The Best Biking Backpacks

The market is saturated with cycling backpacks. Indeed, many multi-day pack manufacturers offer a cycling pack in their lineup. Conversely, there are manufacturers that make packs exclusively for cycling. What a cyclist truly needs depends on the mission. Cyclists who ride distances of more than 10 miles to work and need to carry laptops, clothes, lunch, water and books, need a larger pack with a host of organizational options. Cyclists who ride two miles to a train or bus station don’t require a pack with such breadth. There are even cyclists who just ride to a local coffee shop with laptop.

This round of testing brings together a selection of six cycling backpacks for commuting by bike and for general urban cycling. They range in size from 20 liters to 28 liters and with features ranging from basic to sophisticated. Our testing team is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and tested each pack for more than 100 miles of commuting in varying temperatures and weather conditions. Each pack was evaluated on five categories: Comfort/fit, stability, storage, durability and extras.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Gregory Tempo 5
88
Best in Class
2015
Fit/Comfort 9
Carrying Capacity 9
Function 6
Hydration System 9
Versatility 7
Multi-sport Versatility 8

Soft next to skin

Very little slosh

Trekking pole sleeve

Hydration bladder hard to clean


Bladder retention strap can open by accident

MSRP
$115.00
BEST DEAL
N/A

Nathan VaporAir
87
Fit/Comfort 9
Carrying Capacity 8
Function 8
Hydration System 9
Versatility 7
Multi-sport Versatility 6

Well thought out storage pockets

Built in whistle

Easy access bladder

Very light

Expensive

MSRP
$150.00
BEST DEAL
$100.47
Osprey Rev 6
86
Fit/Comfort 9
Carrying Capacity 8
Function 7
Hydration System 6
Versatility 8
Multi-sport Versatility 8

Bladder hose disconnects easily

Easy to slip bladder into pack

Plenty of back venting

Hose magnet not strong enough

Vest pockets gimmicky, not functional

MSRP
$100.00
BEST DEAL
$49.73
Deuter Giga Bike
84
Best in Class
2017
Comfort/Fit 7
Stability 7
Storage 7
Durability 6
Extras 7

Comfortable shoulder straps

Breathable back panel

Outstanding organization

Integrated rain cover

Helmet holder

Heavy

Minimal reflectivity

MSRP
$119.00
BEST DEAL
$119.00
Osprey Radial
83
Comfort/Fit 7
Stability 7
Storage 7
Durability 5
Extras 7

Good reflective elements

Breathable back panel

Outstanding organization

Integrated rain cover

Helmet holder

Built-in kickstand

Heavy

Bulky when full

MSRP
$170.00
BEST DEAL
$168.09
Lander Timp Backpack
81
Comfort/Fit 5
Stability 5
Storage 6
Durability 5

Water-resistant material and zippers

Reflective elements

Hydration-compatible

Lightweight

Wide opening to main compartment

Minimal organization

Minimal stability

Minimal padding

MSRP
$129.99
BEST DEAL
N/A
Camelbak Ultra 10
80
Comfort 5
Stability In Motion 6
Weight 4
Quality of Construction 7
Multi-sport Versatility 8

Gear capacity

Hydration bladder, hose, and valve

Pack construction

Back panel ventilation

Bulky materials

Heavy

Non body-conforming

Tiny phone pocket

MSRP
$150.00
BEST DEAL
$143.90
Salomon Agile2 7
78
Fit/Comfort 7
Carrying Capacity 5
Function 5
Hydration System 4
Versatility 8
Multi-sport Versatility 9

Versatile design for many activities

Lots of storage room


Simple design


No front pockets for feeding on the move


Hose routing sometimes pinches off flow

MSRP
$100.00
BEST DEAL
$109.95
Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21
78
Comfort/Fit 5
Stability 5
Storage 4
Durability 9
Extras 5

Stable

Comfortable shoulder straps

Durable construction

Weather- and water-resistant

Classic design

Non-breathable backpanel

Access is labor-intensive

Lack of easy-access pockets

No reflective elements

MSRP
$170.00
BEST DEAL
$133.39
Chrome Rostov
77
Comfort/Fit 5
Stability 6
Storage 5
Durability 6
Extras 5

Lightweight

Comfortable shoulder straps and backpanel

Good organization

Internal waterproof liner

Top of shoulder harness touches back of neck

No reflective elements

MSRP
$115.00
BEST DEAL
$69.00
Timbuk2 Tuck Pack
74
Comfort/Fit 5
Stability 4
Storage 5
Durability 5
Extras 5

Comfortable shoulder straps

Good organization

Weather-resistant

Ease of access when wearing

Non-breathable, non-padded back panel

Flimsy plastic clip

Minimal reflective elements

MSRP
$79.00
BEST DEAL
$59.25
Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel
73
Fit/Comfort 6
Carrying Capacity 7
Function 8
Hydration System 3
Versatility 7
Multi-sport Versatility 2

Easy to clean water bottles

Exposed back for ventilation


Very light

Different feel takes getting used to


No sipping on the move

Little storage for extra layers

MSRP
$110.00
BEST DEAL
$82.68
Gregory Tempo 5

Besides a few minor beefs with the hydration bladder we have trouble coming up with any negatives when it comes to the Gregory Tempo 5 hydration pack. The design is simple and streamlined, but feature rich and carries on par with the best in this test. It's a solid running pack that can do far more than just go for a jog.

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Deuter Giga Bike

The Deuter Giga Bike cycling backpack is a durable, weatherproof backpack that is stable on the back in cycling positions. It has a comfortable back panel and set of shoulder straps as well as outstanding organizational features. However, the organizational and enhanced comfort and durability features add to the pack’s weight and bulk. 

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Osprey Radial

The Osprey Radial 26 cycling backpack is a durable, weatherproof backpack that is stable on the back in cycling positions. It has built-in kickstand that allows the pack to sit upright on the ground while the cyclist is locking up his/her bike. However, its many options for organization comes at the cost of added weight to the cyclist.

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Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21

The Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21 backpack is a durable, weather-resistant backpack that is stable on the back in cycling positions. With a simplistic heritage design, it has a comfortable back panel and set of shoulder straps. However, its drawstring closure and top-flap design that is secured with leather straps and metal buckles makes access cumbersome.

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Chrome Rostov

The Chrome Rostov cycling backpack is a lightweight, durable, weatherproof backpack that is stable on the back in cycling positions. It has a comfortable backpanel and set of shoulder straps as well as good organizational features. However, the yoke at the top of the shoulder harness is deep and can dig into the back of the cyclist’s neck when in the riding position. 

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Backcountry.com

Lander Timp Backpack

The Lander Timp backpack is a comfortable, weather-resistant backpack with a sleek, minimalistic, uncomplicated design. It has a separate padded laptop sleeve, four well-placed grab handles for multiple hand-carrying options and well-placed shoulder straps. However cyclists may notice the lack of stability when riding over rough pavement or bumps.

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Timbuk2 Tuck Pack

The Timbuk2 Tuck backpack is a budget-friendly backpack that is simplistic in design. It offers good organization and a lifetime warranty. However, with its minimal structure and padding, comfort suffered more than most other packs when over packed. 

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Nathan VaporAir

Nathan ditched a ton of weight—Nathan says 50 percent—over the Vapor Air's brother the VaporCloud, without hacking away on features or durability. It is the most expensive pack in the review. The pack boasts an impressive amount of storage, well thought out features, and it carries really comfortably thanks to being exceptionally light.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Amazon.com

Osprey Rev 6

Don't let the tubby look of Osprey’s Rev 6 fool you. This hydration pack is a slick, minimalist running pack with a lot going for it. Osprey's proprietary bladder is one of the best in the industry. The fit is top of the line and sloshing was non-existent, even when leaping down a boulder field. The only thing holding it back are a couple of irritations on the front of the pack, namely poor pocket design. Look past these small problems and it's a solid performer for a variety of uses. 

Read the Full Review Shop Now at REI.com

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Review Results

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Comfort/Fit

The Deuter Giga Bike and the Osprey Radial rated the highest in this category. This did not come as any surprise since the genealogy of both brands stem from packs designed to carry heavier loads for long distances. The anatomically formed shoulder straps of the Deuter Giga Bike and the AirSpeed mesh suspension back panel of the Osprey Radial are the standout features for each pack. They both provide a truly comfortable experience for the cyclist when carrying a heavier load for long distances. Still, not all cyclists are carrying heavy loads and riding long distances. That’s where the durable and multipurpose Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21 comes into play. This pack offers more than stunning good looks and heritage design. It sat comfortably flat on our backs and its wide shoulder straps had enough padding to offset the discomfort of carrying heavier loads. However the back panel lacks breathability, making it an unlikely choice for the cyclist who rides long distance in hot or humid weather. The Chrome Rostov and Lander Timp scored equally in this category. Both are comfortable enough as long as the loads aren’t too heavy, their shoulder straps have just enough padding to feel comfortable providing the cyclist isn’t riding 10 or more miles to work, and the back panel designs offer a degree of breathability that’s better than the Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21 and the Timbuk2 Tuck, but not as good as the Deuter Giga Bike and the Osprey Radial. The Timbuk2 Tuck, however, is a backpack that requires mindfulness when packing to achieve comfort. It doesn’t have the structure of its competitors (or the price tag) so objects that are hard, or have sharper edges, can and will be felt and reduce comfort. However the Tuck’s saving grace in this category are its nicely padded shoulder straps.

Stability

Again, the Deuter Giga Bike and the Osprey Radial scored highest in this category, also as a result of their backpacking genealogy. Each has compression straps, an adjustable sternum strap and hip belts, though the Giga Bike’s hip belt is considerably more beefy than the Radial’s, which is really just a one-inch piece of webbing strap. The Giga Bike’s is a real hip belt that actually takes some of the pack’s weight from the back to the hips. The Chrome Rostov, too, has good stability. It scored the second highest in this category. It has compression straps and an adjustable sternum strap to help distribute load. However one tester had to loosen the shoulder straps quite a bit to keep the yoke from digging into the back of her neck. Nipping at the heels of the Rostov are both the Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21 and the Lander Timp. The Rucksack No. 21 has no sternum strap but the Lander Timp does. One would think this would make the Timp more stable, but it didn’t. Even when the sternum strap was fastened, it still jostled around when riding on a rough trail, while the Rucksack No. 21, with about the same load, laid flat, unfazed by the bumps. The Timbuk2 Tuck turned out to be stable in certain circumstances, such as when carrying a laptop. While carrying just clothes or some groceries, it did not sit flat.

Storage

The Deuter Giga Bike and the Osprey Radial scored highest in this category, too. At 28 liters of cargo capacity, the Giga Bike has one large main compartment, a secondary external compartment, and a separate external zippered padded laptop compartment that holds up to a 17-inch laptop. The Radial, at 26 liters, has one large main compartment, a secondary external zippered compartment with a small secured zippered pocket, and two additional unsecured stash pockets. But not every cyclist needs that much cargo capacity, or the added pack weight. So the Lander Timp takes second place with 25 liters of cargo space, hitting that middle ground for storage capacity. Not too excessive to make it heavy, but enough to carry what a cyclist needs. The Chrome Rostov and the Timbuk2 Tuck share third place. They both offer 23 liters of storage capacity and similar organization. For many cyclists, this could be the perfect amount. Each has separate laptop compartments and a large internal pocket to hold clothes, shoes and other necessary items. The Tuck has a very nice organizer pocket for pens and things that the Rostov doesn’t. At 20 liters, the Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21 offered the least amount of cargo capacity and organization. Its main compartment is not very roomy, and the laptop compartment barely has any padding. Additionally, it’s labor-intensive to enter the Rucksack No. 21. First, the two leather straps must be unbuckled before the drawstring closure can be loosened.

Durability

Although scoring at the bottom in the Storage category, the Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21 scored the highest in this category and is the best-constructed pack in the test. It is made with Fjällräven’s proprietary G-1000 fabric. This makes it extremely durable and resistant to light precipitation, dirt, grit and general abrasion. The buckles and leather straps are heavy-duty and very high quality. Only the Deuter Giga Bike and the Chrome Rostov came relatively close to the Rucksack No. 21’s stout build. The Deuter and Chrome are constructed with an abrasion-resistant Nylon fabric and a water-resistant PU coating. The Deuter compression buckles are an industrial-grade plastic and the mounting straps are sturdy webbing. The Rostov adds a little metal into the mix with underarm compression buckles and the D-rings on the shoulder straps which worked well for clipping items the cyclist needs fast access to, like a phone case or a whistle. The Lander Timp and the Timbuk2 Tuck both scored the same in this category as well. The Timp is made with a weather-resistant TPU-coated rip-stop material and weather-resistant zippers that are very glove-friendly. The Tuck is made with a lightweight but durable polyester fabric and the zippers feel substantial and hefty. Although the buckle that secures the roll-top to the pack is made from a lightweight plastic, making our testers question its long-term durability. But Timbuk2 has confidence in it as demonstrated by its lifetime warranty.

Extras

The Deuter Giga Bike and the Osprey Radial scored the highest here and their list of extras was essentially neck-in-neck. The two packs had a couple of unique features that the others in the test didn’t, such as helmet holders (though differing styles), integrated high-vis rain covers, and waist belts to increase stability. However, the Radial has one unique feature – a built-in kickstand. But remember, all these nice extras and conveniences come with a higher price point and heavier weight. The Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21, Chrome Rostov, Lander Timp and Timbuk2 Tuck all scored equally in second place with a more slimmed-down menu of extras for the more minimalist rider. The Rucksack No. 21’s has an integrated padded seat that comes in handy when sitting on a dirty public bench or wet grass. Our testers also found that it added structure to the pack, though at the cost of decreasing the cargo volume a bit. The Chrome Rostov’s main pack compartment contains a waterproof liner and is secured with a seam-welded waterproof zipper. It also has a lifetime warranty. The Lander Timp offers a hydration bladder, hydration tube port, elastic tube holder down the right shoulder strap, and four sturdy grab handles. The Timbuk2 Tuck offers large glove-friendly reflective zipper pulls and side access to the main part of the pack via the pack’s large side zipper.

Review Conclusion

Comfort and fit, stability, storage, durability and a few useful extras are the critical elements to consider when choosing a backpack for commuting or just getting around by bike. Weight is a big deal because if the cyclist adds 10 pounds of gear into the bag, he or she still has to add the weight of the pack itself.

Backpack style selections came in an intended range. A pack that has a great deal of cargo capacity and a lot of features may be the right pack for one cyclist but not all. A perfect cycling backpack for commuting would start with the 23 liter size of the Chrome Rostov, build it with the durability of the Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21, add the kickstand of the Osprey Radial, the rain cover of the Deuter Giga Bike, the hydration capability of the Lander Timp, and make it as lightweight and affordable as the Timbuk2 Tuck. But there is no perfect pack.

Still, of all the packs in the test, we were most impressed with the Deuter Giga Bike because of its feature-to-price ratio and comfort level. It’s a lot of pack for the money. Though it’s the largest pack in the test, it’s not the heaviest (Osprey Radial takes that honor). Even when our testers carried heavier loads, the mesh hip belt worked well in transferring pack weight from back to hips. The Osprey Radial was also an impressive pack with outstanding comfort. The built-in kickstand was a unique feature, but not an essential one. It was also heavy.

The four packs that rounded out the test — the Chrome Rostov, Lander Timp, Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21 and the Timbuk2 Tuck — all were packs that have plenty to offer any commuter but on a smaller, lighter and less excessive scale. The Deuter Giga Bike just happened to offer a bit more of the balance that we were searching for in a commuter cycling pack.

Test Methods

All backpacks were tested on commutes to work that distanced six miles each way on designated urban bike paths and bike lanes. Contents carried in the packs during each test phase included clothing, shoes, wallet, cell phone and the occasional laptop. The test period ran from November to January in weather that ranged from cool, cold, rain, wind, sleet and snow. The packs were also tested when running errands and on shorter urban rides to local coffee shops, restaurants, and taprooms.