For folks who have the same load to carry everyday: books, work material, and maybe an extra layer, regular zip-top backpacks work wonders. If you are in the business of moving packages of varying sizes everyday, or just want something that can easily adjust to what you want – rolltop bags are the clear cut way to go.
Ditching the traditional zipper enclosure, these backpacks provide a whole lot more room to carry your gear by virtue of a cinch strap that can keep your lid secure whether it is rolled all the way down or filled to the brim. It’s this versatility that’s made the bags especially popular among bike messengers in larger cities, but it’s also this same versatility that makes them great go-to travel pieces or daily carry for the person who has a varied load. Whether you’re looking for something highly technical and waterproof, or something a bit more vintage inspired, we’ve got you covered. Take a scroll through and check out our picks for the 12 best rolltop backpacks on the market.
Poler Classic Rolltop
Your pack doesn’t have to be meticulously engineered to be useful. Poler’s bag is the perfect example of a simple take on a classic design that works out perfectly. With an adjustable top that can roll all the way up or tighten down thanks to four adjustable compression straps – you can do everything from throw in a laptop and head out to work to throw in a couple of six packs and trek out to the beach for the night with this pack.
Topo Designs Rover Pack
A timeless silhouette constructed with modern materials, the Rover Pack from Topo Designs is ideal for day hiking or for toting throughout the city. With all the bells and whistles you’d expect on any backpack, including a laptop sleeve and a 1000D waterproof Corudra fabric build, the Rover won’t leave you wanting. In addition to all of its utility, this 16 liter pack comes in a large number of color combos that range from yellow and grey to a pure black, making it impossible not to find one that fits you just right.
Patagonia Stormfront Pack
Generally speaking, the rolltop design is most popular among bike messengers and folks looking for a bag rugged enough to stand up to city life. Patagonia’s Stormfront is built for something completely different; fishing. Designed to keep gear dry even during the torrential downpours of the Pacific Northwest, the stalwart outdoor brand constructed a simple but durable bag from 100% waterproof TPU coated nylon. Folks who have worn this bag out fishing swear you can pretty much jump in a river with it and come out with dry equipment. More than just waterproof – this bag comes with exterior quick stash pockets, a nicely padded back, and exterior lashes for rod tube holders.
Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo
When it comes to rugged American made bags built to take on the trials and travails of riding through the city, Chrome’s Barrage Cargo has to be near the top of the list. With a five point adjustable cargo net on the outside of a large bag constructed with abrasion resistant 1050 denier nylon – owners of this bag are equipped with a large amount of space to stash their load, along with a net that allows for plug and play modularity. The interior of the bag comes with a dedicated laptop sleeve that can fit a 15 inch laptop, while the waterproof welded 18 ounce truck tarpaulin inner liner will protect your your goods through even the harshest of downpours so you can ride or walk through the city without any worries. When you buy this bag, like with all Chrome bags, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Frost River Arrowhead Trail Rolltop Pack
For the casual commuter and day hiker this waxed canvas roll top bag is perfect for helping you lug your cargo from point A to B and back again. Much like the way leather wears-in over time, this pack expresses its age in a way that is unique to each wearer. With flap straps for your shoulders alongside leather straps and brass hardware, this bag has an old school look that still manages to stand up to our daily modern needs. You can pick this piece up in one of four styles.
Timbuk2 Especial Tres
The San Francisco based brand is OG when it comes to messenger backs. They were among the first to really start turning out nylon bags with TPU liners on a larger scale. Now, instead of kicking back and reveling in their accomplishments Dr. Dre style (the dude practically hibernated for years), the company continues to push the envelope on the design and construction of their bags. Their rolltop Especial Tres waterproof laptop bag comes complete with reflective components, a not-screwing-around waterproofing that can keep the contents of your bag dry in even the worst rainstorms, and external compression straps for making sure you’ve got it all locked down. Coming with all of the necessities and then some, you’ll be happy with the way this bag both looks and works.
Road Runner Bags The Americano
One of the best ways to determine the quality of any type of tool is to look at what professionals use. If you are looking to buy a nice knife for your kitchen – take a look at what a chef uses. If you are looking for a sturdy rolltop bag? Look at what your local bike messenger has on their backs. Chances are a good deal of them are toting around The Americano. A messenger bag through and through, this thing boasts a pack capacity of 110 liters, and a mouth wide enough to stuff a huge number of orders that are kept at desired temperature thanks to the insulated main compartment.
Freight Baggage Rolltop
While having a large unorganized compartment can be great for messengers – it can be a bit of a pain for folks who are simply looking for a solid bag for commuting or just everyday carry. Freight Bags, a company based out of San Francisco, makes a solid bag that has a great combination of amount of sheer storage space and organized compartments. One of the original bag makers that helped popularize the style, Freight Bags makes this model in four different sizes, providing a number of extras and add ons that vary from a cargo strap to a stash pocket to keep, uh, your valuables.
Defy Bags VerBockel Rolltop
Defy kept it simple and sturdy when they set about building their rolltop backpack. Constructed from Martexin Original wax canvas and ultra strong seat belt webbing attached to rugged metal components on the shoulder straps and a COBRA buckle capable of holding up to 2600 pounds of stress for cinching the bag closed, this thing is going to be able to take on whatever you throw at it. Whether just transporting laundry, picking up groceries, or riding into work on your bike, this 35 liter bag can keep your cargo safe and dry.
Colfax Design Works SDP_01 Pack
With a design as classic as the rolltop, it can be hard to break onto the scene with something genuinely new. Items that try to take a fresh take more often than not end up feeling contrived and kind of tired. Colfax Design works managed to avoid that completely with their flagship SDP_01 tactical backpack for reasons big and small. Using a unique weatherproof and ripstop Corudra fabric construction, the SDP_01 pack manages to both keep its shape while remaining light and malleable. Cargo netting on the outside of the pack make it easy to add on components from Colfax or other makers, while the bottom shoe compartment and dedicated laptop and quick access pockets provide compartmentalized areas for your smaller items without crowding out the bag with dividers.
Mission Workshop Vandal Cargo Pack
Just because you have a big bag doesn’t mean you are going to need all the space it affords you every time you throw it on. Mission Workshop gets it, which is why they made their Vandal Cargo Pack expandable for when you need all 64 liters of space, and slim for when you don’t. This special series of bag includes an AustriAlpin COBRA buckle for cinching down your loot, and like most all Mission Workshop Bags, you can easily ad on extra compartments from the brand.
Filson Rolltop Backpack
Ideal for carrying your work essentials into the office everyday or heading in to town for a laid back afternoon with some magazines and books at a cafe – this hard working bag from Filson combines common sense utility with a quaint look. Buckles, straps and a rolltop cinch made from saddle grade bridle leather make for a secure hold, while the outer compartment snaps shut for storing easy access items. While it looks like it came from a period of time well before laptops, this bag has an interior compartment for storage of your computer or tablet and padded straps to make the load a little easier to bare. All in all, this bag made with a rugged twill construction and water repellent cloth is tough enough to last a lifetime and stylish enough to want to keep for just as long.
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