3 of the best commuter backpacks

Every hardy commuter needs a good backpack – that trusted pack that’s got your back on every commute can become a familiar friend on your daily rides – but it has to be reliable, long lasting and comfortable to receive ‘commuting essential’ status.

Here’s a look at 3 of the best we’ve found over the years…

Cheap, light, and cheerful…

Deuter Speed Lite 15L backpack – around £30

deuter speed lite backpack

I’ve had one of these for the last 3 years, and am happy to report that it has served me very well. Described as a pack for the ‘quick footed’, Deuter tell me that this backpack is fit for nordic walking, adventure racing, off-road marathons and the like, so it’s more than capable of cycling duties.

The pack has a chest and waist strap, both adjustable, to keep it in place, plus elasticated side pockets (handy for slotting glasses or gels in) and a top pocket that’s great for keys, phone and cash.

There is a further pocket inside, and a few reflective features are included, though this isn’t the most visible pack out there. At 15l, it’s enough for well packed clothes and lunch, but shoes and bulky items are a bit of a squeeze – though there are larger travelling backpacks available.

Hardwearing and tough…

Ortlieb Velocity Backpacks – around £60

Admittedly, a big step up in price, but the Ortlieb rucksacks are also a big step up in performance.

This 20L pack has a roll-down top, so you can make it compact when you need to, but it’s got plenty of space when you need to be carrying more kit.

The major selling point is that the Ortlieb Velocity is waterproof, and it also has a removable pocket for phone and keys, plus a mobile phone holster for the strap. The bottom of the pack is reinforced, too, so you don’t need to worry about putting it on the ground, and there is a handle, just in case you want to carry it to your desk without strapping up again.


Perfect for tech lovers…

Osprey Cyber Laptop/iPad Everyday Cycling Backpack – around £60

This is a pack that prioritizes technology, so much so that it has a ‘port’ which allows you to use a tablet without taking out of the protective sleeve within the pack. Great for the commuter who needs to stop and check maps, or work on the move.

The main compartment features a padded laptop sleeve, and a zippered padded tablet sleeve, plus internal organiser. A second pocket features heat embossed fabric, to help you store electronics or glasses without fear of scratches. The third pocket features the window compartment, which allows you to use our tablet on the go.

Comfort on the ride is far from forgotten, with chest and waist strap, as well as a reverse spacer mesh ‘Airscape’ backpanel which provides ventilation on a hot commute.



Do you have a much loved pack that you’d recommend? Tell us in the comments…

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13 Responses to 3 of the best commuter backpacks

  1. Jana 11/02/2015 at 7:53 pm #

    Osprey Escapist. Hard wearing, waterproof cover, stiff back and the 25L is roomy enough for my Mary Poppins tendencies and very comfy.

  2. Phil 12/02/2015 at 8:14 am #

    I’ve had a Macpac Ultramarathon since 1992; not cheap, but apart from a bit of fraying at the top where the strap joins the pack ( easily stitched up ) as tough as one could wish for, and it’s had a lot of use/abuse.

  3. MJ Ray 12/02/2015 at 8:51 am #

    Does the Velocity attach to a rack? The others look like they’ve got annoying straps which would dangle through.

  4. Colin 12/02/2015 at 11:16 am #

    I bought a Lomo drybag – http://www.ewetsuits.com/acatalog/motorcycle-drybag-rucksack.html – £25 in black or £30 in hi-vis. 30L, roll top, waterproof, chest and waist straps. I added a few reflective stickers to the black bag which cost another fiver. Very pleased with it so far. I’ve never owned an Ortlieb so can’t compare them but I can’t think what the Ortlieb might have that the Lomo doesn’t.

  5. Mik 13/02/2015 at 9:27 am #

    My ‘bother I need to carry more stuff’ rucksack is the next size up Deuter, it has a suspended air space thing that seems to work and has proved tough and sufficiently big. Watch for a sale, they are almost always cheaper than advertised.

    Day to day I have a Trespass hydropack which carries a 2l platypus comfortably has outlets for water and audio and decent mesh options. I get around two years out of one with daily use but at £17 that’s acceptable. Packed right it’ll carry a basic change of clothes and work essentials although I’d like to see anyone manage to get the 18l’s of stuff it claims it can carry in to it (I think they must be adding in all the mesh storage on the outside. No chance of carrying shoes though, I’m lucky I have storage at work.

  6. EmKay 13/02/2015 at 12:34 pm #

    I second the Lomo option as a great alternative to the Ortlieb. It’s £25 plus postage http://www.ewetsuits.com/acatalog/drybag-daypack.html. I’ve had mine 2.5 yrs and it’s in great condition.

    However the roll down top impairs my vision over the right shoulder so I don’t use a roll top for cycling now unless not filled to capacity.

  7. Titus 13/02/2015 at 2:03 pm #

    Go Overboard – anything not completely waterproof is a waste of money in Britain. 🙂

  8. Guy 13/02/2015 at 2:08 pm #

    I thoroughly recommend the Ortlieb back packs. Mine is one of the larger waterproof panniers with rucksack converter – rucksack for commuting, 1 of 2 panniers for touring. Very solid, totally waterproof and special high visibility yellow. Only downside – doesn’t have many internal compartments. Pricey – but well worth it.

  9. Al Barclay 13/02/2015 at 4:15 pm #

    Aquapac Rucksack, in case you fall in the canal:

  10. fern 13/02/2015 at 8:05 pm #

    Backpacks are just wrong for cycling, like wearing jeans in the rain they suck all your energy.
    Put it on rack front or back. Quick realise with a singe clip is the gold standard.

  11. Tom Legge 15/02/2015 at 9:18 pm #

    I have a Vaude Bike Alpin – 30 L +5. It’s served me well for about 3 years now – both touring and commuting. I’ve found it pretty good for walking too as you can easily store water bottles in the side pockets. Other than the main section, there are 5 additional zipped compartments of varying sizes – very useful for staying organised.

  12. ray 21/02/2015 at 5:42 pm #

    i like the look of the lomo hi viz 30 ltr dry bag


    I’ve used a Berghaus Rhythm 20 since my daughter bought it for me on
    fathers day when she was 16 or 17…she’s 27 this year.

    I cover 2000 miles a year commuting..i can’t wear the thing out..wish i could
    find a bike as hardwearing to go with it.

  13. Ismail 30/12/2015 at 11:36 am #

    Hey, can you recommend a bag that won’t leave my back drenched with sweat? (One that doesn’t rest on your back so much maybe)…I find that even a short journey (say 1 mile) will make my back sweaty.

    It should be able to fit my laptop, charger, headphones, d lock (and spare clothes sometimes).

    Thanks! 🙂

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