Covet: Backpacks for the Cycling Commuter


Fall weather is upon in Toronto and that means more rain, cooler temperatures and more reasons to carry more things with you. A change of clothes, a laptop, books, lunch… the list goes on.

While messenger bags are a popular choice many people prefer backpacks because they are less likely to shift and can feel more secure.

Here then a few “covet-worthy” backpacks to keep your goodies dry and with you through all seasons:

SealLine is the brand of choice for active people who spend a lot of time on the water. No wonder then that their Urban Backpack (above) is watertight and growing in popularity with commuter cyclists.

The BC3 backpack from Ergon is designed to not only carry what you need but allows for a full range of movement due to the unique frame. Waterproof and comfortable with extras such as a helmet holder and a spot for hydration bladders.

Mission Workshop’s Vandal backpack is built to carry far more than you may ever need to. 3 waterproof compartments expand for awkward items and to make room for more when you stop at the grocery store on your way home from work.

Deceivingly simple looking from the outside, the SUIT25 backpack by Slicks is designed to more formal office attire featuring a suit holder with hanger and separated compartments to keep your shoes and shirts clean. A bright rain cover is included to keep your clothes dry and increase visibility in lower light.


  1. I started with backpacks, moved to courier bags, and have recently started using pannier bags. They are the best of the three.

    Putting something on your back makes you sweat more, and doesn’t allow the sweat to evaporate. There’s no reason to burden your back either.

  2. Certainly to each their own when it comes to bags. I have panniers and use them on longer rides/commutes, but when I’m carrying my laptop I prefer it to be securely on me and use a messenger-style bag. Personally, I’d like a backpack for days when I’m carrying my laptop plus a change of clothes/lunch.

  3. gttavisions says:

    I use a Highson Suit Commute that I got over the internet from the UK. It’s a backpack that claims to be able to carry a full sized suit, size 12 shoes and a 17-inch laptop. I lives up to those claims, but it only does an ok job of keeping the suit pressed. It feels light and fluffy on my back, but isn’t good for people with nasty disgusting back sweat like me.

  4. I’d agree with Ben that panniers are best. However, if you want to go with the pack, then the MEC Spirit Velo is a decent choice, with a lot of cycle friendly features. Perhaps not fancy enough to covet. Also, MEC carries Deuter bags, which do the best job of any day pack of keeping the back relatively sweat free. They also have rain covers. I have the Race Air model, which is too small to carry much, but they make bigger packs. Getting a bit pricey with the Euro the way it is now.

  5. Here are a few links to the bags mentioned in the comments so far:

    Highson Suit Commute
    MEC Spirit Velo
    Deuter Race Air (at MEC)

  6. “While messenger bags are a popular choice many people prefer backpacks because they are less likely to shift and can feel more secure.”

    I disagree with this statement. I recently switched to a Chrome messenger bag. The bag has an under arm clip that pulls the strap away from riding your neck and secures it, eliminating shifting.

    Until buying my Chrome, I used backpacks daily and they didn’t ever feel as secure on my back.

    A total plus to the Chrome: the bag contains a rubber-like lining, similar to a dry bag. Meaning, you could dump everything out, throw in some ice and some bevies and viola! A cooler to go! What backpack can do that? :)

    Best. Bag. Ever.

  7. Thanks, Faith. Yes, that statement is certainly not true for all messenger-style bags. Most of the ones I’ve featured in other “Covet” posts have additional straps to really keep that pack with you. Although I don’t know if any can be used as a beverage cooler… good to know!

  8. Love the cooler-bag feature! I can think of lots of times I’d use that!

  9. Tried this with my chrome bag over the summer, water everywhere when ice melts, on the bike it looks like you are wetting yourself lol. But it was cool and refreshing #notimpermeable

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