Best Commuter Backpacks for 2019

Best Commuter Backpacks for 2019

A commuter backpack is a popular item for those travelling and working in cities. We look at the best commuter backpacks on the market currently.

The Timbuk 2 Blink Pack is a light weight bag that offers a large carry capacity. The bag features a clamshell opening: the front pocket opens like a suitcase, making packing very simple. We liked the external compression straps that allow you to compress the bag when not full. You can get a 15in laptop easily into it padded laptop compartment, although there is no dedicated sleeve for a tablet. There is also a grab handle at the top of the bag that allows you to carry the bag, should you wish. The handle was a little light on padding, but it functions well enough. There is a side stretch pocket for a water bottle or an umbrella. The side pocket functioned well enough, but it could have done with a little more depth: the bottle tended to fall out when the bag was on its side.  
The Timbuk is nicely designed bag that is durable and light. There are a couple of minor design faults that prevent it from being perfect, but it is a great choice as a commuter bag.

The Patagonia Black Hole is aptly named. This bag has a 32l capacity that can swallow up whatever you put into it. There is a padded laptop sleeve that can accommodate a 15in laptop easily, and there is also a sleeve for a tablet. There is also a hidden front vertical zippered pocket that can be used to store your vital items. The bag comes with a sternum strap, a webbed belt and a padded shoulder harness. The shoulder pads are comfortable but the padding on belt felt a little light. The bag comes with a carry handle, which we found to be a little small. You can carry the bag using the strap, but not for long periods.  
The one area we thought the Black Hole fell down was storage. Although the 32l bag offers a great capacity, there is a lack of pockets for sorting out your items. Consequently, your items tend to accumulate in a haphazard pile at the bottom of the bag. Despite this, if you are looking for large capacity bag, the Black Hole will serve you well. 

It’s a sad fact of life that your valuables are in constant danger of theft. The Instasafe offers numerous anti-theft innovations to protect your gear: there is an anti-slash mesh built into the bag to prevent knives from cutting your bag, a Roobar locking system to prevent access to your compartments, smart zippers that cannot be opened by a malicious passersby, and a RFID security feature that prevents anyone hacking information from your stored credit cards, ID cards and passports. 
The bag also comes with some standard storage features: there is room for a 15in laptop and also for a 10in laptop in its zippered main compartment. The shoulder straps are functional; they could be more comfortable, and there is no back ventilation, just some soft padding. If you are wearing this bag in hot weather, expect to sweat a little on your back. The carry strap on the top also lacks padding, so it is only useful for a short carry.  
All in all, if you are looking for a highly secure bag, the Intasafe has many innovative features to recommend it. 

If you are in the market for a cycling bag for commuting, the Osprey Radial comes highly recommended. The bag has a lot of innovative and useful features. There is an integrated kickstand built into the bag, so that it stays upright when you place the bag onto the floor. There is a blinker light attachment on the front of the bag as well as a helmet attachment, which spares you the bother of having to carry your helmet everywhere once you off your bike. In a compartment on the top of the bag is a high visibility rain cover, which can be rolled out and placed over the bag quickly whenever inclement weather hits. As well as separate compartments for both your laptop and your tablet, the Radial offers separate access to each; a very nice feature. There is a stretch side pocket for a water bottle and a side pocket with a retractable key chain.  
The build of the bag is also impressive: there is a ventilated back and harness. Although this adds a little weight, we think this is offset by the greater comfort afforded to the wearer. There is very little to criticize with this bag: perhaps the reflective detail on the front panel of the bag could have been a little larger, and it does lack a dedicated water bladder compartment like the Deuter Compact, but if you are a cyclist looking for a well-made commuting bag, the Radial 26 comes recommended.  

If you are the type of person who is highly organized and hates looking through your bag to locate that one specific item, the Icon is the bag for you. The bag comes with both a laptop and a tablet compartment, as well as a faux-fur lined phone compartment. It is made from a durable brand of nylon that is highly abrasion-resistant. But this bag shines when it comes to storage. There are numerous compartments and pockets that can store anything you have, each in their own space. It eliminates the dreaded search at the bottom of your bag for that one vital item you desperately need. 
There are number of minor areas the bag could have been improved. The shoulder pads were padded, but could do with a little more thickness, and the bag is fairly rigid; it will not fold down if it is half-empty. The weight as well was a little on the large side. If you need to carry numerous items, or simply wish to be highly organized in your packing, the Icon is perfect 

If you are looking for a high end luxury, innovative bag, the Bellroy Duo Totepack is the bag for you. The Duo in the bag’s title refers to the bag’s ability to be worn as a backpack or carried as a tote bag. The bag itself is beautiful. Made from Cordura nylon, the bag gives a soft feeling to the hand without sacrificing durability. There is a central padded laptop compartment, with two compartments for books or clothes on either side. The bag comes also comes in two profiles: slim, for everyday use, or expanded, for when you need to carry something extra. Essentially, the bag will double its width to accommodate more items. 
Whether used as a backpack or as a tote, the bag feels comfortable. The straps are padded and the back is cushioned plentifully. At 15l expanded, this is not the biggest bag available, but if you want to travel in style, this is the bag for you. 

The Deuter Compact 12 is another interesting option for the cyclist commuter. This is a well-made bag: it has a flat steel frame that has two foam straps that offer good comfort and ventilation. Although the frame is steel, the bag is still very light. There is a helmet holder on the front of the bag, two external side pockets and a rain cover that is can be deployed quickly and easily. If you are into rugged mountain biking, you will appreciate the auto compression hip straps, which make this bag particularly comfortable and safe to wear, whatever your body shape. 
The bag also has a height adjustable chest strap, which again allows you to tailor the fit and weight distribution of the bag to your own personal needs. This bag competes with the Osprey Radial 26 for the best cyclist commuter bag, It is a close call between the two: both are excellent bags, but the Deuter does offer the ability to carry a 3l water bladder with you. The bladder has its own compartment, so removing and filling it is very easy, even if your back is packed tight. The Osprey doesn’t offer anything similar, so if you want access to water when riding, consider the Deuter as your next commuting bag.

The Thule TCDK is a bag aimed at the professional photographer. The bag can comfortably fit a DSLR camera body with an attached ultra-wide-angle lens, along with a 15in laptop and table. There is also a large rolltop compartment at the top of the bag for your personal items. The bag comes with a zippered divider that separates the bottom and top compartments of the bag. The bag dividers can be customized to fit around the particular shapes of your gear. There is a side pocket for a tripod that can also double up as a water bottle pocket.  

The bag is extremely sturdy and has clearly been designed to last a lifetime. It offers a large amount of storage and its custom divider system will offer great protection for all your camera equipment. The only drawback we found with the bag was its weight. At 5lb, the bag feels heavy even without the equipment. It’s also rather large in size. There also no chest straps, so carrying this around for hours on end if you are under 6 foot may be a strain.

The Pelican Mobile offers decent storage capacity at a very low weight. If you are in the market for a no-frills lightweight commuting bag, he Pelican Mobile is worth your consideration. 
The bag comes with rubber coated zipper pulls on its YKK zippers, compression molded shoulder straps, a main compartment with a laptop sleeve and a nylon coated padding on the bottom of the bag. The nylon isn’t quite as tough as on some of the other bags we tested, but it offers more than enough protection for your gear from everyday use. The back is padded  but does not offer the same level of protection nor the ventilation that a harness would. On the other hand, the Pelican is consequently incredibly light at only 1.43lb, and the padding on its back, along with the compression molded shoulder straps; make this bag comfortable enough if you are not planning to pack the bag with heavy equipment to its capacity. There are not too many frills on this bag; there is no dedicated water bottle compartment nor any fancy compartments for wires, cables, phones, or papers: Instead, the Pelican Mobile is an incredibly light, well made bag that is designed to protect your items from the elements and get them to your destination in one piece.  

The Mission Workshop Sanction, as its name suggests, is a US made bag that hails from San Francisco. The first thing to say about this bag is its design. The bag looks and feels stylish. There are not one but three pockets on the outside of the bag. One is at the bottom and shut with Velcro. Underneath the top are anther two zippered pockets. One is extremely shallow, useful for only very small items, but the other pocket goes all the way down to the bottom of the bag. The inside of the bag does not offer much in the way of storage options. There is a central compartment and a zippered pocket, which again goes all the way to the bottom of the bag. The metal buckles on the outside have a unique system for opening and closing the bag. You simply hook the connectors onto them. This makes opening and closing he bag extremely quick.  

The Sanction is a wonderful looking bag that is also built to last: as well as the three external and two internal compartments, it comes with urethane coated zippers, waterproof materials, and an internal frame sheet. It has a timeless design that will appeal to both the fashion conscious and to those looking for a bag with a style all of its own.

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