Choosing the best backpack pannier is about knowing what you will use it for. All the models have their pros and cons and are aimed to a specific audience. Whether you are a daily commuter, want it for a 10-day trip to the mountains or just comfortable grocery shopping there surely is a model for you. We went through the most prominent names in the market and came back with a verdict about each with pros and cons.
Are you ready to find the perfect backpack pannier for you? Let ́s do it!
What is a backpack pannier?
A backpack pannier is a great, very simple yet revolutionary concept. Panniers that can act as backpacks and backpacks that can double as panniers. You can commute to work and reach the office without that horrible round sweat mark on your pristine shirt because your backpack with all the must-takes will be safe and sound strapped to the side. Need to go to a business meeting? Don ́t worry; just put on the straps and take it around like a regular backpack.
This concept is fairly new to most people but could really improve their lives. If that is you, the pannier backpack you were looking for is surely one of the following.
The best backpack pannier rundown:
Those looking for a budget-oriented backpack pannier that can withstand everyday harsh weather might have found it with this one. It is not the most beautiful and stylish backpack pannier but it really is cheap, lightweight and handy.
Hooking it up to the bike rack is very easy and feels very comfortable on your back. I wish it had some internal divisions to fit all my stuff neatly. Also, if you are carrying, for example a book and it goes horizontal, it might be very uncomfortable on your back. Other than that, it looks sturdy and since it is waterproof, you can just wash the dirt and mud out of it.
If you are taking it on an everyday adventure I do not recommend the white one since it gets very dirty very often. Finally, the fact that the upper cover folds to protect the straps and not the insides makes me a little doubtful about waterproof abilities.
- Very easy to attach and detach with trusty hooks.
- Lightweight and cheap.
- Available in three colors.
- No specific laptop section or any other internal divisions.
- The top cover in pannier mode covers the straps instead of the interior.
- Outer pockets are definitely not waterproof.
Two Wheel Gear Pannier Backpack Convertible 1.1
Slipping this backpack pannier on your shoulders is a nice feeling, like the one you get with expensive backpacks. The riding experience is also very good, it is easy to mount and dismount from your bike ́s rack. Inside you can find many divisions and pockets clearly thought for today`s digital nomads. It is easy to pack your entire office inside of it. Perhaps what I found a little annoying is that they go from 22L to 30L and while the first model is too small, the second one is too big.
The rain proof feature is great and so is the rain cover included for pouring moments. Although the rain flap is very hard, it gives you a sense of trust when you set it over your pricey equipment. When installing it back on your bike and folding the flap, it might happen to you that zippers end up being in a weird position.
- Rain proof and comes with an extra cover for extreme weather conditions.
- The mounting system is minimal and works great.
- It feels very well as a backpack.
- The stiffness of the rain flap makes it difficult to maneuver it at times.
- Zippers can be locked in very strange positions making it frustrating.
- Available in two sizes: too big or too small.
Blackburn Wayside Backpack Panniers
For those of us who are a little more concerned about the looks on our backpacks, this might be it. The price tag makes it a very affordable option and the feel and look make it even more attractive. It features a good, sturdy interior with lots of room and a good, padded laptop sleeve.
The two extra pockets on the outside are good to fit small things you don ́t want loose in the main compartment. The padded straps do a great job at converting into a comfy backpack. On the not-so-good side, it takes a little longer than other methods to attach it with the provided Velcro. Also, it doesn’t feel as steady or sturdy when you are going fast. It is not waterproof and if it is empty, it will fold inside and touch your rear wheel which is kind of annoying.
That being said, it is a good-looking affordable choice with plenty of storage room.
- Looks very classy.
- Inside and outside pockets make it very versatile.
- Padded straps.
- Takes a little longer to attach the Velcro.
- Non-water proof construction.
- Empty bag folds in touching the wheel.
Timbuk2 Deploy Convertible Backpack Pannier
This backpack is great in many aspects. For starters, the design and the material look and feel really good on the bike and on your shoulders. The insides are spacious and the back zipper for the laptop is great to keep it hidden out of sight. I particularly liked the foldable upper part as well.
On the other hand, the clips with which you mount it to the bike rack with are not sturdy and feel kind of loose. They won ́t match every rack and for some you have to actually push them in. I can see them not withstanding weather inclemency and the pass of time as well as the backpack does.
- Spacious and good-looking.
- Rear hidden zipper for laptop.
- Clips tend to break.
- Clips are loose and don ́t match every bike rack.
- Takes some time to convert it.
Arkel Bug Pannier Backpack
This is one of the best pannier backpacks I have ever tried. It is very spacious and is one of the few that will allow me to store my helmet instead of taking it hanging on a strap from the side of the bag. I don ́t know how is it that other brands don ́t realize this is a thing they need to offer. Well, the Cordura 1,000 denier nylon construction is supposed to be water-proof and it is. I did the shower test though (put it under the full- on shower) and water went in through the zippers. So, buy a rain cover for it if water really pours in your region.
The insides are great, they are spacious and your notebook is safe and protected with the hard back materials. The straps are among the most comfortable in the market so it is a great backpack for wandering around all day long if you want to. I love that they used real metal hooks for the bike rack. They seem sturdy and durable; the other fabric parts that work for the coupling are kind of annoying getting tangled up as you
work your way around it. I noticed that once full, it will break the bike ́s perfect balance and the color scheme is not my favorite, but it is a serious contender for the best of the rundown.
- Has a helmet pocket.
- Ergonomic shoulder straps.
- Spacious insides.
- Not completely waterproof especially the zippers.
- When full tends to change the bike ́s balance.
- The mounting system includes fabric parts that get tangled up making the process harder.
Cool Change Bicycle Pannier Backpack
For those whose adventure spirit takes them beyond pedaling to the usual commuting distance, this pannier can prove to be a winner. The design concept is definitely brilliant. You can store up to 65 liters and be comfortable riding without that weight on your back. The main compartment is a backpack and the sides become carrying bags. The price tag on it is also very affordable.
On the other hand, the zippers that attach the parts could use some locking features. It is very dangerous to lose one of the sides of your backpack when you are going up the hill. If that happens you will realize that the actual bag is scratch resistant but the net mesh is not. Also the sewing of the fabric doesn ́t seem so sturdy. That being said, in the case you are going the distance on your two wheels you might consider this to carry all your gear safe and sound.
- Great concept, brilliant idea.
- Included rain cover.
- Scratch and water-resistant 600D material.
- Zippers tend to get undone while riding.
- Sewn seam parts tend to get loose with time.
- Mesh netting is not scratch-resistant.
You ́ve read our rundown of the best backpack pannier and to make it even clearer what the criteria we used for selection was we put together this buying guide. It includes all that you need to check when you are about to click on “Buy now”. Read on and learn to differentiate between the pannier backpack that works for you and the one that doesn ́t.
Hooking it up
The best backpack pannier can be defined as the one that hooks up the best to your bike rack. This definition of best means easily and securely; if either of those fails then you ́re going to be very annoyed about it very soon. Security in the assembly is not something you can overlook for obvious reasons (more if you are taking a laptop with you). Ease of use is something most people don ́t pay enough attention to because “they will get used to with time”. Experience says that you don ́t get used with time, you become more annoyed with time and can be a reason to leave the backpack on your back when commuting just because assembly is too time-consuming and difficult. If it is not easy the first time, it won ́t get any easier down the road.
This can be essential or a detail depending on where you live. For example, those who live in a place where the sun shines most of the year have nothing to worry about. Those living in a place on Earth where it rains a lot have to bear this in mind when buying. Is it water proof? Does it include a waterproof cover? Also, bear in mind which are the elements you ́ll be carrying because a wet laptop can be a disastrous situation. This is to say that the best backpack pannier for you needs to address your needs in terms of rain protection.
Travelling or commuting?
This is definitely an important question to ask before making your purchase of the best backpack pannier. The differences between them are huge; let ́s see the most relevant two:
· Size – A commuting pannier backpack is usually quite smaller than a traveling one. We are looking at a difference of about one third or even more. This obliges for very different designs on each case. Do you need to take enough for some hours or for some days?
· Design – The design of traveling pannier backpacks is usually a three-piece backpack for the sides and the top of the rack. If you are to leave the bike behind and roam around this can be quite annoying and perhaps two 30L commuting panniers would be better.
Once you make up your mind about this fact, you will definitely narrow down choices drastically.
How much room do you really need?
Speaking of room, how much room do you really need for a daily commute? Do you need to have space for only your work stuff or maybe a spare coat, your lunch and some shoes? The best backpack pannier is always the one that allows you to fit everything you need inside. Taking an extra backpack and your pannier ruins the whole idea of it being the handiest option. Make a list of what you would put inside in a regular day and use it as a guide for your purchase.
Going deeper into the concept of choosing the best backpack pannier depending on what elements you ́ll be transporting we have to choose internal divisions as well. If you are carrying a laptop or a tablet, you need to have a separate sleeve for them. In fact, if you are a digital nomad looking for an office “on the move” you should buy one that can easily fit all your elements safely while you are pedaling. This includes pockets for external hard drives, notebook, tablet, headphones and such.
This is another major topic when choosing your backpack pannier. The first thing to look is the fact that it has good, sturdy and easy to use hooks for your bike rack. The stronger the hooks, the safer your stuff will be and the more comfortable you ́ll be taking it with you hanging on the side of your bicycle. Always look for durable materials on the outside as well because it can get scratches with branches and such objects found on the sides or the road. The best backpack pannier is the one that can take wear and tear and also has a strong lock with your bike.
The best backpack pannier has to be easily washed and cleaned. The bag will hang from the side of your bicycle and you will very likely be going through water, mud, rain and more. If it is too difficult to wash you will just tend to be lazy about it and then to not use it because it is dirty. Most of the water-proof models you can just put under the tap water and clean them with soap and a light brush. When it comes to ease of washing, always look for truly waterproof models.
Finally, this is a definite game-changer. The best backpack pannier has to be comfortable to wear on the bike and on your shoulders. The things you should bear in mind are how padded and ergonomic the straps are and how good it feels on your bike. Also, you should always consider how it fits on the bike and if it breaks your equilibrium or touches the rear wheel. Finally, it is important that the inside of the backpack is designed in such a way that your stuff can be well distributed and that it is easy to put everything in and take it out on a daily basis.
The best backpack pannier is surely the result of a great combination of comfort, ease of use, durability and space for all your needs. We covered very diverse models aimed to very different people. Whether you want to commute daily to work, go to the gym or take a two-week mountain trek into the woods, there is surely a model for you.
Before you make a decision, make sure to follow our buying guide and cross-out those that don ́t meet your search criteria. You are going to deposit a lot of trust in your pannier, so it has to be up to the task.
Choose wisely and enjoy freedom riding your bike without that weight upon your shoulders.