As bikers, we know that we don’t have the ability to just lob our stuff on the passenger seat and get going – carrying things requires a bit of preparation.
There are various ways to carry our wares on a bike, from tankbags to tailpacks, top boxes to motorcycle panniers but none are more convenient than a rucksack. You can stuff your stuff in, sling it on and get going.
The best motorcycle rucksack will vary depending on the type of riding you’re doing and what you’re looking to carry but all rucksacks have a common set of features that make them fit for purpose.
Compared to a normal rucksack, they’re usually made from a tougher material, weatherproof, feature larger padded straps and also additional features like key-clips, helmet carriers or quick access pockets.
In this guide we’ve picked our top biking rucksacks but also looked at a wide variety of options, from roll-bags to budget picks, helmet carriers to versatile tail-packs.
If you need to carry your stuff on the bike, a rucksack is a no-nonsense way to do it.
All-day comfortable, waterproof and a decent capacity
The Kriega R20 is the perfect-sized rucksack for most bikers. It features Kriega’s unique Quadloc harness which is adjustable for all rider sizes. It features a separate side access pocket, the ability to hold a hydration pack, and the ability to add-on an additional 5 or 10-litre Kriega drypack. To top it off, it’s British-made and comes with a 10-year guaranteee.
Feature-packed rucksack at a great price
Givi are known for their quality motorcycle luggage and this Easy-T is no exception. Featuring 3 internal pockets and a zipped side pouch with a built-in key-chain, plus a waterproof rain cover. It’s best feature is the built-in helmet holder making it a great rucksack for a day out on the bike.
The cheapest motorcycle rucksack
If you want a really cheap motorcycle rucksack, then don’t look for a biker-specific one. A rucksack that’s big enough to carry a day’s worth of gear and a waterproof top needs to be around 25-litres.
This Regatta Easy Pack is a no-frills rucksack, it has a 25-litre capacity and costs under £10.
This Oxford Aqua B25 is a roll-top type backpack with adjustable and padded straps and it also features a quick-access external pocket. It’s under £50 which is a decent price for a bike-specific rucksack.
For a tenner less, you can get this Lomo Dry Bag 30L daysack. It’s a roll-top style bag and features a quick-access pocket, just like the Oxford but it also features chest and waist straps.
Motorcycle Rucksack Buying Guide
I have to say, I base a lot of my bike trips around the Performance Touring philosophy, an idea developed and perfected by Tim Thompson, former Editor of BIKE magazine. The idea is to be able to jump on your sportsbike, with the minimal amount of kit in a quality and comfortable rucksack. You don't take more than you need. You're in the queue for the late night ferry, on your way to discover amazing foreign roads or a trackday abroad over a long weekend. Sense of adventure, Kriega rucksack and sportsbike mandatory. White helmet optional.
- Water resistance: You can't predict the weather, so it's a good idea to get a rucksack that can cope with all weathers. Most roll-top dry-bag style rucksacks are made from a vulcanised rubber which is waterproof. Quality rucksacks like the Kriegas feature waterproof material, others water resistant and some may come with a waterproof storm cover. Ask yourself whether you would be bothered to stop to use the cover - if not, by something that's waterproof.
- Quality zips: A biker rucksack gets put through its paces and the chances are you'll be stuffing more into the rucksack than it wants to carry. YKK is a good brand of zipper to look out for. If you don't want your undercrackers escaping at 80mph on the B660, make sure it uses quality zips.
- Supportive straps: Adjustable and padded straps are a must, to help spread the load and stop the rucksack digging in to your shoulders. If the rucksack also comes with chest or waist retaining straps and padded kidney supports then even better.
- Quick access pocket: Some dry-bags don't have any external pockets meaning if you have to dig out your passport or earplugs, you'll have to unroll it and fish around for your stuff.
- Compression straps: Adjustable straps on the sides of the rucksack allow you to keep it neat and compact when you're not carrying a lot, which in turn stops the rucksack flapping when you're riding.
- Pockets: Are you a pockets lover or do you prefer a large cavernous space for your belongings? You might prefer a rucksack with a laptop sleeve, internal compartments or external pockets to give easy access to keys, cards or paperwork.
Helmet carrying rucksacks
No-one likes carrying a lid, it’s a pain in the wotsits.
Our Runner Up, the Givi Easy T features a zip-out helmet carrier which makes life a lot easier if you’re walking around an event or wandering around the shops.
Converting your existing rucksack to carry a helmet
If you have a favourite rucksack already but you want to carry a helmet, then why not use a cargo net like this one? Assuming your rucksack has a couple of loops or straps you can secure the cargo net on to, then you’re on to a winner.
To work out what size rucksack you need, start with a supermarket carrier bag. A typical Sainsburys or Tesco 5p carrier bag has an 18-litre capacity. Pack your kit into one of those to give you a good idea of what size you need.
If you can't quite justify a new rucksack but you want to add waterproofing to your existing rucksack, you can buy a roll-up drybag for around £10 or just pack your stuff into a thick bin liner.
If you're not sure about a rucksack but you need to carry your stuff when you're off the bike, then try this Kriega US20 tailpack which is quick and easy to release form the bike and comes with a shoulder strap to help you carry it when off the bike.
Alpinestars Tech Aero – I’ve always thought one of Alpinestars’ strongest ranges is their rucksacks. Yes they make great boots and gloves but they put thought into their luggage too. This Tech Aero isn’t cheap but it has it all. It is expandable from 16L to 26L. The shoulder and chest straps are designed to offer maximum comfort and load-bearing. There’s a carry handle for when you’re off the bike. It’s made from tough poly-fabric material that’s PU coated for additional water-resistance. There’s a fully waterproof rain cover for those heavy downpour moments. It features internal pockets, external kidney pockets, a fleece-lined sunglasses pocket and it’s also equipped to carry a helmet – perfect for when you’re off the bike. If it was £30 cheaper it would be my top pick.
Dainese Dunes MidPack Rucksack – This elegant yet durable textile and suede backpack is perfect for use in any weather thanks to its water-resistant design. Complete with adjustable shoulder straps, top carry handle and zip close large main and small front pockets.
Kriega R35 – The largest rucksack in Kriega’s range. Unlike the R30, this R35 isn’t fully waterproof but it is water-resistant. Best to pack your stuff in a bin-liner or proper drybag if you want it to stay dry. 35-litres is plenty for a long weekend away or if you’re economical with the undies, a week.
Oxford Aqua V20 – A simple roll-top rucksack with one main compartment and a small key pocket on the front. Adjustable waist and back straps with padding. Quality bit of kit.
Merlin Ashby Wax Cotton – A classic-looking rucksack made from waxed-cotton with leather retaining straps. It has a 30-litre capacity and an internal laptop sleeve.
Kappa Drypack 30L with Helmet Bag – A clever roll-top 100% waterproof rucksack with luggage specialists Kappa. It comes with adjustable shoulder straps with a chest retainer, plus a separate padded waist strap. There’s also an built-in lid-lugging helmet bag which attaches to the rucksack for when you’re off the bike.
Motorcycle rucksack FAQs
What is the best motorcycle backpack?
The best motorcycle backpacks are waterproof, durable, aerodynamic and big enough to carry your day to day items. Our guide has plenty of options suitable for commuters to tourers.
What is the best waterproof backpack?
The best waterproof backpacks should be made of durable material with sealed seams to keep water out. Make sure any zips are covered by waterproof material; this stops water penetrating the zips and damaging the contents.
Are Kriega backpacks waterproof?
Not all Kriega backpacks claim to be 100% waterproof although most reviews show they’re pretty good at keeping heavy downpours at bay. You can purchase inner liners which are effectively plastic bags you place inside the backpack and place your belongings in to keep them protected from the rain.
Are motorcycle backpacks dangerous?
Motorcycle backpacks are designed for use on a bike, meaning they can withstand the force of a crash pretty well, fit comfortably and reduce drag. There isn’t much research on the subject of danger to riders while wearing a backpack but bear in mind that if you do come off your bike, you risk twisting your spine or causing other injuries thanks to the items within the backpack among other things. If you’re at all in doubt, consider a motorcycle tail pack or a tankbag instead.
Can you ride a motorcycle with a backpack?
Yes. Choosing a backpack specifically designed for motorcyclists is essential as they provide the right level of comfort, secure straps and are safer than standard types.
Can I waterproof my rucksack?
This depends how water resistant your rucksack is to start with but if you want to boost its water resistance, try this Nikwax Tent Gear Spray-On Waterproofer which will add water repellency to your rucksack. The cheapest way to keep your stuff dry is to pack it in a bin liner and then put that in the rucksack. You can also buy thicker proper dry bag rucksack liner like this one and stash it in your rucksack.
Thanks to the following websites which helped us research and write this motorcycle rucksack guide:
Effects of rucksack load distribution on your back: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/5735368
Backpack safety and preventing injury: