Choosing the best rucksack for cycle commuting can be quite a challenge, but having the right one can make your spin to work much more enjoyable. They need to be comfortable, with good support and ventilation, but they also need to sport the right feature set for practicality, as well as be able to endure the rigours of daily wear and tear.
Luckily, our online team member Mike is a seasoned cycle commuter, riding the 50 mile round trip to our HQ in Salford and back five days a week (sometimes), and has reviewed some of his favourite rucksacks for the journey to work...
Osprey Escapist 25L
This is my personal favourite commuter rucksack. The Escapist started life with a pure MTB pedigree, but through its great feature set it accidentally became the best rucksack for riding to work: spacious, effective and separated pockets, easy access to your belongings, good weather proofing and reflective features.
The ripstop fabric coupled with Osprey's hallmark build quality means the Escapist feels solid, durable and able to handle the bumps and scrapes of commuter use. I've had mine 6 months now and it's yet to show any signs of wear and tear.
There are three main pockets – a small scratch-proof one at the top for your easy-to-hand essentials (phone, keys, wallet), a large one for the main bulk of your haulage that can be accessed from both the top and front, and a medium front pocket with internal dividers that works great for carrying emergency bike essentials or your lunch.
The lowest pouch is stuffed with a removable bright yellow and reflective waterproof rucksack cover, giving great visibility and weather protection when you need it.
The Airscape back panel offers plenty of ventilation, while the Biostretch straps and hipbelt provide full adjustability to get the perfect fit on your shoulders and waist – important if you're going to be wearing this for longer than half an hour or so. The left harness strap also has a handy little zipped pocket, as do both waist straps (great for keys or an energy gel).
The 25 litre size is spacious and for some might be a little excessive, but four compression straps mean it can be squeezed down when not being fully utilised, giving you plenty of room for adjustment.
Last but not least, a Lidlock helmet toggle means you can ditch your lid and snap it onto the rucksack in a heartbeat.
Shop the Osprey Escapist 25L here
Lowe Alpine Airzone Spirit 25
Very similar in spec to the Osprey Escapist, the Spirit 25 is definitely one of the best cycle commuter rucksacks available.
Lowe Alpine's Airzone system provides the most ventilation of any packs on this list, and combined with the AdaptiveFit Harness and a padded hipbelt makes for a superbly comfortable backpack, even in hot weather.
The main compartment is very spacious and opens wide for great accessibility, but lacks any laptop or tablet-specific storage. A secondary frontal pocket also opens right down and contains two internal zipped pockets for separating your belongings.
The exterior features a clipped stash pocket – perfect for stuffing a waterproof in when the weather is hit and miss. It also has a clip for a bike light and a reflective elastic harness to attach your helmet when you're off the bike. Topped off with a bright and reflective rucksack cover contained at the base of the pack, the Spirit 25 is a sure-fire choice for the year-round commuter.
Shop the Lowe Alpine Airzone Spirit 25 here
Osprey Momentum 30
The Momentum series is Osprey's cycle commuter-specific line, which is a good start. Available in 22L and 30L these packs are geared towards those that need to be able to carry more than just their lunch, yet they manage to retain a really clean aesthetic.
Unlike the Escapist, the Momentum pack contains plenty of internal padded dividers to keep your laptop or tablet safe and sound, while a large main compartment leaves plenty of room for your other belongings.
The priority given to electronics storage means that there's no option to incorporate a hydration system, and the essentials pocket is smaller, but I've never found this to be an issue and have always used bottles on the bike anyway.
The Momentum's clean looks disguise the presence of two exterior pockets, a bike light attachment and a Lidlock helmet clip, so there's no shortage of features at hand. Subtle reflective detailing means you'll catch the headlights too.
Both of the Momentum packs include a built in hi-vis rain cover to protect your pack, so you can arrive at work confident everything will be dry.
Shop the Osprey Momentum Series here
The North Face Router Rucksack
As part of their Urban Transit series, The North Face do a great job of satisfying the needs of the commuter with the Router rucksack.
Capable of holding 41 litres at maximum capacity, the Router is the biggest on this list by quite a way. I wouldn’t expect you to be riding far with a full pack at that size, but if you’ve got to carry most of the office with you each day, it can’t really be beaten.
Compression straps on each side mean that in no way do you have to use it to its full capacity, and it sits nicely when strapped down to something more in the region of 30L, so you don't feel like you're riding with a sail on your back.
Internally, a padded sleeve capable of holding a 17" laptop sits close to the back and includes an additional neoprene sleeve for a tablet. The main zip opens separately to reveal a very deep, spacious compartment and a secondary but very roomy compartment – perfect for a taking a few days' worth of clothes at the start of the week.
Beyond the main sections there are countless additional zippered pockets, keeping your kit tidy and easily organised.
Shop The North Face Router here
Salomon Trail 20
Let's face it, toiling through all weathers, miles on end isn't for everyone. If you're a bit more of a fair weather cycle commuter and don't need to carry the kitchen sink on your ride to work, the superlight Salomon Trail 20 is a really versatile, stripped-back pack that is perfect for summer riding.
Sometimes less is more, and bells and whistles aren't necessary, but that doesn't mean the Trail 20 is short on features to make your ride to work easier.
With a padded, supportive hipbelt, a zippered waist pocket, Airvent ventilation through the back and harness straps, it provides practicality, comfort and the supportive fit needed without a weight penalty.
Shop the Salomon Trail 20 here
Top Tips for packing for the commute
- Always keep your bike essentials in a separate pocket that is easily accessed, and keep that in a plastic bag. This means you can deal with a puncture or mechanical without getting dirt or grease on any other belongings – (it also helps to have a pair of latex gloves kept in easy reach!)
- Pack your belongings so the weight is distributed evenly over your back. There's nothing worse than feeling a lot of pressure on one spot.
- If you need to carry shoes in your pack and you’re tight on room, roll up smaller items of clothing and stuff them inside to save space – it's amazing how much you can get in there!
- Always choose a rucksack with a good hipbelt, having a secure pack makes it much more comfortable.
Head this way for our full range of rucksacks.