Home » Gear » Luggage » The Best Motorcycle Rucksacks

The Best Motorcycle Rucksacks

best motorcycle rucksack guide review 1024x640 - The Best Motorcycle Rucksacks

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.

Table of Contents

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.

kriega motorcycle rucksack 300x300 - The Best Motorcycle Rucksacks
Best Buy

Kriega R20

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.

oxford waterproof rucksack aqua b25 motorcycle 305x305 - The Best Motorcycle Rucksacks

No-nonsense waterproof rucksack at a great price

Oxford produce a range of quality motorcycle luggage and this Waterproof Aqua B25 is no exception. Featuring 3external pockets (two mesh side pockets and a waterproof central pocket) and a simple roll-top design, it’s a spacious rucksack with padded straps for all-day comfort.

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 £20. Ideal if you just want to carry a few items over a shorter distance.

If you like the idea of a roll-top bag like the Oxford Aqua B25 we’ve recommended above, then why not also check out the Qbag 15-litre waterproof rucksack. It’s under £25 and is great for day-trips but probably not big enough for a weekend away.

For under £1 a litre, this 25-litre roll-top rucksack is another good option. It’s waterproof, has a sturdy carry handle and a fairly nifty internal pocket for your smart phone, with a clear window, so you can see the notifications (or perhaps quickly glance your route!).

best motorcycle rucksack review - The Best Motorcycle Rucksacks

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

Waterproof Motorcycle Rucksacks

In our experience, the only reliably waterproof motorcycle rucksacks are the roll-top versions. If you buy a quality roll-top rucksack it will be waterproof but only if you:

  • Roll it up properly
  • Buy one made from a quality material such as PVC

Sure, there are regular zip-close rucksacks (like Kriega ones) which are waterproof, but most of these have a water repellent exterior (the complex shape and features make them very hard to make entirely waterproof). They then tend to have a simpler waterproof internal bag.

waterproof rucksack liner 271x305 - The Best Motorcycle Rucksacks

Even these can and do leak, so my advice is to buy a quality waterproof roll-top liner for your rucksack and stash your essential and important items in there if you want to keep them dry.

No border official wants to be handed a dripping passport and no laptops that I know of work very well when they’ve been partially submerged in water for 6 hours.

I must also add, I go old school and use a thick bin liner to place everything in when I use my Kriega rucksack (or soft panniers) as this does a great job of keeping the water out. Putting on wet gear when you get to wherever you’re going after a hard day’s riding is no fun at all.

Adding more waterproofing

water proofing motorcycle gear spray 70x305 - The Best Motorcycle Rucksacks

I’ve also had decent results using waterproofing sprays to top-up the water repellency of my biking gear AND my luggage.

I hate to think what this stuff would do to your lunge, so be careful where you’re spraying it. I always apply outside and wear a mask (thanks to COVID-19 I have a few…)

There are loads of these sprays on the market. Nikwax also make wash-in ones you can use but I don’t want my gloves or rucksack doing laps of the washing machine, because I reckon it does more harm than good.

If you have an old rucksack that was waterproof, a spray like this will help keep the rain out.

Helmet carrying rucksacks

helmet carrying rucksack - The Best Motorcycle Rucksacks

No-one likes carrying a lid, it’s a pain in the wotsits.

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.

There are of course other options. Rucksacks like this Seibertron 25L or the JDC Helmet Carrier are good choices, all with an external helmet carrier.

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.

Motorcycle Rucksacks: Ben's Top Tips

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 from the bike and comes with a shoulder strap to help you carry it when off the bike.

The competition

Alpinestars Tech AeroI’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 R35The 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 Yarnfield Rolltop – A classic-looking rucksack made from waxed-cotton with leather retaining straps. It has a 20-litre capacity and a cool feature of an interal light – handy!

Shad SW45 Rucksack and Tailpack –  A clever roll-top 100% waterproof rucksack which doubles as a tailpack. It comes with adjustable shoulder straps with a chest retainer. There’s also a waterproof external pocket for quick access to those on-the-go essentials. Neat bit of kit.

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:

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top