A neat rucksack is one of the most convenient ways to carry your stuff around as it keeps you streamlined on the bike and isn’t a faff to carry around off your bike, unlike panniers. 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 base layer next to my skin (such as Kora’s yak wool base layer) helps no end.
[part title="Brooks Dalston Knapsak"]
The most stylish of the lot, the Brooks Dalston is also the most expensive – 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 plus 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.
Available in black, grey or brown from Brooks England.
[part title="Good Ordering Market Shopper"]
The quirkiest bag on test, Good Ordering’s Market Shopper is also the most versatile – it’s a backpack, a shopper and a pannier in one. Good Ordering’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 and with its padded straps, it sits comfortably on your back. That boxy design means it sits quite high though, so 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.
Available in Forest green, rust, chestnut brown and maroon from Good Ordering.
[part title="Osprey Momentum"]
The most technical bag on test, the Osprey Momentum is stuffed full of thoughtful touches, handy pockets and useful features. The headline detail is the AirScape backpanel with foam ridges covered with a mesh panel – while I didn’t test this in the heat of summer it certainly kept me dry with a full load – but the details that stood out to me are the ergonomic zip pulls, the 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.
Available in grey or orange from Osprey.
[part title="Ogio Soho"]
The second largest capacity backpack on test, the Ogio Soho 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. It’s got 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, but 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.
Available in terra (red) and tide (teal) from Madison.
[part title="dhb Luggit Slice"]
I had to check then double check the price of this dhb Slice rucksack – at £25 it’s got a staggering amount of features and thoughtful additions that puts it on a par with the Osprey Momentum. It has a high-vis stowable rain cover, mesh and a stiff foam harness to keep it off your back, two very handy pockets on the removable hip belt, easy-to-use-with-gloves zip pulls, a fleece-lined valuables pocket and a light loop.
Where it falls down against, say, the Osprey, is the fit and finish. While it’s the biggest on test it’s also narrow across your back, and my 15" laptop is a squeeze to fit in (plus there’s no particular padding for it). The Slice is quite long so I found it a bit tricky to get the fit of it right on my back, and the fabric, while hardwearing, feels plasticky compared to some of the others. But, considering the price (£25!), these are mere quibbles – for the cash, this is a brilliant bag.
Available in black from Wiggle.
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