If you practice cycling, you know how important it is to wear a backpack while riding. A backpack is not only practical, it is essential to help you maintain the weight distribution on the bike while carrying your belongings. Find out what to look for in a cycling backpack then check the top products on the market. Or jump to the best cycling backpack reviews by clicking the links in the table below, if you don’t feel like reading through the entire article.
The cycling backpack is recommended especially for those practicing mountain biking, but this accessory must be chosen carefully. In fact, a traditional backpack with only two shoulder straps can easily slip off the shoulders, unbalancing the cyclist and becoming potentially dangerous.
For this reason, when choosing a cycling backpack there are many things to take into account, beginning with the idea of finding a backpack specifically designed for this sport.
Let’s see how a cycling backpack should be made and what to consider when choosing one. Then, read our best cycling backpack reviews to discover the right one for you.
Cycling Backpack Characteristics
Cycling backpacks are developed specifically to maintain the balance of cyclist and to be easy and comfortable to carry on a bike. For this reason, they are generally developed in length and have a reduced width and depth, allowing the cyclist to keep the backpack tight, firm and close to the body.
Just like the hiking backpacks, the cycling ones have two additional horizontal straps that can be adjusted and secured at the waist and chest of the cyclist, helping to keep the backpack tight and to avoid the shoulder straps to slip from the shoulders while performing the sport.
The main difference between the hiking and the cycling backpacks is given by their capacity. In fact, because cycling requires a reduced weight, the cycling backpacks often have small capacities of less than 15 liters.
Cycling backpacks are also developed to keep various cycling accessories, such as multipurpose tools, air pumps, and more. For this reason, a good cycling backpack should have numerous pockets and compartments to allow you to keep all your belongings organized.
Another characteristic of the cycling backpack is the presence of a hydration system. Essentially, a hydration system is a flexible plastic container that can be filled with water and that is connected to a small tube that passes to the front of the backpack where it can be fixed on the dedicated slots, on one of the shoulder strap and close to the mouth of the cyclist.
The presence of the hydration system will help you avoid using a traditional bottle, which may compromise your safety while cycling. In fact, thanks to this system, you will be able to hydrate yourself without loosening your hands from the handlebar for a long time.
However, there is to say that not all cyclists are fond of this system, mainly because the cleaning of the water bag and tube system is a daunting task.
What To Look For In A Cycling Backpack
Deciding if a backpack is suitable enough for cycling is not easy. There is a series of things you should check before deciding to invest in this accessory.
- Flexibility: the backpack should be made of a flexible material, usually waterproof and breathable fabric. Before buying, try the backpack and see how it feels, then decide if it is comfortable enough for you.
- Easy to adjust straps: both the shoulder straps and the horizontal straps designed to secure the backpack to the body must be adjustable. Furthermore, you should be able to adjust these straps with ease, as you might have to change the adjustments on the go.
- The presence of a water tube blocking system: if the backpack you choose is equipped with a water bag, make sure that it also has a slot on one shoulder strap or another type of system that allows you to fix the water tube securely close to your mouth.
- Pockets and compartments: a cycling backpack must have numerous pockets and compartments, among which a mesh or net designed to hold your helmet when you get off the bike.
- Back protector: not all cycling backpacks have or need a back protector. However, if your discipline is mountain biking and you usually ride downhill, then you might find this feature useful. If you practice any other discipline, remember that a back protector increases the weight of the backpack.
- Smartphone support: cycling should be a way to evade from the technological world we live in; nevertheless, it is impossible to ignore the gadgets we usually take with us everywhere. For this reason, you should look for a backpack equipped with a smartphone support, especially if you tend to use special apps such as GPS track.
What To Put In A Cycling Backpack?
Regardless of your chosen discipline, there are some essential things all cyclists must take with them. Therefore, make sure you put in your backpack the following things:
- Spare bike tire or/and air chamber;
- Tools necessary to replace an air chamber or tire;
- Air pump;
- A multipurpose tool;
- Energy snacks;
- First aid kit.
Apart from this, if you expect changeable weather or you go on a tour for more than 3-4 hours, you should also put in your backpack a lightweight waterproof jacket.
Best Cycling Backpack Reviews
|Osprey Packs Viper 13 Hydration Pack||$$$$|
|Evoc FR Enduro Blackline Rucksack||$$$$$|
|DAKINE Drafter Pack||$$$|
|WACOOL Coolrider Waterproof Cycling Backpack||$$|
1. Osprey Packs Viper 13 Hydration Pack
Osprey is a Californian-based manufacturer of cycling backpacks, their products being amongst the most popular on the market.The Viper 13 model is a compact and lightweight backpack with a capacity of 13 liters and a hydration pack of 2,5 liters that is equipped with a magnetic bite valve retention system fixed on the lumbar strap and that acts as a faucet valve.Check Price on Amazon
Apart from this innovative system, the Viper 13 also boasts a ventilated back protector manufactured with the AirScape technology, and that ensures a proper airflow that keeps your skin dry at all times. The backpack is also equipped with an elasticized LidLock helmet attachment system that is effective and comfortable to use.
Furthermore, the backpack is spacious and provided with numerous pockets designed to hold your tools and essentials, including a front compression pocket designed to accommodate bulky objects or to store wet items.
Things We Liked
- Hydration system:the hydration system of this backpack has a great capacity and it is really convenient to use thanks to the magnetic valve.
- AirScape technology:although equipped with a back protector, the backpack is comfortable to wear and able to keep your back ventilated thanks to the innovatory technology.
- Color selection:the unisex backpack is manufactured in three different colors and you can choose your favorite between green, orange, and black.
- Blinker light attachment:if you usually ride your bike in low light conditions, you will be able to attach a blinker light to the backpack and increase your visibility in the dark.
Things We Didn’t Like
- The hydration pack might sometimes have a strong chemical odor and it can also transmit a funny taste to the water. Make sure you wash it well before using for the first time.
2. Evoc FR Enduro Blackline Rucksack
Evoc is another consecrated manufacturer of outdoors equipment and backpacks, and one of their most popular models of cycling backpacks is the FR Enduro Blackline.This backpack encloses a large number of refinements in regard to both protection and technique. The backpack has a capacity of 16 liters, but the available space is mostly dedicated to the hydration pack that has a capacity of up to 3 liters and occupies most of the volume available.A great feature of the FR Enduro Blackline is the Liteshield back protection that is made in three different sizes. Thanks to this feature, this unisex backpack can be used by people of different heights without worrying about the comfort and protection.Check Price on Amazon
The weight, on the other hand, is fairly low for a 16 liters backpack. The FR Enduro Blackline weights only 1050 gr.
The only real downside of this backpack is the absence of an incorporated hydration system that will have to be purchased separately. This might not be a problem if you hate hydration systems in the first place, but it still is a limitation.
Things We Liked
- Liteshield protector: in some disciplines, such as mountain biking or enduro, the presence of a back protector is essential. This backpack provides excellent protection thanks to the Liteshield back protector.
- Various sizes available: the manufacturer succeeded to create three different sizes of this backpack that maintain the capacity while adjusting the size of the back protector to the height of the user.
- Helmet compartment: the backpack is provided with a spacious helmet compartment that will allow you to store your helmet safely when you’re not riding.
- Large hydration system pocket: although the backpack doesn’t come with a hydration system, you will be able to purchase one with a capacity of up to 3 liters.
Things We Didn’t Like
- The backpack is expensive and, considering the lack of a hydration system, the price might not be justified.
3. DAKINE Drafter Pack
If you are looking for a compact yet extremely spacious backpack to take with you in your cycling adventures, then DAKINE Drafter might be the model you are looking for.The backpack has a capacity of only 12 liters yet it impresses with the numerous compartments designed to literally hold all your essentials and more when you’re hitting the trail. The backpack boasts a compartment for the hydration system, a padded pocket for the smartphone and a fleece-lined pocket specially made for the sunglasses.Check Price on Amazon
Apart from these, the backpack has other compartments and pockets where you can fit your tools and bike accessories, clothes, snacks and more.
Another great feature of this backpack is the air mesh suspended back panel that provides additional protection and support when you are practicing mountain biking or other trail cycling activities.
Things We Liked
- Shape-Lok compartment: the backpack comes with a Shape-Lok tank and compartment especially developed for the hydration system. The tank has a capacity of 3 liters and it comes with the backpack.
- Aid whistle: a whistle might not be seen as useful by all cyclists. Nevertheless, it’s a nice addition to have and it can be handy in extreme situations.
- Helmet carrying system: on the back of the pack there is a helmet carrying pocket that is large enough to accommodate either a full-face helmet or an XC helmet.
- 3-liter water tank: you will not have to worry about maintaining yourself hydrated thanks to the 3-liter flask this backpack comes with.
Things We Didn’t Like
- The backpack is designed with a curved back, a feature that will keep you ventilated but that reduces the internal capacity of the backpack.
4. CamelBak Skyline
The Skyline backpack is part of a new CamelBak line that introduces a revolutionary Lowrider hydration system that promises to reduce the load on the cyclist’s shoulder. Apart from this, the backpack has other interesting features and it is one of the most popular cycling backpacks on the market.As already mentioned, the Lowrider hydration system is probably the main feature of the backpack. The innovation consists in moving the location of the water bag on the bottom of the backpack, reducing in this way the load on the shoulders.Check Price on Amazon
Apart from a reduced load, this feature also lowers the center of gravity, increasing the freedom of movement especially when cycling downhill. Furthermore, the backpack is suitable to be used in various disciplines, including freestyle and road cycling activities.
Things We Liked
- Compact dimensions:the CamelBak Skyline has a capacity of only 10 liters yet it is really spacious, mainly because of the position of the hydration system.
- Two colors available:depending on your preferences, you will be able to choose between an imperial blue with black accents or black with atomic blue details.
- Tool organizer:the backpack comes with a spacious tool organizer that will keep all your essential tools together while riding.
- Lifetime guarantee:the manufacturer guarantees the backpack for life.
Things We Didn’t Like
- The horizontal straps designed to secure the backpack to the cyclist’s body are rather short, so keep that in mind if you have a robust structure.
5. WACOOL Coolrider Waterproof Cycling Backpack
If you are looking for a high-quality cycling backpack that comes at an affordable price, then the WACOOL Coolrider might be the model you are looking for. This lightweight backpack has a capacity of 8 liters and it comes with an integrated hydration system with a 2-liter capacity. The water bladder is made of BPA free plastic and it boasts a wide mouth opening, designed to help you stay hydrated at all times.Check Price on Amazon
The backpack is compact and lightweight, and it is made of waterproof fabric, so your belonging will be protected regardless of the weather. Furthermore, the Airflow system design will maintain your back cool and dry even on the most challenging trails.
The backpack is also really easy to clean, mostly because of its waterproof design. In fact, to clean the fabric you’ll only need a soft cloth and warm water.
Things We Liked
- Whistle buckle: the backpack has an innovative buckle fitted on the chest strap, that doubles as a whistle and that you can easily use in dangerous situations.
- Unique helmet drawstrings: the unique drawstrings can easily accommodate any type of cycling helmet, from an aerodynamic road cycling helmet to a full-face heavy-duty helmet.
- Multiple compartments: although compact, the backpack is designed to hold all the cycling essentials including multi purpose tools and spare parts, snacks and other belongings.
- Airflow channel design: the back of the backpack is integrated with a breathable mesh pad that is designed to maintain the comfort during use.
Things We Didn’t Like
- Unfortunately, the backpack is not equipped with a back protector and its capacity is quite small if you are planning to go on rides longer than half a day.
Conclusion & Final Pick
In our opinion, the best cycling backpack available on the market is the CamelBak Skyline. There are many highlights of this pack that we really like, including the compact dimension, attractive design, and the incredible features it comes with.
Among the features, the innovative design of the hydration system is probably the best. In fact, as the manufacturer promises, the backpack reduces the load on the shoulders and it improves the center of gravity, resulting in a more comfortable ride for the cyclist.
Apart from this, the capacity is also great for a cycling backpack and you will have enough space where to fit all your essentials.
The included tool organizer is not essential but we can say that it’s an awesome addition. In fact, the manufacturer helps to keep all the things at hand not only by providing a tool organizer but also by equipping this backpack with numerous compartments and pockets. Lastly, we like the lifetime guarantee.
The backpack might have some minor flaws, nevertheless, it is one of the high-end products you should consider.