in (63cm). Depth-wise, the pack measures 6.1in (15cm) giving it a total volume of 21L. The side gusset is essentially nonexistent. The face of the pack becomes the side as it transitions around the curve; the face and side gusset are included in the same pattern. The pack is also very light at 1lb 10oz.

Bike commuting backpacks: Ortlieb Commuter Daypack City

The pack sits slightly low on the back when riding, so it won’t interfere with your helmet. The low stance also helps keep the mass low on the bike, preventing your arms from feeling fatigued from the extra weight. Do be careful if you’re riding with the pack almost fully unrolled, as it will get in the way of your helmet and visibility.

The back harness has die-cut foam pads that work as air vents. These foam vents are bonded onto the back panel and won’t peel off with normal use. The foam is firm enough to keep its shape but soft enough to keep your jerseys from pilling. It also feels nice on your back, almost like a massage. The shoulder straps have a slight “S” curve, are thin and slightly padded, but are not really breathable as they’re made of the same material as the body. They are generally comfortable, though I wouldn’t carry anything too heavy as you’ll start to feel the pressure. The included sternum strap is removable and adjustable via custom-molded plastic clips that interface with a die-cut hole array. The waist belt is fully removable and made of 1in webbing; it is totally unobtrusive while riding. It is attached to the bag with custom molded, bolted hardware.

Ortlieb Commuter Daypack City


Inside the pack’s main volume, you can find a fully padded 15″ laptop compartment. Stacked on it is a zipper compartment with an organizer inside. The organizer has two open pockets that work well for bulky peripherals or charging cables. The rest of the main volume is just cavernous space and works great for clothes and an extra pair of shoes. The left side does have a decent spacious zipper compartment for loose items like your phone and wallet. The zipper is water-resistant, but it does not have a zipper garage on top and I suspect water can slowly seep into the pocket. The face of the pack is mostly flat, except for a daisy chain to secure the roll-top with a G-hook. There are also six, laser-cut, PALS-like holes. You can attach anything that uses a webbing mounting system to them, clipped cycling lights, or a U-lock.

Materials-wise, the pack is made of “PS33”, which I can best describe as 1000D Nylon with a heavy polymer coat. It feels smooth to the hand and is waterproof. The pack has no liner, but the organizational features inside are made of a 210D Nylon with some decently thick padding on the laptop compartment. The bottom of the pack is reinforced with a heavy polymer coating for abrasion resistance.

Ortlieb Commuter Daypack City

If you’re into futuristic looks, fully seam welded construction, minimalism, and a company that knows what they’re doing very well, the Ortlieb Commuter is the pack for you. For the number of custom parts, materials, and construction, $170 is a pretty good deal.

Ortlieb Commuter Daypack City

Chrome Industries BLCKCHRM 22X Yalta 3.0 (US$145)

Best Crossover

The Yalta 3.0 is probably the most cross-functional pack of the bunch, and the one with the strangest name, if that’s worth anything to you. I would place it in the more casual bike commuting category, just based on aesthetics, even though it can pretty much handle anything. It has a unique set of features that makes it excellent for general commuting, travel, and general city exploration.

Bike commuting backpacks: Chrome Industries BLCKCHRM 22X Yalta 3.0

The silhouette is subdued and clean. The pack has a roll-top or flap-top design that’s secured with a G-hook and webbing. The pack’s height measures 20in (51cm) when rolled and 26in (66cm) when unrolled, but beware, it really gets in the way when you try to look back and can interfere with the back of your helmet when riding. The pack’s width is 11.5in (29cm) and the depth is 7in (18cm), adding up to a volume of 26L. The pack weighs in at 2.2lbs, decently average for a pack of this caliber.

As far as riding comfort, the pack feels balanced but sits decently high. Again, keep your heavy objects on the bottom and close to your body. Also, keep the roll-top as low as you can to increase visibility over your shoulder. This pack’s roll-top has a wide stance and it will essentially make you a sailboat with the spinnaker unfurled. Beware of headwinds.

The back harness panel has a compression-molded pattern for ventilation. It is comfortable on and off the bike and works decently well for venting muggy air. It also gives you some distance between the back of the pack and your laptop, so your spine won’t be hitting any hard objects. The shoulder straps are wide and generously padded, spreading the weight over a wide surface area to avoid that concentrated pressure. I find them extremely comfortable on and off the bike, even with more weight than I want to carry (camera gear on top of EDC gear).

The back side of the straps is made of aero mesh and the front feels like 500D Nylon. They also have some retro-reflective daisy chains for attaching keys or pouches. The straps also include a sliding/removable sternum strap. The pack does not have a waist belt and it cannot be added. I can see this being a dealbreaker for some, even though the pack won’t sway side to side without one.

Chrome Industries BLCKCHRM 22X Yalta 3.0

The face of the pack has one zipper compartment, located directly in front. It is a general pocket with no internal organization. On the left side of the pack there is an angled zipper that opens into a vertical pocket. It will fit a cycling water bottle and up to a 32oz bottle, barely. On the back panel, there are two vertical zipper pockets that have a velour-like liner. They can fit sunglasses, but it’s an odd place to stow them as they may or may not get crushed on your back.

The interior organization can be accessed through the top, or through a large vertical zipper opening on the side gusset that, as you unzip, reveals the interior volume. On the organizer panel you can find three large separate zipper pockets, perfect for peripherals, chargers, and simple bike multitools or spares. Stacked behind it is a padded laptop compartment that fits a 15″ MacBook Pro. The laptop compartment and organization are designed to be accessed horizontally. You can sling the pack to your chest and access the side zipper; it is so convenient and well thought out. The pack also features a removable tote bag that is secured with Velcro inside the main compartment. This is extremely useful for separating your clothes and shoes from other items. It is also great for grocery shopping.

Bike commuting backpacks: Chrome Industries BLCKCHRM 22X Yalta 3.0

Materials-wise, the pack is made of a 22X Nylon shell with Cordura TPX laminate technology. If you’re not familiar with this material, it very much feels and looks like X-Pac VX-21. The material itself is waterproof. However, the pack is not bonded so water will eventually find its way in. The interior liner, organizer, and laptop compartment are made of 210D nylon. All zippers are YKK brand.

All in all, the Yalta is a great all-rounder pack. I wouldn’t say it is ideal for bike commuting and it is not marketed as so, but it does the job quite well. At $145 it still provides great bang for your buck and will work for essentially any occasion.

Chrome Industries BLCKCHRM 22X Yalta 3.0

Afterschool Projects ASP Rucksack (US$256)

Epic for the Stylish Casual Commuter

If you’re more of a traditionalist and prefer a very simple, semi-clamshell type pack with high-end materials and construction, that is decently versatile, the ASP Rucksack is for you. Although this is not marketed as a bike commuting pack, it can most definitely handle the job. Aesthetics-wise, I would place this pack in the more casual commuter and fashion realm as it carries with cool and playful vibes.

Afterschool Projects ASP Rucksack

The ASP Rucksack is totally symmetrical in construction and features. The silhouette is slightly square and stubby, measuring 18in (46cm) high, 15in (38cm) wide, and 4in (10cm) deep. On the outside, it has a semi-clamshell top opening, a general zipper pouch in front, two compression straps and two, non-elastic mesh, dump-pocket type water bottle holders with a cinch cord. 

Bike commuting backpacks: Afterschool Projects ASP Rucksack

The pack sits low on the back, even when adjusted tightly to your body. This is good as it keeps all the weight closer to the bike and gives you full visibility. The back harness has no external padding or venting, it is a plain piece of VX-21 with a reinforced 500D Nylon bottom pattern. The 500D feels softer than other 500D nylons, but you might get some apparel pilling from the friction. You can also slightly feel the laptop’s hardness on your back (I carry a beefy, mil-spec Lenovo P series), which isn’t ideal. I also have a boney spine. I would not ride more than a couple of miles with this pack unless you don’t mind a swampy back.

There is a passthrough for a waist belt; however, they are not available from Afterschool Projects yet. The shoulder straps are decently padded and quite wide. They feel nice on the bike and do a good job of distributing weight. The straps also have daisy chains running from top to bottom. The pads are made of aero mesh with VX-21 on the top side. The straps also have a simple load lifter webbing/ladder lock system and a sternum strap that is adjustable and removable via button snaps.

Afterschool Projects ASP Rucksack

The face of the pack is quite simple. It has a large, general-purpose zipper pouch with a flat pocket divider inside that can work as a simple organizer. There is also a metal key clip inside with a generously long bungee cord. At the top-center, you can find a simple webbing carry handle.

On the side gussets you can find decently large, cinchable and gusseted, non-stretch mesh pockets. They can comfortably fit a 32oz bottle. On top of the mesh pockets there are simple ladder-lock compression straps. These can be useful to secure a tall water bottle or any other tall objects you have in the side pockets. Both sides are perfectly symmetrical. At the top, you can find another webbing carry handle, opposite to the front carry handle.

The main volume is very simple. It has a zippered, padded laptop compartment that can fit a 16″ laptop. Stacked onto the laptop compartment, there is a wide and tall open mesh sleeve, good for separating apparel items.

Materials-wise, the pack has a combination of VX-21 and 500D Nylon. The interior is lined with what feels like Ripstop 210D Nylon, which is a step above most common liners.

Bike commuting backpacks: Afterschool Projects ASP Rucksack

This is a stylish, minimalistic pack with premium materials and construction for the fashion-oriented commuter. It is not designed for bike commuting specifically, but you will definitely emanate some heavy clout, which is basically the most important feature. At $256, and made in the USA, this is in the upper tier of price tags, and the right choice for folks who care about brand and style points.

Update: if this is your vibe also check out this pack rereleased as the upgraded Mission Workshop Speedwell VX .

Mission Workshop Rambler (US$380)

Best Gear Hauler and Organizer

The Rambler is no exception to how well built, gorgeous, and sometimes complex in terms of construction Mission Workshop packs are. At a first glance, the pack looks relatively simple, but upon further inspection, you will see that it holds a couple of secrets. This pack fits both the hardcore and casual commuter. This is a great pack for those who like to haul a bunch of gear and prefer separate pouches for organization.

Mission Workshop Rambler

The Rambler’s biggest feature, literally, is the ability to double in volume from 22L-44L with a single clamshell zipper. The pack measures 19in(48cm) x 13in(33cm) x 5in(13cm) in its 22L configuration. The pack also has the ability to be used as a roll-top for the rear compartment, or in a more classic flap top. It weighs in at 3.7lbs, which makes this the heaviest pack on this list, so try to pack light. 

Mission Workshop Rambler

In the 44L configuration, the volume is very much in the x-axis. You’ll feel a significant difference in bike handling and arm/shoulder pain, even though it does have compression straps to prevent it from getting too huge. I would never ride with a pack this size or haul that much gear when bike commuting, but this pack allows you to do so. When used in the 22L configuration, it feels much nimbler and balanced. However, the volumes are awkward to use effectively as there are no organization panels and there is a lack of easy access. This pack is ideal for going from point A to B, without accessing on the go.

The harness panel has some aero mesh for ventilation, some padding on the lumbar area, and a passthrough for an optional (sold separately) waist belt. The shoulder straps are J-shaped, wide, decently padded, and super comfortable. Inside the back harness the pack rocks two vertical, carbon fiber stays. Giving the pack significant support for bigger loads. This whole back harness is up there with some of the most comfortable packs I have worn.

Bike commuting backpacks: Mission Workshop Rambler

On the face of the pack, on the bottom right side, you can find a small, phone-sized, flat zipper compartment. On the top, you can find one of two laptop compartments. This one is accessible via zipper and will fit most 13″ laptops and tablets. The front also has generous webbing and a 2in side release buckle to keep the flap top closed.

The side gusset contains a large, zippered, clamshell opening that once unzipped, enables the bag to expand. Inside this zipper, you will find another half clamshell zipper that will open into the cavernous main expanded volume, ideal for apparel and spare shoes. You can also see the main laptop sleeve inside. There are also two compression straps with ladder locks that will keep this volume tight and manageable.

Mission Workshop Rambler

Behind the main volume you can find the main laptop compartment, which can be closed by either rolling the top, when the pack is in 44L configuration, or folding it as a flap when in the 22L configuration. This compartment can fit laptops up to 17″; however, the opening is tight horizontally and it is disappointing that the bottom is not padded at all, so be careful when setting the pack on the floor vertically. Between this compartment and the front laptop compartment, you can divide your clean and dirty clothes, if you want to use it that way.

Bike commuting backpacks: Mission Workshop Rambler

The entire outside shell of the pack is made from HT500, which is a smoother alternative to 500D Cordura that ages gracefully with some patina. The inside material is not specified, but it looks and feels like PU-coated 420D diamond ripstop. All zippers are YKK AquaGuard.

Mission Workshop Rambler

This is an aesthetically stunning pack, and it is built like a tank. Other than bike commuting, I can see myself using the Rambler for traveling for month-long trips. At $380, the pack is not cheap, but the construction and quality are extremely high, and it is made in the US, San Francisco specifically, where I once paid $2600mo for a studio, so I get their pain. 

Mission Workshop Rambler

CamelBak H.A.W.G. Commute 30L (US$170)

The CamelBak H.A.W.G. and M.U.L.E. Commute are the brand’s new offerings, specifically aimed at bike commuting, but not limited to it. The aesthetics are fresh for the brand and a departure from their typical sporty and military styling. The packs have numerous features that make a significant difference on and off the bike. These packs will do great with both hardcore and casual commuters, even though the pack has a bit of a corporate, Patagonia-vest-in-downtown-SF vibe to it.

Bike commuting backpacks: CamelBak H.A.W.G. Commute 30L and M.U.L.E. Commute 22L

The H.A.W.G. version of the pack is the larger, 30L brother to the M.U.L.E. 22L. Even though they might look almost identical aesthetically, they have a few significant differences in features and volumes. The biggest difference is that the H.A.W.G. has a full clamshell opening with a secondary half-clamshell, laptop-specific compartment top opening. In terms of size, the H.A.W.G. measures 10 x 19 x 12 in / 26 x 48 x 31 cm. The volumes are easily accessible, and the shoulder strap “Command Center” compartments are extremely useful on the bike. The pack weighs in at 2lbs 4oz, which is decently low for a pack this size.

CamelBak H.A.W.G. Commute 30L

On the bike, the pack feels unobtrusive and sits decently high on the back, getting out of the way of your hips and your helmet. 30L is overkill for my personal use, but it doesn’t look or feel like a 30L pack and I can’t quite explain why. Maybe it follows the fashion advice of “black makes you look slimmer”.

CamelBak H.A.W.G. Commute 30L

There are some ultra-functional, bike commuting features on the back harness. First off, the Air Support™ padding for your back. These three elevated spacer mesh and foam pads do a great job at getting rid of the hot, moist air stuck between your back and the back harness. They’re also really comfortable and non-abrasive. On the bottom you can find a simple, removable waist belt made of 1in webbing for keeping all that mass from swaying sideways.

The shoulder pads have reflective strips, hose retention elastic webbing, a sliding/removable sternum strap, and two extremely useful compartments called the “Command Center™”. This feature comprises two integrated pockets on each side of the shoulder straps. One is a zippered elastic mesh pocket, and the other is an open elastic mesh pocket with a key clip inside. The Command Center™ pockets are ideal for your phone, keys, and slim wallet. You can easily access them while riding and off the bike, without taking the pack off.

Bike commuting backpacks: CamelBak H.A.W.G. Commute 30L

The face of the pack is very simple and sleek. It has a shield-shaped, stretch-gusset, open top compartment for any loose apparel items you want to shove in there, similar to a “beavertail”, but not removable. There is also a zippered sunglasses compartment with a fuzzy velour liner, laser-cut holes to attach a rear blinker light, and lastly, two webbing loops on the top side that allow for helmet carry. All these features are integrated into a very sleek-looking package.

CamelBak H.A.W.G. Commute 30L

The side gusset has a huge, stretchy mesh bottle compartment on the left side, but it doesn’t look sloppy since it’s sewn decently tight against the body, and it follows the pack’s curves. On the right side of the gusset, you can find a zippered vertical compartment that is both a general volume inside but also has a mesh flat pocket inside with a carabiner loop. On the top side of the gusset, you can find a hydration hose opening, the main clamshell zipper, and a secondary, half-clamshell opening for the pack’s second-largest volume, the laptop compartment.

The main volume has a general flat pocket on the back side, and two zippered compartments on the opposite side. Inside the laptop compartment there is a hydration sleeve with a webbing loop to hold the bladder. Opposite to the bladder sleeve you can find the laptop compartment, which is designed as a roll-top sleeve with a thick PU coat for waterproofing, and padded nylon walls.

Materials-wise, the pack uses coated Cordura N330D for the outer shell. The material feels super smooth to touch and has a beautiful luster in the light. Since it is coated, it has a decent level of weatherproofing. Inside, the material feels like a standard 210D nylon. There are also quite a few reflective details for low light visibility on the face and shoulder straps of the pack. Zippers are YKK, but only the main volume tracks are AquaGuard zippers.

The H.A.W.G. retails at $170. It is a solid deal for an ultra-functional bike commuting pack. If you can rock the professional and tidy look.

Bike commuting backpacks: CamelBak H.A.W.G. Commute 30L

CamelBak M.U.L.E. Commute 22L (US$140)

I’ll keep this one short and sweet since the M.U.L.E. is nearly identical in aesthetics to the 30L version. Features-wise, it deserves its own spot on the list since it has some significant volume and feature differences.

If I were to ride past you with the M.U.L.E., then the H.A.W.G., you would struggle to tell the difference. They both have almost the same lines, materials, the Command Center™, Air Support™ and the front-facing gusseted, shield-shaped compartment. However, the similarities end there.

The M.U.L.E. is 22L. The way they managed to get the volume down by nearly 10L and kept the same look was by completely removing the separate half-clamshell, laptop opening. The laptop roll-top sleeve was moved into the main compartment and it also serves as a hydration bladder sleeve. The main opening was changed from a full clamshell to a top loader zipper opening. On the side gusset, there is no zipper pocket; both sides have flat mesh open pockets. On the bike, the 22L feels significantly nimbler and it has more than enough room for a spare change of clothes, shoes, laptop, and peripherals. The M.U.L.E. retails for $140.

Apidura City Backpack (US$164)

Best Option for Minimalists

The Apidura City Backpack is for the bike commuter and the minimalist EDC individual who is looking for a technical, yet minimalist bag that has a mature look and top-notch construction. The pack will excel in all weather conditions, so whether you commute in the gloomy, cold, and wet PNW, or the boiling hot and humid Florida afternoons, this pack has your belongings covered and dry.

Bike commuting backpacks: Apidura City Backpack

The pack’s main volume (17L, 45 x 30 x 15cm, 17.7 x 11.8 x 6in) is simple. It has a half bucket, half flap-top type opening that is secured with a G-hook and Velcro system, revealing a simple yet perfectly organized interior. The overall silhouette is subdued, elegant, and similar in shape to a gas station paper bag, in the best way possible. The pack is also light at 1.6lbs.

Apidura City Backpack

On the bike The City Backpack rides decently low on the back, giving you a lower center of gravity and preventing your arms and back from feeling the extra weight. Back and side visibility are unobstructed thanks to the pack’s low stance. The shoulder straps are super-sleek with a soft, neoprene-like hand feel and minimal webbing for the sternum strap. The back is decently well vented with a molded padding panel for heat dissipation; this feature follows the same design aesthetic as the shoulder straps. There is also a removable webbing waist belt for keeping the pack secured against your body.

Apidura City Backpack

The main volume includes a large, easy-to-access compartment for bulky items like spare clothes and shoes, a padded laptop sleeve with Velcro closure, two elastic mesh pockets sewn onto the laptop compartment’s face, one elastic strip within one of the mesh pockets for securing pens, and a large zipper pocket sewn onto the inside of the pack’s main face for miscellaneous items.

Apidura City Backpack

The side gussets have a slight crease as the bag packs very flat. The front face is flat with some very minimal welded binding on the flap for reinforcement.

Apidura City Backpack

The City Backpack is made from CT420 Marle laminated fabric. It has a semi-heathered look and it is fully seam welded on the outside, with only one external waterproof zipper on the right side which has a key clip inside. The pack has no liner inside except for the bottom, padded laptop compartment and the right side, where the external zipper compartment is located. The pocket liner appears to be 210D nylon and is bright yellow for better visibility. The large internal zipper pocket and laptop sleeve appear to be 420D Ripstop nylon. The laptop sleeve is internally lined with Nylex, velour or “soft touch” material.

Apidura City Backpack

There’s a lot of design knowledge built into the Apidura City , and it shows throughout the build and use of this pack. It’s a fine commuter, and quality option for $164. And Apidura really do excel as a small brand that caters to their biking community.

Ortlieb Atrack BP (US$270)

Best Waterproof All-Rounder

The Atrack BP is for the bikepacker , bike commuter, and adventure traveler who is looking for an advanced technical bag that is riddled with features and top-notch construction. The pack is perfectly designed to fit your body contour while riding a bicycle in all types of terrain and weather. If you’re getting this pack for bike commuting, just make sure you know what you’re getting into as it’s only ideal for those who want to go from point A to point B without accessing the pack in between. It is also for the hardcore commuters who slay some gravel in between the office and home.

Ortlieb Atrack BP

The pack is rated to 25L (w: 26 cm | 10.2-inch, h: 56 cm| 22.0-inch, d: 25 cm | 9.8 inch), but you can most certainly push those limits. The pack’s limit is essentially your limit and what you are comfortable riding with. The pack’s main volume is narrow and expandable on the vertical axis on both the top and bottom. It is also compressible with the integrated webbing/hardware system, keeping the pack from moving and bouncing. I like to think of this pack as a mini duffel with integrated shoulder and hip straps (also removable). The pack weighs 2.8lbs. It’s not the lightest, but that’s understandable with the amount of hardware it has.

Ortlieb Atrack BP

The shoulder strap and back padding system are all linked to a unique, lightweight steel rail system with webbing straps. The webbing has sizing marks woven into them, allowing the whole padding system to be height adjustable for different users. The pack’s aero mesh padding and stiffener are integrated into the pads but not the main volume. No matter what irregular object you have in the pack, you will not feel it on your back since the main volume is almost completely independent from the padding. This system also allows for some incredibly effective ventilation and evaporation. The pack is also hydration compatible via a waterproof plug located on the top left side behind the shoulder strap. The shoulder straps also include a basic slide adjust sternum strap with a side release adjustable buckle.

Ortlieb Atrack BP

The hip belt is very narrow and out of the way to allow your hips to move freely while riding. The entirety of the back padding system and shoulder straps are individually adjustable thanks to an impressive amount of injection molded parts, steel rails, and webbing array. The system enables riders of all torso sizes to find a good fit.

Ortlieb Atrack BP

Riders who like ultra-simple, duffel-like interiors with few compartments and no lining or padded laptop sleeve are in luck. This is the ideal pack to fill with padded sleeves and organizing pouches. The pack is cavernous inside and only has four small nylon zippered compartments that work for spares, tools, or electronic peripherals. The only way to access the pack is through a chunky waterproof TIZIP zipper that is located on the back of the pack. My guess is that this zipper position further helps with the waterproofing since rain and wind will not be able to make it between the back padding and your back. I can also see this being an amazingly effective theft-deterrent system. The pack also has two decently sized exterior bottle pockets that are welded onto the sides.

Ortlieb Atrack BP

The pack is made of lightweight PU laminate ripstop (PS21R) with a hexagonal weave and coated 1000D nylon (my guess, not specified).

The Ortlieb Atrack BP is a highly specialized pack made by a highly specialized brand. I do not think any brand can pack this level of manufacturing, feature set, and pricing without owning their own factory. At $270, the pack is for the serious commuter, but you’re basically buying a commuting space suit.

Ortlieb Atrack BP

EVOC Mission Pro 28 (US$150)

For the Casual Commuter

The Mission Pro 28 is for the casual bike commuter, regular commuter, and adventure traveler who likes a pack with plenty of organization for a myriad of electronics or bike spares and tools.

EVOC Mission Pro 28

The pack has a classic look in terms of silhouette, it’s a Klettersack and clamshell hybrid. The pack has a front bias clamshell zipper opening, but also has a top flap/lid cover that is latched with a pair of magnetic buckles. In terms of size the pack measures 11in x 18.5in x 6in (28.5 x 47 x 16cm) adding up to 28L. 

EVOC Mission Pro 28

The Mission Pro feels surprisingly nimble at 28L. The pack sits at a mid-back position and is not in the way of your helmet or peripheral vision when looking over your shoulder. The back panel has excellent airflow. It is comprised of a padded foam array covered in a very smooth aero mesh shell that you can probably enjoy even when topless.

Unlike other packs on this list, the waist belt has a lightly padded hip belt that can be hidden into a hip belt passthrough on the back panel. This padded belt rocks off the bike, but I am not a huge fan of it on the bike as it is a little too tall for my liking and it gets too close to my ribs. That will vary from person to person.

The shoulder straps are quite simple, they have a very mild “S” shape, they are decently padded, and have the same super-smooth aero mesh as the back panel padding. The straps also include a fully removable and adjustable sternum strap. The pack is average in weight at 2lbs.

EVOC Mission Pro 28


This pack has a ton of organization. The front zipper pocket has a decently sized organizer with numerous pen slots, SD slots, general open pockets, and a mesh/clear poly zipper pocket. On the right side of the gusset, you can find a gusseted flap pocket with a magnetic closure. On the left side you can find an open mesh pocket, ideal for water bottles up to 32oz.

The main clamshell opening is quite simple and ideal for apparel items and shoes. It has two open side pockets and a general sleeve on the back that can fit a laptop, pair of shoes, or any documents you want to slide in there.

On the back panel, there is a zipper opening for a laptop-specific compartment. The compartment is lined with a quilted and fuzzy material, it is also heavily padded. There is also a thick neoprene tablet sleeve that will prevent your laptop from making full contact with it.

EVOC Mission Pro 28

Finally, the top lid has a general zipper pocket with a key clip. Ideal for those last items you have to throw in the pack before leaving the house.

Materials-wise, the outer shell feels like it is made out of a very smooth 1000D nylon with a PU coat inside. The liner inside feels like 210D nylon with a clear pattern printed on it. The laptop-specific compartment is a quilted, slightly fuzzy nylon. All zippers are YKK.

I think EVOC has done a great job melding features from different category-specific backpacks. It is very useful and convenient whether on the bike, on foot or traveling. For $150 it makes a great casual bike commuting and all-rounder bag. 

Bike commuting backpacks: EVOC Mission Pro 28

This article was originally published on 4 November 2021 and recently updated.

This article was written by new contributor, Gino Romano, industrial designer, cyclist, minimalist and master of carry memes. Follow his adventures on Instagram.


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The 12 Best Backpacks for Commuters, According to People Who Commute

Portrait of Jenna Milliner-Waddell

We’ve written a lot about backpacks on the Strategist. Whether you’re looking for the best travel backpacks , laptop backpacks , or even a backpack with wheels , we’ve got you covered. We’ve also rounded up the best good-looking backpacks for work . The difference between those bags and commuter bags is that, if you’re walking, biking, scootering, mopeding, or riding the subway, your backpack needs to be a little bit more functional than if you’re hopping in your car to go from your garage to a garage at the office. A good commuter backpack has to hold everything, while not being too heavy or uncomfortable on your shoulders. It has to be secure, and able to stand up to surprise rain showers, which not every backpack can do. To find the ones that will work, we spoke to commuters who take all different modes of transportation, from their own two feet to a Revel scooter, about the bags that help them get from point A to point B. Here are their recommendations.

Best commuter backpacks for $100 or less

SHRRADOO Anti Theft Laptop Backpack

Staci Jacobson, who bikes over five miles from Bellevue Hospital to her Astoria Boulevard home every day, does it with this laptop backpack. “It holds a decent amount,” she says. “I typically carry my meals for the day, a book, my helmet, a change of clothes, and sometimes shoes.” All of that can get heavy, but she says the padding on the back and straps helps. Her favorite thing about it is the shape. “It has a good structure to it,” Jacobsen says. “When it’s heavy I’ll fold it up and put it in the bike basket and it’s typically able to bounce back.” She says it’s not always waterproof, but for under $30 it’s still a pretty good deal. It also comes with a USB port, laptop sleeve, water bottle holder, and luggage strap so you can use it on multiple modes of transportation.

Timbuk2 Tech Roll Top Backpack

Timbuk2 is probably already a brand you associate with commuting. Founded by a bike messenger in 1989, the company started with their classic messenger bag (a version of which we’ve reviewed and loved ). Thirty years later, they have a number of different options, including backpacks, which the cool people we spoke to say are great for all different types of commuting. Jimmy Standley, the president of Solé Bicycles , says his No. 1 recommendation is Timbuk2. It’s also a favorite of Veronica Hendrix, Revel ’s senior manager of customer service, who specifically likes this roll-top version. “I ride a moped with it comfortably, as well as the subway,” she says. “When the train is crowded it’s just small enough for me to place it in my lap.” She says it was the perfect companion for an hour-and-15-minute moped ride from Harlem to Gowanus. “The backpack wasn’t heavy to the point that it weighed me down at all.” The weight, of course, largely depends on how much you put in it — and this thing can hold a lot. “There are literally a million large/small compartments to store any and everything you need from keys to computer and everything in between,” Hendrix says. “There’s also a hidden water bottle compartment in the back that fits my water bottle comfortably.” Even stuffed to the brim, it feels comfortable thanks to the cushiony straps, she says. She’s also a fan of the roll top and the reflective materials, which are essential for commuting at night. If you’re interested in other Timbuk2 styles, Jordan Sanchez , a barista at Blue Bottle Coffee in Tribeca who bikes to work, previously told us the Grid Pack is great for commuting, and we’ve heard the Tuck Pack is just as good a work bag as it it is a grocery bag .

Samsonite Securipak Lapt Bkpk 14.1

Tiffani Gibson, the senior manager of corporate communications at Lime , is a fan of this Samsonite backpack, particularly because of the highly visible reflective stripe down the middle. It also has adjustable padded shoulder straps, a USB port so you can charge on the go, a padded tablet sleeve, a padded phone compartment, three credit-card slots, a water bottle holder, and a slip pocket.

Best commuter backpacks for $200 or less

Rains Backpack

If you are looking for something completely weatherproof, Gibson recommends Rains. She says it will work for commuters riding scooters, bikes, or mopeds. “When it comes to commuting on a micro mobility vehicle, it’s important to not only choose a backpack that is comfortable, but bright in color because of the visibility it provides,” she says. “It should also be weather-resistant and large enough to hold all of your essentials.” The Rains comes in more than ten colors, including this bright yellow that drivers won’t be able to miss, and it has adjustable straps so you can wear it the most comfortable way for you.

The Honest Company City Backpack Diaper Bag

You can often find Pia Velasco , the senior beauty and fashion editor at Hello Giggles, biking around with this backpack in tow. “I CitiBike almost everywhere, so I put it in the basket and strap it in,” she says. “It fits perfectly. If I do use the subway, it’s an easy backpack to take off and put on.” She’s never had a problem riding with it from her apartment on 84th Street all the way down to the World Trade Center. Although it’s technically a diaper bag, all that really means is it has plenty of room and compartments for everything you need. “It holds SO much,” Velasco says. “This is what I love the most about it. It fits my laptop, two bottles of wine, all my chargers, makeup bag, a change of clothes, my wallet, and any other shenanigans I may have with me. It’s my Mary Poppins bag.”

Dagne Dover Nova Sling Bag

Lauren Chan , the founder and CEO of plus-size womenswear brand Henning , says she’s been loving Dagne Dover these days, specifically this sling bag. The one-strap bag was designed with hiking and biking in mind, and Chan uses it every morning when she walks her dog Pepper to the park. “I love it because it’s extremely functional,” she says. “There are loops all over the outside to attach a carabiner with house keys to. I also attach a carabiner with poop bags so I can easily see if I have enough for the trip.” In addition to the loops, there are also mesh pockets which she keeps toys in, and on the inside, there’s room for water bottles, a collapsible dog bowl, some treats, and a towel. It’s likely too small for a laptop, but if you don’t have to lug one back and forth, this bag would be perfect for anyone biking or walking to work.

Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic

If biking is your main mode of transportation, you might want to fully trick out your ride with a pannier , which biker Cole Schwartz prefers to an actual backpack. Commuting with a backpack, especially in the summer, started to suck so much,” he says. “They are hard on your shoulders and make your back super sweaty and gross.” Panniers on the other hand attach to the bike so you don’t have to worry about that. Each bag is 20L, which he says he never fills all the way. “For a beach trip I can put a couple towels, water bottles, snacks, sunscreen and still have plenty of room,” he adds. “Sometimes I’ll use only one bag if I’m just buying a couple bottles of wine or a few groceries.” While you will look like a food delivery driver (Schwartz’s roommate calls them his “DoorDash bags”) riding around with these bike bags, it beats showing up to your destination with a backpack-shaped sweat stain. The panniers come off if you need to carry your belongings around and can be carried by the attached shoulder strap. If you prefer the backpack feel though (for short, non sweat-inducing distances), for an extra $55, you can get this carrying system that will transform your pannier into a backpack.

Ortlieb Vario

If you don’t want to fuss with a two-part system, for less than the price of the panniers above, Schwartz recommends Ortlieb’s Vario, which is a backpack and bike bag all in one. It was designed with people who bike to work and school in mind. It holds a 15-inch laptop with room for other office essentials and brown bag lunch as well. Everything will stay protected thanks to the waterproof fabric. Off the bike, you can easily hook your helmet into integrated straps so you can always keep track of it and throw the whole thing on your back.

D'Addario Backline Gear Transport Pack

One of the charms of New York City is getting to catch a show on your commute thanks to all the artists that pop on and off the train to share their talents with us. While most of the backpacks on this list would likely work for someone going to an office, they might not be the best fit for when the train is your office. “This is a backpack I’ve used in the subway in the past when working with my subway pop-up concerts,” says Rick McGuire, who runs the Instagram account Subway Creatures . “It’s extremely useful for carrying my equipment, such as mic stands, mics, wiring, etc. It includes tons of padding and space for everything I need to haul. It’s pretty much function over style but also comfortable considering what it’s being used for.” It can also hold a laptop and water bottle, and it’s water resistant, which will come in handy next time the subway floods . Given how much it can hold, McGuire says it can get bulky and heavy, so “always remember subway etiquette, don’t wear ANY kind of backpack on your back during a crowded commute,” he says.

Best commuter backpacks for $300 or less

Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack

Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack, is more like a suitcase on your back. It can hold whatever you need for work and your plans afterwards, or throw in a few days worth of clothing and use as a carry on. “I like versatility – something that can go back and forth between the slopes and my desk,” says Brendan Wallace, the co-founder and managing partner of the venture capital firm Fifth Wall. He has this bag in the dark forest color. It has enough room for a weekend ski-trip, but it’s not so big that your day to day items will get lost in it. There’s a designated spot for your laptop, a top-zip pocket for quick-grab items, and even an exterior shortcut pocket so you can get to the main compartment without fully opening the bag. “I appreciate anything that keeps me organized when I’m on the road,” Wallace says. “The zippered pockets make it easy to separate my gym clothes from my iPad and other essentials, and its waterproof exterior ensures I’m not clocking time in the Apple store replacing my gadgets.”

Timbuk2 Project Backpack

Standley’s been using this Timbuk2 backpack for more than ten years and says, “It doesn’t look over a few years old.” He lives in California, and his commute is only two miles, so the bag hasn’t seen much wear and tear on the daily. But this backpack isn’t just for work: He travels with it, too, toting it along “to China and back.” It’s probably the least-tactical-looking of all the Timbuk2 bags, which is nice if you have to walk into a meeting with it. Even though it has the simplistic look of a Jansport, it has all the useful functions you expect from the brand. “My backpack can hold a laptop and a day’s worth of other essentials and still feel lightweight,” Standley says. “The leather trim and waxed canvas make it water-repellent and suitable for light rain. It’s just comfortable to ride with the way it sits on my back, and I know my valuables are secure with the different zippered pockets.”

Ortlieb Commuter-Daypack High Visibility

In addition to bike panniers, Ortlieb makes travel bags, accessories, and regular backpacks. “The selling point here is that it’s waterproof,” says Gibson of this roll-top version. Except for the front pocket, everything is made from 100 percent waterproof fabric to keep all your belongings safe. It’s also stitched with reflective yarn to let other riders and drivers know you are up ahead. It has straps for carabiners on the outside and plenty of room inside. “It’s large enough where you can travel with all essentials and even some groceries if you need to swing by the store,” she says.

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The 7 Best Backpacks for Commuting, No Matter What Route You Take

These bags work almost as hard as you do.

commuter backpacks

Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. Why Trust Us?

Along with plenty of space for gear, backpacks designed for commuting are made of durable, weather-proof materials and have clever features so you can easily grab what you need while on the go. No matter how you commute or what you haul for a day’s work, there are key attributes to prioritize if you want a reliable bag that’s built to last.

We rounded up the most important considerations, plus share our recommendations after trying out several options ourselves.

The Best Commuter Backpacks

  • Best Overall: Yeti Crossroads 27
  • Most Versatile: Mystery Ranch Catalyst Pack
  • Best for City Commuting: Apex Backpack 3.0
  • Best Waterproof Option: Timbuk2 Parker Commuter Backpack
  • Best for Biking: Thule Subterra Daypack

What to Consider

Capacity and dimensions.

The best commuter backpacks should hold everything you need and be compact enough for daily carry. We find the sweet spot to be between 20 and 30 liters depending on how light or heavy your daily load is.

Some options have expandable compartments or cinch straps that allow you to shrink down the pack when you don’t need all that space.

Consider the dimensions of your bag to determine a comfortable fit on your back. A bag that’s too long and wide for your body can make you feel like a Ninja Turtle, while one that’s too small may make you feel like a preschooler.

Weatherproofing and Materials

Even if you drive to work, it’s smart to have a commuter backpack that can handle inclement weather. That way, whether you’re running to the car in a downpour or walking for 20 minutes in a drizzle, you can bet on your belongings staying dry.

All of the bags we recommend are constructed of nylon or a similar polyester because of their water resistance, and some have a DWR coating for added protection. Taped zippers keep moisture from seeping into pockets, and our Best Expandable Option even has a built-in rain fly.

Some of the commuter backpacks on our list are constructed of particularly durable nylon and polyester. These have a denier rating (abbreviated as D), which is a measurement of the thickness of the fibers—the higher the number, the more durable the fabric. Fabrics with a denier rating over 400 are abrasion-resistant and can stand up to daily wear and tear.

If you live in a climate with hot and humid temps or expect to work up a sweat on your route, look for a pack that has ventilation between the pack and your back, often in the form of breathable mesh panels. These help prevent that patch of sweat from forming on your nice work shirt.

Laptop Sleeves

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Padded laptop sleeves are fairly standard in commuter backpacks, but it’s worth checking that the compartment is large enough for your tech. All of our picks fit at least a 15-inch laptop—some in sleeves inside the main compartment and others in separate compartments. A separate laptop sleeve gives you quicker access, but it’s mostly a matter of personal preference. Some backpacks also have a separate pocket to store your tablet or headphones .

How We Tested

Testing packs on a daily basis is the best way to discover what works, what holds up, and what won’t. Aaron Bible, the original author, tested most of these backpacks by loading them up and getting them out in the elements—from subways in Tokyo to ferries in San Francisco, to RVs in Colorado, and in trains in Virginia.

We also packed some of these bags with daily essentials while biking to our office in Easton, PA, and I tested some out while taking the subway into our office in Manhattan. We chose the best commuting backpacks based on construction, comfort, design features, and aesthetics.

Yeti Crossroads Backpack

Crossroads Backpack

The Crossroads is for the commuter or long-weekend traveler whose gear might encounter some abuse.

The shell is a 700-denier, water-resistant nylon, which has kept my laptop, prescription glasses, and cables intact and shown no wear over several months of use. Durability aside, the Crossroads executes smart organization. It’s split into a variety of compartments: a large main one (which contains several zip pockets and two water bottle sleeves), a thin one for holding a 13- or 15-inch laptop plus papers, and a couple of smaller external pockets on the front. I can fit small electronics in the external pockets, and quickly pull my laptop out of the dedicated pocket while being ushered through the TSA line at the Denver airport.

The 27-liter capacity is ideal for packing a few days’ worth of clothes while still being carry-on friendly. And the zipper to the main compartment is long so that the Crossroads can open like a clamshell for easy access. Just know that if it’s packed full, the pack might not fit all the way under an airplane seat, as it wouldn’t for me on that flight from Denver, further limiting the already tight legroom.

The back panel is comfortably padded, but not very breathable. The Crossroads also tends to shimmy the back of my shirt up as I walk, even after I messed with the tightness of the shoulder straps to adjust where the bottom of the pack falls. Those quibbles aside, the pack has become my go-to for walks to and from the office and weekend trips where I need room for a mix of clothes and electronics. It does come with compression straps to keep the load close to your back if you’re carrying a lot, too.

Mystery Ranch Catalyst 26 Pack

Catalyst 26 Pack

The Catalyst is a durable backpack that can easily work as a hiking day pack as well as your commuting bag. You can feel the durability from the sturdy 500-denier Cordura nylon material, which also repels water.

The zippers are substantial, with pull-tabs to make for easier opening and closing. They’re also DWR-coated to keep out precipitation. I love the three-zipper opening for both style and function. I can easily see everything that’s in my backpack and fit items in without effort.

There are two water bottle holders on either side made of Cordura, which means they can be inflexible when squeezing in a big bottle. They’re large enough to fit my water bottle , but it takes some maneuvering. (As in, I can’t just toss it in while in a crowded subway car, I have to take my backpack off to stuff it in.) But the plus side is there’s no elastic material that’ll stretch over time on the exterior.

This backpack has ample organization slots and zip mesh pockets on the inside that are helpful but not overwhelming. Sometimes commuter backpacks go overboard with interior pockets, but this has a good amount with a contrasting interior material so it’s easy to see everything at a glance.

I used this backpack for biking to the beach all summer and can speak to its well-ventilated back and its ability to get absolutely drenched while keeping my stuff safe when I forgot to check the weather (Rockaway beach has very little coverage).

Apex Backpack 3.0

Apex Backpack 3.0

Troubadour’s Apex 3.0 is thoughtfully designed with plenty of internal slots, a separate tech compartment, and a large main pocket to keep essentials organized. It has a sophisticated look thanks to the slim silhouette and faux-leather details, but it holds a lot more than you think. I was able to fit three 32-ounce water bottles, my lunch, a laptop charger, a book, and a notebook in the main compartment, with my laptop in the separate tech pocket. Still, there was room for more and the bag wasn’t jutting out, making it hard to pass people on the crowded subway platform.

The recycled polyester shell and faux-leather accents are waterproof and the zippers are taped to keep out rain. It has two exterior water bottle pockets on either side and one zip pocket at the front. The zip pocket is small but deep—perfect for your keys and earbuds. They even fit my over-the-ear headphones . Some might prefer more external pockets for easy accessibility but this has enough to hold what I need and I like the minimal look.

It sits comfortably on my back and the shoulder straps have plenty of padding for hauling heavy loads. There’s an expandable zip pocket on the left strap that fits my iPhone 14, which is perfect for listening to wired earbuds and checking texts between train stops. It’s a bit uncomfortable to keep things in that pocket when I’m bent over biking, but I still find it useful.

It has a luggage sleeve at the lower back that’s cushioned for added support. Our Senior Tech Editor, Stefan Vazharov , also uses this bag for work and says the capacity can hold his ever-changing collection of tech accessories.

Timbuk2 Parker Commuter Backpack

Parker Commuter Backpack

Timbuk2’s Parker breezes through inclement weather thanks to its water-resistant Cordura nylon shell with a zip-away rainfly. Even without the rainfly deployed, water rolled right off the bag during downpours. The reflective mesh bottom panel kept Bible visible from up to 20 feet on both bike and foot. He wishes the reflector was a few inches bigger vertically, but says if you aren’t riding it night, it’s not an issue.

The oblong shape rests comfortably against your back, evenly distributing carry weight whether you’re at a standstill or in motion. Sternum and waist straps provide further support to keep you stabilized. While you’ll feel some pressure on your shoulders when the bag is fully loaded, the well-padded back panel ensures you never feel anything digging into your back. If you need more space, releasing the expansion straps bumps the top of the Parker’s body out to provide a 35-liter capacity while retaining easy front pocket access, taking it from a secure daily carry to a weekend travel bag.

Bible’s favorite section of the bag is the front middle pocket, which is secured by a sturdy magnet. He never felt like his tablet would fall out and was able to grab it in seconds without zipping or buttoning anything. Inside the backpack, a tech divider and laptop compartment keeps your gear within reach, while Velcro coverings provide a second layer of protection to ensure your tech doesn’t get wet.

Thule Subterra Daypack

Subterra Daypack

It’s the little things that make bike commuting enjoyable. Thule thought of a few key features and design elements that make it easier to opt for biking to work.

For one, the expandable straps on this bag means you get to adjust the size to fit what you’re carrying that day—no bigger than you need, and no smaller. The additional room is a nice option for for those extra-long workdays or when you’re hitting the gym on your way home.

Exterior pockets secure belongings you want to keep accessible. We really like the molded pocket on the side of that’s basically a hard glasses case built into the bag. It makes it easy to quickly stash your shades, but also generally nice to have a protected external pocket. The other external pocket on the front is a perfect size to stash a small U-lock. The daisy chain on the front is also ideal for attaching a bike light or extra reflectors.

We like that the bag can be packed from the top or the side. It makes it easier to Tetris things in and not have any awkwardly placed objects poking out or into your back. The laptop compartment is also accessible from the top or side and has a separate compartment for your tablet.

Swissdigital Circuit Backpack

Circuit Backpack

Swissdigital’s Circuit is extremely comfortable during long walks and standing subway rides. And compared to most quality bags under $100, it’s also packed with features. Don’t let the bulky shell design fool you—this bag is lightweight, well-padded, and ventilated throughout, especially in the back and shoulders.

There are over 15 storage compartments within the bag’s 30-liter capacity—ideal for separating your everyday essentials. The laptop slot is cushioned with durable EVA foam to prevent impact damage. While we were pretty rough on the bag, throwing it around when sitting for lunch or moving between desks at work, we wanted to test the absorption of the foam. We dropped our older iPhone X from the top of our townhouse’s loft (approximately 15 feet) toward the laptop compartment while the bag was open 180 degrees. The phone was unscathed when we retrieved it. The same EVA material carries into the thick internal organization pockets for protection against rough drops. We found the compartments especially handy during travel. You can unzip the bag to 90- and 180-degree angles to easily access items at passport control or to do some work during a layover. When walking, we noticed the extra padding against our backs provided a comfortable fit compared to other bags at this price point.

Over the testing period, we filled it with work essentials, groceries, and Saturday pawn shop hauls. During storms, the shoulder straps soaked up a bit of water but moisture never penetrated the bag. There are no sternum or hip straps so if you want extra support, choose a different option.

Able Carry Max Backpack

Max Backpack

This is the daily driver for Reviews Editor, Kevin Cortez, who insists it’s one of the smartest bags he’s ever used. It’s compact enough to take to the office but it can easily double as a travel bag thanks to its large capacity.

“It’s big enough to fit at least two of my size US men’s 12 shoes in its massive second compartment, and its laptop sleeve is sleek and soft,” he says. “There’s an additional pocket for fitting up to four folded charging cables and loose items like lip balm and batteries.”

The 1000-denier nylon shell is extremely durable and DWR-coated to ensure your stuff stays dry. Its interior uses a 420-denier nylon so you know the lining won’t be scuffed and torn if you’re not the most gentle when packing. There are zip-pockets at the front and sides with one of them being the dedicated water bottle pocket that’s expandable. Cortez is able to cram his 51-ounce water bottle without any hassle and still zip it closed. Since the water bottle slips inside the bag and there’s minimal external pockets, the Max backpack still has a clean, office-appropriate style.

It makes good use of internal storage space with organization slots and zippers in both the main compartment and laptop pocket. Anyone who typically carries gym clothes or has a bulky work set up to lug around is bound to appreciate the capacity of the Max.

Command Your Commute With Backpack Buying Tips From Expert, Aaron Bible

.css-13m1f6i{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;font-weight:inherit;font-style:inherit;-webkit-box-pack:start;-ms-flex-pack:start;-webkit-justify-content:flex-start;justify-content:flex-start;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;cursor:pointer;scroll-margin-top:0rem;background-color:#ffffff;color:#000;width:100%;border:0;border-top:thin solid #D4D4D4;text-align:left;padding-top:0.3125rem;border-bottom:none;padding-bottom:0.3125rem;}@media(min-width: 64rem){.css-13m1f6i{scroll-margin-top:3.375rem;}} .css-b4ahb2{border-radius:50%;width:1.875rem;border:thin solid #737373;height:1.875rem;padding:0.4rem;margin-right:0.625rem;} .css-jlx6sx{display:-webkit-inline-box;display:-webkit-inline-flex;display:-ms-inline-flexbox;display:inline-flex;width:0.9375rem;height:0.9375rem;margin-right:0.625rem;-webkit-transform:rotate(90deg);-moz-transform:rotate(90deg);-ms-transform:rotate(90deg);transform:rotate(90deg);-webkit-transition:-webkit-transform 250ms ease-in-out;transition:transform 250ms ease-in-out;} Should I look for backpack with reflective detailing?

Yes! Reflective piping, pocket covers, and other design "hits" of reflective material are a great asset and trend in commuter packs.

Along with padding, is ventilation a must-have feature?

Commuter packs aren't typically designed with back ventilation in mind. Yes a nice padded back is great, and is often either hydrophobic or treated with an antimicrobial treatment, but you don't see a lot of true "venting" systems of commuter packs like you do on day hiking packs. Osprey and Deuter both have nice back venting, and if you are using more of a performance cycling pack, like one with a water bladder, tool pockets, etc. like you would use for a long mountain bike ride, then yes you might have venting on the back. Lastly, in my experience, every pack wets out on your back when you are working hard hiking, climbing, skiing, or biking. Even the best ventilated packs will still leave you with a wet back in some form.

Is there anything to avoid—any big don’ts—when making a selection?

Don't expect one pack to solve all of your problems. Someone is always trying to make a better backpack!

mystery ranch bag

Danny Perez is a Commerce Editor for Popular Mechanics with a focus on men's style, gear, and home goods. Recently, he was coordinator of partnership content at another product journalism outlet. Prior to that, he was a buyer for an independent men's shop in Houston, Texas, where he learned all about what makes great products great. He enjoys thrifting for 90s Broadway tees and vintage pajama sets. His spare time is occupied by watching movies and running to impress strangers on Strava.

Headshot of Aaron H. Bible

When it comes to gear, few have made a lifelong career of testing and writing about new products in the outdoor world the way Aaron H Bible has. With three decades of experience as a content specialist, creative director, and journalist, Bible is an award-winning writer, photographer, and multimedia producer. In addition to outdoor gear, Bible has written about everything from technology and home electronics to healthcare and home furnishings. He is a contributing writer, editor, and photographer to publications including SKI, Freeskier , Men’s Health , Sunset , Gear Junkie , 5280 , Elevation Outdoors , Vanish , Runner's World , Bicycling , and more. Bible holds an MFA in photography from the Savannah College of Art & Design, and has worked as a photographer, gallery director, and educator. A ski bum at heart, he lives with his family in the high-country of Colorado where he and his wife are raising two girls to love thin air, fresh pow, and the flow state. 

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Tested: The Best Commuter Backpacks for Heading Back to the Office

Best Commuter Backpacks 0 Hero

By: Tim Huber Published: Jan 17, 2024

By: Tim Huber and Sean Tirman Published: Jan 17, 2024


best travel backpack for biking

There’s no denying our proclivity for hiking and travel bags , though, if you’re anything like us, the carry solution that probably gets the most use in your rotation is likely your daily commuter pack. As this segment has grown in popularity over the years, it’s become inundated with options, muddying the waters and making it difficult to hone in on the few standout models in the segment. Well aware of this reality, we’ve looked high and low for the sector’s latest and greatest, before proceeding to carry out hands-on testing of each model in this guide and review of the best commuter backpacks — whether you’re driving, riding, or walking. 

The Best Commuter Backpacks

Chrome Industries Urban EX 2 30L Backpack F 1 24 1

Best Value Pick

Chrome Industries Urban EX 2.0 30L Backpack

North St Bags Davis Daypack F 1 24 1

Best American-Made Pick

North St. Bags Davis Daypack

Ortlieb City Commuter Daypack F 1 24 1

Best Waterproof Pick

Ortlieb City Commuter Daypack

Rapha Backpack 30L F 1 24 1

Best Cycling Pick

Rapha Backpack 30L

Timbuk2 Parker Commuter Backpack F 1 24 1

Best/Most Versatile Pick

Timbuk2 Parker Commuter Backpack

Aer City Pack Pro XPac F 1 24 1

Best Urban Commuter Backpack

Aer City Pack Pro X-Pac

Mission Workshop Rambler F 1 24 1

Best Premium Pick

Mission Workshop Rambler

Article Overview


Video: the best commuter backpacks, selection & testing, the best everyday carry backpacks.

While shopping for a commuter backpack isn’t all that different from the process of purchasing a normal EDC, work, or travel pack , there are still a handful of factors that one should no doubt take into account when shopping — the most important of which we’ll be breaking down directly below. 

Defining Commuter Backpacks : First thing first, let’s talk about how we defined commuter packs. While “commuter” can often correlate with cycling, we decided to take a broader approach to commuting – seeing that many of our team members take a different method of transit into our Los Angeles office. Whether you cycle, drive, hop a train, take a bus, hail a cab, walk, run or even skateboard to work each and every morning — we’ve tried to provide an option for every popular mode of commuting. It’s also worth mentioning that while panniers are a great option for cyclists, we focused specifically on backpacks for this guide.

Want to take an even deeper dive into our picks for the best commuter packs and subsequent hands-on testing? Then be sure to cruise over to our 4K video counterpart to the best commuter backpacks .

Overall Design: Not unlike any other style of backpack, commuter packs come in all manner of different designs, from thoroughly modern models to classically-styled rucks to watertight roll-tops. As a result, we recommend reviewing a wide array of different types and styles of packs that are currently available before pulling the trigger on your purchase, as the sheer abundance of options on the market practically guarantees that there will be something out there that jives with your personal taste, wants, and needs. 

Size: As backpacks that are largely intended for day-to-day commuting, most commuter packs are sized to carry one’s daily essentials , and not much more. As a result, these bags tend to be sized somewhat similarly to office and everyday carry backpacks — which typically offer between 15 and 25 liters of storage space, though there are obviously outliers and exceptions, including expandable bags.

Primary Materials: The material or materials used to construct a bag’s shell will play a monumental role in the pack’s overall quality and durability. Some of the most commonly-utilized constructions in this space include high-denier poly and nylon blends, waxed canvas, and leather, as well as more modern proprietary materials such as CORDURA, X-Pac’s VX sailcloth, or Dyneema. What’s more, in addition to the shell material, you’ll also want to review if said material has been bestowed with any type of fortifying treatment such as a PU or DWR coating or finish. 

Secondary Materials: Though obviously not as pivotal as a backpack’s shell material, secondary constructions can also play a significant role in its overall quality and user experience. Areas to look out for when reviewing this element include the bag’s shoulder straps, back pad, grab handles, and liner material, just to name a few. 

Construction Technique: The materials used to craft a bag are of extreme importance, but so too is the manner or means in which said material or materials have been pieced together — i.e. the bag’s construction technique. On top of overall durability, this area can also impact a bag’s level of weatherproofing and water resistance. 

Hardware & Trim: An area that separates the market’s more high-end options from their cheaper counterparts, a bag’s hardware and trim elements are also crucial to review when shopping. More specifically, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the bag’s buckles and fasteners, zipper types and tracks, zipper pulls, and any logos, labels, or branding. 

Organizational Amenities: Because of how the bag’s contents are prone to moving around and shifting when its wearer runs, rides, climbs stairs, or hops a train, organizational amenities inside a commuter bag are even more important than a regular bags bevy of internal pockets, slips, and organizers. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for external elements that can be used to carry or organize any other garments or pieces of gear. 

Weatherproofing: When used for commuting, a backpack’s ability to stand up to the elements is of pretty major importance — though this factor becomes even more crucial when dealing with cycling-specific commuter packs. These bags’ level of waterproofing is largely owed to the bag’s design, shell construction, whether its seams have been stitched, welded, or taped, whether or not the bag has any presence of any special fortifying treatments or finishes, and use of water-resistant or waterproof zippers, and whether or not its primary construction has been kiss-coated.

Device Storage: As our laptops and tablets become increasingly integral parts of our work lives, the need for protective device storage has never been more important. As a result, you’ll want to review if a bag possesses a dedicated slip, compartment, or pocket for housing a laptop and/or tablet, and if so what size devices it can house. Additionally, you’ll want to look into whether this compartment or pocket is padded, weatherproof or waterproof, and if it utilizes a false bottom or other type of protective setup. 

Harness System: Though it largely only applies to cycling bags, one element that separates these backpacks from normal everyday carry and work packs is the purpose-built cycling-focused harness systems that they possess. Like motorcycle backpacks, many cycling bags have been designed to keep the pack panted firmly against their wearer. Even if you aren’t riding, you’ll still want to review any commuter pack’s harness system as this element will play a major role in the support it offers, how it distributes weight, and how comfortable it is to wear.

Cycle-Specific Features: If you ride a bicycle or motorcycle to work, this is a crucial area to explore. On top of their special harness systems, a decent number of backpacks that are made specifically for cycling feature a variety of amenities and elements aimed at addressing the needs of riders. This can include everything from reflective elements to help riders better be seen by drivers in inclement weather, point for mounting bike lights or action cameras, carrier systems for helmets, and slips, loops, or pockets for housing bike locks . There are even some riding bags that have D30 chest armor integrated into their shoulder straps.

Best Commuter Backpacks Tested

As the pandemic is increasingly in our rear-view mirror, more and more people are returning to the office, resulting in a huge demand for commuter-specific carry solutions that’s been answered by an ever-growing number of commuter-focused backpacks and bags. With so many options to choose from, we opted to begin our search for the segment’s very best by first generating a list of criteria that we would use to guide our hunt. This included looking at each bag’s material selection, construction technique(s), size and weight, weatherproofing, hardware and trim, closure, and style and design. Based on these elements, we scoured the market, using these factors to generate a shortlist of models that we suspect may stand as some of the best that money can currently buy. 

As informative as product images and spec sheets can be, the reality is that looking at these bags online only tells one part of a larger story, as it isn’t until actually testing these bags that one can start to get a more complete sense of how a commuter bag performs — and how it stacks up against the competition. So, after compiling or initial list, we then proceeded to source samples of each bag in order to conduct hands-on (or rather “back-on”) testing. Gaining hands-on experience with each of these commuter packs would ultimately help shine a light on other crucial areas such as each model’s overall construction and build quality, and comfort.

In order to carry out this testing, each bag was worn for an extended period, being used to commute to and from HICSONTUMPION HQ on both a bicycle and motorcycle. We also wore the bags while walking around the neighborhood and in-between rides. Because we’re based in sunny Los Angeles, our local climate didn’t really allow us to put the bags’ weatherproofing to the test, but we carried out our own “in-lab” testing using a hose. Additionally, this testing phase would also allow us to glean a more comprehensive sense of each backpack’s harness system and support. Following this testing period, we were then able to narrow our initial shortlist down to a final selection of carry solutions that we found to be the best commuter backpacks currently available.

Chrome Industries Urban EX 2 30L Backpack F 1 24 1

  • Engineered specifically for cycling
  • Offers fantastic bang for your buck
  • Shell material & welded seams offer great weatherproofing
  • Loaded w/ cycling-specific features
  • No exterior water bottle pockets forced them to be carried internally

Best Value Pick: Not only does Chrome Industries hail from Portland — a bicycle commuter’s mecca — but they were specifically formed with cycling in mind. As such, you can count on all of their carry options as superb solutions for your day-to-day haul. However, we’re quite partial to their minimalist-style Urban Ex rolltop backpack. Built with a hybrid nylon/polyurethane upper and a synthetic rubber base using welded seams throughout, this bag is perfect for staving off moisture — which is aided by its waterproof radio-welded seams. It also has a rolltop closure, external webbing for modular attachments, a dedicated laptop pouch, and — most importantly — a lifetime guarantee .

Chrome Industries Urban EX 2 30L Backpack F 1 24 2

Having been designed largely for cycling and commuting, the Chrome Industries Urban EX 2.0 30L does a superb job of lending itself to these specific applications. Despite being one of the OGs in the space, a series of updates over the years have resulted in a thoroughly modern bag that features a harness system that’s as impressive as the thing’s weatherproofing. I did wish the outside of the bag featured a water bottle pocket so I didn’t have to store mine inside the bag  — with my gear and tech — though certain bottles I own allowed me to lash them to the face of the pack’s loops  (items sized to perfectly fit U-locks). 

Capacity: 30L Exterior: Coated & TPU-Backed 600D Polyester Laptop Pocket: 15” Waterproof: Yes Dimensions: 21”L x 15.75”W x 6”D Weight: 2.03LBs

North St Bags Davis Daypack F 1 24 1

  • Made by hand in PNW largely from PNW-sourced materials
  • Combines understated, retro-inspired appearance w/ modern materials
  • Backed by lifetime warranty
  • Cut from eco-friendly recycled CORDURA re-Cor
  • Could benefit from more robust harness system
  • Laptop sleeve sold as optional add-on

Best American-Made Pick: Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, North St. knows a thing or two about how tough a commuter bag needs to be when cycling is your primary form of transportation. As such, they made their Davis Daypack with a weatherproof DWR-coated CORDURA re-Cor exterior to stave off all but the heaviest downpours, which pairs beautifully with its rolltop closure for even more water-resistance for everything inside. It also has a water-resistant zipper, a sailcloth liner, and an internal scheme that’s designed for modularity. Made by hand, the bag boasts a level of quality that frankly didn’t leave me in any way surprised to learn that it comes backed by a lfietime warranty. 

North St Bags Davis Daypack F 1 24 2

I also no doubt appreciated the fact that the pack’s water-resistant zippers, the fact its flexible re-Cor shell can be folded, rolled, and/or packed, and its exterior side pockets being large enough to house water bottles or U-locks. And, while it doesn’t necessarily change the user experience, I really liked the fact that this bag isn’t just made in America, it’s largely made regionally, with the majority of the fabrics, trim, and hardware that comprise it being sourced in the Pacific Northwest before being pieced together there. While these next areas don’t outweigh the many, many positives that the Davis backpack has going for it, its harness system could be a little more robust and supportive, it could really use some better back-padding, and its buckle system could really benefit from an upgrade. And, while you can fit laptop or two into the pack, the brand’s available Hook & Loop Laptop Sleeve is sold separately for an extra $35 — an upgrade that I wish came as standard, but nonetheless one worth making. With those gripes aside, fantastic cycling commuter bag. 

Capacity: 14L (or 20L W/ Roll-Top Open) Exterior: DWR-Coated CORDURA re-Cor Laptop Pocket: 11” Or 14” (Sold Separately) Waterproof: Semi Dimensions:  18”L x 10”W x 5.75”D Weight: 1.25LBs

Ortlieb City Commuter Daypack F 1 24 1

  • Made in Germany
  • Offers solid, IP64 rating
  • Sports sleek, modern, minimalist appearance

Best Waterproof Pick: Ortlieb might not be a household name, even amongst the most vigilant of carry enthusiasts, but that should not be taken as a slight against them, as they make some truly impressive bags. To demonstrate my point, I give you, the Ortlieb City Commuter Daypack. IP64-rated, this German-made 21-liter bag is a superb weatherproof cycling bag thanks to its PU-laminated nylon exterior, roll-top closure, series of organizational features, and fantastic harness system. And while its minimalist form, great craftsmanship, and excellent waterproofing would enough in my book to earn it a spot on this list, it’s suite of genuinely useful and well-thought-out features — such as small external quick-access pouch, removable waist and sternum straps, custom-designed ventilation channel-equipped back padding, multiple reflective details, loop attachment points for your helmet, lock — push it over the edge. The fact this bag was developed from the ground up for cycling really shows, and for obvious reasons it’s hard not to really appreciate that when viewing backpacks through this lens. Above and beyond its suite of cycling-specific features, heavy waterproofing, and premium aluminum hardware, I also appreciate the fact this well-crafted backpack actually affords pretty decent value all things considered, with less than $200 getting you a weatherproof, German-made carry solution with a sleek minimalist form that, on the inside, is brimming with features. 

Ortlieb City Commuter Daypack F 1 24 2

While I have nothing really bad to say about its design, materials, or construction quality, I was left with mixed feelings when it came to its IP64 rating. On one hand, it does inspire some confidence and I think it’s cool seeing a bag earn an Ingress Protection rating. On the other, it’s a bit like seeing a sleek car advertising a 10-second 0-60mph time, as IP64 — I.e. the ability to stand up to sprays and dust — isn’t the most robust of IP ratings. Though they provide great, well-balanced support, the bag’s shoulder straps could really benefit from some padding to bolster comfort. I also didn’t love that the backpack is devoid of exterior water bottle pockets —forcing me to house my gear and tech in the same compartment as my bottle, which can be a bit anxiety inducing. Even taking these downsides into account, the City Commuter Daypack’s myriad of positives more than outweigh its short list of shortcomings, and I’d generally give the thing high marks across the board. 

Capacity: 21L Exterior: PU-Coated Nylon Laptop Pocket: 15” Waterproof: Yes Dimensions: 19.7L x 11.8”W x 6.1”D Weight: 1.65Lbs

Rapha Backpack 30L F 1 24 1

  • Made by renowned cycling gear brand
  • Great organizational amenities
  • Cut from oil-waxed 420D nylon
  • Pink interior liner isn’t for everyone
  • Laptop pocket is on the smaller side

Best Cycling Pick: As one of the most eminent names in cycling garments, gear, and accessories, it’s frankly unsurprising that Rapha makes one of the best cycling backpacks currently on the market. Boasting 30 liters of storage space, the Rapha Backpack features a roll-top design that’s cut from a rugged oil-waxed 420-denier nylon . Equipped with a 15” laptop sleeve, the bag boasts a fully waterproof main compartment that’s been supplemented via a pair of quick-access front pockets. If you’ve ever used any of Rapha’s kit, you’ll no doubt be familiar with its excellent quality and construction — a trait that’s in no way lost on the brand’s cycling backpack. Trimmed in a pink liner, the inside the of bag boasts thoughtfully laid-out organizational elements that reminded me a lot of those found in the more expensive Mission Workshop Rhake. 

Rapha Backpack 30L F 1 24 2

Before even getting my hands on the thing, I already really liked that Rapha Backpack features an IPX4 rating — meaning it can easily to up to splashes, and almost any rain. Another monumental part of what makes this bag shine in my opinion — especially for cycling — is its generous bevy of cycling-specific features such as its reflective details, dedicated bike-specific carry pocket, and the raised lightweight padding that it has to increased airflow. All in all, I was really pleased with Rapha’s attempt at a roll-top cycling bag, and at the end of the day the only real complaints I was left with was the fact its laptop pocket would struggle to fit notebooks north of 13”, and its pink liner didn’t particularly resonate with me — though I realize this latter area is subjective, and I will recognize the bright, high-visibility hue does provide plenty of contrast, making it easy to locate the bag’s contents (not unlike many of Aer’s bright orange liners). It’s also worth pointing out that this backpack is offered in a smaller 20-liter version, as well. 

Capacity: 30L Exterior: Oil-Waxed 420D Nylon Laptop Pocket: 13” (15” Claimed) Waterproof: Yes Dimensions: 18.5”L x 11.8”W x 6.7”D Weight: 1.05LBs

Timbuk2 Parker Commuter Backpack F 1 24 1

  • Offers outstanding weatherproofing
  • Uses expandable design
  • Utilizing full weatherproofing abilities requires using drop liner & zip-away removable rainfly
  • On the heavier side at nearly 4lbs

Best/Most Versatile Pick: As its name implies, the Timbuk2 Parker Commuter Backpack is a carefully-designed carry solution that’s been engineered from the ground up specifically for those who cycle to and from work. The bag is crafted around a polyethylene vinyl acetate that on its own affords decent weather resistance, though that didn’t stop Timbuk2 from also bestowing the backpack with an ultra water-resistant drop liner and a zip-away removable rainfly that can collectively stand up to anything short of a monsoon. The overall construction quality of this backpack feels solid — plus its included lifetime warranty no doubt points to decades of dependable use. Inside, on top of a laptop compartment that can house notebooks of up to 15”, the backpack also features a series of slips and dividers that’s more minimalistic than most of the other bags I tested, opting for a layout that provides organization for daily essentials — rather than loading the thing up with organizational amenities that will see little to no use. 

Timbuk2 Parker Commuter Backpack F 1 24 2

The Parker’s sleek, minimalist form has been treated to several reflective panels to help its wearer better be seen by drivers in inclement weather. Alongside its expandable design, ample weatherproofing, and solid durability, another element that I found to make this bag even better for cycling is its stellar harness system, which comes loaded with adjustable and removable sternum and waist straps. In its standard form, the bag offers 26 liters of real estate, though thanks to a clever design and the use of magnetic compression strap, this cycle-focused carry solution can be expanded to a much larger 35 liters. This expandable element also massively ups this model’s versatility, as it allows the backpack to also be super heavily conducive to travel. I also found the bag’s tricot lined outer pocket to be perfect for securing stashing a wallet or phone wallet, as the pocket is secure, yet super easy to access on the fly. The Parker Commuter Backpack’s only real Achilles heel is the fact that it clocks in at a fairly heavy 3.8lbs — making it one of the heaviest models that I tested. 

Capacity: 26L (Expandable To 35L) Exterior: Polyethylene Vinyl Acetate Laptop Pocket: 15” Waterproof: Yes Dimensions: 20.5”L x 13.4”W x 5.51”D Weight: 3.8LBs

Aer City Pack Pro XPac F 1 24 1

  • Extremely versatile
  • Lightweight & super rugged
  • X-Pac shell & coated zippers afford stellar weatherproofing
  • Super versatile design
  • Could benefit from larger hip flaps/welts

Best Urban Commuter Pick: Since its inception in 2014, San Francisco-based carry solution company Aer has built its name on delivering highly-calculated and highly-functional backpacks and bags, combining a host of utilitarian features with hardwearing constructions and sleek minimalistic designs. And the brand’s MO imperfectly exemplified by the Aer City Pack Pro X-Pac. Cut from insanely rugged X-Pac VX-42 sailcloth, the City Pack Pro X-Pac offers a collective 24 liters of storage space spread across a host of compartments, organizers, and dividers. Paired with Duraflex hardware, the bag’s weatherproof YKK AquaGuard zippers open to reveal a bluesign-approved high-visibility orange interior liner, along with a 16” padded and suspended laptop pocket, a flat-lay main compartment, an easy-access front pocket, and a quick-access top pocket with soft lining for stashing smartphone, sunglasses, and other more delicate items. Sporting a fully-blacked-out finish, the exterior of the pack also features a luggage handle pass-through , a contoured back panel, and an exterior water bottle pocket. 

Aer City Pack Pro XPac F 1 24 2

Despite the fact it wasn’t specifically designed for cycling, the City Pack Pro X-Pac is incredibly conducive to commuting on two-wheels, thanks to a heavily-padded and largely adjustable strap and harness setup that includes a magnetic-coupling sternum strap and a padded back panel. I also thoroughly appreciate the use of an insanely durable VX-42 sailcloth for the bag’s shell, as it practically guarantees the thing will have no problem standing up to bumps, abrasions, and even the most severe weather. Aer also makes the City Pack Pro in a 1,680-denier CORDURA version, though with the X-Pac-spec being even more rugged and lightweight makes it a superior choice for cyclists in my opinion. With its rugged construction, stellar organizational features, and myriad of travel-friendly amenities — such as its flat-lay opening main compartment and luggage handle pass-through — Aer’s City Pack Pro X-Pac is also extremely versatile, lending itself just as well to EDC and globetrotting use as it does cycling. My only real gripe with the bag is the fact that its hip flaps/welts could be a bit larger in order to help mitigate slippage or shifting during heavy motion — though it’s also hard to fault Aer or the bag for this, as it wasn’t specifically designed for cycling. 

Capacity: 24L Exterior: VX-42 Laptop Pocket: 16” Waterproof: Yes Dimensions: 18”L x 12”W x 7.5”D Weight: 2.5LBs

Mission Workshop Rambler F 1 24 1

  • Made in America
  • Crafted around carbon fiber -reinforced internal frame suspension system
  • Uses expandable design that doubles capacity
  • Stellar build quality
  • Can store 17” laptop + 13” tablet
  • Expensive price
  • Cobra buckle & waist strap sold as add-ons

Best Premium Pick: In today’s world, it’s not uncommon to pay a pretty significant financial premium for goods from more high-end brands. And while often times you’re simply shelling out extra dough for a logo — and the exclusivity that’s associated with it —  there are some brands that justify the steeper cost of their wares through the use of top-shelf materials and top-notch craftsmanship. Case in point; Mission Workshop. The San Francisco brand’s Rambler backpack perfectly encapsulates its MO, with an over-engineered, meticulously-developed design that’s been brought to life using hardwearing materials. Pieced together around a carbon fiber -reinforced internal frame suspension system, this roll-top bag features four main compartments, urethane coated zippers, a Black Diamond Ripstop liner, a front zippered compartment that can fit most 13” laptops and tablets, and a secondary sleeve in the pack’s roll-top compartment that can accommodate notebooks of up to 17”. 

Mission Workshop Rambler F 1 24 2

Made in America, the Mission Workshop Rambler sports the option of being secured/configured in a roll-top mode, or a more casual flap-down setup for when being used off-the-bike. On top of boasting Mission Workshop’s usual brand of world-class build quality and premium materials, my favorite part of this backpack is almost certainly its expandable design, which allows it to open from 22 liters up to 44. Considering how limited storage space is when commuting on two wheels, the ability to double the backpack’s hauling capabilities is a huge deal. And, while I legitimately love this bag and highly recommend it — if your budget allows for it at least — it isn’t without a few minor shortcomings. For its price, I would have liked to see the bag’s optional removable sternum strap included as standard, as it hugely ups the bag’s conduciveness to cycling use. The same goes for its available main closure Cobra buckle upgrade (though this piece of hardware does come standard on the pricier black camo variant of the Rambler). It’s also on the heavier side at 3..7lbs, but considering its 44 liters of storage space, that’s to be expected. We also can’t talk about fantastic Mission Workshop commuter bags — whether riding a bicycle or motorcycle — without mentioning the legendary Rhake (and Rhake VX) , as it’s unequivocally one of the best backpacks currently being made.  

Capacity: 22L (Expandable To 44L) Exterior: HT 500D Nylon (or MultiCam CORDURA) Laptop Pocket: 13” + 17” Waterproof: Yes Dimensions: 19”L x 13”W x 5”D Weight: 3.7LBs

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The 9 Best Bike Bags of 2024

We’ve gathered the most convenient bike bags for carrying all of your gear — from panniers to frame bags.

best travel backpack for biking

In This Article

  • Our Top Picks
  • Tips for Buying

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why Trust T+L

Travel + Leisure / Brian Kopinski

Whether you’re interested in commuting with panniers or packing ultralight gear in a frame bag setup, bike bags are a convenient way to avoid cycling with a backpack. There are a lot of different bike bag systems, and the one you choose depends on your comfort and style of riding.

Panniers are larger-capacity bags that sit on a rack above your rear wheel (or occasionally front wheel) and are ideal for commuting and front-country touring. These are easy to pack and access. More streamlined packing systems include frame bags, seat packs, and handlebar packs. These are ideal for weight-conscious bikepackers looking for a more aerodynamic setup. Whether you’re planning a long-distance trip or looking to enhance your daily cycling, we’ve gathered the best bike bags for every adventurer.

Best Overall

Ortlieb back-roller classic pannier.

This set works just as well for running errands and commuting as it does for touring.

We’d love a few more internal pockets for organizing gear. 

Ortlieb’s durable, high-volume, convenient pannier setup has excellent capacity and versatility. These panniers work great for everything from farmer’s market runs to multi-day front-country tours. These bags come in a set of two and are built from a rugged coated polyester that is fully waterproof thanks to the roll-top closure. 

At 20 liters each, these are big enough to fit camping gear, food, clothes, or your local grocery haul. The panniers fit on racks up to 16 millimeters in diameter, and also have adapters for narrower rails. They have an interior pocket for keeping smaller items organized, don’t flap around on the bike rack, and come with shoulder straps for when you may want to wear them around town. 

The Details: 20 liters each | 4.19 pounds | PVC-coated polyester | Waterproof

Best Durability

Thule shield bike pannier bag.

The bag sports a simple design and worry-free waterproofing.

The materials start out fairly stiff and can be tricky to roll at first.

Known for their ultra-durable luggage, gear racks, and storage, Thule also makes a similarly rugged line of waterproof bags with super secure attachments. These panniers come in a range of sizes, including a set of 13-liter bags, and single bags in 17-liter, 22-liter, and 25-liter capacities. They are hassle-free to attach securely to racks, and will fit anything from eight- to 16-millimeter rack bars without the need for adapters. 

This set features a padded laptop sleeve that fits laptops up to 15 inches, as well as a smaller padded sleeve for tablets and file folders. The external zippered pocket holds small items for easy access, and the hardware and straps are all extremely durable and reliable. 

The Details: 13-25 liters | 3.3-4.4 pounds | Welded nylon | Waterproof

Best for Commuting

Ortlieb vario ps pannier.

It’s a two-in-one backpack and bike pannier.

The bag is not entirely waterproof, so be careful with laptops and other tech items.

Combining the convenience, storage, and carrying system for use with both a bike rack and as a backpack, Ortlieb’s Vario PS Pannier is a no-brainer for bike commuters. Hop off your bike, unclip the bag, throw it on your back, and you’re ready for the day. The backpack straps tuck away for safe riding, and we appreciate the reflective details for early morning or evening commutes. This pack has convenient external pockets and a padded internal laptop sleeve making commuting a breeze. It also comes in fun colors with a retro-looking clasp to secure the roll-top closure. 

The Details: 26 liters | 3.44 pounds | PU-coated nylon | Water-resistant

Most Versatile

North street bags pioneer 9 handlebar pack.

It’s easy to unclip it from handlebars to use as a clutch or crossbody bag.

It may be too small for transporting gear.

With simple attachments that eliminate the need to remove the straps from your handlebars (if you know, you know), this bag is convenient, secure, and versatile. This small bag has just over 2.5 liters of capacity, with a clear internal zippered pocket for cash and cards. The front zippered pocket is perfect for keys, and the pouch itself can hold small necessities and doubles as a purse, waist-pack, cross-body bag, or clutch. It attaches securely to your handlebars with nylon straps, then the pouch attaches to the straps with a simple clasp for added security. You can choose between a few different materials for the body of the bag, and the color range is so wide it feels almost custom. 

The Details: 2.65 liters | 0.36 pounds | EcoPak EPX or Cordura | Water-resistant

Best Handlebar Pack

Revelate designs sweetroll handlebar bag.

The dual-access points are convenient, and we love the extra capacity in the front flap.

If you have narrow drop-bars you may not be able to fill this to capacity. 

This waterproof bag is shaped like a tube and sits close to your handlebars, but doesn’t impede steering. The bag can be accessed from both ends, which means if you pack strategically, you can reach everything you need with a quick unbuckle-and-unroll during breaks. The bag comes with dense foam spacers to customize the fit and clear any brake lines, and it stays tight against the handlebars even after days of bumpy riding. 

This bag is ideal for hauling tent poles or other long, awkwardly shaped bikepacking gear, and the expandable front flap provides even more capacity for snacks or maps. The material is fully waterproof, and as long as you roll the sides as directed, will withstand even torrential downpours. Just be aware of your bike’s drop-bar situation as smaller bikes with narrower drop bars may need a smaller roll. 

The Details: 11 liters | 0.9 pounds | TPU-laminated nylon | Waterproof

Best Frame Bag

Blackburn outpost elite frame bike bag.

It comes in multiple sizes and heights to fit as many bike geometries as possible.

The gear loop and zipper attachment areas can delaminate after significant use.

There are so many bike geometries and measurements that the only way to ensure a perfect frame bag fit is to get a custom bag. However, the next best thing is a frame bag that comes in multiple capacities and sizes. Blackburn’s Outpost Elite Frame Bag doesn’t just have different sizes, it comes in different heights to fill as much space as possible on your frame, keeping packed weight at a lower center of gravity without increasing wind resistance. This bag is made with waterproof materials and sealed zippers, and has multiple pockets for organizing quick-grab items. It even has a hose port for carrying a water reservoir in the bag itself, perfect for those extra-dry stretches. 

The Details: 3.4-6.8 liters | 0.44-0.69 pounds | Nylon | Waterproof

Best Half-frame Bag

Deuter mondego fb 6 pack.

A half-frame bag leaves space in the frame for a water bottle mount,

It only comes in one size, so may feel large on smaller bikes.

A half-frame bag is a versatile option that still allows you to carry an accessible water bottle on your downtube without losing the convenience of gear stashed in the frame. This bag still has six liters of capacity, which is enough for snacks, a tool kit, and a spare layer. It also has a small side pocket and comes with the standard hook-and-loop closures to fit a variety of tube diameters, and is highly water-resistant. 

The Details: 6 liters | 0.38 pounds | Polyester | Water-resistant

Best Seat Pack

Revelate designs spinelock 16l seat bag.

The bag can be removed from the bike with just one pin.

Shorter riders may have trouble with this bag hitting their rear wheel when filled to capacity. 

The seat pack is the workhorse of a touring bike-bag system. With a 16-liter capacity and an easy-to-pack shape, this bag can hold compressible sleeping bags, solo tents, and spare clothes — basically your entire camping setup. The Spinelock system uses a set of clamps that attach under your seat, with a forged aluminum pin that connects through the top of the pack attachment. One hook-and-loop strap secures it to your seat post, and you’re ready to go. If you’re filling this bag to capacity you will need to stuff it on the ground like a compression sack, and then use the convenient air purge valve to reduce the volume for easy transport.

The Details: 16 liters | 1.5 pounds | Ripstop nylon, aluminum | Waterproof

Best Top Tube Bag

Rei co-op junction top tube bag.

It has a surprisingly large capacity and doesn’t move around as you ride.

The bag is not fully waterproof.

The humble top-tube bag is an unsung hero in commuting, bikepacking, and general riding. It’s also kind of hard to get right, but this 1.3-liter model from REI’s bike bag line nails it. Two hook-and-loop closures secure around your top tube, and a bungee can be tightened as much as possible around your stem to keep it stable. It has an internal pocket for small items like lip balm, cash, or cards, and the main pocket is deceptively large, holding important bike tools, snacks, and other essentials.

The Details: 1.3 liters | 0.37 pounds | Nylon | Water-resistant

Tips for Buying Bike Bags

Consider capacity and access.

If you’re running a pannier setup, keep your quick-grab items at the top, and consider supplementing larger bags with a smaller front bag. Commuters and casual cyclists probably don’t need more than 15-20 liters of capacity for in-town riding, but bikepackers can need upward of 30-40 liters, depending on itineraries and destinations. Accessibility is also key, and we love keeping a few small bags attached to the handlebars or top tube for items we may need quickly or frequently. 

Prioritize weight distribution

Biking with bags or panniers will change the dynamics and feel of your bike. Keeping your weight lower keeps your center of gravity in a more natural position, so pack your frame bag with care. If you’re riding with two panniers, weigh them equally as much as possible for easier riding. If you’re riding with just one pannier, be aware of the change in balance during riding, and start with smaller loads to practice staying upright. Biking with a frame bag and a handlebar bag eliminates a lot of the weight distribution issues, and remember that keeping your weight lower keeps your center of gravity in a more natural position, so pack your frame bag first. 

Think about waterproofing

Most bike bags and panniers are durable and water-resistant, and some are entirely waterproof. This distinction comes from material, material treatment, zipper construction, and closure. When used correctly, a roll-top closure on a bag built with waterproof materials is going to keep your gear the driest. 

DWR-treated materials will keep your gear dry for a while, but can eventually saturate, and bags with zippers have a higher rate of moisture seepage, as even a waterproof zipper creates a potential failure point due to delamination after significant use. If you’re transporting a laptop or other items that can’t get wet, buying an IPX-rated waterproof bag is your best bet.

For commuting, running errands, and front-country touring, panniers are convenient, easy to pack, and have a larger capacity. Many also come with carrying straps and can double as backpacks or shoulder bags. For lightweight bikepacking setups or extended gravel racing, bike bags will be more aerodynamic and afford easier riding.  “I look for convenience over weight savings,” Montana-based cyclist and gravel bike racer Hailey Hosken says. “I choose panniers because I can load all of my gear into two backpack-shaped bags and find it all easily.”

A fully weighted set of pannier will slow you down due to added weight as well as wind resistance. Your bike goes from being a narrow, sleek vehicle to having added width to catch the wind. Riding with weighted panniers takes some getting used to, and can make you feel less agile, but theyare still a great way to carry camping gear and town gear. Just be aware that your bike will feel different at first. 

If you’re looking for maximum protection for your gear, choose a hard-sided bike bag, but keep in mind that they are clunkier and can be harder to pack than soft-sided bags. A good option for protecting your items is a soft-sided bag with internal structural reinforcements, so you get the flexibility of a soft bag with extra internal protection. If you’re packing a laptop, look for a pannier with a padded sleeve. 

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Maggie Slepian is an avid hiker and cyclist with more than a decade of professional gear testing experience. She has cycled thousands of miles on bikepacking trips as well as running errands on her bike in town. She runs both a racing bag setup as well as panniers, depending on the circumstance and packing needs. To curate this list, she spoke with Hailey Hosken , a gravel bike racer and avid bikepacking enthusiast. 

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best travel backpack for biking

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Best bikepacking bags - Handlebar, frame, saddle and top tube bags to carry your gear

The best bikepacking bags to carry you through a multi-day trip whether it’s around the corner or across the continent

Brooks bikepacking bag freshly back from an adventure

What you need to know about choosing the best bikepacking bags

When it comes to the best bikepacking bags, we are truly in a golden age. Early innovators went out in the world and did things on a bike other people didn't think was possible. They led the way and they inspired people. Those early innovators used what they had to and did whatever it took to ride their bikes in the way they wanted to., but as time went on, they looked for better and better tools.

One of the first tools that started to change was the bike itself. At one time, multi-day cycling tended to mean panniers and a touring bike, with bikes packed heavily and moving slowly, sticking mostly to paved routes. As roads have gotten busier and gravel bikes have gotten better, there’s been a shift to the best gravel bikes for multi-day adventures by bike. 

The shift in bikes necessitated a shift in packing strategy to go with it. Taking a page from the ultra-light backpacking segment, bikepackers have gone as light and small as possible. In the early days that meant custom bags sewn for those blazing new trails. These days, the pieces you need to get out on your bike exist and you don't need to know how to sew. 

We’ve tested dozens of bikepacking bags for ease of use, durability, compatibility, size and more, and we've put together a list, organised by company, of some of the best bikepacking bags available to help you through whatever adventures you’ve got planned. 

Best bikepacking bags available today

You can trust Cyclingnews Our experts spend countless hours testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

Best bikepacking bags - Restrap on a Niner MCR

Restrap Carry Everything

Specifications, reasons to buy, reasons to avoid.

What started out as a one-man operation from a bedroom in Yorkshire, has since expanded into a brand which offers some of the best bikepacking bags available. There are options that cover everything from a daily urban commute all the way up to a multi-day race then they break the offerings up into collections based on the intended use. There is Adventure Race, Expedition, City, and the all-around Carry Everything line that we spent time with. 

We started with the Bar Bag in size small because at 14 litres, it's already voluminous. There are foam spacers to keep proper spacing with the handlebar and a holster system that holds a dry bag inside. For the frame bag, the standard Restrap option uses rubberised strapping to help it stay put and they are waterproof. There are three sizes to help fit your frame and your needs and the medium and large feature an extra pocket for better organisation. There's a cable slot so you can feed a charging cable inside as well. 

At the back of the bike the 14-litre, down to as small as 8-litres, saddlebag is another holster design. The outer piece attaches to the seatpost and through the seat rails for a secure connection to the bike. Unique to Restrap there's a foam spacer to help with spacing behind the seatpost and there's a magnetic buckle that secures the drybag into the holster. 

For accessories, Restrap has more options than most. The rear top tube bag is a really smart way to utilise space that a lot of systems leave empty. Then for the front top tube bag, there are plenty of options but one of them is a bolt on option that is rarer than you might expect given all the choices for gravel bikes with mounting points in that spot. 

Best bikepacking bags - Apidura Race Bags on a Niner MCR

Apidura Racing Series

Apidura breaks its bag range into different options to meet different requirements of bikepackers.  The Backcountry series is for off-road adventures and offers a more rugged finish for better durability. For ultra-distance and audaxers, the Race series and Expedition range use many of the same features but the race series is the most focused and streamlined. The race series is where we've had the most experience and with that in mind, that's what we are sharing on this list. It also makes sense because that's what Apidura has a reputation for. Keep in mind though, there's not a lot of room in any of these pieces. 

Apidura has been a significant player in the rise of bikepacking, from sponsoring events like the Transcontinental Race to supporting some of the biggest names in endurance riding like Sofiane Sehili and Jenny Graham who make huge demands of their equipment. They are also often the partner company when a brand with less experience wants to offer a larger range. 

All of the choices in the racing series use a totally waterproof material that's developed specifically for Apidura. They also all feature reflective details to help you stay seen when riding through the night. At the front of the bike is a 2.5-litre bar bag that's a lot closer to something you'd expect to see in a city collection than a bikepacking collection. The idea is to keep it easy to access and out of the way. It hinges away from the bike, so you can reach it while riding, and the closure is a simple spot of velcro. 

The 4L frame bag is, again, small and focused. The angle makes it so it's possible to still use water bottles on smaller frames and the connection to the bike is a collection of five straps. The straps along the top tube have two locations for the front and back so you can fit a top tube bag also. There's a zipper on either side that's both waterproof and hidden under a flap. There's no additional organisation inside the bags but each one leads to a different compartment. 

For the saddlebag, there are five-litre or seven-litre options, but neither is that big. The five-litre has proven, in our experience, to be the perfect size to carry enough gloves to handle seven hours of riding in heavy rain. It's the same waterproof material as all the other pieces, so no need for a separate dry bag, and it rolls closed just like a dry bag. Once closed, the rear face has reflective details and there's mounting points for a light. 

For top tube bags, Apidura offers both a long and short option as well as a strap-on or bolt-on. The smaller one-litre option uses a magnetic closure that's a joy when you have been riding for so long you can't think straight. It won't accidentally open but it's easy to pull open and it keeps things dry. There's a port for cables and it holds its shape even when empty. 

Best bikepacking bags - Tpeak Loader bags on a Niner MCR

Topeak Loader

Topeak is better known for its tool ranges but it also has a range of bikepacking products. What it offers is an excellent entry point into bikepacking. It's not super specialised or expensive and it's easy to purchase from a variety of places.

For the frame bag, Topeak has gone with the harness system just like a lot of brands but they actually have something unique. While most of the time spacers are blocks of foam, Topeak uses rubberised stacking pieces. The system is a little more fiddly to figure out initially but with three provided for each side, you can decide how much space you need. 

For the Midloader frame bag, there are different options to fit your frame size but none of them feature the type of shape-holding angles you find on the Apidura solution. You'll want to size conservatively if you are also using water bottles. The connection to the top tube is three velcro straps that are very soft and protective. At the front and rear there's a strap with a buckle. They do a great job keeping everything from moving but you'll want to take care that the buckle doesn't scratch your frame. You'll also want to keep in mind that while a light sprinkle won't soak in, this is not a waterproof bag. 

Topeak's Toploader top tube bag has a lot of adjustability and organisation options. The bottom has five different places you can move the two straps between so you can find something that will work with whatever frame bag might be below it. On the inside there's thick padding and a moveable divider. It's a lot like the inside of a camera bag but it's not waterproof. If you need to keep the contents dry, you'll want to pull out the rain cover hidden in the side. 

The last piece we spent time with is the 15 litre Backloader. Like the Frontloader this is a holster system. What's unique about it is that the design works either with an included dry bag, or without. If you know for sure it's going to be dry you could leave the dry bag at home and fill up the internal storage as well as use the straps on top. If it looks like it might rain then Topeak includes a dry bag with an air release you can pack full and stuff inside. It means a little more complexity to the system but it gives you choice in how you use it.

Best bikepacking bags

Brooks Scape

If you've had any experience with the classic leather saddles Brooks built its reputation from, it'll be no surprise that the Scape lineup is similarly high in quality. These bikepacking options are incredibly well made and high-performance. They've served us well getting through long, rainy, miles and with that experience we put together a different selection than some of the other brands. 

At the front, the Scape Handlebar Roll is yet another holster and dry bag solution. The dry bag from Brooks isn't just a bag though. Instead, there are two compartments that are accessible depending on which side you open it. It works really well for a dry side and a wet side. Closing the bag into the system is a great introduction to the beautiful clasp and loop system that makes it fast when you are on the road or trail. 

Instead of then suggesting a frame bag, we've decided to take advantage of the modularity that Brooks offers and suggest the Handlebar Pouch instead. Frame bags can be a challenge to fit with water bottles and while the Scape option is excellent, you can get the same 3L as the smaller frame bag but it will attach to the front of the Handlebar Roll. It's still waterproof and if you want to use it on its own, that works also. 

Then, instead of the Brooks top tube bag option, which isn't available in a bolt-on choice, grab the Scape Saddle Pocket Bag. At 0.7L you only sacrifice 0.2L but you can strap the Pocket Bag in multiple locations on the other bags. There's even room for a couple if you want more than one option for small pieces. Just like everything else, it's waterproof. 

At the back, Brooks only offers one size of the Scape Seat Bag. It's a holster system that straps around the seatpost with velcro and then connects under the saddle rails. It won't move around and if you pack carefully there's enough room for overnight gear. The dry bag rolls up and has an air vent so it's easy to pack. Once packed the buckle and loop system is once again a joy to use. There's a spot to mount a light in the back as well.

Best bikepacking bags - Ortlieb QR Systemon a Niner MCR

Ortlieb QR System

It's difficult to know if this system should get accolades for being fast to remove or just being different. There are three pieces to highlight here and they are all completely unique in different ways. 

The Ortlieb Handlebar Pack QR uses a mounting system that is maybe not faster than a traditional handle roll system but it definitely will not rotate or come loose. Instead of velcro wrapping around the handlebar, there's a pair of cords that snake over, and under, the bars and stem from opposite directions. Tighten them up and they lock in place so they'll never come loose while riding. It also has the advantage of not being a dry bag and holster system but still being completely waterproof. 

The frame bag we included is not actually part of the QR system but it is also completely unique. Rather than being a zippered fast-access storage location Ortlieb uses a roll-top closure and keeps the whole bag completely waterproof as well as vertically narrow. First, the bag gets attached to the top tube with velcro straps like normal. Then the top gets rolled down and tucked alongside the top tube. When it's time to open it up, there is a rubber strap that connects to a catch. Opening and closing the bag doesn't remove it from the frame. It's still not going to fit every frame but if it does, there's a little more chance of it existing alongside your bottles. 

The last piece we had a chance to spend time with is the Ortlieb Seat-Pack QR. This one is actually a bit closer to a quick release system. There's a collar that attaches to the seatpost and acts as a stop to the base of the bag. Once that's installed, the connection to the seat rails also uses hard plastic and requires a bit of upward pressure to release. Let go of the pieces and they lock the back to the seat rails with gravity. There's an extra bit of velcro to steady the bag against the seatpost and everything is set. When it's time to release it, just push up on the seat rail connections and remove the velcro. There's no separate dry bag so the self-contained bag stays together once removed. The whole system is ideal for unloading your bike for exploration once you've set up camp. 

Blackburn Feedback frame bag

Blackburn Outpost Elite

Blackburn Designs is a company that makes rugged products usable on both mountain bikes and drop-bar bikes. If you've got a dropper post and suspension with a desire to head for the truly rugged locations, this series of products is what you want to look at. 

Upfront, the Handlebar Roll and dry bag combo start out with a basic silhouette that's not so different from stuff like the Brooks Scape series bag. If you ride on rough enough trails though you'll notice that the straps on that bag will loosen over time. To combat this, Blackburn uses a hard mount system that allows you to dial in the angle and won't move or come loose. It takes longer to set this up but once it's on the bike you can just remove the dry bag the same way other holster systems work. 

For the next piece, Blackburn offers a hydration bladder compatible full frame bag. It's totally waterproof and available in four sizes to fit whatever frame you've got. The zippers lack flaps over them but they are waterproof without the hassle and there's a small zippered compartment on the non-drive side as well as two zippers to the main compartment on the drive side. The main compartment is only one large space but there's a removable false shelf to help divide it. 

At the rear of the bike is another piece designed for rugged trips. The Outpost Elite Seatpack and dry bag is a lot like the front bag. It mimics the look and style of other holster solutions but it's got extra mounting features that allow it to work with a dropper post. Instead of attaching at the seatpost for stability, there's a rigid metal wing system that keeps the bag stable with only an attachment to the saddle rails. If you aren't using a dropper post you can still use a strap on the post for stability but there's no need. The 6.95-litre bag also does a good job of staying up and out of the way of the rear wheel because of the way the straps for the holster attach farther towards the rear of the bike. 

Best bikepacking bags - Bontrager bags on a Niner MCR

Bontrager Adventure line

The Bontrager Adventure Bags do have an eye on working with the latest model of the Trek Checkpoint but they work beyond that bike. They actually have some features that might make them perfect for anyone with a smaller frame. 

At the front, the Adventure Handlebar Bag is on the smaller side at nine-litres and uses a roll-top closure but only on one side. If you need to fit a bit more there is some space to strap items like a jacket to the front. The real trick of it though is a zippered front pocket designed for a hydration bladder. It's not included, so you can use what works, but it's designed around the 1.5L Osprey Hydraulics LT Hydration Pack Lumbar Reservoir. In general, putting a bunch of weight in the bar bag isn't ideal but for those with a small frame, this might make things a whole lot easier. 

At the centre of the bike, the Bontrager Adventure Boss Frame Bag is also unique. This is the piece that has a size designed around the latest Trek Checkpoint gravel bike. If you have that bike, then there are mounting points that will make sure it doesn't move. Even if you've got another bike though, the six different sizes mean there should be a size that works even for small frames. 

The last piece in the Adventure Bag lineup is the Bontrager Adventure Saddle Bag. Like the rest of the bags in this collection, it's not fully waterproof. It does have a roll-top closure though and like all bags with a roll-top, that makes it hard to get into quickly. To ease that pain, Bontrager put zippers on the sides. We wish more brands took this approach.

What types of bags are there?

We covered a range of different bags and different packing strategies but in general, bikepacking bags fall into three categories. These three are your starting point in most situations then there's some accessories you can as needed. 

Handlebar bags range from a couple of litres for a few essentials to enough space to swallow a tent. They come in the form of either a single piece bag that straps directly to the handlebars or a harness that will cradle a drybag.

Frame bags attach within the frame triangle using velcro or webbing straps. Half-frame bags take up the upper section of the frame either stretching all the way from the headtube to the seatpost or stopping part way along the top tube. With these bags you still need to carry water bottles but smaller frames will struggle. Side entry bottle cages will help but you might also want to just switch to a full frame bag. With a full frame bag you'll need to carry water in a bladder but you'll have the full space of the frame triangle to work out a packing that works best for you. 

Saddle packs are similar to handlebar bags in that they come in one piece or holster styles. Anchoring points use the saddle rails and seatpost to secure and stabilise the bag against sway and drooping. They pack down, and stay dry, with roll top closures. The bags are a great place to store the bulk of your gear as there's very little downside to carrying luggage in this spot. 

What bike limitations do I need to consider?

One of the big appeals to bikepacking bags is the fact they can be easily attached to any bike without the need for special mounting hardware. However, you'll need to consider the dimensions of your bike. Not all bags will work with all bikes and this is especially true for smaller riders where clearances are more compact.

Frame bags often come in different sizes and should give measurements to gauge the size you need. For handlebar bags, the clearance between the handlebar and front wheel and space between drop bars is the limiting factors. Saddle packs are more compatible across bike sizes although small frames such as 50cm and below may struggle with rear-wheel clearance. If you run a dropper post on your gravel bike, you will need to choose a seat pack designed specifically to work with dropper posts so that you don’t damage the posts stanchion.

Do I need frame protection?

When you load down a bag and subject it to the dirt and grime of a bikepacking trip, things rub. It could be just a small scratch, or two. If that's the case it's probably not that big of a deal and it will come down to your level of comfort with scratches. Some people will see those as reminders of the best adventures while others will feel it in their soul every time they look at their once perfect bike. Wherever you fall in that range of experiences things will work out. Sometimes it's worse though.

In some instances, the rubbing of a frame bag could mean expensive repairs. It can be startling how fast a misplaced strap can damage a frame. If your bike is aluminium, or titanium, you can end up with an impressively polished spot but if your frame is carbon things could be worse. It's possible to rub right through the frame wall of a carbon bike. With a steel frame you won't rub through the wall but rust can be an issue.

Instead of worrying about it, apply frame protection. The best time to do this is when the bike is brand new. You need it clean and it's unlikely a bikepacking bike will ever be as clean as it is new. Grab a role of helicopter tape and apply liberally. Think well beyond just where the straps fall.

What’s the best packing strategy?

A loaded-up bike is heavy and it handles differently. There's nothing you can do to fundamentally change that but there are important strategies for mitigating the effect. At the heart of it the idea is to keep weight low and central.

The three primary storage bags in a bikepacking setup are the frame pack, the handlebar pack, and the seatpost pack. The handlebar bag is a long thin bag that does well with bulky, but lightweight items. If you are using a drop bar bike the space between the handlebar drops is narrow so that will dictate shorter items.

The seatpost pack is another location where you want lightweight but bulky items. If you have longer items that won't fit between the bars then this is the place to put them. just remember that the farther something gets from the seatpost the more it will sway and move. Try to keep the weight as close in as possible.

For heavy items you want them in your frame bag. It's the most centrally located and the lowest to the ground but there isn't much space. Your legs and the frame create a boundary in every direction so this is your place for compact and heavy. Depending on your bike's setup, you might also consider a downtube mounted bag for heavy items.

What about food and water?

Water in particular can be tricky to find a good spot for. It's heavy, it's bulky, and there is a temptation to try and tuck it away. You might think it's easy to stop and pull it out for a drink but avoid the temptation.

It is true that it's easy to stop and locate food and water but that's not how people sometimes work. Riding is hard and once you get into the rhythm you might surprise yourself by your reluctance to stop. This is especially true when riding with other people or in a race situation. As time goes on you feel worse and worse and it then becomes hard to recover after the eventual stop.

Instead, avoid the whole situation and make it easy. Make sure you have food and water available while riding. Eat and drink before you feel hungry or thirsty and do it often. Keep your energy up instead of trying to recover from a dip. Keep this strategy in mind while packing and do what you need to make things easier than you think necessary.

How did we test the best bikepacking bags?

Testing for the best bikepacking bags begins with the unboxing. We immediately try to figure out the bags, the straps and various mounting brackets to get a sense of how intuitive they are to use. Then we check the instructions and see what - if anything - we missed.

Next up, we fit the bags to our bike - in this case, the Niner MCR full-suspension gravel bike - to get even more of an idea of how easy they are to use. 

Then we do a trial run of packing up a selection of bikepacking gear . We use the same kit list for each bag, and this allows us to compare the available space within, and how the capacity compares to the capacity claimed by the brand. 

The final test is the real-world use, and we tested these bags by taking them on a mix of the most epic adventures we could think of. We also tested bags doing things a little less epic. Sometimes you need a set of bags to take you across a continent and sometimes you need a bag to take you on a mellow weekend. We did the hard work of adventuring on our bikes and we are proud to bring you the best options we found.  

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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutiae of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes. Height: 5'9" Weight: 140 lb. Rides: Salsa Warbird, Cannondale CAAD9, Enve Melee, Look 795 Blade RS, Priority Continuum Onyx

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best travel backpack for biking

10 Best Backpacks of 2024 for Travel, Work and Everything Else

We tested over 50 backpacks to find the best buys for every occasion.

a group of luggage bags

We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process.

Allpa 35L Travel Pack

Best Overall

Cotopaxi allpa 35l travel pack.

Travel Laptop Backpack

MATEIN Travel Laptop Backpack

Borealis Commuter Laptop Backpack

Best for School

The north face borealis commuter laptop backpack.

Your backpack must hold everything you need, whether you're jetting off on a trip or heading into the office. With laptop sleeves, water bottle holders and all sorts of zippered compartments, a backpack needs to fit your necessities without feeling too heavy or bulky.

Fitting more than some carry-on suitcases in our tests, this Cotopaxi travel backpack had a spacious interior that holds everything from our standard packing test and more. The clamshell opening (similar to how a hard-side suitcase opens) makes for easy packing. The mesh compartments separate your clothes while it's still easy to see everything you have packed. It includes thoughtful comfort features like padding in the shoulder straps, chest and hip straps and a breathable mesh back. The shoulder straps tuck away, so you can check this carry-on backpack in a pinch. Our testers appreciated the included raincover if you ever got caught in bad weather, but the bag itself also has a water-resistant coating for extra protection.

This pack is also available in 28L (which makes a great personal item!) and 42L. We think the 35L pack is ideal for most travelers as it fits the same as some carry-on suitcases without getting too heavy or bulky, which can be uncomfortable to carry. When evaluating this bag, we appreciated that the laptop sleeve could easily accommodate a 15-inch laptop. Note that this pack lacks a luggage trolley sleeve, so it doesn't stack easily on rolling luggage.

RELATED: 13 Best Travel Backpacks of 2024, Tested by Experts

At just $22, no other pack can beat the value of this MATEIN backpack. It's affordable without sacrificing features like two mesh water bottle holders, padded straps, ample zippered compartments, a padded laptop sleeve and a USB charging port to charge your phone on the go (power bank not included). This bag has over 97,000 reviews on Amazon with 23 different color options. It's sold in two sizes to accommodate either a 15.6-inch or 17-inch laptop.

When evaluating this bag, we were especially impressed with the amount of storage compartments. This pack has a hidden zippered compartment in the back to hold valuables like a passport when traveling. It has two front pockets to hold keys, wallet, phone, pens and more. Plus, it has a luggage trolley on the back to sit conveniently on top of rolling luggage. This pick makes a great personal item when traveling or as an everyday commuter bag!

RELATED: 20 Best Backpacks You Can Shop on Amazon

Head back to campus with a backpack that'll go with you from classes, to the gym, to extracurriculars and back to your dorm. Enter the Borealis backpack from The North Face. We have been recommending this backpack for years because it has a great design for students. Whether you're in high school or college, this pack can hold a laptop (in a separate padded compartment), textbooks, water bottles, notebooks, a sweatshirt and more while still feeling comfortable to carry.

In our Lab evaluation, the exterior fabric held up to abrasion and water-resistance tests. Our testers reported that this pack is comfortable to carry (even when packed to the brim), thanks to the padded straps and the waist and chest straps. We especially liked the thoughtful features, like a fleece-lined zipper pocket for glasses and a front bungee system to hold a jacket. Shop this pick in 18 colors.

RELATED : Best Backpacks for High School and College Students in 2024

Timbuk2 Authority Laptop Backpack Deluxe

Authority Laptop Backpack Deluxe

Nothing ruins a trip quicker than a damaged laptop. Keep your technology safe with this laptop backpack from Timbuk2. It features a separate padded laptop compartment that can even fit larger computers up to 17 inches. There are internal sleeves to hold e-readers and iPads as well. There's generous padding on the back, padded shoulder straps and an optional chest strap to better distribute the pack's weight.

One GH analyst uses this backpack regularly when bringing his laptop to and from work. He even brought this backpack on a recent trip to China and appreciated the built-in luggage trolley sleeve. He said, "It's comfortable to wear and the pockets keep everything I need well organized."

RELATED: Best Laptop Backpacks of 2024, Tested & Reviewed

Calpak Terra 26L Laptop Duffel Backpack

Terra 26L Laptop Duffel Backpack

Ditch your suitcase for a quick weekend trip away with this Calpak weekender backpack. It's designed to hold everything you need for a few days away: clothes, footwear, toiletries, a water bottle, books, a laptop and more. The backpack straps can be tucked away and the pack includes a crossbody strap, so you can wear it like a traditional weekender bag — two bags in one!

The pack unzips around the side like a suitcase for easy packing. It includes compression straps that help keep everything in place. There are two spacious front pockets to hold must-have items and a separate padded laptop sleeve for easy access. The sleek exterior is water-resistant and available in 11 shades including classic neutrals and bold hues. "I regularly use this pack on trips because it can fit an impressive amount without becoming uncomfortable to carry," reported one tester. "I use it as a personal item with no carry-on, so I can save a few bucks by avoiding bag fees." One tester did note that the water bottle holder was too small to fit her bottle.

RELATED: 11 Best Weekender Bags, Tested by Travel Experts

Patagonia Black Hole Duffel 40 L

Black Hole Duffel 40 L

This Patagonia bag's rugged, water-resistant exterior helps protect your items, even in inclement weather. It's made with recycled polyester ripstop with a TPU-film laminate to prevent water from seeping in. The backpack straps tuck away, so you can wear it either as a backpack or as a traditional duffel bag with an included crossbody strap. When not in use, this backpack stuffs into the small side pocket for convenient, built-in storage . It can be tough to get the duffel in and out of the pocket as it is a tight fit. The Black Hole duffel is avaialble in 40L, 55L , 70L and 100L sizes. We recommend the 40L size as it's spacious enough to fit a week's worth of clothes without feeling too heavy to carry for most people.

If you're looking for a smaller backpack, we recommend the Patagonia Refugio pack ; it's great for everyday wear when traveling as it's made with water-resistant materials and includes a well-organized interior.

Peak Design Travel Backpack

Travel Backpack

Designed for both longer and shorter trips, this innovative Peak Design bag has a 35L capacity but you have the option to compress it to create a 30L day bag or expand it to 45L. This bag also converts to a duffel bag by conveniently tucking the backpack straps away, which is helpful if you ever want to check the bag when flying. You can access the bag's contents from the front, side and back, so it's easy to grab everything you need when on the go. Online reviewers especially liked this feature for easy access to camera equipment when traveling.

The main compartment only has one divider (which can roll down, but isn't removable), so we found it helpful to use packing cubes to keep everything organized. There are small zippered pockets in the front to stash must-have items like a phone, keys, wallet and lip balm.

Osprey Daylite Plus

Daylite Plus

Because you can't go hiking empty handed, bring a lightweight daypack like this top-tested Osprey backpack. This backpack features two stretchy water bottle holders on the side that fit larger bottles. It has padded straps with a chest strap and a removable hip belt for ergonomic support, important on longer hikes. The chest strap includes a built-in whistle to alert other hikers on the trail.

The front compression straps can hold wet or dirty clothes to keep them separate from the main storage compartment. Many online reviewers liked to put a rain jacket there in case they encountered bad weather. It has a separate back compartment that can either hold a hydration pouch or a 14-inch laptop — it's the perfect bag to bring from the trails to the street. Note that this backpack is hand wash only.

RELATED: Best Daypacks for Hiking, According to Pros

TUMI Alpha Bravo Search Backpack

Alpha Bravo Search Backpack

TUMI is known as a status symbol for its luxurious travel products; they offer long-lasting, high-quality products and exemplary customer service. This nylon backpack with leather detailing is a staple among frequent business travelers. It has a sleek, professional look while still being comfortable to carry with padded straps . You have the option to add a customized monogram to the front of the backpack.

Grace Wu , Good Housekeeping Institute textiles product analyst, has tested dozens of backpacks, but she continues to use her 10-year-old TUMI backpack. She reports that it is "surprisingly spacious" and feels "high quality." The brand offers a limited warranty on many of its products with low-cost repairs.

Beis The Backpack

The Backpack

If you want a backpack that'll maximize your packing space without sacrificing style, The Backpack from Beis is ideal. We were immediately impressed with the spacious interior that can fit multiple packing cubes. The top unzips all the way around for easy packing. It features two water bottle holders on the side — testers liked to use one for a water bottle and the other for an umbrella. Some testers wish the holders were stretchy or adjustable to accommodate larger bottles.

The separate padded laptop sleeve makes it easy to grab your computer without unpacking your whole bag. Featuring a luggage trolley sleeve, this bag pairs perfectly with the brand's matching carry-on suitcases . Plus, it's available in eight stylish shades with over 3,000 online reviews (an average 4.8 rating!). This bag is the ultimate travel companion.

RELATED: Beis Luggage Review 2024: Does it Live up to the Hype?

Other backpacks to consider

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While these packs didn't make the shortlist, they're high quality backpacks that performed well in our testing that you should consider:

JanSport Right Pack Backpack

Right Pack Backpack

A favorite for students from elementary school to college, this popular backpack from JanSport is made with durable, long-lasting materials, including a reinforced suede bottom. It has a simple design with two front pockets and a large interior with a laptop sleeve. It lacks organizational features that can be helpful when traveling, but is a great option for students.

Calpak Kaya Laptop Backpack

Kaya Laptop Backpack

Another great professional option, this faux leather backpack from Calpak has a sleek look that's great for commuters with a separate laptop sleeve and a surprisingly roomy interior. It's also available in 25 colors — multiple GH editors have this bag in bold hues, including pink and purple! While it has an attractive look, this backpack couldn't accommodate bulkier items like shoes or a sweatshirt because of its shape.

Away The Outdoor Convertible Backpack 45L

The Outdoor Convertible Backpack 45L

Away offers a variety of smart travel products to make your trip easier, including this extra-large 45L convertible backpack. The backpack straps tuck away, so you can use it as a duffel bag. Testers liked the comfortable straps and well-organized interior. Our main concern with this bag is that the zippers sometimes came loose in our testing.

RELATED: Away Luggage Review: Are the Popular Carry-Ons Worth the Hype?

How we test backpacks

The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab is comprised of fiber scientists and travel experts who have tested over 50 backpacks in recent tests. Testing styles designed for travel, school, hiking and more, both GH pros and our consumer testers used the backpacks before giving feedback on comfort when wearing a full pack, ease of use, convenience of pockets, appearance and more.

✔️ Backpack strap comfort and fit: We look at each backpack's straps to ensure they have padding and other comfort features like mesh for airflow. We also look for chest and hip straps, especially for hiking backpacks.

✔️ Material durability: Using a specialized abrasion tester, we evaluate the fabric's durability to ensure it will hold up against wear and tear.

✔️ Compartments including a laptop sleeve: We rate each pack's compartments and pockets to ensure there is ample storage space that's easily accessible. We put a laptop in the laptop sleeve to rate how well it fits and is protected.

✔️ How the backpack opens: Backpacks usually have one of two opening types: top opening or front opening.

  • Top-loading backpacks have a zipper around the top of the bag, so it opens to one large compartment that you can fill. These are great to hold must-have items as everything is easily accessible, but they aren't designed to fit clothes and shoes.
  • Front-loading backpacks (also known as clamshell-style packs) unzip around the side so they open up like a book for easy packing. These bags are better suited for packing clothes and toiletries as they will fit more, but items aren't as easily accessible when on the go.

✔️ Packing space: We pack each backpack with a standard load to rate how much each backpack can fit. We also rate the ease of opening and closing the pack when full.

How to choose the best backpack

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Consider where you'll use the backpack before purchasing.

  • Travel: Some travel backpacks are designed to hold what you'll need each day on vacation while larger ones are designed to hold a few days worth of clothes. Clamshell-style packs are best suited for carrying outfits — they can even be used as a personal item if your airline charges for carry-on bags.
  • Hiking: A lightweight pack is a must when heading on a hike. Look for styles with chest and hip straps to better distribute the weight for a more comfortable feel mile after mile. Some hiking backpacks also include a pouch for a hydration pack.
  • Business: Backpacks for business travel must include a padded laptop sleeve and ample space to hold what you need when attending meetings or conferences. Look for sleek materials like leather in neutral shades for a professional look.

Check the pack's total volume and packing space. If you plan to bring your backpack on a plane, compare the bag's dimensions to your airline's allowed personal item or carry-on dimensions to ensure you can bring it onboard.

Look at the backpack's weight. Avoid heavy styles that will weigh you down. Leather tends to be heavy compared to nylon and other synthetics, which are lighter in weight.

Ensure the backpack has the compartments you need. If you plan to bring your laptop with you when traveling, make sure the laptop sleeve can accommodate your laptop's size. In our tests, testers appreciated backpacks with water bottle holders — especially adjustable or stretchy holders to fit larger bottles. Other helpful compartments to look for include sleeves for iPads or e-readers, key holders, hidden zippered compartments for valuables and easily accessible front pockets.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

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Emma Seymour has been testing backpacks and other travel products for the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab since 2018. She has tested over 100 backpacks, bags, suitcases and packing cubes! She has a degree in fiber science and apparel design from Cornell University. She loves to travel and regularly brings her Calpak Terra 26L Laptop Duffel Backpack along on her travels, including trips to Japan, Copenhagen, Mexico, Utah and more.

More on our top-tested backpacks:

  • Best Travel Backpacks
  • Best Laptop Backpacks
  • Best Backpacks for High School and College
  • Best Backpacks on Amazon
  • Best Daypacks for Hiking
  • Best Kids Backpacks
  • Best Toddler Backpacks

Headshot of Emma Seymour

Emma Seymour (she/her) is a senior product analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute 's Textiles, Paper and Apparel Lab, where she has led testing for luggage, pillows, towels, tampons and more since 2018. She graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor of science in fiber science and apparel design and a minor in gerontology, completing research in the Body Scanner Lab on optimizing activewear for athletic performance. 

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The 13 best backpacks for comfortable all-day wear

When you buy through our links, Business Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

If you've ever noticed that one shoulder aches more than the other, it's likely because you've been carrying too much in your tote. Switching to a backpack might feel like a style compromise, but in this guide, you'll find sleek designs with a more sophisticated look than the ones you remember from grade school. The best backpacks evenly distribute the weight of your everyday carry with two straps, all while leaving your hands free for smooth commuting.

Our top pick is the Patagonia Refugio , which is durable enough for your next outdoor adventure and spacious enough for long-haul travel. And if you're looking for a backpack to gift to the student in your life, The North Face Jester Backpack is a trendy choice with a suspension system certified by the American Chiropractic Association. Our top choice for commuters, Dagne Dover's Dakota Neoprene Backpack , is a bit of a splurge that's well worth it thanks to its durable neoprene fabric and comfortable straps.

Our top picks for the best backpacks

Best overall: Patagonia Refugio - See at Patagonia The Patagonia Refugio Daypack is highly durable and has special features to help balance heavy cargo and ease shoulder pain on long travel days.

Best for commuters: Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack - See at Dagne Dover The Dagne Dover Neoprene Backpack is water-resistant and hand-washable, perfect for when you're on the go.

Best for college students: The North Face Jester Backpack - See at North Face This backpack from North Face can hold everything you need for a day on campus with its large laptop compartment and water bottle holders.

Best for work-to-gym: Caraa Stratus Backpack - See at Caraa The Caraa Stratus Backpack has vents on the bottom to keep your gym clothes ventilated and is made of super lightweight nylon.

Best customizable backpack: Fjallraven Kanken Backpack - See at Nordstrom This popular backpack from Fjallraven comes in over 50 colors and multiple sizes, so you can customize it to your needs and aesthetic.

Best beach backpack: The Carhartt Medium Pack - See at Amazon The Carhartt Medium Pack comes with a three-can cooler and ample storage for any outdoor adventure.

Best overall: Patagonia Refugio Daypack

best travel backpack for biking

The Patagonia Refugio Daypack is one of the best backpacks for both outdoor adventures and daily commuting because it's noticably lightweight and comfortable to carry. 

The shell is made from 100% recycled polyester, which proved to be durable and water-resistant. The bag itself won't weigh you down when it's fully packed, and it has a breathable padding in the back. The interior has a removable 15-inch laptop sleeve, and ample storage space with extra organizational compartments. There's even a side strap to keep your water bottle secure.

With 26 liters of space, there's plenty of room for all of your belongings, but if you need to really pack things in tightly, the pliable material makes it easy. You can feel good about investing in a Patagonia product, as they're one of our most consistent favorites among the top B Corp retail companies . 

Best for commuters: Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

best travel backpack for biking

The Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack is one of the best backpacks among members of the Insider Reviews team. It's a wonderful carrier because of its eight-color and three-size options. The backpack's quick-dry neoprene material is water-resistant, hand-washable, and perfect for gym trips, work commutes, and day hikes alike. 

There's an interior pocket to store your laptop and even a pouch to hold an extra pair of shoes. This work-life balance bag, as Dagne Dover describes it, is also insulated and evenly distributes weight to add comfort to its sophisticated design.

Read more in our full Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack review .

Best for college students: The North Face Jester Backpack

best travel backpack for biking

For a backpack apt for carrying books, your laptop, and other study essentials, look no further than The North Face Jester Backpack . We've selected North Face backpacks as top carriers for college in our best backpacks for students guide, notably for its bags with large laptop compartments.

Whether you're commuting to class or en route to the library, the backpack's durably-padded design features a large main compartment, two mesh water bottle pockets, and even a reflective bike-light loop for evening campus walking.

Best for work-to-gym: Caraa Stratus Backpack

best travel backpack for biking

Caraa is an up-and-coming indie brand that makes thoughtful considerations for the wearers of their designs. The Stratus backpack is no exception, with its mesh netting interior compartments and removable pouch. Its exterior features clever details, such as with an inconspicuous pocket placed strategically on the flat back panel, and its exterior is constructed with a weatherproof cloudlike nylon.

"Starting with the material, you'll find that it's incredibly lightweight (we're talking nearly unnoticeable), like a handful of feathers," says Insider Reviews Executive Editor Sally Kaplan. What's more, there are vents at the bottom that air out any damp workout clothes so the inside always stays fresh. 

Read more in our full Caraa Stratus Backpack review . 

Best customizable backpack: Fjallraven Kanken Backpack

best travel backpack for biking

The Kanken backpack is another Fjallraven favorite, and it's also the brand's signature style. It's offered in more than 50 colors and multiple sizes to best fit your storage and laptop needs. Along with its cool Scandinavian design, what makes this backpack special is a built-in sitting pad you can pull out at a moment's notice. Former senior story producer Emily Hein counts this bag as her go-to, and says that "The included sitting pad is especially useful in the summer — a saving grace at parks and beaches."

Hein also says there's a good reason you'll spot these so often on the streets of New York City. "It's spacious enough to fit all my necessities for the day (including my 13" laptop, albeit tightly), but not bulky or noticeably heavy." Read more in our Fjallraven Tree Kanken review . 

Best beach backpack: The Carhartt Medium Pack

best travel backpack for biking

The Carhartt Medium Pack comes bundled with a three-can insulated cooler, making it an excellent beach backpack for taking on hikes, seaside, fishing, or anywhere you might want to enjoy a cold drink while on the go. It's made from Cordura, a super durable and water-repellent material, and has plush padded mesh panels on the back and shoulder straps for comfort.

Features like a fleece-lined eyewear compartment, 15-inch laptop sleeve, and an elastic pocket for a tablet also make the Carhartt Medium Pack one of the best backpacks for school or work. 

Best travel backpack: Tortuga Outbreaker

best travel backpack for biking

Editor's note: The Outbreaker has since been phased out, but Tortuga's new-and-improved  Travel Backpack Pro  is a worthy upgrade with near-identical features.

The weather-resistant Tortuga Outbreaker was tested by former editor Jen Gushue , along with eight other top travel backpacks on the market, and it was a top-performer for its convenient storage options — enough to house four-to-five days of travel necessities. Aside from the zipper-bordered main compartment, there are two large mesh compartments on the opposite side, as well as impressive organization pouches throughout. 

The adjustable harness system features a wide hip belt that makes traveling customizable and comfortable. It's a splurge for sure, but after testing it in person, it's clear how Tortuga's designs and quality materials are worth the investment. Read more about another of their top travel backpacks in our full Tortuga Setout Backpack review . 

Best diaper backpack: Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack

best travel backpack for biking

Dagne Dover's Dakota backpack may be more well known, but the brand's Indi diaper backpack is also worth checking out. Even if you're not using it for storing nappies, it has features for neatly carrying a day trip's worth of essentials.

The bag is overflowing with organizational pockets that keep everything in its place, so you don't have to go digging for toiletries or your ID as you pass through airport security. You'd never know the Indi is a diaper bag because of its clean design, and as another travel hack, Saguin uses the fold-up changing mat as a portable work-from-home station. Currently, only the small size is available, but it's typically offered in medium and large sizes too. See more in our full Dagne Dover Indi Diaper Backpack review . 

Best convertible backpack: Caraa Studio Tote

best travel backpack for biking

Caraa takes care in making thoughtfully designed bags. The Studio Tote is a multi-use bag that changes from tote to backpack seamlessly. Made from bespoke Italian leather, this is one of the best backpacks as chic as it is functional. It has a 17-inch laptop sleeve, removable straps, and anti-microbial lining. Read more about the Studio Tote in our full Caraa Sport Convertible Work Gym Bag review.

Best closet backpack: Solgaard Lifepack Endeavor (with closet)

best travel backpack for biking

Solgaard is primarily a luggage retailer, but their best-selling Endeavor backpack incorporates everything they specialize in regarding travel into a compact backpack. The Endeavor holds up to 5-7 days of necessities based on which size suits your needs. Its genius closet system organizes clothing and has storage compartments for a laptop, glasses, papers, and cords. The optional hip strap addition makes it secure to carry everywhere and has plush shoulder straps. 

Solgaard's fabrics are made with upcycled ocean-bound plastics and the Endeavor comes with a 30 day warranty should you not love it (most unlikely). 

Best hiking backpack: Mountaintop 40L Hiking Backpack

best travel backpack for biking

The long-form, buckled Mountaintop 40L Hiking Backpack is a multi-use carrier that's exclusive to hiking. Though former Personal Finance reporter Liz Knueven has taken it on trails before, she finds it best for traveling and said she was never questioned by airline companies if it will fit in a bin or under the seat. If you are planning on hitting the trails and want to brace for inclement weather, we suggest a compact rain cover that will slide easily into the Mountaintop backpack's many compartments. 

The polyester pack has many built-in compartments that are easy to store small items. Kneuven said it has held up, it's affordable at less than $50, and comes in a variety of colors. 

Best backpack for tailgating: Fanatics Colorblock Cooler Backpack

best travel backpack for biking

Fanatics' range of game day essentials includes a backpack that's practical for all the social events that come with being a die-hard fan. The Fanatics cooler backpack has exterior pockets for your personal belongings, while its interior is like a portable mini-fridge. 

Instead of lugging along a bulky hard shell cooler, the Cooler Backpack frees your hands and comes embossed with your favorite team's logo. 

Best eco-friendly backpack: Green Terra Thread Earth Backpack

best travel backpack for biking

The Terra Thread Earth backpack is likely best suited for students, but its sturdy Certified Fairtrade Organic cotton canvas makes it durable enough for the outdoors as well. It features designated pockets for a laptop, two water bottles, and small items like keys or writing utensils. 

The Earth backpack is handmade in a factory upheld to the Global Organic Textile Standard and is shipped without excessive packaging to reduce impact on the environment. Finally, each purchase helps Terra Thread send funds to Feeding America, who in turn donates meals to children and families in need.

best travel backpack for biking

You can purchase logo and accolade licensing to this story here . Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected] .

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The 13 Best Travel Backpacks for Day Trips, Weeks-Long Adventures, and Everything in Between

Including Calpak, Patagonia, and Dagne Dover

Why Trust PEOPLE?

People / Brian Kopinski

As a frequent traveler, I used to opt for suitcase luggage until I found the right travel backpack.

It's one that actually maximizes storage while minimizing friction. It keeps heavy jackets , shoes, and accessories from causing shoulder and back pain, and allows room for more travel clothes . It's weatherproof or water-resistant for getting caught in the rain, and it’s definitely easier to manage while traversing cobblestones, trains, and other areas where a roller suitcase just doesn’t cut it. That's the gold standard for travel backpacks — and we found 13 that fit the job.

Whether you prefer a tried-and-true laptop backpack for a work-from-vacation weekend or a standard bag for longer trips, read on for the best travel backpacks as determined by editors, travelers, and shoppers alike.

Best Travel Backpacks Under $75

Matein travel backpack.

With 80,000+ five-star ratings, this backpack is praised for its storage and organization, including a laptop pocket, front pocket, hidden anti-theft pocket for passports and other essentials, and a roomy interior. Its memory foam padding provides comfort across the straps, top handle, and back panel. Plus, it has a built-in USB charger and cable for easy access to your technology.

“I traveled with it for a weekend trip and didn’t need to pack any other bags because all my clothes, toiletries, tablet, and everything else fit in it,” one shopper wrote . “It’s durable and the straps are thick …so it’s really comfortable to wear.” 

Materials: Polyester, metal | Dimensions: 12 x 18 x 7.8 inches | Colors: 23

Calpak Kaya Mini Backpack

In lieu of a traditional travel purse , consider this stylish mini Calpak backpack for day trips and excursions. Its faux leather exterior, outlined stitching detail, and attractive hardware look sleek, and it has plenty of space for belongings on a day away from your luggage. It also has adjustable straps and a trolley sleeve for airport or train days. Some shoppers compliment its functionality for daily use, too, such as commuting to a coffee shop or office without having to lug a big laptop bag.

Materials: Faux leather | Dimensions: 10.65 x 8.5 x 4.25 inches | Colors: 6

Aloha Keep It Light Hana Hou Backpack

PEOPLE associate shopping director Erin Johnson lives in Hawai’i, so she relies on a water-resistant bag capable of handling a variety of day trips. “The Aloha Keep It Light Hana Hou Backpack is great for traveling because it has a laptop sleeve for those who can't live without their computer, and its water-resistant fabric means it can double as a beach or pool bag,” Johnson says.

Available in three whimsical prints and a basic black, the lightweight ripstop backpack fits everything without feeling overwhelming. It has side pockets for a water bottle, a front storage zipper pocket, and a trolley sleeve for convenience.

Editors Say

“This recently-released water-resistant nylon backpack has become my new go-to. (Seriously, I've worn it almost every day since the moment it arrived.)” — Erin Johnson , associate shopping director

Materials: Ripstop nylon | Dimensions: 12 x 5.5 x 16.5 inches | Colors: 4

Bagsmart Quick Access Carry On

For those packing largely within one backpack, this machine-washable pick will satisfy most of your needs for under $100. The 180-degree flat computer compartment has multiple organizers for tech chords and the like, with several straps and six external pockets. Inner and outer compression straps allow you to stuff the bag full while meeting most airlines’ personal item requirements. Its compartments also keep shoes, laundry, and more separated — ideal for a longer trip.

Materials: Nylon | Dimensions: 12.2 x 16.5 x 10.2 inches | Colors: 3

Best Travel Backpacks Under $150

Beis the backpack.

“Shay Mitchell really thought of everything when she was designing this bag ,” says PEOPLE shopping writer Alyssa Brascia . It’s clear the new travel show host has a serious interest in making luggage look good. Brascia used this backpack for three years before a zipper malfunction caused its early retirement. 

That said, she plans to buy another one and specifically recommends it for overpackers. Its full-zip feature grants you complete views and access rather than having to rummage from just a top opening. And yes, there is a trolley sleeve — and even a key leash in the front pocket.

“This bag is so unassumingly spacious. I could pack for an entire week-long beach trip in just this one bag: shoes, makeup, hair tools, and everything. (An incredible feat for an overpacker like myself!)” — Alyssia Brascia , shopping writer

Materials: Cotton body, PVC trim, polyester lining | Dimensions: 13 x 19 x 5.5 inches | Colors: 8

Patagonia 26L Refugio Daypack


Entertainment shopping director Laura Gurfein swears by the Patagonia brand, and the handy features of this Refugio daypack speak to why. It has a hydration hanger, pass-through access, breathable back panel, and bike-light clipping point, too.

Made of 100-percent recycled polyester, this durable backpack has a removable padded laptop sleeve, ideal for hitting the trails or commuting to the office. One shopper praised this versatility: “I use this all week for work, and switch it out as my day/diaper/hike bag on the weekends.” 

Materials: Recycled polyester | Dimensions: (26L) 18 x 12 x 6.5 inches, (30L) 19 x 12 x 6.5 inches | Colors: 6

Calpak Luka 15-Inch Laptop Backpack

For remote workers and digital nomads, a dedicated laptop-friendly backpack is a must for protecting your tech and peace of mind when on vacation or traveling through another city. The Calpak Luka collection gives you security and a little dash of panache. The backpack’s trendy, puffy exterior is both lightweight and scratch-resistant, and it has a padded laptop pocket, a water bottle pocket, and a shoe compartment for commutes or weekend trips.

“Despite the plush appearance, the material is incredibly durable. These bags have so many compartments for storage and are fairly lightweight. I’m a huge fan of anything in the Calpak Luka collection and this bag is no exception!” — Madison Yauger , shopping editor

Materials: Polyester | Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 7 inches | Colors: 23

People / Jhett Thompson

Best Travel Backpacks Under $200

Lululemon wunderlust backpack.

PEOPLE senior shopping editor Erika Reals flagged this Lululemon find for its aesthetic and functional features. As she frequently travels, details like its water-repellent fabric, zippered pockets, and adjustable exterior straps (for yoga mats, jackets, and the like) caught her interest immediately.

Buckled closures keep items locked in tight while a drawstring top allows for quick access when needed. The backpack has a bulky, utilitarian feel that traditional backpacking brands embody — in a smaller size — yet is polished with that Lululemon touch.

Materials: Polyester, nylon | Dimensions: 14.2 x 6.1 x 20.1 inches | Colors: 2

Dagne Dover The Dakota Backpack

Dagne Dover

Dagne Dover is known for its unique neoprene material, bold colors, and reliable durability, so it’s not a shocker that its backpack is a favorite, too. Details like a key leash and air mesh tablet sleeve offer basic organization, but this backpack is best for those wanting simplicity and a striking design. It’s available in three sizes, to store the bare-bones essentials up to a day’s worth of gear.

“I’ve had this backpack for two years and the neoprene material is such a game changer: It’s water-resistant, cushioned, and sturdy for holding heavy items such as laptops and insulated water bottles . It doesn’t have a ton of compartments, but it’s built to last.”— Madison Yauger

Materials: Neoprene | Dimensions: (S) 9.5 x 5 x 13 inches, (M) 11.5 x 5 x 17 inches, (L) 13.25 x 5.25 x 17.5 inches | Colors: 13

Calpak Terra 26L Laptop Duffel Backpack

I’ve tested dozens of bags, but the Calpak Terra 26L Laptop Duffel Backpack has stolen my heart. Its clamshell opening makes it easy to pack for week-long trips or a quick day away, and its many pockets allow me to stow dozens of gadgets and gizmos the way I prefer: separately. 

Its padded straps prevent aches while I’m standing for hours in a Border Customs line, and I appreciate that it minimizes the physical impact of my overpacking. A compression sleeve helps with underseat storage, even when I think I can’t possibly fit it under the airline seat in front of me. It’s now my go-to personal item, and I always get complimented on the stunning icy blue color. And did I mention it’s water resistant? It’s been soaked in the rain and still protected my books, sketchbooks, and other precious, fragile items.

Materials: Ripstop polyester, TPU laminate | Dimensions: 18 x 12 x 7.5 inches | Colors: 10

Away Outdoor 25L Convertible Backpack

Similarly, I’ve often opted for this convertible backpack for big trips, as it functions as a backpack or a duffel. Years in, I still reach for my Away Carry-On for most trips, and this backpack from the brand’s outdoor line embodies its same resilience and style. The water- and abrasion-resistant fabric is lightweight and has a sheen that’s oddly beautiful.

Although the design is meant to be protective, there isn’t as much structure in this backpack as in others. Despite its many pockets, organizers, and included compression straps, the 25-liter bag feels more flexible, which will appeal to shoppers seeking a lightweight and unobtrusive backpack. It packs flat, and it’s the most comfortable one I’ve tried.

Materials: 100% polyester | Dimensions: 13 x 17 x 7.6 inches | Colors: 2

Best Travel Backpacks to Splurge on

Yeti crossroads 27l backpack.

Yeti is not just for coolers and water bottles. Like the rest of the brand’s offerings , this everyday backpack is simple yet solid. It’s inspired by motorcycle gear, so it’s meant for rough-and-tumble use — and yes, it fits your tumblers, too. Multiple access points make it easy to get to any supplies right away, with a full-zip ability that lets the bag go wide.

PEOPLE shopping editor Kayla Kitts has brought this Yeti backpack on many adventures “from local festivals and park days to weekend trips and air travel." She loves that the exterior is incredibly durable and easy to wipe down, and the interior is packed with a slew of organizational features and compartments.

“Most recently, I took this bag to a music festival and filled it with a 10- x 9-foot outdoor blanket , two water bottles, various toys and books, and the Yeti Daytrip Lunch Box filled with snacks. It even toted a soccer ball to the park!” — Kayla Kitts , shopping editor

Materials: Tuffskin nylon exterior, PU-coated base | Dimensions: 12.2 x 9.4 x 20.3 inches | Colors: 4

Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack

For longer trips stretching into weeks rather than days, adventure travelers rave about Cotopaxi’s sustainable — made from leftover fabric — and durable backpacks. The brand’s funky mix of unique fabrics are distinctive and made for any adventure. The bag’s clamshell opening is ideal for suitcase-like packing, while divided interior pockets and anti-theft zippers keep everything in place when you’re hailing buses, planes, and changing your itinerary on a dime. 

Most importantly, this backpack is built to withstand the elements and inclement weather, including an additional rain cover for protection, so you’re not worried about sacrificing your belongings. Load-lifter straps and a mesh suspension system keep this bag comfortable when your travel circumstances are anything but.

Materials: TPU-coated polyester, ballistic nylon paneling | Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 11 inches | Colors: 5

Grace Smith is a contributing travel and shopping writer who, as a frequent hotel reviewer, spends as much time as possible wandering through various destinations. She’s used to living out of a suitcase or backpack, having moved every few months for several years. And yes, she is an overpacker, so finding the right bag for quick trips, endless flights, and long stints away has been a crucial mission. With PEOPLE editor selections, shopping insights, and her own globe-trotting experience in mind, Grace curated this list of the best travel backpacks for all of your 2024 destinations.

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The Best Travel Backpacks for Weekend Getaways and Going Off the Grid

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All products are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Wait, how much does it cost to check your bag in? Yeah, you're better off toting one of the best travel backpacks because your airline already charged you an arm and a leg for a plane seat that can barely fit your arm or leg. As we've clocked more and more miles by land, sea, and air, we've managed to haul a small airport's worth of bags, from carry-ons to briefcases to humble tote bags . Whether you're a frequent traveler or you want to be inspired to book more trips just by having a bag that you can't wait to use, an excellent, tough-as-nails travel backpack will get you from point A to point B—and everywhere else in between—without causing you any undo stress.

We strapped on some of the best travel packs to test for you—a seemingly never-ending process as new bags are constantly coming through baggage claim, er, our mailboxes—to find the best, rugged, and not-at-all ugly travel backpacks that you'll want to take wherever you go. And don't worry: You won't look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle as you're booking it through the terminal. Now, grab your bag, pack it up, and get going, jet-setters.

The Best Travel Backpacks, According to GQ

  • Best Travel Backpack, Overall: Evergoods Civic Travel Bag , $349
  • Best Minimalist Travel Backpack: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L , $200
  • Best Rugged Travel Backpack: Goruck GR2 Backpack 40L , $425
  • Best Eye-Catching Travel Backpack: Baboon to the Moon Go-Bag Mini 32L , $159
  • Best Budget Travel Backpack: The North Face Basecamp Voyager 32L , $125
  • Best Leather Travel Backpack : Nex Explorer , $290
  • Best Patagonia Travel Backpack: Patagonia Black Hole Backpack 32L , $169
  • Best Trail-Ready Travel Backpack: Osprey Fairpoint Travel Backpack 40L , $185
  • Best Packable Travel Backpack: Away Packable Backpack , $75

Best Travel Backpack, Overall: Evergoods Civic Travel Bag

Civic Travel Bag 35L

Civic Travel Bag 35L

  • Available in multiple sizes
  • Ergonomic shoulder straps
  • Massive main compartment
  • Fully unzips for easy access to interior
  • Only available in black
  • Shoulder straps are thin and can dig into your body if you pack too much

Overall dimensions: 20.5” x 8 .75” x 14” | Volume: 35L | Weight: 4.0 pounds | Warranty: Lifetime

Founded by a former head of product at GoRuck and a former Patagonia R&D designer, Evergoods certainly has pedigree. And luckily, they've got the goods to prove it. Evergoods makes seemingly simple but incredibly utilitarian bags and accessories, and the brand built the Civic Travel Bag for durability inside and out. It's available in two different sizes, but we recommend the 35-liter version, which should cover most travel needs.

The exterior features water-repellant nylon for weather-resistance. Internally, a curved aluminum stay and HDPE frame provide structure. And to keep you comfortable, the bag has curved ergonomic shoulder straps. The back panel is comfortable as well, making this a damn near perfect travel backpack.

When traveling on a two-week trip through Asia, GQ associate commerce director Michael Nolledo says the bag was worth the investment. “I used it as my secondary bag, but I could've done the whole trip with it as my primary one,” he says. “The main compartment is massive, and I love that it fully unzips on three sides for loading like a suitcase.” The Civic Travel Bag's organization powers he says, is why it's the best-in-class: “Everywhere you look, there's a pocket—my favorite one being the top pocket, which is perfect for everything I need accessible, like a passport, glasses case, and wallet.”

Best Rugged Travel Backpack: Goruck GR2 Backpack

Image may contain: Bag, Backpack, and Baggage

GR2 Backpack

  • Opens flat for easy access
  • Two main compartments for extra storage
  • Comfortable to wear because of the padded straps
  • Lacks a water bottle holder
  • The boxy shape is a little uncomfortable for weight distribution

Overall dimensions: 12.5" x 22” x 9” | Volume: 40L | Weight: 4.5 pounds | Warranty: Lifetime

We love this freaking bag. That may not be our most eloquent summary, but after testing the smaller 26L version for this guide, it’s the honest truth. If you aren’t afraid of a thicc bag, we think you’ll love this dependable pack, too. Developed by a former Green Beret, GoRuck’s collection is known for its grit in extreme conditions. The GR2 uses an ultra-durable Cordura fabric, and the result is a rugged travel bag that’s deadly serious. Unlike other backpacks we tested (looking at you, Patagonia), it perfectly holds its boxy shape and stands up on its own. And even the smaller bag we tested easily fit multiple changes of clothes plus books, a 14-inch MacBook, and large Dopp kit. Unlike other open-flat backpacks, it has two main compartments instead of one, which we found made it easier to organize clothing and gear.

The brand claims the padded laptop compartment is bomb-proof, which we can’t verify without risking the no-fly list. Still, this bag easily stood up to the abuse we threw at it. (We were able to rip the fabric, but unless you get into a lot of knife fights, you won’t have an issue.) The extra-tough fabric and plethora of pockets means it’s on the bulky side, though. The padded straps were comfortable in the terminal and on long subway rides, but they weren’t always easy to swing on and off in a hurry. Because of the boxy shape, it’s not as comfortable as bags with better weight distribution. Lastly, multiple daisy-chain straps provide a nice aesthetic touch, which carabiner freaks will appreciate. You may want to clip on a water bottle, as this is one of the only packs here without a bottle holder pocket.

Best Budget Travel Backpack: The North Face Basecamp Voyager

Basecamp Voyager 32L

The North Face

Basecamp Voyager 32L

  • Packs down into almost nothing
  • Well built and feels sturdy
  • Exterior pockets for easy access
  • No lifetime warranty

Overall dimensions: 18.8" x 11" x 5.9" | Volume: 32L | Weight: 1.41 pounds | Warranty: None

We didn’t expect to like this budget bag as much as we did. It surprised our testers with its generous capacity, versatility, and solid construction, though it’s hardly indestructible. (No lifetime warranties here.) Almost all of the bags in this guide have multiple handles, but the Voyager is particularly easy to pick up and carry in multiple ways. It’s a true convertible duffel backpack, and thus will be easy to stow in overhead compartments. It would also work well as a gym bag or hiking backpack. The bottom is made from water-repellant nylon, while the body of the bag is covered in TPU-coated polyester for water resistance. The entire bag also packs down into a small pouch. The D-shaped opening makes it easy to pack for weekends away, while exterior pockets keep a laptop, travel documents, chargers, and keys at the ready.

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The handles, stitching, and hardware are strong and dependable. Even the plastic components feel solid and well built. Unfortunately, the material isn’t as rip-proof as the bags we tested from Goruck or Patagonia. We also wish the shoulder straps had a bit more padding. However, we found that it was a lot easier to pack than the Patagonia Black Hole backpack, which lacks the open-flat main compartment you’ll find here. Finally, the excessive “The North Face” branding may be a pro or con depending on your associations with the brand.

Best Leather Travel Backpack: Nex Explorer

Image may contain: Bag, Backpack, Tape, Accessories, and Handbag

Explorer Backpack

  • Filled with a ton of pockets for organization
  • Stands up on its own
  • Attaches to your carry-on for ease of travel
  • Bag doesn't fully open

Overall dimensions: 12.4" x 16.7" x 7" | Volume: 23L | Weight: 2.83 pounds | Warranty: None

Nex is a new luggage brand on the scene, and we'll give it props for its great suitcases, but we think its standout product might just be its travel backpack. While the other bags we've highlighted here are more on the technical side, Nex's leather joint is great for adding a touch more distinction to your travel kit. The bag is tricked out with pockets, each with its own purpose. Hell, there's even a small pouch to put your luggage tracker in case your bag decides to go off on its own vacay. The Explorer is big enough to accommodate a 15-inch laptop, which has its own compartment decked out in a protective cotton lining. Because there are so many pockets, you might end up forgetting where exactly you placed that one specific item you packed. Although the bag doesn't fully open up, the zipper does extend far beyond where most other bags would end so that you can more easily get into the pack and find what you need.

Our tester used this bag for a five-day trip, stuffing it with overflow that he couldn't put into his carry-on. He loved how the bag had a trolley sleeve so that it could slip onto the handle of his rolling bag, and it made it so he came back from his vacation without any back pain since the Explorer almost never left its place atop the carry-on.

Best Convertible Travel Backpack Duffle: Baboon to the Moon Go-Bag Mini

Go-Bag Mini 32L

Baboon to the Moon

Go-Bag Mini 32L

  • Lightweight
  • Small but still able to hold a lot
  • No laptop sleeve
  • Could use more external pockets

Overall dimensions: 9.5” x 18.5” x 12” | Volume: 32L | Weight: 3.2 pounds | Warranty: Lifetime

If you miss the glossy exterior of vintage Patagonia Black Hole bags, then this classic travel bag is a stylish and colorful alternative. It’s a slimmed down version of the brand's famous duffel bag , ideally sized for weekend trips. More lightweight than similarly sized backpacks, it won’t slow you down sprinting between terminals. The Go-Bag also has plenty of pockets without totally overloading the main compartment, which is spacious enough for up to three days of clothing—if you pack light. The D-shaped opening makes it easy to pack, while quick-access pockets and wraparound daisy chain webbing let you keep EDC items close at hand.

Best Patagonia Travel Backpack: Patagonia Black Hole Backpack

Black Hole Backpack 32L

Black Hole Backpack 32L

  • Spacious despite how sleek it is
  • Comfortable to wear with great weight distribution
  • Doesn't fully open

Overall dimensions: 18.8" x 11" x 5.9" | Volume :25L  | Weight: 1.41 pounds | Warranty: Patagonia’s ‘ Ironclad Guarantee ’

We went back and forth on whether to include Patagonia’s Black Hole Backpack or one of the brand’s larger duffel bags, which also come with backpack straps. Ultimately, we opted to include both for different reasons. The backpack edition of this iconic bag doesn’t open flat, and a relatively small main compartment opening at the top will make it harder to pack for weekend trips. However, we love the slick look, durability, and feature set of the backpack enough to give it the edge. It’s also surprisingly spacious given its size and slim look. As you can see in the pictures below, the Black Hole backpack has a streamlined aesthetic, and even when it’s stuffed full you won’t look like a kindergartner with a too-big backpack. (Speaking of aesthetics, we do miss the glossy exterior of vintage Black Hole bags.)

For outdoor trips, this bag has a sternum strap (which can be tricky to remove) and a TPU-coated polyester material for weather resistance. Strips of daisy chains on the straps and front panel can be used to clip on extra gear as well. We found the padded straps and back panel to be comfortable and breathable during extended use. The weight balance also impressed us. We didn’t find it to be quite as durable as the Black Hole duffels we’ve tested, but it’s tough enough to use outdoors or as your daily commuting bag. In fact, of all the bags featured here, it’s the only one we’d use on a daily basis.

Best Minimalist Travel Backpack: Cotopaxi Allpa

Allpa 28L

  • Can be toted in various ways
  • Fully opens for easy access
  • Only fits laptops up to 13 inches

Overall dimensions: 19” x 12” x 9" | Volume: 28L | Weight: 2.62 pounds | Warranty: Lifetime Warranty

For an under $200 bag, the Allpa has a lot of impressive features.It has a suitcase-style zipper compartment, yet the back straps, sternum strap, and waist straps make it easy to carry hands-free. Like similar outdoor bags, it’s covered in a TPU-coated polyester lining. However, unlike the Voyager or Black Hole packs, Cotopaxi includes a rain cover (and a compartment to store it), a simple feature that makes a major difference if you’re actually using it outdoors. Sturdy handles on the top, bottom, and sides make it easy to pick up and stow. On the inside, mesh compartments let you organize plenty of gear and clothing (and prevent said items from falling out when you unzip). The exterior top pocket is more conveniently placed than on some other bags as well.

Cotopaxi also won us over with its colorful designs. As much as we like the all-black version, we love the color combinations available even more. Style wise, we definitely give it the edge over The North Face and Patagonia bags. We also love that the back straps and waist straps stow away. We should note that travelers with larger laptops may want to look elsewhere, as its padded laptop compartment maxes out at 13-inches. If you want something with more space than a traditional backpack but don’t want a duffel-sized bag weighing you down, the Allpa is a versatile and attractive unisex pick.

Best Trail-Ready Travel Backpack: Osprey Fairpoint Travel Backpack

Fairpoint 40L Travel Backpack

Fairpoint 40L Travel Backpack

  • Durable and rugged
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Comfortable to wear no matter how packed it may be
  • Too many straps can get in the way
  • Features an overly technical look

Overall dimensions: 14” x 22” x 9” | Volume: 40L | Weight: 3.49 pounds | Warranty: Lifetime

Osprey's Fairpoint backpack feels a little over-designed in places, but it's definitely ready for hitting the trails (just check out that built-in emergency whistle on the sternum strap). The attractive and streamlined convertible bag is surprisingly lightweight and comfortable, featuring padded, extra-ventilated straps and back panel, making it great for long-haul treks. A lightweight frame distributes weight and holds the bag’s shape, which is ideal for ergonomics and weight distribution but stops the bag from standing up when you set it down.

The first time you use this pack, you’ll notice it has maybe too many straps. Most of these are functional, like compression straps, sternum straps, padded waist straps, load lifter straps, adjustment straps, with a bunch of others made, presumably, to attach even more Osprey products. We do wish the bag were water-resistant, but it's overall a comfy, light, and easy to pack travel bag. For travelers with a lot of heavy gear to haul, it’s a reliable solution.

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Osprey Fairpoint Travel Backpack, tested and reviewed by Timothy Beck Werth

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6 More Travel Backpacks We Love

GlobeRider Travel Backpack

GlobeRider Travel Backpack

This technical backpack has a waterproof design and heavy-duty construction. It's the kind of pack you can take around the world and back again, and even the most incompetent baggage handlers would struggle to hurt this bag. Unlike most backpacks, the GlobeRider has an internal aluminum frame to hold its shape and safeguard its contents. For your comfort, it has all-over padding for all-day wear. Finally, it earns bonus points for its many durable handles, exterior daisy chain webbing, and cool colorblocking.

Travel Pack 3 X-Pac

Travel Pack 3 X-Pac

A minimlist black backpack — on GQ ? Hey, we like what we like, and we like AER's versatile and durable carry-on bag. The high-visibility orange lining looks cool and makes it easy to find your essentials at a glance. We also appreciate the unique technical sailcloth fabric on the outside, as well as the bevy of handles on all sides. For structure, it's got an internal frame and compression straps. And for comfort, extra padding and load lifter straps. You'll find plenty of pockets inside and out, with special compartments for 16-inch laptops, luggage trackers, and a water bottle. Plus, a luggage passthrough lets you give your shoulders a break when needed.

Black 4Way Dry Backpack

Black 4Way Dry Backpack

This minimalist pack is a major gorpcore flex. But before we rave about the features, we have to say something: This backpack is sexy. We love the clean lines, symmetry, and overall silhouette of this bag as much as the feature set. The Japanese brand has designed a waterproof rolltop pack with multiple carry options, a hidden front pocket, and an air valve. The TPU-coated polyester fabric is durable and waterproof, and it brings to mind the Patagonia Black Hole line. The only thing this bag is missing is a little padding. Choose from a slick 36L backpack or a ginormous 80L large version.

Force Day Pack

Porter-Yoshida and Co

Force Day Pack

END Clothing

If you're truly fashion forward, then you know that a Porter-Yoshida pack will earn you more approving nods and jealous looks than a showy designer bag with a fancy label. This Japanese baggage brand is beloved by menswear icons like Todd Snyder, and if you're all about quiet luxury, you've found your new travel backpack. With a modest 17L capacity, it's better suited for day trips to Malibu or as a carry-on laptop bag, though. It's got durable materials and plenty of straps to adjust every single dimension and angle exactly to your liking. To sum up: Comfortable, casual, cool.

Travel Backpack Pro 40L

Travel Backpack Pro 40L

If you're a traveler who loves big ass backpacks, then this is the pack you need. The best really big backpack (that you can still carry on to the plane) is very reasonably priced for the 40L size and durability. For European backpacking trips, it has a padded hip belt, and unlike the Osprey bag above, it's removable. Even better, said hip belt doubles as a fanny pack with its own storage compartment. Tortuga loaded this bag with pockets (you'll find pockets for laptops, tablets, Kindles, pens, passports, etc.), and the waterproof sailcloth keeps your gear dry no matter what.

best travel backpack for biking

Black Hole Duffel 40L

Patagonia's Black Hole duffel has a weather-resistant exterior, made of recycled ripstop materials, keeps your goods dry when rain's in the forecast, and at $159, it's also accessible for anyone on a college student budget or beyond. Another big plus: As its name suggests, the depths of its large main compartment feel virtually bottomless. In it, you can make several changes of clothes disappear, along with any camera gear you're taking off the grid.

What to Look For in a Travel Backpack

Most large travel backpacks come in a standard 40L size, which lets you just squeeze by carry-on restrictions. However, 40L bags can also get unwieldy when you’re on the move, which makes this 35L travel bag a true goldilocks pick (and GQ staff favorite). It’s still big enough that you can pack and open it like a suitcase, and there’s a pocket or mesh compartment everywhere you want one to be. You can easily fit a large water bottle, large laptop (up to 17 inches), dopp kit, and several days of clothing inside.

How We Tested

GQ has been testing and reviewing men’s backpacks for years, and we’re currently conducting in-depth testing on the top travel packs. We’ll continue to update our selections in this guide as we pack, carry on, and rack up air miles with these bags. So far, we’ve tested about half of the bags in this guide in the field. When evaluating a travel backpack, we first consider durability. Does the bag have durable fabric, internal frames, or waterproofing? Next, we consider how easily the bag packs up, and how much gear can be stored inside. Access is also important, and we check to see how easily we can reach our items from the various pockets and compartments.

When we go hands on, we load up the backpacks with gear to see how comfortable they are during long walks. We hate back sweat as much as any traveler, and we’re looking for bags with generous and comfy padding in all the right places. Finally, we check to see how much wear and tear the bag sustains. We subjected the bags to rip tests to see if the material will hold up to abuse on the mountain or in the overhead compartment. Whenever possible, we used the bags as carry-ons during air travel to see how travel friendly they really are.

Since this is GQ , there’s one final test: the fit test. We want to see which bags earn unsolicited compliments and look best on our backs. Call us vain if you like, but we believe looking your best is a sign of self-respect and its own reward.

About the Author: Timothy Beck Werth is an experienced journalist, editor, and product reviewer based in Brooklyn, New York. He has been reviewing bags and backpacks since 2019, and as a full-time freelancer, he regularly travels throughout the year. He uses some type of backpack almost every day and prefers bags that are comfortable and long-lasting. For GQ , Tim primarily covers home goods, smart home products, and men’s accessories and grooming essentials.

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Breaking News

New videos, witness accounts of Trump assassination attempt raise questions about security

Former President Trump walks into a rally.

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The attempt to assassinate former President Trump at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday raised questions about security protocols and how a gunman could open fire so close to the presumptive GOP nominee.

For several minutes, witnesses pointed toward a nondescript roof just outside the venue where Trump was speaking in Butler, Pa. Multiple people shouted at law enforcement that a man with a rifle was taking aim at Trump.

In videos shared on social media, attendees pleaded and shouted, “He’s got a gun.” The shots rang out from the would-be assassin, and in return, the Secret Service sharpshooters opened fire.

The former president clapped his hand to the side of his face and ducked, with Secret Service agents quickly surrounding him and whisking him away as blood dripped near his right ear.

The crowd reacts as former President Trump is surrounded by Secret Service agents.

The shooting, which left one spectator dead and injured Trump and two others, stunned operatives of both political parties who have seen firsthand the level of precision, care and detail the Secret Service takes in safeguarding its charges. American presidents and former presidents are among the most protected politicians in the world, with multiple layers of security — some visible to the public and others covert.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surround by U.S. Secret Service agents at a campaign event in Butler, Pa., Saturday, July 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

World & Nation

Trump shooting is a historic moment echoing past political violence in America

Donald J. Trump survived an apparent assassination attempt on Saturday — an attack that echoed previous shootings involving presidential candidates.

July 13, 2024

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were briefed by Homeland Security, the FBI, Secret Service and the attorney general’s office Sunday about the assassination attempt and the shooter — identified by authorities as Thomas Matthew Crooks , 20, from Bethel Park, Pa. — but a motive has not been revealed.

Biden said he has ordered a “thorough and swift investigation” of the shooting.

“There is no place in America for this kind of violence, or any violence,” Biden said during a news conference. “For that matter, an assassination attempt is contrary to everything we stand for as a nation.”

Biden said he has been consistent in his direction for the Secret Service to provide Trump with “every resource capability and protective measure necessary to ensure his continued safety.”

The president also directed the Secret Service to review its security measures for the Republican National Convention, and said he’s ordered an independent review of security at the Pennsylvania rally, which will be shared publicly.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) joined a growing chorus of politicians asking how the shooting could have happened.

On the “Today” show, Johnson said that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas could not answer whether drones were being used to spot potential security threats.

“How could an individual be at that elevation that was seen by apparently bystanders on the ground? How could that not be noticed by Secret Service?” Johnson said Sunday morning. “Lots more questions than answers this morning.”

Former President Trump's ear is covered in blood after being shot at a campaign rally.

Democrat Bill Burton saw the intricate level of protection while accompanying then-Sen. Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign and then as a member of his White House administration.

“In the political world, people often ignore the humanity on the other side, but ultimately, former President Trump came within an inch of losing his life today,” Burton said after watching the story unfold live on television monitors during a layover at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. “And regardless of what these next months and years hold, I don’t think any of us want to live in a country where that is a reality for our leaders.”

At campaign rallies and official White House events, the level of security for spectators is greater than at an airport checkpoint. Items as innocuous as umbrellas are often confiscated. For reporters and others in close proximity to the president or a prominent candidate, the security is even more in-depth, with background checks and trained dogs smelling bags and equipment.

In addition to such publicly visible efforts, agents are often perched on rooftops with long guns when a protectee appears in public. Motorcades are guarded by federal, state and local law enforcement. Buildings and event sites are screened and safeguarded in advance, and intelligence about potential threats is vetted.

But attendees at Saturday’s rally say not all structures around the venue were covered by the Secret Service.

Greg Smith told the BBC that he had seen the shooter crawling on a nearby rooftop before shots rang out. Smith said he and others tried to alert police or the Secret Service to his presence.

“We’re pointing at the guy,” Smith told the BBC . “He had a rifle. We could clearly see him with a rifle.”

Civiles se cubren al tiempo que agentes del Servicio Secreto de Estados Unidos rodean al expresidente Donald Trump durante un acto de campaña, el sábado 13 de julio de 2024, en Butler, Pensilvania. (AP Foto/Evan Vucci)

Trump shooting: Attendees describe chaotic scene as shots rang out at Pennsylvania rally

Attendees of a Pennsylvania rally for former President Trump describe when shots erupted and he was rushed off stage.

Smith suspects that law enforcement could not see the man because of the slope of the roof where he was positioned. Other eyewitness photos shared on social media show the suspect lying on his stomach with a rifle. A video shared on the social media platform X showed a chaotic scene of people shouting, “He’s got a gun!”

Trump continued to speak onstage as the scene unfolded, according to witnesses.

Smith said, “I’m thinking to myself, ‘Why is Trump still speaking? Why have they not pulled him off the stage?’ ”

Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi on Sunday addressed criticism over a lapse in security in a statement posted to X . Guglielmi said it was not true that Trump’s camp had “requested additional security resources & that those were rebuffed.”

“In fact, we added protective resources & technology & capabilities as part of the increased campaign travel tempo,” Guglielmi said.

A law enforcement source said the rooftop was beyond the security net set up by the Secret Service, adding that is now part of the investigation.

Police snipers return fire after shots were fired.

The range from which the weapon was fired and the clothing worn by the gunman led to early speculation that the shooter had military experience. However, all the branches of the military searched their records Sunday and said they had no records of Crooks serving.

“We’ve confirmed with each of the military service branches that there is no military service affiliation for the suspect with that name or date of birth in any branch,” Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said Sunday.

Crooks fired from about 430 feet from the stage where Trump was speaking. Given some training and practice, it would not be a difficult shot to make with an AR-style rifle — which was what Crooks used — said retired Los Angeles Police Department special weapons team officer and sniper Steve Gordon.

“That type of rifle is standard issue to the police/military, and that is not a difficult shot to make with that weapon system,” Gordon said.

Even without seeing the Pennsylvania venue, Gordon said that “it’s nearly impossible, if not completely impossible, to cover every window, rooftop, tree, bush and person.”

“Had they spotted him seconds earlier, they could have shot him immediately based on the circumstances,” he said. “But based on what I’ve seen so far, I believe the counter-sniper team did a tremendous job.”

He questioned whether the Secret Service had all the resources needed for the security detail.

Guglielmi told the Washington Post that the agency relied on local police at the rally. Those officers performed vital tasks usually carried out by specialized agents, including the heavily armed counter-assault team who provided cover to Trump as he was escorted out of the venue and counter-sniper teams who spotted and killed the shooter.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is helped off the stage at a campaign event in Butler, Pa., Saturday, July 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

FBI identifies gunman in Trump assassination attempt

Trump is whisked off stage after incident at Pennsylvania rally; he is ‘fine,’ statement says.

The assassination attempt took place on the eve of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, which starts Monday, with Trump expected to accept his party’s nomination on Thursday.

Security during such events is extraordinarily tight and is certain to grow stricter after what occurred Saturday.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said he and his staff are communicating with the agencies coordinating security for the event.

“We cannot be a country that accepts political violence of any kind — that is not who we are as Americans,” Evers said on X.

The last publicly known assassination attempt of a president or former president occurred in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was shot and seriously injured as he left a hotel in Washington.

Butler County Dist. Atty. Richard A. Goldinger told CNN on Saturday that the gunman was outside the grounds where Trump was speaking.

“Quite frankly, I don’t know how he would have gotten to the location where he was,” Goldinger said. “And I think that’s something that we’re gonna have to figure out how he got there.”

Law enforcement officers gather at an emptied campaign rally site for former President Trump.

Law enforcement consultant Roy Taylor, who has decades of experience coordinating security details for political events, said securing elevated positions around a venue is key to ensuring a protectee’s safety.

Taylor, who was not involved in Trump’s security detail in Pennsylvania, said the Secret Service acted quickly once they were alerted to Crooks’ position. But he questions why the rooftop was left open in the first place.

“Everybody needs to be taken out of the building, or officers need to be put into the building,” he said. “We need to make sure it’s secured because obviously it’s easier to fire down on somebody than it is for people to fire up, because that gives you a platform of superiority.”

It’s unclear what the situation was like for the security detail on the ground, Taylor said, adding they may have been inundated with information from rally attendees, radio chatter and Trump’s nearby speech.

As a former president, Trump already has a Secret Service detail, but that will probably increase when he accepts the nomination to be the Republican candidate, Taylor said.

Taylor was involved in coordinating the security detail for the 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. For a year leading up to the convention, security met regularly to coordinate all aspects of the event.

But a security detail on the campaign trail does not have that luxury, he said, noting they are working on a quicker timeline and coordinating with local law enforcement.

“It would be difficult for them to do a full security assessment and cover every single base with the resources they’re given,” Taylor said.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surround by U.S. Secret Service agents at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 13, 2024, in Butler, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

FBI says it has not determined a motive for assassination attempt on former President Trump

On his social media site Sunday, former President Trump said ‘it was God alone who prevented the unthinkable from happening.’

July 14, 2024

Multiple politicians have called for scrutiny of the Secret Service in the wake of the shooting. Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who chairs the House Oversight Committee, invited Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle to testify at a hearing on July 22.

“The tremendous bravery of the individual United States Secret Service agents who protected President Trump, eliminated the gunman, and possibly averted more loss of life cannot be overstated enough,” Comer said in his invitation letter. In a post to X , Comer wrote, “Americans demand answers about the assassination attempt of President Trump.”

An armed officer stands guard while Secret Service agents surround former President Trump.

An advisor to 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said the danger grows exponentially at outdoor events, which he described as “the most difficult.”

“So many ways to get a weapon in. Could have been tossed over a fence. Dug into the ground and placed earlier. Who knows?” said the advisor, asking not to be identified to speak candidly about the situation.

Burton said that while the Secret Service offers “the best protection in the world … any security official would tell you that it is nearly impossible to stop a committed lone wolf who is willing to die for his cause.”

Obama received Secret Service protection earlier than any presidential candidate in history because of the level of threats against him.

“I was absolutely shocked and immediately saddened,” Burton said of Saturday’s violence.

The Secret Service was charged with protecting presidents in 1902 after the assassination of President McKinley the previous year. Its duties — safeguarding the nation’s leaders and their families — have grown over the years, most significantly after the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963.

More to Read

MILWAUKEE, WI JULY 18, 2024 -- Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump touches the firefighter gear of Corey Comperatore during the Republican National Convention on Thursday, July 18, 2024. (Jason Almond / Los Angeles Times)

Trump describes assassination attempt during RNC speech

July 18, 2024

Milwaukee, WI - July 18: Former President Trump walks onstage for his nomination acceptance speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention on Thursday, July 18, 2024 in Milwaukee, WI. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Trump recounts assassination attempt, outlines grim portrait of America in 92-minute acceptance speech

Law enforcement officers work at the campaign rally site for Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is empty and littered with debris Saturday, July 13, 2024, in Butler, Pa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A shocking hour of missed chances to catch gunman before he shot Trump

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best travel backpack for biking

Seema Mehta is a veteran political writer who is covering the 2024 presidential race as well as other state and national contests. She started at the Los Angeles Times in 1998, previously covered multiple presidential, state and local races, and completed a Knight-Wallace fellowship at the University of Michigan in 2019.

best travel backpack for biking

Nathan Solis is a Metro reporter covering breaking news at the Los Angeles Times. He previously worked for Courthouse News Service, where he wrote both breaking news and enterprise stories ranging from criminal justice to homelessness and politics. Before that, Solis was at the Redding Record Searchlight as a multimedia journalist, where he anchored coverage of the destructive 2017 fires in Northern California. Earlier in his career, he worked for Eastsider L.A.

best travel backpack for biking

Richard Winton is an investigative crime writer for the Los Angeles Times and part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2011. Known as @lacrimes on Twitter, during almost 30 years at The Times he also has been part of the breaking news staff that won Pulitzers in 1998, 2004 and 2016.

More From the Los Angeles Times

MILWAUKEE, WI JULY 18, 2024 -- Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks during the Republican National Convention on Thursday, July 18, 2024. (Jason Almond / Los Angeles Times)

Column: Trump’s speech was a dud. What does that mean for his campaign?

President Joe Biden walks on stage to speak during the NAACP national convention Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

4 more Democrats call on Biden to exit; his team says he is ‘absolutely’ still in the race

Neveah Majors feeds her day DeShay Majors popcorn.

In this historic Black neighborhood in Milwaukee, the Biden question is met with indifference

July 19, 2024

SANTA ANA, CA - OCTOBER 13: A view of an official Orange County Registrar of Voters ballot Drop Box for the 2020 Presidential General Election at Carl Thornton Park in Santa Ana on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Noncitizens banned from voting in federal elections but not some local races


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