10 Best Cycling Backpacks in 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

If you’re an avid cyclist who wants to carry around all of your essentials while you’re zipping to work on your morning commute or exploring new trails on the weekend, then you’re unlikely to find a more practical, functional, and comfortable option than a proper cyclist backpack.

Many people use bike saddle bags and there are also those who sport the good old messenger bag when on their bike. However, backpacks seem to be the top choice for both commuters and adventure riders as they offer more freedom of movement compared to messenger bags, for example.

As you probably already know, regular knapsack or bags just don’t go perfectly with bikes, as they’re not made to withstand high speed and heavy movement.

So, I’ve painstakingly worked my way through dozens of biker’s bags to find the gems that are truly worth your time and reviewed my top picks below so you can find the best cycling backpack for you.

At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Cycling Backpacks

If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are cycling backpacks that most people buy).

  • Patagonia Black Hole 25L Top Pick
  • The Osprey Radial Runner-up
  • Timbuk2 Especial Medio 30L Runner-up

Top 10 Best Cycling Backpacks 2020 – Our Reviews:

1. Patagonia Black Hole 25L

Based in the United States, Patagonia is a name synonymous with best-quality outdoor gear, and this backpack truly lives up to that reputation.

The Patagonia Black Hole 25L backpack is incredibly rugged and durable, made primarily from a mixture of burly ripstop and TPU-coated polyester. I really put this pack through some brutal conditions and it withstood it all effortlessly and came through the other end looking as good as new.

Inside, there are two well-padded sleeves, with the bigger of the two easily holding a 15-inch laptop. If you’ve got small items you want to keep safe but want easy access to as you’re zipping around on your bike, then fret not, the inside top features a strong zipper pocket too.

Also, the mesh side pockets on either side of the Black Hole 25L are likely meant to be water bottle pockets ensuring you’re adequately hydrated on those long bike rides.

Following the trend of Patagonia bags being stylish and highly functional, the Black Hole features ultra-strong daisy-chain loops on the front which are perfect for clipping your helmet when you finally reach your endpoint.

Pros

  • Incredibly strong and durable
  • Very feature-rich

Cons

  • Not completely waterproof
  • Outer shell material a little on the thin side

2. The Osprey Radial

Like Patagonia, Osprey is another long-standing brand that has been a mainstay in the outdoor community for decades, and for good reason. If we had to use a phrase to sum up the Osprey Radial and to encapsulate why it deserves the number 2 spot on our list, it would be “feature-rich.”

This bag has it all: U-lock storage, “LidlLock” bike helmet attachment, LED bike light attachment point, integrated rain cover, and integrated kickstand. We call it the Swiss army knife of cycling backpacks.

Inside the bag, there’s a generous internal padded laptop pocket and tablet sleeve and a nifty internal zippered shoe compartment.

The real highlight of the Radial though is Ospreys patented “Adjustable Airspeed” technology, which, in their own words is a “ventilated trampoline suspended mesh back panel.”

In short, the patented back panel with their unique ventilation system ensures you can ride around for hours on end without the worry of ending your journey with a sweat-drenched back.

Pros

  • Expandable volume providing a lot of storage space
  • Several pockets and compartments
  • Super high-quality mesh back
  • Integrated rain cover to help keep your belongings dry

Cons

  • Pretty heavy when empty
  • Pretty unfashionable looking

3. Timbuk2 Especial Medio 30L

The Timbuk2 Especial Media 30L cycling pack is the perfect combination of style and function. It’s the cycling backpack that will meet your practical requirements but not look out of place in any modern office environment, making it the perfect commuter bag.

What I love about this rucksack for bike lovers is the mammoth 30L capacity, perfect for holding all of your essentials and then some.

The commuter pack also has a useful expandable front panel and ultra-durable compression straps. Seriously, you can put all you need to carry in this thing and still have some room left over.

Aside from the roomy interior, it features an internal slip pocket that is big enough to comfortably hold a 15-inch laptop, making it one of the better commuter backpacks.

You might understandably be thinking that filling this backpack to the brim with all the stuff you need to carry is going to add a lot of weight that’s going to be uncomfortable. Well, not so. The backpack has thick and padded shoulder straps with built-in vents to allow for adequate airflow and unrivaled comfort for your back.

Pros

  • Very large capacity and roomy inside
  • Comfortable padded straps so good for the cycle commute
  • Super high-quality mesh back

Cons

  • Some small design issues such as the side pocket bottle holder being too small
  • The material choice could be better
  • Water-resistant, not waterproof

4. Ortlieb Commuter Daypack City Backpack

The Ortlieb Commuter Daypack is easily one of the best-selling biking backpacks we found. It’s waterproof, lightweight, and ultra-rugged.

Many cycling rucksacks feature a rain fly and claim to be waterproof, but in my tests with even moderate water exposure, they fall short and drench my belongings—but not the Ortlieb Daypack. This thing is truly waterproof.

It’s very durable as it’s made of polyurethane-coated nylon fabric and has a unique roll-top closure and reinforced bottom. All of this adds up to a backpack that protects your stuff when you’re riding around better than almost any other cycling pack we came across in our testing.

The inside is also nice and roomy with a capacity of 21L, and like most products in this class, it has a separate notebook compartment that holds a 15-inch laptop a lot better than a tote bag or a messenger bag.

This really is a solid commuter backpack and one of the best overall rucksacks for cyclists.

Pros

  • Fully waterproof
  • Very durable design
  • Reinforced bottom
  • Durable straps

Cons

  • No bottle holder

5. Altura Sector 25

The Altura Sector 25 looks deceptively small, but it’s a 25L backpack that is more than capable of comfortably holding all your essentials on your weekend bike ride or your bike commute to work.

I mention work for a reason—this is one of the few products we found that are small enough to blend in with the other conventional backpacks in the typical office environment.  What’s most impressive is that it maintains this inconspicuousness while being incredible and providing you everything you need.

It also features an LED attachment, draft venting pack panel, a side carry U-lock loop, and reflective material trims for higher visibility when riding in the afternoons and evenings. It’s also fully water-resistant.

Pros

  • Very feature-rich backpack
  • Incredibly light while being durable
  • Neutral design so perfect for commuters

Cons

  • Can’t hold as much as similarly priced competing backpacks
  • Water-resistant, not waterproof

6. Brooks Pickwick Daypack

Whilst most cycling backpacks have a very rugged, functional, and utilitarian look, the Brooks England Pickwick goes all-in on style and boy is it stylish.

What blows my mind about the Brooks Pickwick is that it looks like a designer backpack but has most of the functionality and ruggedness of some of the best cycling backpacks on the market.

The cycling backpack is made from gorgeous water-resistant cotton with vegetable-tanned leather details.

The inside of the bag is very roomy, with the staple internal laptop sleeve and generous main compartment pocket. The bag also features other nifty things like a dedicated tool pocket for things like tyre levers.

Pros

  • Very stylish and fashionable
  • A lot of room inside the cycling rucksack
  • Extra pockets

Cons

  • Markedly more expensive than similar products
  • Not as comfortable as similar products
  • Water-resistant, not waterproof

7. Thule Pack ‘n Pedal

The Thule Pack ‘n Pedal is a feature-heavy roll-top backpack with an impressive IPX4-rated main compartment to keep your stuff safe and secure in any conditions. The bag also features a stowable rain cover to make sure that adverse weather conditions really aren’t a worry when you’re riding around.

The inside of the backpack is really roomy and features a removable padded laptop compartment and a separate tablet sleeve with mesh pockets for cables. So, if you’re a bit of a tech geek, you’ll love this Thule product best.

The side of the backpack features a zipped “safe zone” pocket, which is a crush-resistant pocket perfect for jewelry, cycling sunglasses, or smartphones, but not water bottles or a thermos. This is among the few roll top rucksacks I’ve seen with this feature.

The bag is small, smart, and rugged making it the perfect companion if you’re commuting by bike daily as well as for weekend rides. It would’ve been better if it came with a waist strap or hip belt though.

Pros

  • IPX4 rated
  • Stylish looking
  • Removable laptop sleeve
  • Good shoulder strap

Cons

  • Lack of waist straps
  • Not as comfortable as similar products

8. Altura Thunderstorm City 30

The Altura Thunderstorm City 30 is super light, weighing an impossible tiny 600 grams when empty. However, it’s also very rugged and IPX6 waterproof so you don’t have to worry about your valuable stuff if riding in the pelting rain with the Altura Thunderstorm on your back.

The backpack has a 30 litre capacity but has a handy roll-top closure which means it can adjust to the number of contents you have. If you’re only carrying a handful of things, you can get this bag to be super small on your back, helping you speed along more effortlessly.

The bag does have the ever-present laptop compartment sleeve as well as a zippered pocket for you to store essentials like keys, so you don’t have to rummage through the entire bag to find them.

The Thunderstorm also has a well-padded harness that has a sternum strap and waist belt, allowing you to fill the backpack to the brim and keep the load stable on your back.

If you choose to get the Thunderstorm in the all-black design, then it’s similar to the Thule and Brooks Pickwick above in that it’s very stylish and can easily be worn to the office without raising any eyebrows.

Pros

  • Fully waterproof
  • Very light
  • With sternum straps
  • Compartment sleeve for easy access to small items

Cons

  • Lack of compartments or pockets sometimes makes items hard to find

9. Henty Wingman Backpack

The Henty Wingman Backpack is suitable for the high-powered city lawyer or banker who needs to be dressed impeccably. It lets you execute a change of clothes without anyone realizing it, making it the first-ever functional cycling suit bag.

The Wingman allows you to carry a whole business suit as well as your laptop and other work and personal gear and does so without your suit getting creased due to the clever use of vertical ribs.

The Wingman is also completely waterproof and weatherproof without the need for a cover and the inner tube is a heavy-duty 18L capacity dry bag.

The bag features a big external main compartment pocket best used for important gear you need to access quickly, as well as an internal padded laptop sleeve for a laptop size up to 15 inches.

Comfort is maintained through the well-padded and completely adjustable shoulder straps as well as the hip straps for extra stability when cycling.

Pros

  • Innovative design allowing you to carry full work attire
  • Completely waterproof

Cons

  • Slightly underwhelming 18L capacity
  • Among the cycling bags that are quite large to carry and a little uncomfortable

10. Lomo High Viz

For those of you people who prioritize safety when it comes to a cycling backpack, you can’t go far wrong with the Lomo High Viz backpack.

The entire front of the bag is made from a very bright, fluorescent, yellow PVC material with a series of reflective detailing in the form of chevron panels which helps motorists see you even in the dead of night. These reflective details are a real stand out feature, no pun intended.

The backpack also scores high marks when it comes to being waterproof. It has a roll-down closure complete with welded seams that makes the bag completely watertight, so you can confidently ride in the pouring rain if you want to, safe in the knowledge that your belongings will be dry if the roll-down closure is down.

The Lomo High Viz is a super comfortable backpack with generously padded shoulder straps, a sturdy waist belt, and an equally strong chest strap. The padding and straps make cycling on various terrains surprisingly comfortable.

The inside of the backpack has plenty of space and contains a removable mesh zip pocket best for small items like keys or wallets.

Pros

  • High viz reflective detailing for maximum safety
  • Welded seams make rucksack completely watertight

Cons

  • Design is a little too garish, over the top, and utilitarian for some

Conclusion

So, there you have it—a complete breakdown of the best-selling bike backpacks on the market today for all you people who want to cycle without having to compromise on what you carry with you.

If safety isn’t your biggest priority, then I recommend the Lomo High Viz backpack. If you’re someone who has to look fashionable at all times, then the Brooks Pickwick is best for you.

If getting out of your cycling gear into clean, wrinkle-free, sharp work attire is high on the agenda, then check out the Henty Wingman.

Finally, if you’re like most cyclists that want a strong, sturdy, roomy, and stylish all-rounder with pockets, then the Patagonia Black Hole is your best pick.