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The Best Motorcycle Backpacks For Commuting

Photo: Kriega Max28 Expandable Backpack

Motorcycles provide a number of advantages over other vehicles and modes of transportation, from their ability to maneuver through traffic to their unparalleled unobstructed views of the road and its surrounding scenery to acceleration, speed, and performance that’s comparable to that of a supercar while being available at a small fraction of the price. One area where motorcycles undoubtedly fall short of the four-wheeled rides they share the road with is storage space. As a result, gear manufacturers have long produced bags and luggage specifically engineered for riding in a bid to remedy this shortcoming.

Though panniers and tank and tail-bags no doubt possess their own strengths, ultimately nothing compares to the convenience, utility, and versatility of a motorcycle backpack. And while in decades past, riders were largely forced to pick from outdoor-focused bags that vaguely lent themselves to two-wheeled commuting duties, today’s market boasts an enormous selection of backpacks that are purpose-engineered from the ground up to meets the needs of commuter motorcyclists. Below, we’ve scoured the sector to deliver this hand-picked guide to the best motorcycle backpacks for commuting, rounding up the dozen finest bags the industry has to offer, as well as briefly touching on what factors to look for and consider when shopping for an urban commuter pack.

The Best Motorcycle Backpacks

Two-Wheeled Storage Solutions

The Eight Factors To Consider When Buying A Moto Backpack For Commuting

If you haven’t spent time trekking to and from work and the local shops on a bike, then there are likely aspects that you may not think to consider when buying a new bag for commuting. To help get you privy to some of those finer points, we’ve outlined the eight most crucial aspects to take into account when in the market for a moto commuter pack.

Intended Use: How you plan on using your bag should be the main factor that guides your purchase, as this will determine what amenities and features you’ll likely need, as well as the size of your bag, its degree of durability, and weatherproofing, among numerous other elements. It’s also important to point out that while backpacks offer unrivaled convenience for urban commuting, bike-mounted luggage tends to be a better option for motorcycle touring and long-distance use.

Size: Piggybacking off of your intended use, the size of the bag – which is typically measured in liters — that you need should be determined by the gear you plan on routinely shlepping with you to and from work. You’ll also want to consider whether you plan on taking a laptop or tablet to work and the size of your device(s), in order to ensure a bag can accommodate your complete daily loadout.

Fitment & Balance: It’s extremely important that a motorcycle backpack fits its wearer snugly and has its weight tightly and evenly distributed across their shoulder, sternum, and waist straps. Loosely-fitting backpacks — especially heavy ones — can pull riders in one direction and throw off their balance. The types of supplementary straps and fitment systems present on motorcycle backpacks are a big part of what separates riding bags from other types of vessels.

Materials & Construction: No matter what type of bag you’re buying, it’s always worth exploring the materials and construction techniques, and this is even more important when it comes to riding backpacks. If a regular backpack tears, you might drop some of your belongings, though if a moto bag breaks, you run the risk of all of your stuff spilling out across a busy freeway at 60mph+. In the event you should go down, it’s also important to have a backpack that — like the rest of your gear should be able to — can survive a slide on the tarmac at speed.

Weatherproofing: Unlike cars, motorcycles provide practically zero coverage from the elements. As such, weatherproof bags are somewhat essential, especially for those that commute on two-wheels rain or shine. It’s also worth exploring a particular bag’s degree of weatherproofing, as these backpacks can range from being able to stand up to light rain, to being fully-submersible under multiple feet of water without letting in a single drop.

Moto Amenities: Part of designing a backpack specifically for motorcycling often means bestowing a bag with features that specifically cater to the needs of riders. This includes elements such as helmet carriers, built-in armor, rain covers, hydration sleeve compartments, action camera mounts, harness systems, and integrated (or removable) motorcycle tool rolls, just to name a few.

Mounting Options: While we personally prefer using a backpack for motorcycle commuting, there are undeniably times when a tail bag is simply a better choice. For this reason, it’s more than worth looking into motorcycle commuting backpacks that have integrated tie-down straps and mounting points that enable them to double as tail, sissy-bar, or saddlebags.

Style: While shopping for a motorcycle backpack should mainly be about function and utility, there’s nothing wrong with letting your aesthetic tastes play a key role in your decision-making process, especially considering that the industry currently offers a wide range of truly stellar bags in all manner of shapes, styles, and colors. And, while backpacks admittedly may not be as comfortable or practical as a tail bag in some situations, a lot of riders simply prefer the appearance of a backpack over mounting luggage onto their bike.

The Best Motorcycle Backpacks

Alpinestars City Hunter Backpack

Alpinestars City Hunter Backpack
Photo: Revzilla
  • Designed from the ground up for urban moto commuting
  • Harness uses the Alpinestars quick-release system
  • Features external helmet carrier system
  • Comes with removable rain cover that stows in its own dedicated pocket
  • Lacks durability & build quality of more expensive packs

Best Affordable Pack: Despite a rather unassuming outward appearance, Alpinestars’ City Hunter backpack is a highly calculated two-wheeled storage solution that’s brimming with rider-specific amenities. On top of a 420D ripstop nylon construction, semi auto-locking YKK zippers, a padded and fleece-lined laptop sleeve for screens up to 15”, and a fleece-lined smartphone pocket, the City Hunter also sports a built-in motorcycle helmet carrying system, a pair of waterproof external pockets, reflective decals, and a dedicated compartment that houses a high-visibility rain cover to help ensure your gear stays dry and you stay seen by other drivers on the road amidst a downpour. Produced in four unique color options, the bag also features ergonomically-optimized shoulder belts with perforated foam padding and adjustable and removable sternum and waist straps with Astars’ quick release system.

Internal Space: 25-Liters
Main Construction: 420D Ripstop Nylon

ICON Speedform Backpack

ICON Speedform Backpack
Photo: Revzilla
  • Features an ultra-aerodynamic shape
  • Sports a race-suit-style integrated speed hump
  • Uses 4-way adjustable harness system
  • Equipped with helmet carrying system
  • Has waterproof main zipper
  • Has a pocket for optional back protector or hydration bladder
  • Shell material collects dust & dirt very easily
  • 15” laptop compartment doesn’t use a waterproof zipper

Best Aerodynamic/No-Drag Pack: Poly-bonded and molded in an ultra-aerodynamic form with a super-slippery drag coefficient, the aptly-named Speedform backpack is a sleek riding bag with a hardshell chassis and a four-way adjustable, quick-release harness system. Its 20-liter’s of real-estate are protected from the elements via YKK Aquaguard zippers, including a 15” laptop compartment and a fleece-lined sunglasses pocket. In addition to accepting a hydration bladder (that is sold separately), the bag also sports a sleeve to house an optional D30 Viper spine protector (also sold separately). Other highlights include welded reflective print, a genuine metal Icon badge logo, and a helmet carrying system.

Internal Space: 20-Liters
Main Construction: 600D Poly-Bonded Molded Shell

Biltwell EXFIL-60 Bag

Biltwell EXFIL 60 Bag
Photo: Biltwell Inc.
  • Made from super rugged UV & PVC-treated 1,680D ballistic-grade nylon
  • Affords a whopping 45.5 liters of storage space
  • Exterior boasts 3 rows of MOLLE webbing
  • Features high-contrast orange lining
  • Much larger & heavier than needed for commuting

Best Ultra-Rugged Pack: Biltwell’s EXFIL-60 bag is another hybrid offering that affords the best of both worlds as it’s capable of functioning as either a generously-sized backpack and/or a universally-mountable piece of moto luggage. Its UV and PVC-treated 1,680 ballistic-grade nylon exterior guarantees maximum durability and years of daily use while its sealed roll-top closure ensures the bag’s content will always be protected from the elements, no matter how nasty things get. Good for housing a whopping 60 12oz cans at once, this bag is also equipped with three rows of MOLLE webbing, weather-resistant zippers, removable and adjustable padded nylon shoulder straps, and five built-in compression straps supplemented by four additional tie-down points for endless mounting options.

Internal Space: 45.5-Liters
Main Construction: PVC-Treated 1,680D Ballistic-Grade Nylon

Revival Cycles Dirt Bag Rolltop Backpack

Revival Cycles Dirt Bag Rolltop Backpack
Photo: Revival Cycles
  • Stellar weatherproofing
  • Military-inspired design
  • Equipped with top-shelf all-metal hardware
  • Surprisingly great value
  • Made by a legendary custom motorcycle shop
  • Exterior mesh net feels cheap compared to the rest of the bag (and is so small it offers little actual utility)

Best Boutique-Made Pack: Benefitting from the same meticulous attention to detail and eye for design that it bestows upon its world-class one-off motorcycle builds, Revival Cycles’ Dirt Bag Rolltop Backpack is a moto-specific riding pack that takes inspiration from traditional military and outdoor bags. Affording 25-liters of space, the backpack boasts a TPU-coated 840-denier nylon shell with sonic-welded seams. The bag’s trim and hardware were selected using a spare-no-expense approach and include all-metal buckles, YKK AquaGuard zippers with custom pulls, aircraft-grade aluminum G-hooks, and Cobra buckle-secured roll-tops. The Dirt Bag Rolltop pack has also been outfitted with adjustable, EVA-padded shoulder straps with a removable sternum strap and a breathable Mesh back padding. 

Internal Space: 25-Liters
Main Construction: Sonic-Welded 840D TPU-Coated Nylon

Dainese D-Storm Backpack

Dainese D Storm Backpack
Photo: Amazon
  • Surprisingly aerodynamic shape
  • Uses waterproof welded pipe & seam roll top construction
  • Completely impervious to the elements
  • Features a TPU-laminated sonic-welded 420D shell
  • Also great for outdoor, adventure, & off-road use
  • Shoulder straps aren’t very comfortable
  • Laminent film deteriorates within months if used daily

Best All-Weather Pack: Aimed at riders that commute on two-wheels no matter the weather conditions, this Italian-made roll-top backpack features 26-liters of 100% waterproof storage space with a removable Velcro organizer that boasts an integrated 15” laptop sleeve. Designed with an aerodynamic profile, the D-Storm backpack is constructed from welded 420D nylon that’s fortified via a TPU film laminate. A trio of exterior pockets with waterproof zippers also provides quick access to small daily essentials, and reflective inserts help to make sure the blacked-out bag is seen in subpar weather.

Internal Space: 26-Liters
Main Construction: TPU-Laminated Sonic-Welded 420D Nylon

USWE Core 25 Daypack

USWE Core 25 Daypack
Photo: USWE
  • Ultra-comfortable
  • Uses a fantastic rotating harness system
  • Ships with a host of add-ons & accessories
  • Hydration reservoir compatible
  • Has a more outdoorsy look than most bags on this list

Best On-Road/Off-Road Pack: With its rugged build quality and wealth of genuinely useful features, the USWE Core 25 Daypack is a stellar carry solution whether you’re commuting to and from work or hitting the trails. On top of an included and easily accessible shoulder-mounted cellphone pouch, the bag also comes loaded with the latest generation of USWE’s NDM (No Dancing Monkey) 2.1 4-Harness System, which keeps the pack firmly in place and prevents it from hanging off of the rider while they move around the bike. The Moto-specific features don’t end there, however, as the bag also boasts an adjustable back plate that helps to achieve an even more precise fit, a dedicated tool organizer pocket, armor carry attachment points, a sunglasses pocket, and a helmet carrier. 

Internal Space: 25-Liters
Main Construction: N/A

Kriega Max28 Expandable Backpack

Kriega Max28 Expandable Backpack
Photo: Kriega
  • Ultra-rugged materials & build quality
  • Engineered from ground up as urban moto commuter pack
  • Uses proprietary QUADLOC-Lite harness system
  • Has a guaranteed-waterproof roll-top 14” laptop pocket
  • Could benefit from upgraded metal hardware

Best Expandable Pack: Though Kriega is no doubt best-known for its ultra-hardwearing adventure moto and off-road gear, the brand has more recently applied its signature rugged designs and constructions to an urban-focused commuter bag, resulting in the Max28. Made from an immensely-durable combination of Hypalon and CORDURA Lite Plus, the bag features 22-liters of normal storage, though can be expanded to 28-liters — at which points it can accommodate a full-size full-face motorcycle helmet. What’s more, the Max28 is also compatible with hydration reservoirs, protected by a ten-year warranty, and boasts heavy-duty YKK zippers throughout, a guaranteed-waterproof roll-top 14” laptop pocket with a taped-seam liner, and Kriega’s proprietary QUADLOC-Lite harness system that evenly distributes weight across the body while keeping the bag pressed snugly against its wearer’s back.

Internal Space: 22-Liters (Expandable to 28L)
Main Construction: 420D CORDURA Lite Plus & Hypalon

Velomacchi Speedway 40L Backpack

Velomacchi Speedway 40L Backpack
Photo: Velomacchi
  • Has aluminum helmet clip & action camera mounting plate
  • Boasts premium materials & hardware
  • Uses stellar 3-point rotating harness system
  • Protected by lifetime warranty
  • Immense popularity & small batch production can make it hard to get

Best Harness System Pack: Though several years have passed since its release, Velomacchi’s Speedway Backpack remains one of the most popular moto commuter bags in existence. Boasting a magnetic sternum coupler, a torso size adjustment cam lock system, and an action camera mounting plate, this bag’s patented three-point rotating harness and shoulder strap system carries and distributes weight better than almost any other configuration on the market. Made from ACQUAFORTE 500D nylon and fitted with a ballistic quilted back panel with tuck-away shoulder straps, the bag packs a watertight main compartment with a magnetic roll-top closure and a slew of moto-specific features such as a hydration bladder compartment, a quick access first aid kit, leather gripping side stabilizing pads, a tire pressure gauge elastic sleeve, integrated tie-down anchor points, self-tailing compression straps, and an aluminum helmet carrying clip.

Internal Space: 40-Liters
Main Construction: ACQUAFORTE 500D High-Tenacity Nylon

Mission Workshop The Rhake VX

Photo: Mission Workshop
  • Made in America
  • Crafted around a VX-21 shell
  • Has multiple padded tablet & laptop sleeves
  • Features FID-LOCK buckles & YKK AquaGuard zippers
  • Uses ultra-unique, expandable roll-top design
  • Very expensive price
  • Not the best harness system for motorcycling

Best Tech Pack: While it technically wasn’t engineered specifically for riding, the VX Rhake’s incredibly rugged and ridiculously weatherproof nature makes the thing beyond conducive to motorcycling. This upgraded version of the already stellar roll-top bag now features an extraordinarily lightweight and hardwearing, and 100% waterproof VX sailcloth construction and also adds a set of magnetic Fidlock buckles. Inside, the bag boasts a generous suite of organizers and compartments with 22-liters of space and a padded laptop sleeve that can accommodate notebooks of up to 17”. The use of the practically-rip-proof featherweight construction also allows this full-size commuter bag to tip the scales at less than 3lbs.

Internal Space: 22-Liters
Main Construction: X-Pac VX21 Diamond Ripstop Fabric

The Best Pieces Of Urban Commuter Motorcycle Gear

Photo: SAINT Unbreakable Jeans

Still haven’t finished putting together your urban ATGATT ensemble? Well, fear not as our extensive guide to the best pieces of urban commuter motorcycle gear has got you covered with a curated selection of gloves, jackets, helmets, pants, boots, and everything else you need to keep yourself protected while out on the city streets, without having to sacrifice on style.