Bike Backpacks & Messengers

Bike Backpacks

Packing gear on your back is a comfortable, ergonomic option for hauling around the necessities. Backpacks meet this highly functional need for students, teachers, backpackers, bike commuters, tourists, and nearly everyone in between. The versatile nature of a backpack makes it the ideal choice for someone with a multi-faceted lifestyle and many things to carry. You can easily transition between activities like riding, walking to work, or hiking all while carrying everything you need for each situation. No other style bag can quite meet the same level of convenience as a backpack with the many different styles, sizes and uses available. This guide will help to answer some of your questions about benefits and versatility of bike backpacks that are designed with the cyclist in mind.


Bike backpacks are not just used for cycling, but encompass the gamut of all physical activities. The idea is to be able to move around as much as you want, and still maintain good fit and high functionality, while carrying a bunch of stuff. Bicycling is a sport that involves a wide range of motion, not to mention that most cyclists have a set destination in mind to enjoy hiking, kayaking, or other outdoor sports. Bike backpacks have all of the benefits of a regular backpack, but are amped up with detailed comfort features and helpful organizational capacity. These details are what separate the good bags from the great bags.

All of the bike backpacks we sell are designed to fit well and utilize weight distribution in the most efficient manner for your body. To maintain the model of a good fit, there are multiple adjustment straps to fit the person carrying the bag: from the very tall to the very small. The most important part of the bag are the bones or internal structure of the bag. With the use of a lightweight wire frame, or reinforced foam backing plate, your gear sits evenly across your back and shoulders so you can carry more without strain or discomfort. Vented padding at impact points also adds to your daily comfort of a no-rub ride, while laterally adjustable waist straps and vertically adjustable sternum straps secure the bag snugly for a custom fit. Okay, the bag fits great, but what about those convenience features you were talking about? Generally speaking you can make a pack from nearly every textile you can think of. Whether you prefer nylon, polyester, leather, cotton or latex and whether you fancy PU, acrylic, PVC or hypalon coatings or even no coating at all depends on what you plan to achieve. By picking your choice you must realize one thing: the materials you go for define the price class as well as the expected life span of the pack. So make sure you take some time and get the fabric that is best for the application you need.


Just like all bags, certain inherent factors of the bag should be taken into consideration. The most common is the notorious sweaty-back phenomenon. Biking backpacks, like those from Vaude, resolve this problem by including a rigid frame which pushes the actual backpack off your back for full, flow through air venting. Other backpacks include mesh cooling vents on the back and shoulders to maximize air flow at contact points. Increasing the weight on your back can also increase your center of gravity which can potentially lead to instability.

Compression straps help to secure the items in your pack, for minimal movement on your back. To carry weight at a lower center of gravity, check out bike panniers, which are mounted to bike racks. For the best of both worlds, there are the Ortlieb Vario and Vaude Cycle 28 conversion panniers, which easily transform from pannier to backpack.

Depending on the size and fit of a backpack, your helmet might come into contact with your pack when you turn your head while riding, which can lower your visibility. Adjustable shoulder straps and sternum straps can help to create a great fit both on and off the bike, even considering the additional space necessary for a helmet.

weatherproof-hydration-packs Who invented the backpack? Rumor has it was Dick Kelty… Born in Duluth, Minn., Mr. Kelty moved to Glendale as a child. He worked for the Lockheed Overseas Corporation in England, joined the Navy and later worked as a carpenter in Southern California. An avid hiker and camper in the Sierra Nevada, Mr. Kelty, who was known as Dick, started his brand of backpacks out of his home in 1952. The packs contoured to hikers’ bodies; others then on the market featured heavy wooden frames and canvas bags. Mr. Kelty’s packs also had padded shoulder straps and waist straps that shifted weight from hikers’ shoulders to their hips. Thanks Dick!


  • Commuting
  • Mountain Biking
  • Touring


  • Integrated hydration reservoirs
  • Helmet holders
  • Back cooling vents


  • Shoulders Strap Storage
  • Laptop/Tablet Sleeves
  • Cell Phone Holster

Ortlieb: As the only backpacks that can be labeled 100 percent waterproof, most people who enjoy water sports reach for Ortlieb. Their patented T-ZIP waterproof zipper makes an airtight seal, so your gear will be ready for any environmental onslaught, even if you’re not. 

Vaude: With the largest range of styles of biking backpacks, you will definitely find something you like in the Vaude line. Spanning from easy commuter packs with lots of organization and laptop sleeves to outdoorsy, trail packs made for intense rides, Vaude offers a bag for most any occasion.

Bike Messenger Bags

Bike messenger bags are the stylish bag of choice for many urban cyclist.

These comfortable shoulder bags rest diagonally across a rider’s back and typically have a stabilizing strap across the chest to keep the bags secure while riding. They are well-known for quick cargo accessibility due to their one-shoulder design, which allows a rider to slide the bag from back to front, for easy loading without having to take the bag off. With the multiple shapes and colors available, bike messenger bags have lots of personality while being highly functional for the daily tote-n-ride. With the ease and comfort of the messenger bag, it’s no wonder they have sustained such a long history. They began as mail carrier bags for the Pony Express riders in the nineteenth century, resurfaced in the 1950’s high-fashion shoulder bag scene, and have continued to make an impression ever since as a utilitarian bag used by active enthusiasts with places to be and stuff to carry. Made to be ultra durable, they are typically constructed from high denier Cordura, the heavy-duty fabric which offers toughness while being highly water-resistant or waterproof. In most cases, the fabric is completely waterproof, but some design features like stitched seams or outer pockets, will dub the bag as water resistant.

For comfort and fit, messenger bags rival bike bike backpacks

After many years of figuring what works best, there are some standard features that every messenger bag should have. The shoulder strap is the main point of interest, considering all comfort fit factors ride on this part of the bag, while the rest is convenience. Shoulder straps should be fairly wide on bike messenger bags in order to distribute weight more evenly across your body. The straps are either reinforced and padded along impact points, or include an adjustable pad which can be moved along the strap for custom comfort. The shoulder strap can also double as a Batman-like utility belt, it’s a great place to accessorize cell phone holders, lock holsters, small ditty bags — all necessary items to have at your immediate disposal.

The structure of messenger bags are designed for ultimate convenience. Equipped with a large main flap that secures with cinching buckles, Velcro, or both, you can quickly open the bag, expel it’s contents, and hurry on your merry way. Some bags go a step further with a waterproof roll top flap which opens up organization accessibility while increasing waterproofing with the tight roll closure. Keeping with the multi-faceted bag theme, the large main compartment usually will have multiple organization features like pen slots, pockets, and removable key ring holders. For those who need to be plugged in at all times, some messenger bags will also include an integrated laptop sleeve, or offer a removable one as an accessory.


So, then the question still hangs, “Are bike messenger bags the right bag for me?”. As one of the most versatile and well-known bags on the market, the answer is probably “Yes.” Some main points to consider: Do you prefer to carry your gear on your bike or on your person? How much do you want to carry? How much use do you need from a bag when it’s not on your bike? Messenger bags keep your bike bag-free, for a lighter and more maneuverable commute. Which is why they are often the bag of choice for bike messengers or couriers who are constantly moving around by bike. Messenger bags are also great for carrying a lot of gear, but they can be problematic if overloaded. Even the larger messenger bags have a structural limitation based no the way it rests on your back. Bulky or odd shaped items can often sit awkwardly against your back or poke through the side of a messenger bag, so it’s good to evaluate the type of cargo you want to carry. As far as usability off the bike, cyclists and non-cyclists alike have come accustomed to using messenger bags as an everyday bag.



  • Daily Commuter
  • Professional Bike Messenger
  • Great Laptop Travel Bags


  • Easy Access without removing bag
  • Sizes range from very small to HUGE
  • Stylish and efficient way to carry gear



Banjo Brothers : High quality, well-built and affordable panniers, backpacks, handlebar bags, seat bags, messenger bags, and more for bike commuters, recreational and urban cyclists.

Ortlieb : The tried and true German brand Ortlieb has been making the leading waterproof bike panniers for decades. It was only natural for the large bag company to dabble in producing other waterproof bags. Ortlieb’s patented T-ZIP waterproof zipper and classic waterproof materials allow these messenger bags to go where no bag has gone before.