8 Best Backpacks for Long Distance Cycling in 2023 (Reviews and Guide)


The wind grazes your cheeks and blows through your hair as you cycle over the great open plains of North America. Your hamstrings are burning and your throat feels a bit dry. So, you make a rest stop to grab a bottle of water from your backpack. 

As a long-distance cyclist, I have very specific items that I take with me on my rides. An array of survival tools, clothes, snacks and other persona extras will be found in my reliable backpack.

I’ve had the Adidas backpack for over a year now and I honestly only want to buy a new one for aesthetic purposes and not because it is damaged.

So, I put together a list of other branded cycling backpacks to help myself and other cycling enthusiasts find a suitable alternative to add to our individual cycling gear collection.

The best Backpack for Long Distance Cycling – Comparison Table

 
Material
Size
Price
Deuter Speed Lite
Polyamide
18x12x3 inches
Dakine Drafter Backpack
400D Nylon
21x14x6 inches
Evok Trail Protector Backpack
210D nylon ripstop
22x11x4 inches
Provis Nightrider Backpack
600D Nylon
16x10x3 inches
Bonlex Hydration Backpack
Cordura Fabric
19x10x1.5 inches
Osprey Raptor Backpack
Nylon
19x9x9 inches
Travel Camera Backpack
Tarpaulin and Nylon
17x14x7 inches
Shimano Unzen Backpack
Nylon
19x10x

The best Backpack for Long Distance Cycling Comparison overview

Deuter Speed Lite

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If unlike myself you are a minimalistic type of cyclist, then this is the best backpack for you. With a 12-liter capacity, you can expect to have enough space to carry your stuff securely from one point to another.

Even the pockets are few with the bag featuring one large compartment and a smaller one on top. The bag features a chest strap and a detachable waist strap that has been added in design to keep the bag stable and secure.

Features

  • 2-liter hydration bladder compartment
  • 12 pounds of carrying capacity
  • Chest and waist strap

The 2-liter water reservoir is sufficient for most riders and the remaining 10 liters of space is enough to fit your most common basic essentials. A chest and waist strap help keep the bag in balance and securely around your back.

However, the detachable waist strap can only accommodate a waist of up to 40-inches in measurement. The bag can comfortably carry up to 12-pounds.

Pros

  • Strong
  • Light
  • Breathable
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Low carrying capacity

Verdict

If you love the simple design and functional type of bag for outdoor activities, this is the bag to go for. What’s even better is that it is available in 16 or 20-liter sizes which caters to a number of varying needs.

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Dakine Drafter Backpack

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This bag provides the best balance between compact and spacious and builds into one stylish bag. It features mesh shoulder straps that function amazingly well in keeping your back cool as you work up a sweat.

The waist belt is comfortably padded and it helps keep the bag in balance even in high speed races.

Features

  • 3-liter hydration bladder
  • 5 ponds heavy
  • Multi-pocketed
  • Helmet attachment straps
  • Meshed shoulder straps

The bag itself weighs a weighty 2.5 pounds and features a 3-liter hydration bladder that should keep any cyclist far more than well hydrated. The remaining space in the bag is big enough to fit in your phone, keys, an extra t-shirt or socks among other such personal effects.

Pros

  • Breathable fabric
  • 3-liter hydration bladder
  • Ergonomic straps

Cons

  • 5 pounds heavy

Verdict

As an adventure cyclist myself, I totally leaned into this bike brand and I am strongly inclined to give it a try. I love the attention to detail when they added the helmet strap on the bag just to remind you to keep safety first. That’s really cool.

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Evok Trail Protector Backpack

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Size seems to be the main focus of this bag brand because it features extra-large compartments and also can be found in small, medium to large variations. you can get the 20-liter option if you have a group camping or you will be out for a few days.

Standing just under 3 pounds, this bag is quite heavy and you must be careful not to fill to full capacity to keep yourself from being overloaded.

Features

  • Big storage capacity
  • Stable straps
  • Padded waist belt
  • Multiple pockets

Unfortunately, this bag lacks a water bladder but creates enough room within its compartments for installation of one sized up to 3-liters. A drinking tube has been routed within the bike which adds to the convenience in use.

Shoulder straps are strong but they could be more breathable. Keeping your bag securely in place in high speed racing is possible by use of the chest strap and padded waist belt.

Pros

  • Rain cover provided
  • Highly durable
  • Many compartments for big and small stuff
  • Stylish

Cons

  • No hydration bladder
  • Heavy

Verdict

Though this bag leaves out the hydration bladder, it has created room for one to be installed and further routed a drinking tube through the bag. This is uber cool. Coupled with the fact that the bags are truly roomy, they make for a great purchase for a weekend getaway.

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Provis Nightrider Backpack

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Those riders who appreciate the bright colors that help them stand out from the crowd will love this backpack. Featuring a simplistic design that is highly functional, this bag is made of highly reflective paneling with a detachable booster triangle which maximizes your visibility in traffic.

Features

  • 10-liter capacity
  • Colorful and Reflective bag design
  • 600Dnylon fabric
  • PVC coating
  • Outer phone pocket

Made of 600D nylon fabric and coated with a PVC layer, this bag is super durable and water-resistant so you need not to worry about your items or documents getting destroyed. An external phone pocket is designed so to make the device readily accessible on demand.

Pros

  • Adequate carrying capacity
  • Identifies rider with reflectors
  • Strong water-resistant fabric
  • Easy access phone pocket

Cons

  • Limited color choice

Verdict

The Provis Nightrider is perfect for all those late-night cyclists or those overcautious riders who are concerned about their safety in adverse weather. Though limited in color choice to black or yellow, the bag has delivered on all other benefits a backpack should have.

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Bonlex Hydration Backpack

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Available in a variety of colors, the Bonlex bag is well capacitated to handle all your cycling needs and more. The back is an air mesh material and the shoulder pads allow for air ventilation and they are highly comfortable and adjustable.

Features

  • 3-liter hydration bladder
  • Two external compartments
  • Weighs 2 pounds
  • Adjustable straps

Made of Cordura fabric, this bag is set to be very durable yet light in weight weighing barely 2-pounds in itself. This material is resistant to scrapes and tears and is soft to the touch.

It features a 3-liter replaceable hydration bladder reservoir with a built-in insulated drinking tube. The screw cap is a wide version that allows you to add some ice cubes especially if your race takes part on a hot summer’s day.

Pros

  • Large hydration capacity
  • Simple design

Cons

  • Limited space for essentials

Verdict

Chest and shoulder straps are adjustable and can accommodate both kids and adult sized proportions. There is an added whistle buckle which is convenient in emergency situations. I find this bag quite ideal for all and a great option for daytime trips.

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Osprey Raptor Backpack

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Osprey presents a great unique selling point with this backpack. Incorporating a magnetic fastening, the chest strap is easily manipulated and also reaches conveniently to secure the hydration reservoir’s nozzle.

The frame and construct of the bag is light in weight. With the added benefit of AirScape suspension, this bag’s weight is evenly distributed on your back and this allows for more explosive movements on your ride.

The backpanel is of mesh material and it is foam covered to ensure your utmost comfort while you ride and sweat is dripping.

Features

  • 3-liter hydration reservoir
  • Magnetic chest strap
  • Tool pouch
  • Padded waist belt

The water reservoir measures 3-liters and rests in its specially designed compartment which simplifies organization. The bottom side features a tool roll pouch for all your first response fix-it-quick equipment.

Pros

  • Large storage capacity
  • Unique bag
  • Comfortable to wear

Cons

  • Standard material and build

Verdict

If you love mountain biking, this is the bag you need. It is the perfect shape and size for day trips. The large storage capacity and the special effects like the helmet and the tool roll pouch make this bag exceptional.

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Travel Camera Backpack

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This is the bag for you if you love to travel across the regions with your DSLR camera taking amazing images of the rare scenery. It has enough room to fit your camera plus 8 lenses. A 15-inch laptop, phone and other essentials will also fit snuggly in this design.

It is made of water-resistant tarpaulin and nylon material that keeps the rain away and features padded and breathable shoulder straps to ensure maximum comfort.

Features

  • DSLR fit
  • Stores 8 lenses
  • Weighs 5.3 pounds
  • Several points of access

The bag is a little heavy at 5.3 pounds compared to other backpacks so you need to pack light to avoid causing yourself strain. It is available in both 31 and 21-liter carrying capacity which is expandable by use of the roll top which increases the storage space for more valuables.

Pros

  • Fleece lined pockets
  • Extendable roll top
  • Varied carrying capacity available
  • Multiple access points

Cons

  • Heavy

Verdict

This stylishly sleek designed bag will have you turning heads and will give you easy access to all your vital documents or items without much fuss. Travel vloggers would love this backpack because it is created to meet their travel photography needs.

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Shimano Unzen Backpack

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Created by one of the cycling products heavy-weight manufacturer, this bag is designed to be a safe and secure off-road cycling companion. It is equipped to cater to riders of all levels regardless of weather conditions.

A harness has been built-in to the bag and features a hook which gives the rider quick and simple adjustments. It can be manipulated even while in motion and this makes it a great choice for those cycling through uncertain weather conditions.

Features

  • Rider X-Harness
  • Shoulder strap hooks
  • Helmet holder
  • Rain cover
  • Laptop compartment

Grabbing your eyewear when exactly you need it is conveniently enabled in this backpack because the loop is located on your shoulder strap.

The bag provides a compartment for the hydraulic bladder but you need to buy this separately and slip it in. A helmet holder, laptop compartment and a rain cover all added to make this a quality cycling backpack.,

Pros

  • Multiple attachment loops
  • Water resistant
  • Padded laptop compartment
  • Quick adjustments

Cons

  • Lacks hydraulic bladder

Verdict

The Shimano Unzen backpack is ideal for racers at all levels and is durable to last a long time. The only unfortunate thing about this bag is that it is limited to color black so it may keep buyers away if they prefer a bag that stands out.

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Thing to Consider When Buying the Best Backpack for Long Distance Cycling

Breathability

Cycling is an aerobic activity that will raise your heart rate and cause you to break out in sweat regardless of the weather. Aim to find a bag that has channels of air circulation which will effectively help to minimize the build up of excess sweat.

Capacity

Depending on the intended use of the backpack, you could pick from a variety of bag volumes and capacities. If you are like me who love to take long rides into the woods over the weekend, then select a bag with a capacity between 20 to 30-liters.

If on the other hand you only need it for work or school, you will be satisfied with a smaller capacity of about 10 to 20-liters.

Padding

Padded straps help minimize the effects of excess weight on your shoulders. Choose a bag with comfortable padding with adjustable lengths of thick shoulder, waist and chest straps. This will guarantee that your ride will be smooth and that you will not suffer any unwanted aches from carrying heavy loads.

Pockets

Organization s everything and having a multi-pocketed bag will go a long way to accommodate your varying items of need. The first most important thing to look for is a padded laptop sleeve with a secure fastening mechanism.

Also ensure the pockets are large enough to fit your lunch box in it and confirm that smaller zippered pockets for things like phone, important documents and others can be stored.

Waterproofing

Choose a bag featuring a waterproof shell or liner to keep the shower of rain from getting to your important documents or highly-priced equipment.

Reflective Properties

As a cyclist, you really must be vigilant on the road especially if it is characterized by motorists. Keeping your safety first as a cycling demands that you buy a backpack with reflective details especially on the back and sides.

This helps keep you visible on the road in whatever dark or terrible weather you may encounter.

Hydration System

When cycling, as with any other form of exercise, you need to keep your body hydrated because it helps you replenish body fluids that are lost through sweating. A hydraulic bladder is the best option and it could be of any size between 2 or 3-liter type.

Some backpacks have the hydraulic bladder with the water ladder, nozzle and hose in-built enabling you to take a drink while still on the bike. Others have the compartment designed and you have to buy a hydraulic bag to work with the bag.

Weight

Considering the amount and type of items you are taking with you and the type of ride you are gearing up for, may have you inclined to check the weight of the backpack itself. This is especially true for mountain bikers who will feel every ounce of the weight as they pedal through and navigate difficult terrain.

Keeping the bag weight well below 2 pounds would do you some justice.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is safe to say that a great backpack will feature strong stable straps, a compact yet highly functional design, a hydraulic system and most importantly water-resistant properties.

In this regard, for me as a cycling adventure maniac, I settled on the Dakine Drafter Backpack because it has a big hydraulic bladder and it features extras such as a helmet hook on the bags frame which I think is super cool.

Based on this review and with your needs and expectations analyzed, you should be able to find a backpack or two that may tickle your fancy. All those listed here are great quality products and you wouldn’t go wrong with any one.

FAQs

Which is the best material for a cycling backpack?

Look out for water-resistant nylon, tarpaulin or treated cotton duck fabric such as that used in creation of sails. However, note that no backpack is actually waterproof because the material would weigh the bag down.

How soon can I upgrade my Cycling backpack?

If you manage to get yourself a great quality backpack with water-resistant properties, good stitching and strong resilient material, you may only need to change your cycling backpack every two or three years at most.