8 Best Backpacks for Bike Commuting in 2020

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As fun as it is to use your bike as a form of transport, it can also be challenging because you have to figure out how to store and carry stuff in it. If bike baskets aren’t your thing, then that’s probably why you’re looking for the best backpacks for bike commuting.

The great thing about bike backpacks is that they’re versatile, durable, and inexpensive. This is what makes them the best bike carrying gear available for cyclists, especially if you use your bicycle for daily commuting to work or school.

Below we will go through tips on how to find the best backpacks for bike commuting for your needs, as well as a selection of what we consider to be the best options on the market.

Best Bike Commuter Bags

Our intention with this article is to provide a guide that’ll make it that much easier for you to find the best bike commuter backpack.

That’s why we’re including a list of options for you to choose from, as well as a helpful guide at the end of the most important considerations to make when making your selection.

Without further ado, here we go!

1. Timbuk2 Spire Backpack

Timbuk2 is one of the most popular biking backpack manufacturers on the market and it’s not hard to see why.

Their Spire backpack features an innovative roll-top design. It has a hook-and-loop closure for easy opening and maximum safety, and it features waterproof nylon material.

The great thing about this flexible backpack is the fact that it expands according to what you put in it. This way, it can actually store way more than what you expect.

In terms of storage, it has one big laptop compartment which can fit a 15-inch laptop and a zippered front pocket. You can use that to store your wallet or phone. There’s also a Velcro panel on the backpack that features convenient gear loops.

Pros
  • It fits comfortably, thanks to its precise-fit strap design
  • Features anodized aluminum hardware
  • Has a built-in bottle opener
  • Comes with a front zip pocket for your wallet, phone, and shades
  • Available in three colors
Cons
  • It doesn’t work well for rainy conditions

2. Thule Pack-n-Pedal Commuter Backpack

This bicycle commuting backpack from Thule has the customer in mind. It comes with features that make your life that much easier when cycling with your backpack.

Unlike most other backpacks in this category, its laptop sleeve is on the front instead of the back. This creates a more comfortable fit overall.

Then it features unique foam paneling which offers better structure when compared to mesh paneling that other backpacks have. However, a great feature worth mentioning is the backpack’s adjustable sternum strap. This is designed to keep your back and arms comfortable so that they don’t pull away from the handlebars.

In addition to the 15-inch laptop compartment, which is pretty big, there are other organizational compartments for other items.

Pros
  • It comes with a laptop pocket
  • Features dedicated rain cover compartments
  • Comes with a hardshell pocket to protect your shades or glasses
  • It’s perfect for commuting at night
Cons
  • There have been some complaints about the quality of the materials that this bag is made from

3. Skog Å Kust BackSåk Backpack

Next, we have what in our opinion is the best bag for bike commuting courtesy of Sak Gear. This is basically a customized pannier bag that’s made from durable 500 denier PVC material. It’s not your usual water-resistant nylon or similar materials, because you can dunk it in water and it’ll keep the contents inside the bag dry.

Another feature worth mentioning is the bag’s closure system. This contributes to the fact that it’s waterproof. You can adjust the top in a similar manner to the roll-top and a buckle system that you can use to carry the bag with.

You can also push the top down and cinch the buckles onto the side straps so that the entire backpack stays in place while riding your bicycle. It’s worth noting that all of this is super easy and it’s your choice which option to choose.

However, there aren’t a lot of storage and organization options on the outside of the backpack. But it does have a splash-proof zippered pocket for smaller items like papers and keys.

Pros
  • Features a stylish design with the capacity to handle 25L to 35L worth of content
  • Comes with useful D-rings on the sides to attach gear such as water bottles
  • The included sternum clip and padded back support alleviate muscle pressure
  • It’s constructed from durable 500 denier PVC which will last for a long time
Cons
  • There have been some complaints about this backpack being of poor quality

4. Deuter Bike 14 Liter Backpack

The Deuter backpack has a 14L storage capacity with low profile dimensions of 18 inches by 9 inches. This means it has more than enough space to fit your essential items.

It comes with a flexible internal compartment that works great for things like wet clothes as well as smaller pockets that keep things like your phone and your wallet.

On the outside, you’ve got a huge front pocket with different smaller compartments. This is useful for things like your sunglasses, keys, and phones. You can also use this helmet to store your bike helmet thanks to the built-in detachable mesh sling.

Deuter didn’t forget about comfortability, as this bag features a large air channel and breathable foam material to give you as much ventilation as you like. Then there are padded chest straps that keep this backpack attached to your torso.

Pros
  • Comes with a removable foam mat that you can use to sit on when you’re at the park
  • Has a handy helmet holder
  • Features a flexible internal compartment that can store wet clothes
  • Comes with back ventilation feature for breathability and comfort
Cons
  • None

5. Proviz Sports Reflect360 Water Resistant Backpack

Here we have a cycle commuting backpack from Proviz Sports which is the right choice for safety and durability.

They come with a feature called Reflect360 which is constructed from 100% reflective CE EN 20471 material. This is a very effective feature at making sure that you remain fully visible in low-light conditions such as when you’re cycling in the early morning or in the evening.

Not only does this backpack keep you visible in low light conditions, but it’s constructed from water-resistant material. This will protect your valuables in different weather conditions. Then you’ve got the manufacturer’s patented beetle ventilation system which provides back breathability. Another great safety feature worth mentioning is its adjustable waist and chest straps. These will keep the back attached to your body.

The ProvizReflect 360 has a 30L capacity making it one of the largest bike commuting backpacks on this list. It can fit a large 15-inch laptop, and it comes with several gear loops. Can also fit a 2L hydration pack.

Pros
  • Made with reflective materials for low light visibility
  • Although it’s lightweight, it has a large storage capacity
  • It can comfortably fit a 15-inch computer
  • Made of water-resistant material
Cons
  • The reflective materials may peel after some time

6. Henty Wingman Commuter Suit Bag

The Henty Wingman commuter suit bag is so called because it’s so well-designed and organized. It has the ability to keep folded clothes wrinkle-free and neat on your way to work.

All you have to do is lay your clothes out and fold them up nicely to put them in the bag so that they’re easy to transport. By the time you get to your destination, you’ll find that your clothes are as neat as they were when you first put them in there.

For storage, there’s an external component that’s large enough to fit a 15-inch laptop and mesh padding on the back to keep you comfortable. It’s worth noting that this is a water-resistant bag and it even comes with a toll-top to boot.

Sure, it’s on the pricey side, but it’s well worth it when you consider all the features that it offers.

Pros
  • Comes with dedicated storage for a 15-inch laptop and a tablet
  • It’s water-resistant and comes with separate compartments to keep dirty clothes separate from clean ones
  • Features a patented support system feature that helps to keep clothes wrinkle-free
  • It’s great for transporting work clothes or gym clothes
Cons
  • It may come with missing parts

7. Osprey Radial Bike Commuter Backpack

This backpack is a giant black hole that can take a 15-inch laptop, your gym clothes, shoes, and more.

Thanks to its flexible design, you can adjust this backpack to suit different types of torsos. It comes with a ventilated back panel that offers optimal breathability and comfort.

In terms of storage, you’ve got a flexible main laptop compartment with external zippers, a zippered internal pocket that’s designed for shoes, a larger external pocket that closes with a U-lock, and a Lidlock that’s designed to store your bike helmet.

As if that wasn’t enough, this backpack also features a small zippered side pocket that you can use to store small items such as snacks, a wallet, your phone, or iPad. There’s also a dedicated water bottle pocket that’s super easy to use and access. All in all, this is the best bicycle commuter backpack that money can buy.

Pros
  • The manufacturer does offer a warranty if you ask for it
  • Expandable to provide extra storage
  • Offers a lot of space
  • Comes with a kickstand to keep it from falling over when placed on the floor
  • You can choose from two colors
Cons
  • It doesn’t come with a water bladder even though it’s often recommended for hiking

8. Thule Subterra Daypack 25L

This is yet another bag that’s rightfully considered one of the best bike commuter bags from Thule. It will keep you comfortable and organized on the road, as it features a wide variety of internal and external pockets with a side zipper for easy access.

Not only are the internal pockets accessible but the external pockets also come with an accessible Velcro-closure panel pocket. You can use this to store all kinds of stuff.

You’ll be glad to know that this commuting backpack is constructed from a durable reinforced shell pocket which you can utilize to store and protect things like your smartphone and sunglasses. It’s actually very effective at this, as is the 15-inch padded laptop sleeve.

We really liked the mesh zippered pockets because they’re perfect for smaller items like your keys or a small notebook and wallet. Plus, there’s more than enough space in the main compartment to store extras like gym clothes and books.

Pros
  • There’s a side zipper that offers quick access to tablet and laptop
  • The interior of the laptop compartment is lined with a safe edge to protect the corners
  • It’s large enough to fit a 15-inch MacBook Pro as well as a 10.1-inch iPad or tablet
  • Comes with a lot of great quick-access compartments
  • It’s the ideal commuter inspired day pack
Cons
  • It’s not as long-lasting as expected

How to Find the Best Backpacks for Bike Commuting

To find the best backpacks for bike commuting for your needs, it’s important to consider the following features to narrow down your options effectively.

Design

The style and design of your backpack is a purely personal decision that depends on your personal preferences.

Backpacks come in a lot of different styles, colors, and shapes. Some are sleek and slim while others are large and bulky.

Comfort

It’s important to make sure that your commuter backpack is lightweight so that it’s easier to wear and travel with.

Luckily, a lot of manufacturers prioritize this when designing A backpack with the end-user in mind.

But, there are other features that should be considered to ensure comfortability including padding, breathability, and adjustable straps. Low-light visibility features and a water bladder may also be helpful.

Use

Ask yourself why you want to purchase a backpack in the first place. That way, you can purchase a backpack that’s suitable for your needs.

For instance, if you’re a student you’ll be able to get a backpack that’s suitable for students, and the same goes for mountain bikers, off-roaders, etc.

Straps

Make sure your backpack has well-fitted straps that aren’t loose or too tight.

Instead, they should just be comfortable so that you don’t have to keep adjusting them as they could distract you from the road.

If safety is important to you, make sure your backpack has straps on the chest, hip, and shoulders to keep it from falling off.

Weight

The last thing you need is to feel like the Hunchback of Notre Dame when riding your bicycle due to a heavy backpack.

As such, your backpack should be constructed from lightweight materials so that it’ll remain lightweight and comfortable even after you’ve packed items into it. Most backpacks on our list weigh about 1 to 4 pounds.

Anti-Theft

If you’re going to use your backpack to store things like your keys, phone, watch, and wallet then you should make sure that it has the requisite safety features to keep these items safe from potential theft.

This includes things like having discreet access points, slash-proof material construction and locks. Most modern bags offer these options as features.

Visibility

At some point, you’ll probably find yourself cycling at night or at least during early evening after a late study session, gym session, or late work shift.

That’s why it’s important to have a backpack that has low light visibility features like LED strips, reflective stripes, and light clips. It’s a must for safety.

Water Repellent

It’s very helpful to have a waterproof or water-resistant commuting backpack.

This means that it’ll keep all of your important valuables dry even if you experience a spot of rain. However, there’s a difference between water-resistant and waterproof backpack.

Water-resistant materials are those that can only handle a bit of light rain and a slight water split. But they shouldn’t be submerged in water because they won’t be able to protect what’s inside the bag.

But, unless you plan on going swimming with your backpack, a waterproof one isn’t necessary.

Hydration

Some backpacks come with hydration bladder compartments that will help you prioritize hydration. Some even come with built-in straws.

Of course, you won’t need these features for daily commutes or short-distance trips but they will come in handy for long-distance rides and mountain biking.

Laptop Compartment

You’ll also want a laptop backpack that makes it easier to store and carry your laptop. Ideally, you want one with a dedicated laptop sleeve or a secure pocket with a crush-proof casing.

Consider the size of your device to ensure that your backpack has enough space to fit it.

Price

You also want a durable backpack that’s made to last and these are usually pricey. But it’s better to pay once and use a backpack for many years than to pay multiple times.

Things like stitching, workmanship, and the materials used will all point to the backpack’s durability, as well as the storage compartments offered.

Commuter Backpacks vs. Panniers

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably already decided that you’re going with backpacks. But, have you ever thought about panniers?

Panniers are great because they offer a way to store and carry stuff on your bicycle instead of attached to your torso.

They are an ideal option for people with back problems because they make for a super comfortable bike ride while having peace of mind knowing that your gear is safe. As such, they’re great for long commutes because they don’t come with the added stress of back pain.

But, panniers aren’t perfect. For starters, they shift the weight from your back to the rear wheel gear which can make it difficult to affect your ability to handle your bike as well as navigating brakes and acceleration features.

Backpacks, on the other hand, can only add weight above the seat and won’t affect your ability to handle your bicycle nearly as much.

Plus, you’d have to purchase a separate rear rack to install onto your bike. This would make it difficult to use multiple bikes if you’re the type of person who has different bicycles for different scenarios.

The great thing about backpacks is that you can carry them off the bicycle which is ideal for daily commuting.

Benefits of Bike Commuter Bags

With everything we said above, there are plenty of multi-purpose backpacks that work great for cycling and the following are just some of the reasons why they’re so popular.

You Can Use It to Deliver Things

Bike delivery is a good reason why bike backpacks are so popular because they allow you to store and carry different types of items that you need for your trade.

You Can Commute to Work

Driving a car is comfortable but also expensive considering the maintenance and gas costs as well as the environmental effects that it has. Bikes write off all of that.

That’s why they’re so popular for daily commuting. Plus, you can use a cycling backpack to carry all of your essential items and valuables such as your laptop, books, lunchbox, spare shoes, and clothes.

For the best results, be sure that your backpack is ergonomic and comfortable to wear for long-distance commuting.

You Can Explore the Nature

Riding a bicycle is fun. You get to enjoy the wild, fresh air while commuting to work or school and it can really give you a new appreciation for your neighborhood.

However, if you plan to use your backpack to ride your bicycle through dirt trails and mountain trails, then you should ensure that it’s lightweight, simply designed, and comes with some sort of hydration feature.

Offers Hydration While Riding Your Bike

Cycling requires more energy than just driving a car, so you want to stay hydrated to keep your energy levels up, especially for long-distance commutes.

However, you shouldn’t have to open your backpack to access a bottle in order to stay hydrated, which is why hydration backpacks are growing in popularity.

This type of backpack basically has a bladder built-in to the interior which allows you to drink water from a straw as you ride your bicycle. Most of these bags cost about $25 or less in most cases.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find cheap backpacks?

Amazon is the best place to find an affordable backpack. They often hold sales and promotions for backpacks.

Will I sweat if I ride my bike with a backpack on my shoulders?

Yes, you might sweat a bit, especially in a warm climate, or if you’re riding over long distances. You might also sweat if you’re wearing multiple layers. Most backpacks come with a breathable back panel to reduce the chances of your back sweating by increasing ventilation.

Is a water-repellent backpack suitable for commuting?

Yes, a water repellent bag is always a good idea if you’re going to use it for the daily commute. Especially if you plan on using it to carry things like your laptop, phone or tablet and books. It’ll keep your stuff dry in case you experience a bit of rain. If you’re super paranoid, then just go all the way and opt for a waterproof backpack which can be submerged in water while keeping the stuff inside dry.

Will bike commuter bags hurt my shoulders?

No, unless it’s not worn properly. Make sure that the backpack is attached properly to your torso using a hip and/or chest strap. With that said, it’s not uncommon to experience discomfort when carrying a super heavy backpack or if you haven’t tied the straps right.

Is it possible to clean your backpack?

Yes, backpacks are pretty low maintenance. All you have to do to clean them is to simply wipe them with a damp sponge or cloth with a bit of detergent. Even then, you should only clean them if there’s a reason to.

Conclusion

The key to finding the best backpacks for bike commuting is to know what you’re looking for and if you would ask for our opinion, we would recommend the Timbuk2 Spire Backpack.

It’s comfortable, durable, and offers multiple storage compartments that are built for organization and safety.

This bag is also waterproof and comes with a precise-fit strap to make sure that it doesn’t accidentally get off.

James is a passionate bicyclist who has done about every kind of biking there is. He loves the wind in his hair, the sun over his shoulder and maybe even the bugs in his teeth. No, just kidding about that last item. He isn’t crazy about road burns, either, but acknowledges that to have the good there is the occasional tumble. James feels that his bike is the place where he can unwind, leave troubles alongside the road, meet new people, go new places, and live the life of adventure that he loves. He is ready to share the ride with you.

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