Best Cycling Backpacks
When you’re on the trail, you are going to need a great backpack to carry all of your essentials in. Many cyclists like to carry a small repair kit, a first aid kit, water, and snacks. Depending on your path and distance, you may prefer a 12L or a 20L pack.
To get you out on the trails in style and speed, we have done the research for you and compiled this list of the ten best cycling backpacks available today.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The features of a cycling backpack can make an ordinary pack an extraordinary pack. It’s always important to check out the pockets of a backpack. Having one big main compartment is great and spacious, but doesn’t usually provide much organization. Think about where you will store your toolkit, your keys, phone, towels, and snacks.
Most cycling packs are also hydration packs, meaning they have a system with a water bladder, hose, and nozzle that allows you to drink without stopping and removing your pack. For this reason, one of the most important considerations you want to take into account when picking your bag is how much water you want access to while you ride.
If you are less concerned with weight and plan to ride for a few hours every time you go out, a larger hydration bladder is a good idea. A 2-liter hydration pack is the most common size and can be found in many styles of backpacks. The size provides ample water for mellow all-day rides or intense few-hour rides. If you are going to be frequently biking all day under intense conditions it is a good idea to get a 3-liter hydration bladder. Strong heat and sun, elevation gain, and sustained cardio all qualify as intense conditions. Full or multi-day rides are also scenarios where an extra liter of water may mean the difference between staying hydrated or not, which in part determines whether or not you finish your day. When biking, an intense cardio sport, it is incredibly important to drink enough water.
Once you have clarified the type of cycling that you need your backpack for, the next step is to figure out how much stuff you will actually need to pack in that bag. This depends first and foremost on the length of the ride. If you generally don’t plan to do more than two or three hours of biking at a time, a small hydration pack may be all that you need. This is true even if you will primarily be doing trail riding. Once you get into longer rides of four hours or more than you will need to start carrying much more with you.
Another consideration when thinking about what you will need to bring with you is the climate in which you will be cycling. If you plan to primarily ride in a humid environment you will need to bring less water with you than if you are going to be biking in the desert or at a high altitude. Likewise, some areas have temperature fluctuations and weather patterns that need to be accounted for in terms of extra clothing. For example, in the desert, it may be in the 90s during the day, while at night the temperature drops into the 40s. In other parts of the country, such as the Rockies, thunderstorms come from seemingly nowhere during the summer. If you are biking in a climate such as this you will need to bring many extra layers, meaning you will need a bag that can accommodate this.
When deciding what you need to bring it is also important to think about how many miles you will be going, and how far away from other people these miles will take you. This is different from time on the trail since if you are only going to be riding for three hours but are going deep into the woods you will still need to bring survival gear that could save your life if something goes wrong. Equipment to fix your bike, food, and extra layers (if you are riding in a variable climate) is suddenly necessary. If this is the kind of biking that you will primarily be doing then a medium to large pack that can accommodate the necessary gear is what you should buy.
Finally, there is the personal aspect of what you want to bring with you. Each of us has our individual preferences, and these should be taken into account when picking a cycling pack as well. Even if you don’t necessarily need to bring extra gear, if you like having a sweatshirt or a snack with you at all times, you will want to make sure you buy a pack that can accommodate this. Remember that when it comes to getting into the outdoors it is always better to be more prepared.
Overall comfort is an incredibly important criterion to consider. If your backpack is rubbing you the wrong way or causing you to overheat, you're not going to want to use it. When determining the comfort of a cycling backpack, check out the shoulder straps, back panel, and overall fit. Some backpacks feature waist or chest straps to help even out the weight distribution and offer more stability.
Like most other products, there are a few brands that produce backpacks whose quality is unquestionably a step above the rest. For backpacks this brand is Osprey. Although their biking backpacks are expensive, buying from Osprey brings with it a guarantee of quality that cannot be matched. Their internal frame technology literally lifts these packs off your back, making them the most comfortable backpacks around. They are also incredibly thought out, taking into account every detail that the person who that pack is aimed toward would think about. These are backpacks that you can trust.
Other tried and true brands that appear on our list are Dakine and Deuter. Both of these brands market their gear to outdoor enthusiasts. A knowledge of what is required to be comfortable in the outdoors is necessary when designing gear people want to use while doing these activities. These two brands have this knowledge.
When looking for a cycling backpack price is not the only factor that should determine which cycling backpack you go with. When looking at the price, you should compare that to the features of the cycling backpack as if you are looking at a cheaper backpack it may not come with the features you will need while cycling. Also keep in mind that if you are looking for a cycling backpack that is higher in price, this does not necessarily mean that it is the best backpack for you or your cycling needs. Review the backpacks and make an educated decision.
Top Ten Cycling Backpacks
1. Deuter Speed Lite 12
This small backpack can fit everything you need for a short bike ride on mellow trails. It weighs less than one pound and has a comfortable carrying weight of twelve pounds. It is a minimalist pack that will get you and your belongings comfortably from point A to point B.Read more
The backpack has a compartment for a 2-liter hydration bladder. At 10 L, this bag is very small and lightweight. Pockets are minimal, with one larger storage area and one small compartment up top.
Overall, this is a 12-liter pack. When using the hydration reservoir, you are left with 10-liters of space. The pack can also be purchased in a larger size of 16 or 20-liters. The bag itself weighs about 12-ounces and has a comfortable carrying weight of 12-pounds.
A chest strap and detachable waist belt keep this pack in place when it needs to be. However, be warned, the straps are small and won’t work well if your waist measures more than 40” around. This backpack is designed for cyclists who want to bring the bare minimum on a ride. With a very reasonable price, it is also ideal for someone who needs a pack but doesn’t have a lot to spend.
This bag does everything it needs to without breaking the bank. This does mean you get fewer features, but if you’re looking for a pack that is perfect for an after-work ride, this is it.
2. Bonlex Hydration Pack
This stylish hydration pack carries a large amount of water in a streamlined, simple design. The heavy-duty material will stand up to the wear and tear of the trail or the road.Read more
A 3-liter hydration bladder is included with the purchase of this bag. This bag is very small, with enough space to fit the water bladder and two pockets on the outside that have enough space for a few things such as keys, wallet, phone, and energy bars.
For the most part, this is a hydration pack. With the reservoir full, there isn’t a lot of space left for other items. Reviewers say that there is just enough room to slide in a small toolkit, a snack, and their cell phone. The bag itself weighs just under two pounds.
Adjustable straps, including a waist and chest strap, make it possible for this bag to fit both a child and an adult. Padded shoulder straps allow this bag to sit comfortably. This hydration pack allows you to carry enough water for a long ride while minimizing all other weight. It is great for longer rides where you do not require extensive gear and tools.
This cycling backpack is fairly priced. As long as you realize ahead of time that it is built mostly to carry your water, you’ll be happy. With three liters of water, you can really ride for a long time.
3. Dakine Drafter Pack
The Dakine Drafter Pack is everything you need in a cycling backpack. Compact yet roomy, it has the versatility to take you down some gnarly single track or get you across town.Read more
This bag comes with a 3-liter hydration bladder. There are multiple pockets on both the inside and outside allow you to store everything you need in very specific spots. Outside straps for your helmet also let you store that before and after you ride.
This bag had the capacity to hold 14 liters worth of gear, including the 3-liter hydration bladder. It is slightly heavier than we would like, weighing in at 2.5-pounds. However, it is a great-sized backpack that leaves you enough room for the essentials while still carrying a great amount of water.
The mesh shoulder straps are incredibly breathable, keeping you cool while you are having fun. A thick, padded waist belt helps lift the pack off your back. Along with the chest strap, the heavy-duty waist belt helps keep the bag in place. This backpack is perfect for the adventure cyclist. Whether you’re a mountain biker, a downhiller, or an enduro racer, this pack will stay put when you want to concentrate on the ride and can carry everything you need in a pinch.
The Drafter is not the cheapest bag out there, but worth spending a bit extra on a piece of equipment with this much quality. The 400D Nylon ripstop fabric has proven to be durable and long-lasting.
4. Osprey Raptor 10
With an internal frame and lightweight components that cause you to barely notice the pack while you ride, the Osprey Raptor 10 takes everything that makes Osprey famous and adapts it into a great mountain biking pack. With its medium size, this pack is perfect for spending the whole day on your bike.Read more
A 3-liter hydration reservoir is included with this pack. The pack also has a magnet on the chest strap the secures the reservoir nozzle in an easy-to-reach spot, which is a truly unique feature. As for pockets, there are three interior slip pockets, one interior zippered pocket, and four exterior pockets. As a bonus, a roll-out tool pouch is also included.
This 10-liter pack has pockets designed specifically with cyclists in mind. For the minimalist packer, there is easily enough room for everything you would need on a long day ride, including tools, layers, and food.
The straps on this pack not only hold it steadily in place but are so secure and comfortable that you can forget you have the backpack on. The wide paddled waste belt and helpful chest strap do their job perfectly while maintaining rider comfort. This is one of the top cycling bags on the market.
When it comes to Osprey, you pay a lot but the returns are high. This is a pricey backpack yet you can be sure that you are purchasing a truly quality item. It may be expensive but you know it will last.
5. Evoc FR Trail Team Protector
A larger backpack, that includes space for anything you may need while spending a few hours biking. To ensure that you are always prepared this pack includes a rain cover. It comes in sizes small, medium/large, and extra-large.Read more
Although this backpack does not come with its own water bladder, it does include a pocket with space to add one later. The bladder can be up to three liters in size. It also has routing for the drinking tube. Additionally, there is an integrated rain cover, as well as a belt pouch for smaller accessories.
This 20-liter pack is on the larger side, making it ideal for longer day trips when food, tools, and multiple layers are needed. There are plenty of interior pockets for organization. It weighs just under three pounds, which is a bit heavy. Be careful to not use up all of the capacity and weigh yourself down.
Sturdy straps, including a chest strap and padded waist belt, and back support keep this pack in place while trail riding. The straps could be more breathable though and can get hot on warm days. The FR Trail Team Protector is perfect for the cyclist who wants to spend all day on the trail. With multiple styles that all strand out brightly, it is also one of the most stylish packs on the market.
This is one of the more expensive bike backpacks out there. However, when its durability is considered the pricing seems fairer.
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