Best Cycling Backpacks In 2022
Cycling backpacks allow you to transport water, clothing, rain gear, work-related tech, papers, books and much more. The best are highly water-resistant or downright waterproof as well as being lightweight, comfortable and affordable. Whether you need a compact backpack for carrying only a laptop and some peripherals or you need a 20-liter bag to carry all of the above-mentioned items rest assured you’ll find one to fit your needs in our list of the best cycling backpacks.
The Best Cycling Backpack
Timbuk2 has partnered with Apple to produce a-one-of-a-kind cycling backpack that will cradle all your most precious Apple tech in the lap of comfort, safety, and luxury. Spring showers and the gnarliest city streets are no problem for the Timbuk2 Spire. With air mesh padding in the back, numerous access points, custom-designed pockets, and some of the most comfortable shoulder straps you’ll ever find, the Spire is a Timbuk2 backpack after the Apple lover’s heart.
Designed specifically for Apple tech
Fully waterproof rolltop
Water-resistant 630D nylon shell
- Weight2.36 pounds
Osprey makes some of the best backpacks in the world. Whether you’re traveling around the world or going for a quick bike ride, their packs will make your life better. That’s a fact. One of the main reasons for splashing out on the Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack is its undeniable quality. It’s made from 210D nylon double-diamond ripstop, making it super lightweight and ultra-tough. Plus, it has a large capacity of 20 liters and a well-designed system of shoulder straps, sternum straps, and mesh back.
Made from 210D nylon double-diamond ripstop
Large panel loading main compartment
Front panel shove-it pocket
Mesh-covered die-cut foam back panel
- Weight1.19 pounds
The Sunhiker Small Cycling Backpack is one of our favorite budget backpacks. It’s designed for both cycling and hiking, which is why it has thick shoulder straps, a mesh back, and a sternum strap for stability. Made from tear-resistant nylon, this is a tough little backpack – it’s water-resistant, scratch-resistant, and super durable. In terms of pockets, it has two main pockets, an exterior zippered pocket, and two mesh bottle pockets. We also love the fact that it’s available in 13 colors.
Made from tear-resistant nylon
Breathable mesh shoulder straps
Exterior zippered pockets
Available in 13 colors
- Weight12.3 ounces
The Incase Icon is a beautifully balanced bike waterproof backpack that holds everything nice and snug to the body. It’s large enough to accommodate all your tech and then some. The padded inner sleeve accommodates a 12.9-inch laptop or iPad Pro, there’s a zip pocket for peripherals and the pack as a whole is water-resistant and lightweight.
12.9-inch sleeve for iPad Pro
Lined inner pocket for laptops
Zip pocket on top for misc items
- Weight2.8 pounds
With classic design touches that evoke 20th-century Alpine mountaineering backpacks and the ability to transport all your 21st-century tech in comfort and safety, Little America represents the best of both backpacking worlds. Open it up and enjoy the signature Herschel striped lining while you’re tucking in your laptop, camera, tablet, phone, USB flash drives, and more.
Fleece-lined 15-inch laptop sleeve
Ergonomically designed shoulder straps
Adjustable drawstring closures
- BrandHerschel Supply Co.
- Weight1.5 pounds
The Osprey Escapist 18 is a sleek, handsome bag that’s in the running for the best commuter and work backpack. There are a plethora of convenient features including a blinker light attachment, stretchy side mesh pockets, a lined top pocket for your sunglasses, a built-in rain cover, a zippered pocket on the shoulder strap, and more.
Sleek, aerodynamic design
Ridge foam back panel for optimal ventilation
Built-in rain cover
- Weight1.75 pounds
Sometimes all you need is a laptop and a cellphone. Sometimes you need a laptop, extra running shoes, a rain jacket, water, snacks, a bike pump, U-lock, and a whole lot more. For those times there’s the waterproof Pelican Mobile Protect backpack. At 35 liters it’s one of the largest cycling backpacks on the market.
1000D water-resistant nylon shell
Molded EVA shoulder straps
- Weight2.43 pounds
The Pickwick Day Pack from Brooks is a “no nonsense” pack with a simple profile, unadorned shoulder straps, single point of entry, and canvas shell. It will transport your gear safely and dryly and when you arrive you’re going to score major style points. Inside there’s a dedicated tool pocket along with a separate pocket for your cell phone, scratchpad, bike lock, and more.
Made by hand in Italy
Water-resistant canvas outer shell
Tanned leather connection points
- BrandBrooks England
- Weight1.98 pounds
Practical and handsome the Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack provides all the water-resistant storage capacity you need to get your gear where it needs to get. There are side pockets for quick access, mini U-lock storage, a flashing safety light, reflective striping, a cell phone pocket on the shoulder strap, and a fully welded, removable waterproof liner. Be sure to check out our reviews of the best bike seats for more great bike gear.
Fully welded waterproof liner
Multiple access points
Extra-wide shoulder straps
- BrandBanjo Brothers
- Weight1 pounds
Velo’s Edge Pro 30 is a roll-top cycling backpack that provides 30 liters of storage and the most exterior pockets you’ll find on any cycling backpack. Bring along everything from your big laptop to a windbreaker jacket and keep everything bone dry even in the pouring rain with the removable fully welded waterproof shell.
Exterior pockets for peripherals
Removable waterproof liner
Valuables pocket for keys and more
- Weight3 pounds
The Park Slope Daypack looks and feels very much like a standard backpack. The difference though is in the details. From the 1000D water-resistant Cordura shell to the handsome and rugged top carrying loop to the extra padding in the sleeve that accommodates your 15” laptop this is a serious piece of personal transport gear. Find more great bags like this by checking out our guide to the best Black Diamond backpacks.
1000D Cordura fabric shell
Padded laptop sleeve
- BrandManhattan Portage
- Weight5.29 pounds
The Locallion Cycling Backpack is designed to hug your back when you’re flying down a dirt track on your bike. With thick shoulder straps, a sternum strap, and a waist strap, you can adjust this backpack to feel like it’s a part of you. This is super important when you’re cycling because you don’t want anything throwing off your balance. In terms of storage, it has 18 liters of space split into seven different pockets. It’s also made from waterproof nylon, so you have time to find a cover if it starts raining.
Made from waterproof nylon
Space for a water bladder (not included)
Sternum strap and waist strap
Available in eight colors
Cycling Backpack Buying Guide
Features To Look For In Cycling Backpacks
Breathability - Riding a bike is a sweaty business so the best cycling backpack will have plenty of channels in the back through which air can circulate so moisture can be whisked away.
Capacity - The capacity you choose will be a function of your needs. If you want a cycling pack for long weekend trips you’ll want 20 to 30 liters of storage. If you only intend to use the pack to bring your laptop to and from work a small cycling backpack will do.
Padding in the Straps - The more you intend to carry the more robust the shoulder straps will need to be. For heavier loads you’ll want padded, adjustable shoulder and waist straps as well as a sternum strap to stabilize the load when you corner or have to stop quickly.
Pockets - Pockets are where it’s at. Any laptop pockets should be padded and secure the computer firmly. You may also want to make sure there’s a pocket large enough to accommodate your lunch or snacks. And a dedicated pocket for your phone.
Waterproofing - Waterproofing is essential for any cycling backpack. At the very least your pack should be able to stand up to a vigorous spring shower. Ideally, it will have either a waterproof shell or a waterproof liner.
Reflective Details - You have to assume that drivers aren’t looking out for you. So your cycling backpack should have generous amounts of reflective material. Preferably on the back and sides as well. If it also has flashing safety light then all the better.
Hydration System - If you are intent on riding long distances you’ll want to consider bringing along a hydration bladder. In those cases choose something like the Velomacchi Giro that is designed to accommodate just such a bladder.
Types of Cycling Backpacks
Hydration Pack - The hydration pack is mostly for those who ride long and ride hard. If you like to do 100k on a Saturday you’ll need one. If, on the other hand, you just ride your bike 5 miles to work each day you won’t.
DayPack - Daypacks look a lot like standard backpacks and for cycling, purposes are usually defined as those with 20 liters or less of storage space. They’re also designed to accommodate work techs like laptops and cell phones.
Midsize Backpack - A midsized backpack is a bit bulkier, will need more robust straps and will typically provide up to 30 liters of storage space. 30 liters is usually way more than any bicycle commuter will need.
Expedition Pack - The expedition pack is 30+ liters in size, has a large, padded waistband, is often built to accommodate a hydration bladder and is typically used for cross-country bike trips.
Cycling Backpack FAQ
Q: What is a cycling backpack?
A: A cycling backpack is one designed with the unique demands of the bike rider in mind. It should be aerodynamic, fit tight against the body so as not to disrupt the rider’s balance, be water resistant or waterproof and have pockets to accommodate everything from laptops to snacks, rain gear, phone chargers, sunglasses and more. It should also be light and have comfortable, well-padded straps.
Q: What material is the best for cycling backpacks?
A: The best cycling backpacks are made of water-resistant nylon, water-resistant tarpaulin or treated cotton duck fabric like is used on sails. An actual waterproof cycling backpack is rare mostly because waterproof material adds both weight and cost. A good water-resistant 480D nylon shell should be more than enough to meet most people’s needs.
Q: Which capacity cycling backpack is right for me?
A: Capacity is driven by need. So how big your backpack is will depend on how you plan to use it. Less than 10 liters just to carry work tech. More than 30 liters if you like to take road trips.
Q: How to maintain a cycling backpack?
A: Each cycling backpack will come with its own care instructions germane to the material and fabrication methods. Don’t ever wash your backpack without reading these care instructions carefully first. You could undermine fabric integrity or compromise its water resistance.
Q: Should I spend a lot on a cycling backpack?
A: More expensive backpacks will use top-of-the-line materials, employ robust double and triple stitching throughout, be 100% waterproof and last for years. Moderately priced backpacks won’t give you all of that but at the same time, not everyone needs all of that. Sometimes you just need a cycling bag to carry your laptop and keep it dry. So how much you spend will be up to you.