Rapha Backpack review

Rapha backpack seen from the rear view ith the pink cover on

I know I’m certainly not the only person who has struggled to find an ideal luggage solution for the ride to work. I’ve flirted with rucksacks, suit carriers and pannier bags, but always end up returning to my big, uncomfortable and cumbersome backpack. While the suit carrier seems ideal on paper, it wasn’t for me. However, I’ve now found a rucksack made for commuting. In the review – I’ll share what’s got me excited! (And indeed what got the Independent excited when they placed this bag as their number one backpack).

The Rapha Rucksack is what you’d expect from the cycling world’s most desired and often mocked brand. Brushing aside questions of the price – what we’ve got here is: excellent quality, reliability and long term durability. Exactly what you’d expect from the makers of the Team Sky kit.

More than a rucksack


I spent a good ten minutes exploring the rucksack when I first got it – not because of size but because of the number of compartments the backpack has. This is a streamlined rucksack, and so is smaller than most rucksacks on the market, and yet by my count the number of compartments is easily into double figures. These range from the normal and expected – a five litre main compartment – to the not so expected: a tricot-lined sunglasses pocket.

When you think you’ve discovered the whole thing, you find more: two outer key compartments and – and this is what most impressed me – a zip away high-visibility pink rain cover with a reflective Rapha logo.

This is a backpack meant for those who adore having lots of pockets for everything.

Rapha is a company that epitomises quality and the Rapha Rucksack is a great example of this. The robust Italian leather zip pullers and the durable fabric ooze quality at the touch, and the rucksack has the Rapha look: sexy and cool.

Quality comes at a price

There are certainly less expensive options than the Rapha Backpack out there. At the other end of the scale, is the £40 DHB Slice Backpack. The DHB includes a laptop compartment but it’s not padded. It also includes space for carrying water bottles and has easy to reach while cycling compartments for energy bars. Both of which are features missing from the Rapha Rucksack. However, it doesn’t open as wide making it harder to reach the components.

As you can see, it’s tough to get the perfect bag!


However, there are many features to love about the Rapha Backpack:

  • A padded laptop compartment – crucial for keeping your laptop safe
  • Expandable five-litre main compartment
  • Zips go right down allowing you to open up the bag widely so you can see all the contents and you don’t have to waste time looking for something.
  • Zip-away rain cover – quick to fit and keeps the rain away – plus it’s pink!
  • Reflective dots on side panels, base and straps

Add on to this the excellent adjustable straps, across both stomach and chest, and you’ve got a comfortable, reliable rucksack for your commute and for when walking around London. This backpack certainly doesn’t look out of place on your back while cycling, or down the pub with mates.

Is it worth £125? I would argue that The Rapha Backpack does. For me it’s the ideal luggage solution for my commuting and I’m sure it will be for years to come. I spend a large part of my day on my bike so I’m happy that I’ve now got the right rucksack to accompany me on my commutes.

5/5 – The Rapha Backpack costs £125 and is available directly from Rapha.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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12 Responses to Rapha Backpack review

  1. Giles Roadnight (bigBlokeOnABike) 02/04/2013 at 9:32 am #

    I have never used a backpack although I do envy the ease of use. I get hot and sweaty enough as it is, If I had a big backpack on my back and probably the rucksack would be drenched in sweat by the time I got to work.
    I use panniers, they are not as good looking or as convenient but keep me a lot cooler.

  2. William Harrod 02/04/2013 at 4:13 pm #

    I use this pack for work. I travel a lot and used to have a Tumi backpack, which was more expensive, slightly larger, much less comfortable and less hard wearing. The rapha backpack is brilliant, highly recommended.

  3. Jason 02/04/2013 at 5:03 pm #

    Certainly looks good but if you’re not after a rucksack and dont like the look of panniers…get a Carradice saddlebag (from 5l to 25l) – cant recommend them enough!

    • Tom 03/04/2013 at 7:55 am #

      Does it have anything to lift it away from your back like many of vaude and deuterium bags do, at less than half the price?

      Also, another vote for Carradice’s saddlebags here, absolutely fantastic things,mine ccarries everything I need for an average workday, plus the usual spare tubes, pump, etc.

  4. David Knowles 03/04/2013 at 8:09 pm #

    I use a Berghaus Freeflow 2 litre Backpack.It’s really comfortable and the freeflow design keeps the backpack off your back keeping you cool.

  5. James H 04/04/2013 at 9:55 am #

    Put sweaty backs and sore shoulders behind you – get a Carradice SQR slim bag which clips neatly onto your seat post (in about 2 seconds). Plenty of room for laptop, change of clothes, and acts as a rear mudguard too. The only downside is that my bike doesn’t look quite as good.

  6. Kerena 05/04/2013 at 3:56 pm #

    I have been looking at this bag on & off for a while. The real downside for me is the lack of a water pocket on the side as my bike doesn’t have anywhere to carry a bottle of water… I know it wouldn’t look as pretty with a pocket, but it would make it just about perfect!

  7. Andrew smith 05/04/2013 at 4:26 pm #

    I would always recommend you look at ultra running rucksacs. Because they are designed for running the fit and stability tends to be very good and this makes everything seem lighter. I have used an old Raidlight Sac Runner for years and for when that is too big I have a cheap Decathlon Raid….something. Not so good for large laptops though as the shape is all wrong.

  8. Alan McWilliams 05/04/2013 at 8:26 pm #

    Got one brilliant bit of kit, comfortable to wear, doesn’t move about, clothes have never got wet even in the heaviest rain. Got lots of Rapha gear have to say it is all good quality.

  9. Steve 05/04/2013 at 10:29 pm #

    I have the Rapha large shoulder bag, bought it about a year ago works very well, good quality material, loads of pockets for keys, phone etc. I do have a few issues though, the padded laptop pocket is not removable if it was would give a lot more space as padding is quite thick (although this does come in handy for laptop). Rapha website suggest it can take a 17″ laptop, my dell vostro doesn’t fit in no matter how hard i try. And finally the waist strap which is meant to be used to hold it securely in place is designed for Kate Moss not a bloke of my ample frame.
    One big plus is the high vis pink raincover which I use constantly, I do get a few strange looks but white van man doesn’t seem to want to argue with a 42 year old 17stone bloke carrying a pink bag.

  10. Phil 11/04/2013 at 8:41 pm #

    £125 for a sweaty back? No thanks; for £5 more I bought a pair of Carradice Shopper panniers. They have an enormous capacity- I can fit a laptop in its’ own bag plus a cable lock in one, shoulder straps and carrying handles built in to the top flaps, floor panels so they stay in shape, they’re waterproof and the clips lock firmly to any rack. On the rare occasion I use a back pack, my 21 year old Macpac Ultramarathon does the job.

  11. Steven Harding 22/04/2014 at 10:43 pm #

    I’m also a massive Carradice fan!

    Oh no, hang on, I’m paid to produce faux recommendations for them on websites that might mention a different brand. My bad! Soz.

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