Best Cycling Backpack [2020]

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The ArcEnCiel 25L was originally designed to appeal to motorcyclists and mountain bikers who prioritize a tactical backpack that can support a solo rider for a day or longer. The exterior is made from highly durable nylon fabric that has been specially treated to give it superior water resistance. It also features versatile, tactical MOLLE webbing to add accessory packs and items.

The back panel of the ArcEnCiel is padded and breathable, as are the shoulder straps. This pack also has a secure chest strap to firmly secure the 25-liter load and keep it balanced during a long ride. When you get to your intended destination the straps on the exterior back panel can be adjusted to hold a standard cycling or hiking helmet.

The 25-liter interior has versatile tactical pouches. There is also a modest-size bag for quick access to important small items like a phone, wallet, keys or GPS device. There’s also room for a 2.5-liter hydration bladder with a port located at top of the pack which reduces the chances of the hydration tubes accidentally snagging on an errant branch as you ride by. However, this pack does not include the hydration bladder in the original purchase.

Rock Rain puts a great deal of effort into building a loyal customer base by offering quality outdoor products that are also backed by a dedication to customer service. They developed their WindSeeker backpack to cater to the needs of cyclists, hikers, and climbers who need a pack that can support their hydration and gear needs for a full day.

The WindSeeker has an insulated hydration compartment that keeps the 2.5-liter BPA-free, and FDA approved hydration bladder cold for four hours or more. The balance of the 18-liter interior has more than enough storage space to take care of a single rider for a full day or more.

The WindSeeker’s exterior is made from water-resistant nylon fabric. It has adjustable padded shoulder straps along as well as a chest strap and an adjustable waist strap. The padded back has “Air Flow” padding for superior comfort on a long ride. The ergonomic fit also keeps the pack balanced to prevent an accidental fall or mechanical injury.

Nomatic offers several cycling backpacks designed to cater to commuter cyclists. Their Slim 20-liter laptop backpack is compact right out of the box. Yet it’s also expandable for the times when you need to carry a great volume.

The laptop compartment is designed to hold a standard 15-inch laptop as well as other common office items. It has lockable security zippers to secure sensitive, high-value items. It also includes secure pockets, with a retractable key leash, as well as cord pass-thru ports that let you charge devices while keeping them in the back

The exterior is made from water-resistant Kodra 500D Tarpaulin fabric and it tastefully printed with reflective emblems. The adjustable straps can be removed to transform this cycling backpack into a stylish office briefcase. This is a great feature for times when you need to securely move your devices around the office or to a close-by the meeting.

How We Picked

Different cycling backpacks are geared toward different interests. This really keys in on the features as well as the overall size of the pack you need.

With a renewed interest in being “Green” and getting a little exercise, many people are riding their bikes to work and beating the commute. For this niche, we tried to look for things like a laptop compartment, as well as some type of protective space to hold office documents and other important items.

For day-trippers who want to spend a Saturday afternoon taking a long ride, we shied away from laptop compartments and document pouches in favor of hydration bladders. With some of these packs, the hydration bladder is included, which is nice. However, there are somewhere the hydration bladder is not included to let you choose one that best fits your preferred volume.

These packs also need to be able to carry other important items to support a cyclist throughout the day. There needed to be enough room to carry a reasonable size lunch, perhaps an emergency rain poncho, and if possible, an area to hold a helmet when the rider wants to take a little break. We also tried to keep an eye out for things like compartments to hold a smartphone or MP3 player for music along the way.

The next class up from these more modest-sized cycling packs answers the demands of the adventure cyclist or ecotourist who wants to take a mountain bike off the grid for one if not more days at a stretch. With these packs, volume was a key factor we looked for. Ideally, something over 20 to 25 liters.

Though there are some 18-liter cycling packs that had the kind of innovative interior compartments that a master-packer could use it for a solo camping trip. It not a simple overnight stay in the bush. These sorts of “Adventure Packs” also need to be able to accommodate a hydration bladder. If possible, one with an insulated compartment to keep the water cold for more than an hour or two on a hot day.

Safety features were also important. Most cyclists already have some level of reflectivity on their bike or their riding outfit. Still, we tried to also look for additional reflective straps, piping, or perhaps zippers that make it easy to attach accessory LED lights.

Security features were also something to keep an eye on. Especially for cycling commuters who need a pack to carry a laptop, sensitive documents, and other tech items. If you are even slightly concerned about securing the contents of your cycling backpack, then you should prioritize things like locking zippers, secure key leashes, and reinforced ports for charging wires.

Tactical features were also something we kept in mind. MOLLE compatible webbing and hooks or other attachment features allow the rider to bring additional items with them. They also make for customizable storage solutions, which might be helpful for expedition cyclists.

Timbuk2 Spire Backpack

Specs:

  • Made primarily from canvas fabric
  • A large primary compartment for books and document folders
  • Laptop compartment designed to hold a 15-inch laptop
  • Internal organizer for pens, keys, phone, and small items
  • Pocket for an i-pod or similar device
  • Side pocket for a water bottle
  • Exterior webbing for carabineers
  • A secure zip pocket for valuable items
  • A waterproof rolltop
  • Ventilated back panel

Timbuk2 recently partnered with Apple to create a line of affiliated backpacks. This includes the Spire cycling backpack, which was specifically designed to appeal to commuters who need a pack capable of holding the essential items that need to move between work and home.

Timbuk2 Spire Backpack

Technically, this pack was designed to fit a Macbook and Apple i-pod. Still, you can get just about any 15-inch laptop and similar size MP3 player to fit. The main compartment is also large enough to hold a book or to as well as things like document folders. The roll-top is waterproof for added peace of mind should a rain cloud decide to strike.

Interior Timbuk2 Spire Backpack

There’s also an internal organizer that is designed to hold lightweight items like pens, keys, and a phone. For more sensitive or high-value items there is a secure zippered compartment. It also includes a small pouch for a water bottle.