A neat streamlined rucksack is one of the most convenient ways to carry your kit both on and off the bike. And better still they cut out the faff time that is often associated with panniers.

Commuter rucksack copyright phil hall

Tapping into the current high-street fashion of carrying your bag on two shoulders, these rucksacks spread the load evenly across your back and shoulders for maximum comfort while also going someway to looking stylish (some more than others).

But what of the dreaded sweaty back syndrome? One of these, the Osprey, has a venting system to prevent such a situation. The others don’t have anything as specific but I’ve found that, particularly during winter and on a commute of around half an hour or so, a good baselayer next to my skin helps no end.

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[part title="Brooks Dalston Knapsack (medium)"]


The most stylish of the lot, the Brooks Dalston is also the most expensive (£150) – but it’s fantastically comfortable, waterproof and I’ve even used it when not on my bike, so if you’re happy to splash the cash it’s worth it for the use you’ll get out of it.

The Brooks Dalston has a very straightforward design and is made from a waterproof canvas-style material with a leather carry handle, zip pulls and support bars across the back. The zip opening to the bag is covered by a fold of waterproof material, so even in fairly heavy rain my stuff inside stayed dry.

Inside the Brooks Dalston there’s a laptop sleeve for a 15" laptop, a zipped pocket and two further deep pockets. There is also a flat pocket on the front (good for putting your lock in), a stretchy pocket for a water bottle and a further flat side pocket. It’s not the biggest bag however, so if you’re carrying a change of clothes and need to do your weekly shop, you’ll struggle. It’d also be handy if it had a hook inside for your keys. Despite that, I love this bag for its aesthetic appeal alone.

RRP: £150

Size: 18l

Available in black or grey

[part title="Goodordering Market Shopper"]


The quirkiest bag on test, Goodordering’s Market Shopper (£55) is also the most versatile – it’s a backpack, a shopper and a pannier in one. Goodordering’s Market Shopper has rucksack straps, large handles and hooks to attach it to your pannier rack. It has space inside for a 15" laptop in a protective sleeve and a further zipped pocket inside, plus three good sized pockets on the outside.

The Market Shopper is made of water-resistant nylon with hard-wearing PVC trim and a natty pinstripe lining. Due to its boxy nature it’s great at keeping everything organised inside.

Padded straps means it sits comfortably on your back but beware, the boxy design does mean it sits quite high, so it can restrict your view a little when looking over your shoulder.

The Market Shopper is supplied with a drawstring nylon bag – if it looks like heavy rain, the idea is to put anything you want to keep dry in that, then put the whole thing inside the Shopper. While that may be a faff if you’re caught in an unexpected shower, it certainly works.

RRP: £55

Size: 15l

Available in Forest green, Rust, Chestnut brown, Maroon.

[part title="Osprey Momentum 22l"]


The most technical bag on test, the Osprey Momentum (£80) is stuffed full of thoughtful touches, handy pockets and useful features.

The headline detail is the venting system on the back of the bag. Foam ridges have been covered by a mesh panel to ensure air circulates and that dreaded sweaty back problem is avoided. While I didn’t test this in the heat of summer, it certainly kept me dry with a full load.

The details that really stood out to me though are the ergonomic zip pulls, perfectly sized pockets, and the fact that every strap, zip and toggle is exactly to hand, just where you want it.

The Osprey Momentum is very comfy to ride with, it sits neatly and securely on your back, held in place by a chest strap and a waist strap. A 15" laptop sits inside a separate back compartment, and there’s also a zipped compartment for a tablet. The Momentum is topped off with a handy helmet attachment and a stowable high-visibility rain cover, complete with loop to attach a rear light to. For a regular commuter, you’ll not want much more – every possible need has been thought of.

RRP: £80

Size: 22l

Available in grey or orange

[part title=" Ogio Soho"]


The largest capacity backpack on test, the Ogio Soho (£70) is a smart number that goes someway to combining the functionality of the Osprey bag with the style of the Brooks and the playfulness of the Good Ordering.

The bag has a good selection of compartments – for up to a 17" laptop, plus tablet, books/files, pens and make up – handily identified with little icons, and a fully padded base for bump protection. Despite all the pockets and compartments, it’s missing a hook for your keys and doesn’t have a loop to attach a light to.

The Ogio Soho sits well on your back and has a padded back panel for comfort. Unexpectedly, I avoided the rain while testing this so threw a couple of glasses of water over it, and the water beaded on the surface and quickly ran off. Not conclusive waterproofing, but certainly encouraging. The Soho felt a little more cumbersome and not as sleek as the others on test – but if it’s more space you need, then this is the one.

RRP: £70

Size: 23l

Available in terra (red) and tide (teal)