With more and more of us opting for pedal power, how we carry our essentials is key to a hassle-free ride. Whether it’s for our daily commute, road riding, a blast around an MTB trail or just for the sheer cycling pleasure, you really do need a cycling-specific backpack.
More than a straightforward daypack or about town carrier, a bike bag should be lightweight, streamlined, breathable and comfortable, depending on the type of cycling you do. They should also offer plenty of space for your kit, whether that’s urban gadgets, work papers or essential bike trail equipment.
To help you choose the bag that’s perfect for your own biking life, we take the high road to create our own best cycling backpacks hot list.
The Best Cycling Backpack
For the all-round cyclist, effective hydration is essential. And with this insulated hydration backpack from Mubasel, you’ll always be able to quench your thirst. This back is fantastic value for money – at less than $35 you get a super-looking cycling backpack that’s also well made. Perfect as an MTB backpack or for more general biking activities, you get a lot for your money. A 2-liter, BPA free hydration bladder that’s also leakproof and comes with effective thermal insulation, means you can be sipping cool water for up to five hours. Inside the pack there’s also a decent amount of storage, with three compartments to fit phones, wallets, maps and even a lightweight change of clothes. Outside you get a stretch mesh pocket.
Comfort has also been addressed with this smart cycling backpack as you get well-padded shoulder straps plus an adjustable waist strap for extra stability. It is not totally waterproof but for the price this is an awesome all-round cycling backpack to own.
Lightweight, breathable fabric
2L leakproof hydration bladder
Thermal insulation for up to 5 hours
Three internal compartments
Padded shoulder and waist straps
- BrandMubasel Gear
- Weight1.6 pounds
A well-made backpack for your on-the-go hydration needs
Plenty of internal space for your essentials
The bladder is not in a separate internal compartment
Perfect for a long day on the trail, we think the Oasis 1100 is the one of the best cycling backpacks for MTB sports. It has a decent 18L capacity but is slim and lightweight, so you can just pop it on your back and get on with your trailblazing! There’s also an easy-to-use and clean 2-liter hydration bladder – we liked the push-lock cushioned bite valve for quick and easy water dispensing, without the dribble.
There’s also a decent amount of internal space, plus external pockets, bungees and mesh slots for all your essentials. It is also super comfortable too, even on the gnarliest of trails, thanks to its low-profile frame, adjustable straps, foam stabilizer and breathable air mesh back panel. Comes with a rain cover too.
Low-profile, slimline design
18-liter internal capacity
2L hydration bladder
Air mesh back panel
Choice of five cool colors
- BrandTETON Sports
- Weight1.98 pounds
Lightweight, adjustable and comfortable – even on the toughest rides
Pack itself is not waterproof
For a simple and sturdy way to transport your precious tech when on your bike, check out the Rogue from Timbuk2. As a top loader, the Rogue is a bit of a square, but the geek look is pretty cool. Definitely for the urban cyclist, its outer is made from water-resistant TPU and the whole design feels tough enough to cope with the mean city streets.
There’s a decent sized internal compartment, big enough for a 13-inch laptop we’d say and zipped outer pockets. You also get external webbing for attachments and straps to keep everything in place. The shoulder straps are adjustable, although they are quite close together so perhaps not the most comfortable if you are really broad across the top.
Out shell made from TPU
Top loading main compartment
Six internal/external pockets
External ID window
- Weight1.4 pounds
A sturdy bag that is good for urban commuting
Narrow shoulder straps – not ideal for the broad shouldered!
Small, but perfectly formed, this lightweight daypack from outdoor specialists, Osprey is a tough mountain bike backpack that’s surprisingly spacious to boot. There’s no internal hydration bladder but there is an inner sleeve which can accommodate a tablet or a water reservoir, making this backpack ideal for going from daily commute to weekend blast out on the MTB trail.
Space-wise, you get a large internal compartment, which can easily pack a change of clothes and all your biking essentials, while outside you get a ‘shove pocket’ as well as a couple of zipped ones for security. Users report the comfort levels of this daypack, which comes with mesh-covered foam back panel and spacer-mesh, adjustable shoulder straps as well as a chest and waist strap to keep the whole thing securely in place.
Inner sleeve for gadgets or hydration bladder
Front panel ‘shove’ pocket
Side mesh water bottle holders
Attaches to other Osprey backpacks
- Weight1.24 pounds
Spacious, adaptable backpack for city or mountain biking
Doesn’t come with a rain cover
Cheap and cheerful, the Zomake lightweight backpack is a good back up to have, in the office or at home for when you have unexpected stuff to carry. Zipped down to be stored inside its front pocket, the capacity of this bike bag is surprisingly large – going up to 20 liters – so it’s also a good pack to have on a shopping trip where you are likely to come back with more than you went with!
And, despite its lightweight credentials, it’s also pretty sturdy, thanks to the water and tear resistant nylon material. As a serious cycling backpack, it is lacking in features such as hydration bladder and an air-mesh back panel, but for a casual cycling backpack, this is a great-priced Plan B.
Ultralight outer that’s water and tear resistant
Packs down into its own front pocket
20 -liter capacity
Abrasion resistant zippers
Adjustable shoulder straps
- Weight7.8 ounces
Great price for a lightweight, foldaway backpack for casual use
Side water bottle holders are on the shallow side
Limited features for the more serious cyclist or MTB’er
If you’re after a multi-sport hydration pack that to fit seamlessly on your back, then take a look at this sleek number from Mubasel Gear. A quality hydration backpack that won’t break the bank, this cycling backpack is impressive. The compartment holds a 2-liter BPA and leak-free bladder (which comes included) which has a large enough opening to add ice on those hot summer riding days. And, thanks to the large opening, it is super-easy to keep clean. What we also like about this small cycling backpack is there is still room for your essentials, with a zipped side panel for a lightweight jacket and your gadgets as well as a mesh pocket for your tire pump and nutrition bars.
2-liter bladder, that’s leak and BPA-free
Lightweight, with adjustable straps
Mesh back panel
Zipped side pocket for your gear
Large mesh front pocket
- BrandMubasel Gear
- Weight15.5 ounces
Great value for a lightweight, 2-liter hydration bladder
Excellent capacity with plenty of pockets
Drinking tube is a bit on the long side, so make sure it is secure
Space, size, durability and access to a decent water supply – the Tactical Molle has everything a serious cyclist needs when out clocking up those miles. This hydration backpack is also a tough dude that fits like a dream, thanks to its ergonomic design. And the army styling just adds to its appeal.
As one of the best cycling backpacks, it sits nicely on your back, and the padded shoulders, along with the chest and waist straps keeps everything secure. You also get an internal 3-liter hydration bladder so ideal for endurance road cycling or MTB. Made from 100 denier, water repellent nylon, your gear is also going to be kept dry and safe, and with a main compartment plus two roomy outer pockets, there is plenty of space for all your essentials.
Made water-repellent nylon
Military grade webbing
Inner 3-liter capacity water bladder
360-degree rotatable mouthpiece
Inner and two outer pockets
- Weight2 pounds
Extremely tough and hardwearing backpack
Impressive 3-liter water bladder capacity
The larger bladder means you do sacrifice inner storage space
The Outlander is a great cycling backpack when you don’t want anything to weigh your biking performance down. Lightweight, water-resistant and durable, and with a roomy 20-liter inner capacity, this is a pack to simply strap on and go. And when your done with your time on the trail, this little beauty packs down into its own pocket for easy storage. Pop in it your car and you will never be without when the urge to go two-wheeling calls!
There is no hydration bladder, but you do get two side water bottle pockets, plus two front zipper pockets and plenty of inner space, so this cycling backpack can also double up as your commuter bike bag too. A nice price, a great range of colors and really durable, this is a versatile cycling backpack you’ll get a lot of wear out of.
Lightweight and durable
Water and rip resistant nylon
Abrasion-resistant metal zippers
20-liter inner capacity
Folds down into an inner pocket
- Weight11.2 ounces
Super-light and convenient
Plenty of inner storage space
No inner pocket for a hydration bladder
Our next pick is this versatile and tough daypack from Sunhiker that can take you from commute to trail without breaking into a sweat. And at less than $24, it offers a lot of spec.
First off – although it looks small, it has a decent capacity for day bike trips, offering up to 25 liters of space for your stuff. And while there is no inner hydration bladder, you do get two decent sized water bottle pockets that are easy to reach, even when you are pedaling. Our best value pick has also been designed to last, made from tear, scratch and water-resistant nylon. It also comes with breathable mesh shoulder straps that are a decent width and plenty of external pockets and compartments. And in the design, Sunhiker have got the balance and weight distribution pretty spot on.
Tear, scratch and water-resistant nylon
20-25L inner capacity
Two water bottle pockets
Mesh shoulder straps
Reflective shoulder stripes
- Weight11.2 ounces
A tough, durable and effective cycling daypack for the money
Waist strap is on the short side so not the ideal fit for everyone
For some retro urban cool on your work commute or cycle to college, we love the look of this laptop backpack from Kaukko. The old-school knapsack vibe is enhanced by the durable fabric and quality build, making it an effective cycling backpack for all your tech. Made from durable polyester that can repel a shower, the straps and buckles are also sturdy enough to keep everything neat and secure. Inside you get a compartment to fit up to 15.6-inch laptops, as well as a spacious main compartment for your A4 folders, binders and paperwork. And there are enough outer pockets for your smaller stuff. And for such a smart-looking, formal backpack, we liked the comfort fit, thanks to the padded shoulder straps and back panel. A desirable, urban cycle backpack at a budget price.
Durable 600D polyester
Drawstring closure with flap over
Three outer pockets
Padded shoulder straps
- Weight2.16 pounds
Nice-looking cycling rucksack for your essential gadgets and tech
The inner dimensions could do with being a little deeper
With the looks of a watersports dry bag and in a color to make sure you are seen, the BackSåk is an awesome bit of kit that’s perfect for those soggy commutes or unpredictable trail rides.
Made from a heavy duty 500-denier PVC to keep things watertight, you can confidently take to the road with the BackSåk, knowing that all your gear is going to stay bone dry. Welded seams and a roll-down top just adds that extra layer of waterproofing security, making this a wet weather top buy. Space-wise, you can choose from an ample 25 or 35 liters, plus zippered inner and outer pockets. And while there is no hydration bladder, there are external D-rings to clip on a water bottle or two. Add in a padded back support and cushioned shoulder straps and with this super waterproof cycling rucksack, you can be sure of a dry and comfortable bike ride.
Waterproof 500D PVC
Roll-down top closure
Welded seams and zippered pockets
Available in 25L and 35L
Foam padded back and straps
- BrandSåk Gear
- Weight2.4 pounds
A bright and waterproof backpack that works well for wet-weather cycling
Well-padded foam back panel for prolonged comfort
This is a large backpack so can be on the heavy side when full
Sleek and unassuming, this is a well-balanced urban cycling backpack that sits well on your back and holds all your gear snug and secure. You get all the build quality you would expect from a backpack at a mid-to-high end price, but it is not too over the top or in your face.
What you do get is done well – spacious and well-organized padded storage for your laptops and tablets up to 15 inches, alongside well-designed pockets for all your extras. Airflow channels have been added to the molded back panel and padded straps for a cool and comfortable ride, even in a hectic rush hour and the integrated sternum strap disperses weight to keep. You and your backpack nice and balanced.
Water-resistant and tough 850D ballistic nylon
Three large inner compartments
Padded and faux-fur lined laptop pocket
Quick and easy access pockets
Padded back panel and shoulder straps
- Weight1.74 pounds
Lovely business-like styling with plenty of space for your tech
No external pockets for a water bottle
With its iconic good looks and a tough urban reputation, the Little America Backpack from Herschel is a rucksack classic. Tough, stylish and practical, and with a less than $80 price tag, you are getting a quality commuter backpack that works well with the pedaling city lifestyle.
Made from 100% polyester, with an inner drawstring closure and secure over flap, the inner is padded and fleece-lined to keep your tech cocooned and protected. You also get a nifty media port for listening to your music as you go, and everything is clipped together with magnetic strap closures. Add in an air mesh padded back panel and contoured shoulder straps and you can make that bike commute in both style and comfort.
Polyester outer and nylon lining
Inner drawstring closure
Padded and fleece-lined laptop sleeve
Headphone port in inner pocket
Padded air mesh back panel
- BrandHerschel Supply Co.
- Weight2.1 pounds
Durable, great gadget protection and business meeting-ready styling
Effective back padding with air mesh for a cool urban ride
Could do with a couple more inner pockets to keep things a little more organized
With security and safety often a concern, especially when traveling or out and about in a busy city, Nomatic have come up with an awesome bike backpack that thinks it is Fort Knox! Our premium pick is at the top end of our best cycling backpack review budget, but you get a whole lot of security spec for your dollar. It does have the look of a small carry on holdall and will expand from 20L to 34L when you need it too but is also fits neatly on your back, thanks to its innovative strap system.
To keep your laptop and personal belongings safe as you ride you get lockable external zippers as well as a hidden RDIF blocking pocket on the back of the bag, for your cards and smartphone. Add into the mix, reflective ink and you will also be safe and seen at night. Made from water-resistant 500D tarpaulin fabric, you also get two water bottle pockets and plenty of extra pocket space for your smaller items. And at less than 4 pounds in weight, this is a super backpack for your cycling commute.
Water-resistant 500D tarpaulin
Expandable design – up to 34L
RFID blocking pocket
Flexible shoulder strap system
- Weight4 pounds
Quality safety features without making it a bulky, heavy cycling backpack
Expensive – at the top end of our review budget
Now here’s a fantastic idea – a suit carry case that transforms into an easy to carry cycle backpack! The team at Henty Wingman have come up with a cool niche product that is an essential for the business commuter that prefers two wheels to four but still needs to look corporate smart. The waterproof roll up bag design keeps a full suit or uniform wrinkle free, while its two-bag combo design enables you to keep wet, dirty or worn clothes separate from your fresh apparel. Plus, you also get a dedicated storage space for a 15-inch laptop so you can carry everything with you to that business meeting. A great idea which is also a time and labor saver so if you are a regular cycle commuter that needs to make a quick change on arrival, then you will certainly get your money’s worth!
Two-bag roll up system
Patented system keeps clothes wrinkle free
Dedicated section for your gadgets
Adjustable and padded straps
Space for a full suit plus shoes
- Weight4.5 pounds
Innovative roll design really does keep your clothes pristine and wrinkle free
The bag is not waterproof, and it doesn’t come with a rain cover
Best Cycling Backpack Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Consider When Buying a Cycling Backpack
While an all-purpose rucksack will do, a backpack specifically designed for the cyclist is always going to be a good buy, especially if you’re frequently out on your bike, as a commuter or a recreational user. To match your cycling expectations, here are the key features to look for:
The internal capacity of your new cycling backpack needs to match your needs. So, if you are on the daily commute or a casual rider, a smaller capacity that is the right dimensions for your gadgets and essentials is the way to go. But if you are on for a hard couple of days on the trail, you’ll need a larger capacity to pack in all your food, kit and essential supplies, so look for a cycling rucksack that gives around 20-30 liters of space, without being too cumbersome.
Not only does your new bike backpack need to be comfortable and fit well when on the move, it also needs to help you keep cool. Look for breathable fabrics located in the right places; a good cycling backpack will use mesh or similar fabrics where the pack rests against your body and will often include a channel construction to allow for an airway between your pack and your back.
Especially if you’re a regular commuter or like all-weather mountain bike weekends, a bike bag that will keep its contents nice and dry is an essential. Many packs come with a waterproof, removable cover you can pop on when the heavens open but for all-round peace of mind, opt for a pack that is made from a reliable, waterproof fabric. Also check that it’s sufficiently sealed to prevent unwanted leaks – taped seams are the way to go.
- Safety features
Anything you can do to make sure you are seen is an essential in our books, so look for a cycling rucksack that takes safety seriously. Reflective details on the pack are not going to ruin its aesthetic and could well be a life saver.
Cycling is thirsty work and those water bottle pockets you get on hiking rucksacks don’t work quite so well when you are on your bike. Look for a cycling backpack which has an integral hydration system, including a bladder and compartment, as well as a shoulder loop where you can neatly stash away the drinking tube.
Comfort is king, especially when it comes to the best cycling rucksack as chaffing and pressure on your shoulders is the last thing you want as you ride. Look for padded shoulder straps for extra ride comfort and an adjustable chest or hip strap is also an added bonus as they help to keep the pack stable and in place.
Get your commuter or mountain bike backpack organized and you are on for a decent ride. Inner, padded compartments are a good idea on your daily commute to keep those gadgets safe, while external, easy to reach zipped pockets are ideal for your essentials. And also check for effective storage or attachments for your bike maintenance kit as you never know when you will need it.
Why You Should Invest in a Good Cycling Backpack
If your bike’s an essential part of your life, then a good cycling backpack is essential. Whatever your biking activity, you want to ensure all your items are safe and dry without getting in the way of your cycling life. Comfort, durability and convenience also key so when it comes making an investment in your biking kit, a top-quality cycling backpack should be at the top of your list.
Different Types of Cycling Backpacks
To make sure you get the perfect pack for your own personal pedaling preferences, you need to consider the main types:
- Hydration: A hydration cycling rucksack does exactly what is says on the tin - it ensures you have easy access to sufficient water to keep you hydrated throughout your biking trip. For day MTB rides out on the trail, or quick whizzes around town, look for a slim backpack with a 1-2l bladder capacity. Lightweight and neat, there is limited storage space in these water boys so if you need extra gear space, opt for a cycling backpack that can also accommodate water bottles for hydration on the go.
- Day pack: For the commute to work, shopping trip or day ride without the need for too much gear, a bike daypack is ideal. Small enough to wear around the city streets yet spacious enough for your laptop, gadgets, or lunch, maps and a waterproof jacket, a day pack is typically 20 liters or less in capacity and can have a range of internal pockets and protected sections, depending on what you need to carry.
- Midsize: Exactly as it is described, midsized packs will have a larger internal capacity to carry your essentials for a day or two on the trail, and also space for a hydration bladder or water bottles.
- Expedition: For hardcore cycling journeys or awesome MTB expeditions where you need to take all your essentials and overnight gear, an expedition bike pack is the way to go. For a balanced ride, opt for a capacity of 20-30 liters and try not to overpack. Expedition packs are also designed for comfort on prolonged bike journeys, so look out for air vent backs and padded waist straps.
Backpacks vs. Panniers
It’s a matter of capacity and how much space you need when it comes to the backpack vs pannier dilemma.
Backpacks offer superior convenience for the busy day or trail cyclist, as you just need to pack, then pop on and go, whereas panniers need to be fixed to your bike. But panniers offer so much more capacity than what you can safely – and comfortably – carry on your back, so are a good option for overnight trips or longer distance journeys. Match the carrier method to the reason you need it and you can’t really go wrong.
Best Cycling Backpack FAQ:
Q: What is a cycling backpack?
A: A cycling backpack has been designed specifically to work with the demands of life on two wheels. Slimline and lightweight, the pack aims to be more aerodynamic than hiking packs and gives the cyclist support and padded protection where they need it. They should also be sufficiently framed and vented to allow for back support and cooling airflow, waterproofed to protect against the elements and have enough pockets and internal space for all your essential belongings, whether that is your workplace tech or kit to keep you going out on the open trail.
Q: How do I maintain my cycling backpack?
A: Always check the care instructions from your cycling backpack manufacturer so you’re using the right cleaning methods for the fabric and tech-spec. But as a general guide, clean out your pack after every trip and if caught in the elements, open the back up and allow to thoroughly dry. Use a wet cloth with a light detergent to wipe away surface dirt and grime and periodically lubricate zips and any moving links.
Q: How do I choose the right size backpack for me?
A: You will need to select a rucksack based on how you intend to use it – daily commuting, a day out on the trail or a longer multi-night trip. The best way to choose the right size of cycling backpack is also to try it on! Check the straps and length of pack to ensure you can create a secure fit with your new cycling backpack without it impeding your cycling progress or causing discomfort.
Q: Are messenger bags or backpacks better for commuting?
A: It all depends on your type of commute and what you need when you get to work! Messenger bags tend to be more streamlined so ideal if you have minimal amounts to carry but they are worn across the body so can be harder to keep in place or out of the way. For total peace of mind for a secure bag as well as sufficient, protected space for your tech, your wallet and even your lunch, then we recommend you opt for a cycling-specific rucksack.
Our Top Pick
In a choice of 10 cool colors and with a build quality you would expect on a more expensive model, we are happy to make the Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack our Top Pick. Perfect for all-round cycling, there’s a decent amount of space for your stuff and it fits snugly comfortable on your back. Plus, you get a 2L hydration system built in, with a thermal bladder that promises to keep your water cool for up to five hours. All-in-all a great value cycling backpack, that performs well and looks great too.
- Mountain Bike Comfort Accessories - HowStuffWorks