There’s a sign I saw in a yoga studio that read “No one ever regretted doing more yoga.” A similar claim can be made for riding a bike to work. No matter how shitty your job may be, it always feels a little bit better when you arrive after riding into the office. The combination of exercise, getting outside, and being removed from a ton of annoying people is a therapeutic way to start the day. Similarly, it’s an excellent outlet to decompress on your way home in the evening.
But bike commuting presents a unique set of challenges. Depending on your standard office attire, it may require changing clothes when you get to work. At the very least, the everyday carry items that don’t fit into your pocket need to have a home while you’re mashing pedals. That demands a good bag.
While commonly associated with cyclists, messenger bags are really designed for, wait for it, messengers who are shuttling varying shapes of letters and packages around a city and are going in and out of their bag all day. For most guys, a backpack is the best way to carry a load of stuff while riding because it doesn’t move around much and has a variety of different pockets to suit different needs.
You could go with a standard pack, but prepare to have the outline of the shoulder straps and pack outlined on your back in sweat when you get to the office. The best bike commuting backpacks are designed specifically for that purpose, with suspension systems that increase air flow and storage solutions to accommodate most guys’ needs.
So before winter arrives, throw a leg over your bike and start riding into work and be sure to stow all of your gear in one of these purpose-built backpacks.
OSPREY RADIAL 34
Bikes have kickstands, why shouldn’t a bike backpack? The coolest feature of Osprey’s Radial is the integrated kickstand that allows the pack to stand upright when you sit it down. You just feel a little more grownup with a bag that doesn’t slump down into a heap. There is also a dedicated pocket for a U-lock and a clever helmet-carrying setup. And the shoulder straps and back panel are designed to keep air moving so you don’t arrive at work with a serious case of back sweat.
CINELLI X CHROME BARRAGE CARGO
Before bike commuting even became a thing, Chrome’s paks were prized by messengers for their functionality and durability. The rolltop closure on the Barrage Cargo allows you to cram a ton of stuff into the waterproof tarp-lined main compartment. In the unlikely event that isn’t enough storage, the flexible cargo net on the outside can hold even more gear and is particularly well-suited for stashing any layers that you take on or off during the ride. For this collaboration, Chrome teamed up with bike manufacturer Cinelli and added the team colors along the side panels which make the bag really stand out.
NORTH ST. MORRISON BACKPACK PANNIER
If your bike has a rack, it can be a lot easier to ride with a pannier attached to your rack than a backpack attached to your back. But when you get where you’re going, a backpack is definitely the way to go. North St.’s new Morrison pack is the best of both worlds. It has hooks and an elastic clip to connect to a bike rack and stowable shoulder straps that allow it to easily convert into a backpack. Each bag is made to order in Portland, Oregon and are available in a bunch of awesome colors.
TIMBUK2 ESPECIAL RAIDER
Even though it’s small, you can fit a surprising amount of stuff into the Especial Raider. Made from ripstop nylon, it is incredibly lightweight and is ideal for the guy who doesn’t need to carry a ton of stuff back and forth from work each day. Custom interior pockets are designed to hold an extra pair of shoes if you ride with clipless pedals and the back panel that gives the bag its shape can be removed to help fold your clothes.
PATAGONIA STORMFRONT PACK
If you ever find yourself in the kind of conditions that this bag is designed to stand up to, you probably won’t be a very happy camper. But at least you know your stuff will stay dry. With a super burly zipper, Patagonia’s Stormfront backpack does more than repel rain. You could actually dunk this thing underwater confident in the knowledge that the contents will remain safe.
MISSION WORKSHOP SANCTION
The bomber Sanction pack from San Francisco’s Mission Workshop ticks off all needs of a standard bicycle commuter (laptop pocket, a pocket to hold EDC items like keys) but what really sets this bag apart is the waxed canvas exterior. Similar to what you’d find in a Barbour jacket, the material breaks in and creases over time creating a distinct patina. The more you beat it up, the better it looks.