Doesn’t matter where you are going, or how long you are riding for you will generally need to carry something with you on the bike.

1.If you are commuting;  it could be the gear you need for your workday, a bike lock, maybe a tool kit, lunch and some shopping purchases.
2. If you are recreational riding; a tool kit, water for hydration, and maybe additional riding clothes and a first aid kit.
3.If you are bike packing or bike touring you will need to carry a whole lot more gear.

Whatever the gear, or the amount – YOU have a number of different options on how you can choose to carry your gear. One option is – you the rider – carrying the gear in a backpack.

If you choose to go biking with a backpack consider the following;

  1. What gear do you want to take on your back when you ride your bike?
  2. How much gear can you comfortably take on your back (in your backpack) when you ride your bike?
What gear do you want to carry in your backpack.

Before we set out considering what you might pack into your backpack it is important first to understand what you can comfortably carry on your back. Understanding this will help you decide what items should be carried where – in a backpack (on you) or an alternative carrying option (on the bike).

What might YOU commonly choose to put in your backpack when riding?

Bike lock, hydration- reservoir (bladder or water bottle), additional clothing options (items to keep you warm and dry – warm top, headband, neckband and waterproof jacket), mobile phone, credit cards and cash, sunscreen, first aid kit, tool kit, snacks/meal (lunch), bike helmet (if you stop during your ride), shopping purchases, gear for others; for example a warm riding top and/or jacket for the kids.

What you need or want to carry will be different depending on the type and duration of the ride, the numbers riding with you, where you are going and if you have alternative carrying options eg on the bike.

Which sized bag is best suited to YOU? There is never the ‘perfect’ one. Most importantly make sure you have the capacity to carry gear that will keep you safe and comfortable. A goRide tip is to choose the pack size that fits your needs 80% of the time. For the 20% of time that it may not be ideal – find other ways to carry the gear on the bike.

Lets find out what size of pack allows you to fit what items in the backpack.

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5-7 litre pack – what can I carry? 

A pack this size will often come with a 1.5 – 2 litre hydration reservoir. Enough to allow you to ride for up to 2 hours. This sized pack is if you want to go light. Maybe short duration, fair weather riding and when you are only responsible for you. Here is an example of what you can carry – hydration reservoir/bladder, cycling jacket, tool kit-with pump and tube , phone and credit cards/cash and a small snack. If you choose to carry some of those items on the bike e.g. hydration and/or tool kit or pump then you can replace with another similar sized item e.g. first aid kit.  [/one-half-first]

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1o litre backpack – what can I carry?

A pack this size will often come with a hydration resevoir of 2 – 3 litres. Enough to allow you to ride 2 plus hours. This sized pack is still small and lightweight but gives you flexibility for longer duration rides, if the weather is unpredictable or if you are responsible for others.  Here is an example of what you can carry – hydration reservoir/bladder, cycling jacket and items for warmth, tool kit-with pump and tube , phone and credit cards/cash and a snack, first aid kit. If you choose to carry some of those items on the bike eg. hydration and/or tool kit or pump then you can replace with another similar sized item e.g. additional clothing items for the kids. [/one-half]

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14 litre backpack – what can I carry?

A pack this size will often come with a hydration reservoir of 2-3 litres. Enough to allow you to ride 2 plus hours. This sized pack offers you more flexibility for your next adventure. A size that can accommodate long duration rides or if you need to carry gear for commuting. You can easily support others you may be riding with by carrying some of their gear.  Here is an example of what you can carry – hydration reservoir/bladder, cycling jacket and items for warmth, tool kit-with pump and tube , bike lock, phone and credit cards/cash and lunch and snacks, first aid kit, additional clothing items for the kids. If you choose to carry some of those items on the bike eg. hydration and/or tool kit or pump or not to take some items then you can replace with another similar sized item. [/one-half-first]

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20 litre backpack – what can I carry?

A pack this size can come with the option of carrying a hydration reservoir. Not its primary role but many will offer that flexibility.  A pack this size is likely to be used for commuting, or needing to carrying a lot of gear on a ride – it gives you capacity.  Increased capacity will generally mean increased load so backpack features that keep the load snug to your back and stable are important and remember to consider your comfort when riding with a pack this size. Here is an example of what you can carry – hydration reservoir/bladder or drink bottle, cycling jacket and items for warmth, tool kit-with pump and tube , phone and credit cards/cash and a snacks and lunch, first aid kit, additional clothing items for the kids and/or shopping purchases.

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This story is part of a goRide series covering Carrying gear on the bike – what are your options? To help cover this big topic we are going to look into four options.

  1. You the rider carrying the gear
  2.  Gear being carried on the bike
  3.  Additional ways to transport gear eg.trailers
  4.  Specific bikes designed to carry gear.

Your needs will determine what option or combination of options will work for you. Look out for other stories in this series.

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Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Carrying gear when I bike – what are my options? Comfort with a backpack

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