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Best Biking Backpacks for Groceries | Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

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Being able to jump on your bike to pick up a few essentials at the grocery store is one of life’s great pleasures. It is great for the environment and you get to experience the local area from the best seat in the house.

Rather than worrying about panniers and racks, a good quality backpack is a great option for running errands.

In this article we take a look at some of the best bike backpacks for groceries out there to help you choose the right one for your trips to the store.

Here’s our top choices:

Top 11 Best Bike Backpacks For Groceries Reviewed

1. Osprey Radial (Best Overall)

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  • Capacity: 34L
  • Waterproof: Integrated rain cover

The Osprey Radial Bike Commuter Backpack is a seriously impressive pack with so many useful features. You get the feeling that it has been designed by someone how has spent a long time in the saddle commuting and dreaming up the perfect backpack.

Let’s start with the reason a lot of cyclists shun backpacks altogether; sweaty backs.

The Osprey Radial back design goes to great lengths to fix this using its “Airspeed” feature. Here a suspended mesh keeps the bulk of the pack away from the rider’s body.

This stand-off allows air to flow and really does minimise sweat.

Apart from that, the Osprey Radial is just a really well thought through piece of equipment.

Osprey have also integrated a useful rain cover that pulls out from the base of the bag in case you get caught in bad weather.

The built-in frame allows the bag to stand upright, making it easy to load groceries.

Features:

  • Expandable volume.
  • Integrated Kickstand keeps pack upright.
  • The “LidLock” feature is great for storing helmets off the bike.

2. Ortlieb Velocity (Best Value Bag)

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  • Capacity: 17 / 23 / 29L
  • Waterproof: Yes

If you like to cycle to the shops no matter the weather then the Ortlieb Velocity Backpack is worthy of your consideration. At its core, this backpack prioritizes waterproofing over everything else.

Tough plastics are used to take the brunt of the weather and a waterproof rating of IP64 should give you confidence that your groceries will get home in the same condition you bought them.

Typical of its no-nonsense design, the bag features one main compartment that is not broken up into smaller sections. For packing groceries this is a major bonus.

Semi-solid foam pads do an unexpectedly excellent job of keeping your back well ventilated and the straps are comfortable even when the bag is fully loaded.

Features:

  • Holder for rear light or helmet.
  • Available in different volumes.
  • Ergonomic straps.

3. Lole Lily Tote Bag (Best for Women)

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  • Capacity: 9L
  • Waterproof: No

The Lole Lily Tote Bag is that rare thing; cycling equipment designed specifically for women.

It is really two bags in one and converts easily between a tote bag off the bike and a backpack on it. Off the bike it is stylish but still practical on the bike.

The main compartment is spacious enough for stopping at the grocery store for ingredients that you forgot to buy for your meal. The key chain stops you losing your keys in the main compartment.

Features:

  • Converts from a backpack to a stylish tote bag.
  • Integrated yoga mat pocket.
  • Key chain.

4. Timbuk2 Tuck Pack (Best Budget Bag)

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  • Capacity: 20L
  • Waterproof: Water resistant

The Timbuk2 Tuck Pack is a great roll-top pack with a generous and simple main compartment that won’t break the bank.

Perhaps not a great backpack for a bike packing adventure or regular commuting of any distance but for occasional trips to the grocery store the Timbuk2 Tuck Pack ticks a lots of boxes.

The lack of cushioning on the pack means that comfort can only be maintained as long as you pack sensibly. Sharp objects will poke your back when riding.

The stealthy zip pocket on the side is great for keeping your money safe and accessible in the store.

Features:

  • Stealth side pocket.
  • Expandable volume.
  • Bike light attachment.

5. Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo

CHECK PRICE AT REI

  • Capacity: 18L (rolled 2 down) / 22L (unrolled)
  • Waterproof: Yes

Like their winning messenger bag, the Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo Backpack is a rugged and extremely useful backpack that is ideal for picking up groceries.

The 1050d Nylon that makes up the pack is practically bomb-proof.

For grocery shopping, the main 22-litre compartment is completely watertight so you don’t need to worry if milk cartons accidently spill on your journey.

The mesh webbing on the front of the pack is a convenient place to store your helmet when you are in the store.

The EVA foam back panel is comfortable and moulds nicely to the contours of your back when riding.

Features:

  • Iconic Chrome buckle well placed on the sternum strap.
  • Cargo net for extra capacity or for storing helmet.
  • Welded waterproof internal tarpaulin liner.

6. Arc’teryx Granville 20

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  • Capacity: 20L
  • Waterproof: Yes

The Arc’teryx Granville 20 Pack is a sleek and stylish backpack that will happily cycle through constant rain all day long.

The 20 litre main compartment provides plenty of space for groceries although the opening at the top is on the smaller side.

The straps and back panel and soft, supple and ultimately very comfortable.

Taking its cue from its messenger bag brother, the one-handle buckle to access the bag is quick to use once you get the hang of it. 

Features:

  • Clip-in point for bike light.
  • One handed release buckle for the main compartment.
  • Highly water resistant.

7. Brooks England Pickwick Day Pack

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  • Capacity: 24L
  • Waterproof: No

Based purely on its striking yet elegant looks, the Brooks England Pickwick Day Pack is a winner. Anyone who owns any Brooks cycling accessories will happily admit that the looks and heritage were enough to win them over.

Although the capacity of the Pickwick Day Pack is on the smaller size, the main compartment is spacious and uncluttered making it great for groceries.

The pocket at the back is great for securely storing your wallet.

Features:

  • The natural materials age over time for a unique look.
  • Iconic shape.
  • Expandable capacity.

8. Herschel Pop Quiz Backpack

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  • Capacity: 22L
  • Waterproof: No

Sometimes simple is better and that is why the Herschel Pop Quiz Backpack makes the cut.

What it likes in cycling specific features it more than makes up for in style – a mixture of retro and minimalist.

The main compartment is large and uncomplicated enough for packing groceries quickly.

It is available in a massive 46 different color combinations so matching bag to bike will not be a problem.

If you are riding serious miles, this bag is not the one. If you need a versatile bag that looks great around town and won’t let you down on the bike then it could work for you.

Features:

  • Available in lots of different designs.
  • Key clip in the front pocket.
  • Fleece-lined sunglasses pouch.

9. MAGMA MGA47350 Rolltop Backpack III

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  • Capacity: 12L
  • Waterproof: Yes

The MAGMA Rolltop Backpack III was originally built with DJ’s in mind.

The same clever use of space that makes carrying DJ equipment across town makes it just as good for carting groceries.

As you would expect with something designed to protect expensive equipment this backpack is rugged and fully weatherproof.

The main compartment is roomy enough for groceries and the large opening at the top makes packing easy. The roll top means that the height of the bag can be adjusted to securely hold your groceries.

So not your typical bike backpack but one that will stand out in the crowd.

Features:

  • Entirely weather-proof.
  • Ergonomic padded back panels.
  • Multi-functional design.

10. The North Face Explore Fusebox

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  • Capacity: 14L
  • Waterproof: Yes

Although the 14L capacity is on the smaller side, the North Face Fusebox Backpack is extremely durable and great for people who cycle in rainier climes.

The top of the bag zips open to allow extremely easy access to the main compartment and packing groceries is made even easier by the fact that this bag stands-up by itself thanks to the wide base.

Inside the top flap of the bag is a handy pocket for quick access to keys and money without having to rifle through the main compartment.

The tote handle allows the bag to be carried neatly in one hand to give your back a bit of a break.

Features:

  • Tote handle for carrying off the bike.
  • Internal pocket within the top lid.
  • Bold colors make it easier to be seen on the bike.

11. Millican Smith Roll

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  • Capacity: 25L
  • Waterproof: Water resistant.

In common with most roll-top packs, the Millican Smith Roll 25L Pack provides a deep, uncluttered main compartment that is ideal for packing groceries.

The rugged looks of this backpack belie some subtle padding on the back that really helps to improve airflow and limit sweating.

The straps themselves are made from thick, comfortable padding and the sternum strap height can be easily adjusted to suit the rider.

The “Bionic Canvas” material looks great and is coated with paraffin wax for improved water resistance.

Features:

  • Ergonomic shoulder straps.
  • Simple and elegant design.
  • Removable sternum and waist strap.

Features To Look Out For When Choosing A Bike Backpack For Groceries

Capacity

Perhaps the main consideration is how much stuff you can actually fit in the backpack.

Too small and you might have to leave some essentials at the store. Too big and the backpack will feel bulky.

Some packs get around this problem by having extra capacity available as needed by expanding.

Packing your groceries into a backpack is more of an art than a science but backpacks that are freestanding make life a lot easier at the checkout.

For grocery shopping, this extra weight is a small price to pay. Any time lost getting to the shop will be more than made up for in more efficient packing at the checkout.

To get an idea of the right capacity, use the guide below:

  • Small – 10 to 15 litres
  • Medium – 16 to 20 litres
  • Large – 20 to 30 litres

Compartment Design

For grocery shopping, a large main compartment is the most efficient use of space and allows you to cram more items in.

If you are planning to use the pack for commuting to the office or lectures then a variety of compartments makes more sense, including a well-padded laptop sleeve.

Some small external and easy to reach compartments on the pack will prove invaluable for carrying your wallet or purse securely when shopping

Ergonomics

No amount of extra features is going to compensate for a backpack that is uncomfortable to wear when riding.

On the back of the bag, where it meets the body, there are typically features that create standoff with the back. This helps to improve airflow between the bag and the body reducing sweat.

Different designs do this to a varying degree of success and none of them claim to keep you totally sweat free forever on a ride but it does make a vast improvement compared to standard rucksacks.

Waterproof

How much protection you need from the elements comes down to where you live and if you are likely to ride to the grocery store in all-weathers.

Even the most basic of backpacks provide a decent level of waterproofing that should be enough to keep your groceries dry on short journeys.

Moving into the bag itself, some bags have a completely watertight main compartment. This is great feature in case some of your groceries get bashed on the journey and spill. You may have lost some milk but at least your bag is quick and easy to clean.

Safety Features

Being safe out on the roads should be your number one priority.

Backpacks designed specifically for cyclists understand this and typically incorporate reflective detailing in strategic locations to help you stand-out.

If you plan to cycle in the dark, a backpack with a pig-snout allows you to conveniently add a bright light to make drivers notice you.

The design and fit of the backpack should not interfere with you vision when quickly checking behind you for any dangers.

Extra Features

So far we have covered the main things to look for in a cycling backpack for grocery shopping but it is often the little things, the extra features that make the bag.

Particularly for grocery shopping, somewhere to hold your helmet whilst you are in the shop is useful. Some bags use a special clip that fits through the vents of the helmet whilst others use cargo netting to hold the helmet securely.

Read more: Do bike helmets expire?

Other useful features for grocery shopping include external compartments for keeping money and phones secure.

Final Words

For trips to the grocery store, a backpack offers more convenience over racks and panniers and more versatility.

If you want a back pack that excels at all of the above then it is hard to look past the Osprey Radial Bike Commuter Backpack. For grocery shopping, the fact that it stands freely on its own is a major advantage at the checkout.

It gets all the big things right such as comfort and ergonomics but still manages to pack in neat extra features like the “LidLock” for your helmet.

The Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo Backpack is another excellent choice, particularly for the watertight main compartment that will prevent any spillage ruining the bag.

The legendary Chrome buckle is a sure sign of a quality bag.

If you are on a budget, the Timbuk2 Tuck Pack offers a lot of value and won’t let you down if you are using it for occasional short trips to the grocery store.

Read More:

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Bike Push - Mark W
Mark W
I’m a cycling enthusiast, and the founder and chief editor of Bike Push. If I’m not working on this website, then I’m out on the bike clocking up the miles. I want to help others get the most out of cycling.

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