10 best cycling bags for everything from adventures to everyday journeys

10 best cycling bags

Whether it’s for work or walking, pick one of these tried and tested pieces of kit.

A well-designed backpack makes a great riding companion.

The best examples have specially designed backs that let airflow while you’re on the road, helping to keep you cool while pedaling hard.

Many also include reflective features to help you to stand out in low light.

If you’re carrying heavier loads a long way, buy one with nicely padded shoulder harnesses plus features such as chest and waist straps to stop your bag from swinging around.

Look out for details such as U-lock holders if you’re an urban warrior, or maybe a pocket for a hydration bladder if you like to explore on your mountain bike.

And if you’re a year-round rider, make sure you buy a fully waterproof bag that will cope with anything mother nature can throw at you.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Ortlieb commuter daypack urban line

Commuters will appreciate the U-lock carrier loops on the front of this smart bag. This handy feature means you don’t have to go rummaging inside the bag when you get to your destination. The bag is made from tough and waterproof fabric technologies that look like woven fabric and come in a range of colors including pepper grey.

There are a chest stabilizer strap and waist straps that keep it secure while you’re riding, and the back has a clever molded design that lets the airflow while cushioning you from the load.

Inside the 21l main section is a padded sleeve for a 15in the laptop, plus a zipped section for valuables. On the outside, you’ll find a zipped side pocket where you can keep items like your wallet or pass for easy access. It’s well thought out with great looks and the security of a five-year warranty.

Buy nowAmazon

 

Rydal rucksack

Look after this beautifully made 20l pack and it should last for decades – Carradice’s superb saddlebags certainly do. It’s constructed from old-fashioned waxed cotton duck material with a leather protective patch on the base and a closure made from an old-school leather pedal strap.

Cotton duck is 100 percent waterproof, although you will have to renew the waxed coating every few months to keep it that way. There’s no laptop sleeve inside but there is a zipped pocket under the main flap where you can stow items you might need to get to in a hurry.

There’s minimal padding at the back but we found it really comfortable to ride with, and those simple shoulder straps with their metal loop adjusters spread the load nicely. It’s available in black, green, and burgundy versions.

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Grid backpack

Here’s a budget 25l backpack with some great features including loops to attach small lights, plus a large reflective panel that should help keep you safe after dark.

There’s a zipped sleeve for a 15in the laptop, an open pocket at the back where you can store wet items such as gloves, and a couple of zipped side pockets that can double up as bottle holders. Inside the main section is another zipped pocket plus a couple of mesh sections for smaller items.

The polyester fabric is water-repellent rather than being totally waterproof and it rolls up, making it easier to stow when you’re not using it. We liked the fact that although a roll-top has a zip across the top of the main section, giving you extra carrying capacity if you need it.

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Restrap sub backpack

There are some clever crossover straps on this tidy looking pack where you can carry extra items. At 19l, it’s the ideal size for a day pack or as a commuter carryall.

The heavy-duty fabric and waterproof zips will see you through the worst weather, and the harness with its sternum strap and the magnetic clasp is really comfortable.

There’s a laptop sleeve plus sections for notepads and all your other office essentials. It’s available in three colors including a very smart olive green.

Buy nowAmazon

 

Proviz reflect360 touring

There are enough pockets and pouches on this one to keep anyone happy. At 20l it’s not the biggest bag in our selection but it’s got some great features including well-ventilated back support and a very comfy harness.

There’s a removable phone/wallet pocket on the straps, a pop-out rain cover in one of the pockets, and the option to use it with a hydration bladder if you want to use it on bike adventures rather than on the commute.

It’s got patches of Proviz’s excellent reflective material to get you noticed at night, and there are plenty of straps that you can tighten or loosen to make sure your load is in a perfect position.

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Upso Burtonwood

If you’re keen on recycling, you’ll adore this quirky yet tough transporter. It’s made from an old tarpaulin used on lorries, with a section of used fire hose to protect the base. The straps are even made from car seat belts.

Each bag is unique as the designs depend on whatever tarpaulins turn up at the factory door – just bear in mind that your bag will have the odd scuff or mark picked up during its previous life on the road.

It has a capacity of up to 26l if you leave the top unrolled and closed only with the press-studs. There’s a pocket for a 15in laptop inside but it’s only got limited padding so you’d better carry it in a sleeve for safety.

Buy nowAmazon

 

Rapha roll-top

With water- and abrasion-resistant fabric plus a capacity of 25l, this bag is just what you need to tackle the commute. Inside, there’s a good-sized main compartment with a 15in laptop sleeve and a zipped compartment for smaller items.

The roll-top buckle is on an elastic strap, making it easier to open and close than some others. There’s also a small zipped compartment hidden away at the side where you can keep your phone, keys, or wallet close at hand.

The shoulder straps are comfy and simple to adjust. We loved the dark green color we tested, and all versions come with the signature Rapha stripe up the back with handy loops to carry a U-lock.

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Osprey transporter roll

If you’ve got to carry lots with you to work or on an adventure, this roll-top is a great option. Constructed from highly water-resistant nylon, it offers a cavernous 50l of space.

The main central compartment has various pouches for organizing your bits and pieces, and there’s also a padded laptop sleeve. You’ll find a couple of decent-sized pockets on the sides for quick access to your essentials.

The straps are very well constructed and comfortable even when the bag’s loaded up, and they are fitted with a chest strap to keep things secure when you’re riding. The aluminum roll-top buckle and the bike light anchor point on the back are nice touches that round off a really solid package.

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Chrome Industries Yalta 3.0

This brilliantly designed bit of kit has an extra tote bag lining in the main internal section – you can pull it out and use it for shopping if the main bag’s 33l capacity isn’t enough. The main bag is made from Chrome’s new sailcloth material, which is super-tough and waterproof.

A large side zip gives access to the main compartment, so it’s a breeze to get to your stuff in a hurry. There are a laptop sleeve and a couple of zipped pockets for the organization in the main bit.

For smaller items, there are a couple of lined side pockets along with a front pocket and a slightly larger area for a water bottle. It’s a great product that will easily handle the rigors of year-round commuting.

Buy nowAmazon

 

Le col commuter backpack

Le Col makes some excellent cycling clothing and now they have turned their hands to producing bags. This one is superbly waterproof and is durable. There’s plenty of room for a change of clothes plus various internal storage spaces, including a couple of bottle holders and a zipped section for valuables.

Behind the shoulder straps, you’ll find a zipped pocket meant for a smaller laptop, but it’s a bit of a squeeze so we preferred to ride with the computer stashed inside a sleeve in the main body. On the outside, you’ll also find a couple of pockets with waterproof zips, a loop for a light, and some reflective detailing.

Buy nowAmazon

 

The verdict: Cycling backpacks

We tried out some great backpacks but we made the Ortlieb our Best Buy because we loved its combination of cool looks and great practicality. If you yearn for something unique, take a look at the super-tough UPSO, and the Carradice is a great choice for traditionalists.

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