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Question About Backpacks

Old 07-05-24, 05:56 PM
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Question About Backpacks

Bike newbie question:

Are backpacks for cyclists different than typical backpacks? I wany to start commuting and feel like I'd like to get one that would be appropriate.
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Old 07-05-24, 06:40 PM
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You're better off letting your bike carry the load; a decent set of panniers is an investment, but cheap in the long run, and will save you a sweaty back. Or a basket; those are popular too, depending on the bike.

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Old 07-05-24, 07:13 PM
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Depending on what you are carrying it can be heavy, affecting balance as well as hot in the summer. I use a large’ish Camelbak to carry water when I mt. bike, I don’t use it on the road bike. Folks doing self supported touring (camping) as well as credit card tours (clothes only and staying in motels) usually install a rear rack and use panniers. Bike and ride handle better. Folks bikepacking, with a more limited amount of space in the bags, sometimes wear a backpack to gain the extra space for gear, water, etc….
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Old 07-06-24, 12:30 AM
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Yes cycling backpacks are different because they usually have a frame with mesh of some kind to hold the bulk of the bag away from your back to allow air to circulate.
I prefer to use a backpack if I'm riding somewhere that I want to walk around after I get there because it's more comfortable than having a pannier to lug around. I have made a braided paracord strap with D rings for my Ortlieb bags that turns one into a messenger style bag off the bike but it's not as comfortable to use because the pannier has a bar and hooks which rest against your side when carried like this.
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Old 07-06-24, 03:03 AM
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When I go to one of my workplaces, I have to park over a mile away and have to carry a couple of computers, lunch, tools, and other gear to my workplace. (there is a loading zone but the meter maids are nazi's and will ticket anything sitting over two minutes even with the engine running, doors locked, and flashers going). I have a fold up bike with large panniers and often carry a old eddie bauer backpack that has the mesh back as discussed above, a chest strap, and a hip strap to secure it to my back. It also has a couple of tightening straps to make sure that the contents are secure within.

do not think it was designed for cycling, more of a lighter weight backpackers backpack for day trips.

If I had to get a new backpack I would get the exact same one.

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Old 07-06-24, 06:10 AM
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It really isn't that hard commuting with a rear rack and basket. Any brand or style of backpack, shopping bag, gym bag or even shopping bag easily fit in the basket, and can be easily secured while riding and be removed and worn or carried at destination. Easy-peasy.



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Old 07-06-24, 09:24 AM
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Half my bikes have back racks, half do not. Here's how I secure my backpack on my bikes with racks:


In wet weather, a simple plastic kitchen trash bag goes over the backpack. Yes, the D-clips cause small holes...not an issue) All my fendered bikes have racks. If I get caught out in the rain on an un-racked bike, a kitchen bag goes on with the lower straps going though the bag, or I wear it under my rain-cape.
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Old 07-06-24, 09:19 PM
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I use the Oveja Negra Gearjammer saddle bag. I used to use a backpack, too sweaty. I have the convenience of only transporting myself and a few supplies/snacks/clothes. I change stuff out at work on the days I drive in, no way to commute daily, two days a week is optimal, a fair-weather commuter. I leave my laptop at work when I commute. Its 11.5 miles each way.
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Old 07-07-24, 06:12 AM
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Thanks everyone. This thread gave me a lot of choices. I like the idea of NOT having a sweaty back.
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Old 07-07-24, 12:29 PM
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I have a Blahol backpack, a bunch of Chrome Industries stuff, Ortlieb panniers, racks, baskets… but, my favorite is an Osprey cycling backpack. It stays away from the back slightly (I’ll still get a sweaty back when it’s hot and humid, but I’m sweaty in other places, too), it has a holder for a helmet, and after a year of having it I noticed a zipper at the bottom that exposed a fluorescent green rain cover. It’s been through a lot of abuse over the past few years and is still holding up well.
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Old 07-07-24, 04:33 PM
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For commuting I always used a rack top trunk bag. Easily detached from the rack. It is also insulated to keep my lunch cool until it was time to eat.
It is also expandable for bulkier items
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Old 07-10-24, 06:44 AM
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Any small backpack will work. If you already have one, try it and see what you might like in a new one. For years, I used my daughter’s abandoned school back pack (39 mile round trip) and for my bday she got me a Road Runner pack which is pretty nice. One thing I’ve learned is to adjust the straps so the pack rides real low on your back. Commuting for 28 years to my teaching job experimenting with saddle bags, Rando bags, panniers, rear baskets, I keep coming back to a back pack because it is easier to use at both ends of the commute loading and unloading.
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Old 07-10-24, 07:38 AM
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I've been using an REI Beyonder bag which I picked up on a sale. Let me start by pointing out that there are some less than great things about this bag. The shoulder straps should be adjustable. The roll top closure could be designed better. It is a typical REI product; they get 90% of it right and the other 10% is head scratching. That said, the dang thing was inexpensive on sale and it turns into a reasonable shoulder bag once you take it off the bike. The volume capacity at 25 liters is right for my purposes. It's just a stupid simple bag that works.

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Old 07-12-24, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by JWilkins
Are backpacks for cyclists different than typical backpacks? I wany to start commuting and feel like I'd like to get one that would be appropriate.
For riding to work an average laptop backpack is fine. Backpacks for cycling exist but are usually pretty small with a big water bladder.

Another option that was especially popular in fixie times ten-fifteen years ago was a messenger bag.

Originally Posted by Korina
You're better off letting your bike carry the load; a decent set of panniers is an investment, but cheap in the long run, and will save you a sweaty back. Or a basket; those are popular too, depending on the bike.
My take is pretty much opposite this (but they can coexist peacefully). I want to be able to fling the bike around and want the laptop on my back where it's getting minimum harm.

Back when I had a desktop pc at work and did less wfh, my needs were different.

I did try a trunk bag on a few different bikes. I liked it pretty well on my 26er MTB but found the old steel road bikes would get head shake when I'd go to coast down a hill no-hands
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Old 07-18-24, 06:19 AM
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I have a Deuter Bike 1 20 that I have used for years. Lots of useful features:
deuter Bike I 20 | Bike backpack
  • Splints: frame construction
  • Adjustable sternum belt
  • Rain Cover
  • Inside compartment to keep your valuables safe
  • Elasticated inner compartment for storing wet/sweaty clothing, water reservoir, etc.
  • Helmet Mount
  • Removable sitting mat
  • Compatible with 3.0 liter drinking system/bag
  • Organiser compartment for the tidy storage of pens, phone, etc.
  • Side smartphone pocket
  • Mesh hip fins
  • Glasses stow system on shoulder strap
  • Reflectors for better visibility
  • Two side outer pockets
  • Airstripes System
  • PFAS free
Good service too. I broke a clip and they sent me a replacement under warranty.
Fits my Surface Pro 7 and 9 with protection cover.
I have loaded it down with probably close to 20 lbs of stuff with no failures.
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Old 07-19-24, 12:49 PM
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Sounds like we have very different riding styles. Cool. Enjoy your ride and your backpack!

Originally Posted by Darth Lefty
My take is pretty much opposite this (but they can coexist peacefully). I want to be able to fling the bike around and want the laptop on my back where it's getting minimum harm.

Back when I had a desktop pc at work and did less wfh, my needs were different.

I did try a trunk bag on a few different bikes. I liked it pretty well on my 26er MTB but found the old steel road bikes would get head shake when I'd go to coast down a hill no-hands
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Old 07-19-24, 02:04 PM
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I have the smallest Black Diamond backpack. Very simple. No outside pockets. White reflecting panel on the back. I bought industrial 3" white 3M reflecting tape and put lots on. Added cord to keep a U-lock in place across the top.

This has served me very well for city rides on my fix gears. No frame or webbing but Black Diamond did very well with its padded, meshy back. Well designed and very well made.
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