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The Best Commuter Backpacks for Heading Back to the Office

Best Commuter Backpacks For Cyclists 0 Hero

Especially in some of the more congested cities in the world, cycling is one of the quickest and most efficient means of transportation. And since it requires you to use your legs to push those pedals, it’s also good for your health. The one downside to it might be that hauling your necessary gear from place to place poses a unique problem. Luckily, for most folks with a regular job, all the gear you need on a daily basis — from your EDC loadout to your laptop computer — can fit pretty easily into a single bag. However, while a briefcase might look good in the office, it’s going to be fairly difficult to carry when you’re blitzing through the city on two wheels. That’s why we’ve gone to the trouble of rounding up the following bags and packs. These handy and easy-to-haul offerings are the best commuter backpacks for the daily grind.

The Best Commuter Backpacks Breakdown

What To Look For In A Commuter Backpack

While shopping for a cycling backpack isn’t all that different from the process of purchasing a normal EDC, work, or travel pack, there are still a handful of factors that one should no doubt take into account when shopping — the most important of which we’ll be breaking down directly below. 

Overall Design: Not unlike any other style of backpack, commuter packs for cyclists come in all manner of different designs, from thoroughly modern models to classically-styled rucks to watertight roll-tops. As a result, we recommend reviewing a wide array of different types and styles of cycling packs that are currently available before pulling the trigger on your purchase, as the sheer abundance of options on the market practically guarantees that there will be something out there that jives with your personal taste, wants, and needs. 

Size: As backpacks that are largely intended for day-to-day commuting, most commuter packs for cyclists are sized to carry one’s daily essentials, and not much more. As a result, these bags tend to be sized somewhat similarly to office and everyday carry backpacks — which typically offer between 15 and 25 liters of storage space, though there are obviously outliers and exceptions, including expandable bags.

Primary Materials: The material or materials used to construct a cycling bag’s shell will play a monumental role in the pack’s overall quality and durability. Some of the most commonly-utilized constructions in this space include high-denier poly and nylon blends, waxed canvas, and leather, as well as more modern proprietary materials such as CORDURA, X-Pac’s VX sailcloth, or Dyneema. What’s more, in addition to the shell material, you’ll also want to review if said material has been bestowed with any type of fortifying treatment such as a PU or DWR coating or finish. 

Secondary Materials: Though obviously not as pivotal as a backpack’s shell material, secondary constructions can also play a significant role in its overall quality and user experience. Areas to look out for when reviewing this element include the bag’s shoulder straps, back pad, grab handles, and liner material, just to name a few. 

Construction Technique: The materials used to craft a bag are of extreme importance, but so too is the manner or means in which said material or materials have been pieced together — i.e. the bag’s construction technique. On top of overall durability, this area can also impact a bag’s level of weatherproofing and water resistance. 

Hardware & Trim: An area that separates the market’s more high-end options from their cheaper counterparts, a cycling bag’s hardware and trim elements are also crucial to review when shopping. More specifically, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the bag’s buckles and fasteners, zipper types and tracks, zipper pulls, and any logos, labels, or branding. 

Organizational Amenities: Because of how the bag’s contents are prone to moving around and shifting when its wearer rides, organizational amenities inside a cycling bag is even more important than a regular bags bevy of internal pockets, slips, and organizers. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for external elements that can be used to carry or organize any other garments or pieces of gear. 

Weatherproofing: When used for commuting, a backpack’s ability to stand up to the elements is of pretty major importance, though this factor becomes even more crucial when dealing with cycling packs. These bags’ level of waterproofing is largely owed to the bag’s design, shell construction, presence of any special fortifying treatments or finishes, and use of water-resistant or waterproof zippers. 

Device Storage: As our laptops and tablets become increasingly integral parts of our work lives, the need for protective device storage has never been more important. As a result, you’ll want to review if a bag possesses a dedicated slip, compartment, or pocket for housing a laptop and/or tablet, and if so what size devices it can house. Additionally, you’ll want to look into whether this compartment or pocket is padded, weatherproof or waterproof, and if it utilizes a false bottom or other type of protective setup. 

Harness System: One element that separates cycling-specific backpacks from normal everyday carry and work packs is the purpose-built cycling-focused harness systems that they possess. Like motorcycle backpacks, many cycling bags have been designed to keep the pack panted firmly against the 

Cycle-Specific Features: On top of their special harness systems, a decent number of backpacks that are made specifically for cycling feature a variety of amenities and elements aimed at addressing the needs of riders. This can include everything from reflective elements to help riders better be seen by drivers in inclement weather, point for mounting bike lights or action cameras, carrier systems for helmets, and slips, loops, or pockets for housing bike locks. There are even some riding bags that have D30 chest armor integrated into their shoulder straps.

Chrome Industries Urban Ex 2.0 30L Backpack

Chrome Industries Urban Ex 2 30L Backpack
Photo: Chrome Industries
  • Offers fantastic bang for your buck
  • 600D polyester shell & welded seams afford excellent waterproofing
  • Backed by Chrome’s lifetime warranty
  • Exterior loops sized to accomdatoe U-locks
  • Very long, dangling adjustment straps can be annoying/get snagged

Best Value Pick: Not only does Chrome Industries hail from Portland — a bicycle commuter’s mecca — but they were specifically formed with cycling in mind. As such, you can count on all of their carry options as superb solutions for your day-to-day haul. However, we’re quite partial to their minimalist-style Urban Ex rolltop backpack. Built with a hybrid nylon/polyurethane upper and a synthetic rubber base, this bag is perfect for staving off moisture — which is aided by its waterproof radio-welded seams. It also has a rolltop closure, external webbing for modular attachments, a dedicated laptop pouch, and — most importantly — a lifetime guarantee.

Capacity: 20L Or 30L
Exterior: TPU-Backed & PU-Coated 600D Poly
Laptop Pocket: 15″
Waterproof: Yes

North St. Bags Davis Daypack

North St Davis Daypack
Photo: North St. Bags
  • Cut from 1,000D CORDURA or EPX Sailcloth
  • Made by hand in Portland
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty
  • Flexible shell can be rolled, folded, or packed
  • Has open side pockets that fit U-locks & water bottles
  • Available laptop sleeves sold as optional add-ons

Best USA-Made Pick: Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, North St. knows a thing or two about how tough a commuter bag needs to be when cycling is your primary form of transportation. As such, they made their Davis Daypack with a weatherproof exterior to stave off all but the heaviest downpours, which pairs beautifully with its rolltop closure for even more water-resistance for everything inside. It also has a water-resistant zipper, a sailcloth liner, and an internal scheme that’s designed for modularity.

Capacity: 20L
Exterior: 1000D Cordura Nylon Or EcoPak Sailcloth
Laptop Pocket: Upgrade Available
Waterproof: Semi

Ortlieb City Commuter Daypack

Ortlieb City Commuter Daypack
Photo: Ortlieb
  • Made in Germany
  • Main rolltop closure secured using custom aluminum G-hook hardware
  • Bag is fully waterproof
  • Sports super unique back padding design
  • Unknown nylon type/denier (though whatever it is, it’s polyurethane-laminated)

Best Minimalist Pick: Ortlieb might not be a household name, even amongst the most vigilant of carry enthusiasts, but that should not be taken as a slight against them, as they make some truly impressive bags. Case in point, their City Commuter Daypack is a superb weatherproof cycling bag thanks to its PU-laminated nylon exterior and rolltop closure. And while its minimalist form and excellent waterproofing would probably be enough to garner recognition, it also features a small external quick-access pouch, removable waist and sternum straps, loop attachment points for your helmet, lock, and more.

Capacity: 21L
Exterior: Nylon
Laptop Pocket: 13″
Waterproof: Yes

Rapha Backpack 30L

Rapha Backpack 30L
Photo: Rapha
  • Made by legendary cycling apparel & gear brand
  • Shoulder & sternum strap setup designed specifically for riding
  • Main compartment & internal laptop sleeve are 100% waterproof
  • Great build quality
  • Also offered in more compact 20L version
  • Will eventually need to be re-waxed

Best Waterproof Pick: As one of the most eminent names in cycling garments, gear, and accessories, it’s frankly unsurprising that Rapha makes one of the best cycling backpacks currently on the market. Boasting 30 liters of storage space, the Rapha Backpack features a roll-top design that’s cut from a rugged oil-waxed 420-denier nylon. Equipped with a 15” laptop sleeve, the bag boasts a fully waterproof main compartment that’s been supplemented via a pair of quick-access front pockets. This 30-liter model also comes outfitted with numerous cycling-specific amenities such as reflective details, a dedicated bike-specific carry pocket, and raised lightweight padding for increased airflow, just to name a few. 

Capacity: 30L (or 20L)
Exterior: Oil-Waxed 420D Nylon
Laptop Pocket: 15”
Waterproof: Yes

Thule Paramount 27L

Thule Paramount
Photo: Thule
  • Features outstanding harness system
  • Uses expandable design
  • Dedicated smartphone pocket can be accessed while riding
  • Has expandable front compartment for carrying a helmet
  • Shoulder strap shape & sternum strap position integration hugely bolster tability while riding
  • Divisive/questionable liner color choices

Best Harness System: Backed by a limited lifetime warranty, the Thule Paramount is a 27-liter backpack that’s been engineered from the ground up specifically for commuting on two-wheels. Brimming with cycle-specific amenities, this bag’s 27 liters of real estate includes dedicated rear smartphone pocket that can be accessed with one hand while riding, an integrated rain cover cloaked in reflective details, a front expansion pocket that can for open in order to accommodate a bicycle helmet, and a shoulder and sternum strap setup that’s been designed specifically for keeping the bag in place on the wearer’s back as they ride. Also sold in a smaller 18-liter size, the Paramount is rounded out by a main pocket with a magnetic-closing flap, side water bottle pockets, a ventilated back panel, and a floating laptop sleeve that can fit notebooks as large as 16”.

Capacity: 27L (or 18L)
Exterior: 420D Nylon
Laptop Pocket: 16”
Waterproof: Semi (Yes With Integrated Rain Cover)

Osprey Radial 34

Osprey Radial 34
Photo: Osprey
  • Brimming with cycling-specific features
  • Expands from 26 to 34L
  • Great harness design, back panel, & ergonomics for riding
  • Has integrated kickstand for when rummaging through bag on the ground
  • Could benefit from more rugged primary shell construction

Best Overall Pick: The Osprey Radial 34 is a sleek and minimalist-looking backpack that clearly benefits from a design team with ample experience commuting via bicycle. Weighing only 3.31lbs, the bag features a 210-denier nylon Dobby primary construction supplemented via 500-denier nylon packcloth bottom and accents. Offering the perfect combination of work and cycling-focused features, the bag boasts an integrated kickstand to keep it upright when on the ground, a padded 15” laptop sleeve, a document sleeve, a dirt clothing or shoe compartment, a zippered side-stash pocket that’s accessible while riding, a front stretch bike lock pocket, an integrated and removable high-visibility rain cover, an  AirSpeed back panel, a loop for Blinky lights, reflective print and zipper pulls, a sunglasses pocket, and a hidden Lidlock helmet carry system. And, while it features 26 liters of space in its regular configuration, this pack can also also features a zippered expansion system that opens it up to 34 liters. 

Capacity: 26L (Expandable To 34L)
Exterior: 210D Nylon Dobby & 500D Nylon Packcloth
Laptop Pocket: 15”
Waterproof: Semi (Yes With Integrated Rain Cover)

Henty CoPilot Backpack

Henty CoPilot Backpack
Photo: Henty
  • Incredibly versatile hybrid design
  • Premium materials & build quality
  • Great for travel
  • Compatible w/ myriad of optional accessories
  • Comes w/ 20-liter inner utility tube & roll-up-able suit bag
  • Expensive price
  • Can sometimes be hard to get your hands on in between drops

Best Hybrid Pick: Whereas most cycling backpacks are designed to carry your day-to-day gear, some folks don’t want to work in their riding apparel. And that makes the Henty CoPilot unique in that it’s actually a garment bag with backpack straps — allowing you to transport a suit without getting it sweaty or wrinkled. But don’t worry, it also still has plenty of space for your other gear. It even comes with its own laptop pocket. If you want to ride to work but you have to change into something more office-friendly when you get there, there isn’t a better backpack around.

Capacity: 20L
Exterior: 500D Cordura Nylon & Heavy-Duty Tarpaulin
Laptop Pocket: 15″
Waterproof: Semi

Mission Workshop Rambler

Mission Workshop Rambler
Photo: Mission Workshop
  • Made in America in small batches
  • Super premium build quality & materials
  • Features 13” tablet sleeve & separate 17” laptop compartment
  • Has a carbon fiber reinforced internal frame suspension system
  • Main buckle can be upgraded via Cobra Buckle kit
  • Waistbelt sold as $40 option
  • Very expensive price

Best Premium Pick: Mission Workshop makes some of the best bags around, period. And that can make it hard to narrow down their offerings to a single superb one. However, when it comes to bike commuting, we’re pretty fond of their water-resistant, hybrid rolltop-flip-top, laptop bag, the Rambler. Available in four handsome colorways, this bag boasts a carbon fiber reinforced internal frame suspension system and an expandable design that lets it double in size when you need it and packs back down when you don’t. It can also fit up to a 15″ laptop, has 10 different pockets of varying sizes, and can even be paired with an optional waist belt for added stability. If your daily haul changes in size from day to day, this bag can’t be beaten.

Capacity: 22L (Expandable To 44L)
Exterior: 1,000D Nylon or HT500
Laptop Pocket: 15″
Waterproof: Semi

The Best Motorcycle Backpacks For Commuting

Photo: Kriega Max28 Expandable Backpack

Though often more heavy-duty, moto storage and carry solutions can also make for great pick for daily cycling bags. So, if you haven’t found what you were looking for in this guide then be sure to cruise over to our guide to the best motorcycle backpacks for commuting for another hand-picked list of ride-ready packs and bags.