When searching for a backpack to use on your bike, consider the types of biking you do. Are you biking a few miles to school or to the University of Arizona with books and papers in your pack? Are you circumnavigating the Catalina Mountains on your mountain bike? Are you commuting to work and need room for your clothes and lunch? Is it a 5-mile commute or a 20-mile commute?
Keep in mind that backpacks designed for hiking and light backpacking can be excellent for cyclists.
The Osprey Talon packs are the bag of choice for mountain bikers who enjoy epic rides that last all day or multiple days. The pack is designed for day hiking, light backpacking, and adventure racing. It’s lightweight, but super tough. Osprey sponsors Tucson pro mountain biker, Krista Park.
The Osprey Talon 22 has an adjustable harness to fit customizable fit to your shoulders and back. It also has an exterior hydration pack compartment that holds a 3-liter bladder (not included). The padded hip belt allows most weight to sit on your hips, instead of hanging off your shoulders. This pack comes in two sizes: small/medium and medium/large. The M/L size is 1342 cubic inches with maximum load of 25 pounds. The Osprey Talon 11 is 700 cubic inches, which would be great for a day ride, but perhaps not overnight.
The Osprey Talon is also recommended for people with long commutes who must carry clothing and other work gear. The hip belt is a life saver, and there are several adjustment straps to allow the weight to be evenly distributed. Tucson’s Summit Hut sells all sizes of Osprey Packs, and Green Valley Bike Hub has a small selection.
Ergon offers several cycling-specific backpacks designed specifically for epic off-road rides. Ergon is best known for super comfortable handlebar grips, and they’ve applied comfort and ergonomics to their backpacks as well. The BC1 backpack has a padded hip belt, and the shoulder straps ride higher on the main pack than a typical backpack. This design offers additional ventilation, great for hot desert riding.
It’s small with a maximum load of 13 pounds recommended in the 700 cubic inch pack. The unique ball-joint offers more freedom of movement for the upper body. The BC1 has a place for a water bladder (sold separately), an integrated rain cover, helmet stowage, and several small pockets.
The standard student-type backpack is great for up to ten pounds of school supplies—books, notebooks, etc. When purchasing a pack, make sure it has the proper dimensions and/or padding for your laptop. If your loads tend to be heavy, consider purchasing a back pack with a hip belt to distribute the weight.
Banjo Brothers makes cycling-specific backpacks along with more famous messenger bags. The backpacks are high capacity, great for students and teachers if you need to include books, gym clothes, lunch or other items. They come in sizes of 1500 and 2000 cubic inches. This is also an excellent bag for the commuter. Its high capacity provides plenty of room for work clothes and shoes. The pack also travels well to the grocery store, it can hold about two paper bags’ worth of food. Easy on the canned goods, though, or your bag will be very heavy. On the downside, the lack of a hip strap means all the weight will be on your shoulders, and the bag is uncomfortable after about 10 miles with a full load.
The Banjo Brothers backpack is waterproof and has reflective stripes for safety. There are a couple small exterior pockets which could be bigger, but in sum, it’s a great all-purpose bag. In Tucson, Ordinary Bike Shop sells Banjo Brothers products.
Camelbak is the leader in hydration systems and they also make a variety of backpacks for cycling. The Camelbak Mule is 700 cubic inches of pack and holds 3 liters of water. The hydration bladder is included, unlike most other cycling backpacks. The Mule has one main compartment, an additional zippered compartment, and an open compartment. The open compartment is not useful for bumpy trails where objects might fly out. Its “narrow gage” design is mountain bike specific. Camelbak also makes larger capacity back packs, designed for long day hikes or ultra light backpacking. Trek Bicycles of Tucson , Green Valley Bike and Hike, and TriSports.com sell Camelbak packs.
TriSports also sells triathlon “transition packs” including the Louis Garneau Tri Revo with a high capacity 2800 cubic inches, and a place to keep your helmet when you’re off the bike. There is no hydration pocket or bladder, but it has many extra pockets for the hyper-organized cyclist.