cycling backpack

Best Cycling Backpack 2023

Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack

A great bike backpack should be reflective enough for motorists to see you on your way home, light enough to not overly encumber you on your trip, and have compartments for all of your gear.Expert Reviewer: Ian Hicks

Quick Summary:
The Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack is a great product for the cycling commuter.

It makes the commuting process easier by protecting your work clothes and shoes and providing you with an easy way to keep hydrated by providing two very large and stretchy pockets that you can use to store your liquid refreshments.

In my opinion, this particular pack makes cycling to work much easier so that it’s not so much of a daily strain that you have to put a lot of work into to accomplish.

Timbuk2 Especial Raider Pack
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Selecting a Cycling Backpack

The commute to work can be stressful, crowded, and generally unpleasant. Not only is the hours long trip all of these things, but mass transit isn’t the most eco-friendly thing in the world. As a result, many commuters in every age group are actually biking in to work. Riding your bicycle is a great way to stay in shape, cut your carbon footprint, and save money on mass transit and gas. The primary weakness of this style of commuting to work is that you need a place to store your work clothes. I think we can all agree, working in your sweaty bike jersey and sneakers isn’t the most professional thing in the world.

A great bike backpack should be reflective enough for motorists to see you on your way home, light enough to not overly encumber you on your trip, and have compartments for all of your gear. There are thousands of great cycling backpacks on the market today. I’ve commuted to work I’ve tried many, but recently I found one product that works very well for those of us who need to manage our cycling lives and our professional lives. This product is the excellent Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack.

Let’s take a look at why I think this is a great pack for anyone who wants to do some cycling on their way to work or who just need a great pack for carrying their belongings while they ride their bike.

Reflectivity and Visibility

We don’t always bike in the brightest situations possible. When we’re out on the road, we always have to be aware of any cars that may be in our area so that we can be safe and make ourselves as visible as possible. This need for visibility is the reason why many cycling pack manufacturers design their packs to have at least some of the surfaces be reflective.

With this in mind, Timbuk2 included a very reflective bottom to this pack. Since many cyclists ride their bikes in a manner that this area will be the most visible to cars behind them, when a car’s headlights hit this area, it’ll reflect a large portion of the light back at the driver. This boot area is designed to not only be reflective when exposed to external light, but it’s also designed to be inconspicuous when it’s not.

In addition to this highly reflective surface, this cycling backpack also has a strap on its bottom portion that is specifically designed for you to clip on an external light so that nearby motorists can easily be aware of your position. These two features really illustrate exactly how committed to cyclist safety Timbuk2 is.

Lightweight Construction

While you’ll be naturally encumbered by a bag, especially when you’re carrying your day’s worth of items, this bag is designed to be very lightweight so that you can easily truck it from home to work without being weighed down. This bag is only slightly more than a pound, which is a perfect weight to be carried while you’re on your commute.

Pockets and Storing Features

The chief area that the Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack shines is in its various storage areas. These types of backpacks need to be able to efficiently store your goods, especially if you’re planning on going into work and changing before you start. Let’s take a look at the specific compartments that this backpack has:

  • Two Pockets on The Front: These pockets are stretchy and cylindrical. Since cycling is thirsty work, these are perfectly shaped for the storage of water bottles. I personally like to bring a thermos of java with me when I ride my bike to work so that I can drink it during the day, so this particular storage area is perfect for this purpose. Also, since there are two of these, you can store your water for your ride and store your coffee for your day simultaneously.
  • Two Internal Side Pockets: If you are in an office with professional attire, it simply won’t due to wear your cycling sneakers during your workday. Also, you probably don’t really want to ride your bike day-to-day in your work shoes. With this in mind, the Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack has two internal side pockets that were designed with shoe storage in mind. Simply store your work shoes in this area and you’ll easily be able to switch them out when you get to the office.
  • Central Storage Area: Many cyclists like to wear a biking jersey when they ride. With this in mind, the Timbuk2 Especial Raider Backpack has a central storage area where you can neatly store this jersey once you get to work. This particular area is also perfect for storing other knickknacks as well.
  • Internal Folding Board: The final storage section is designed so that when you do change your clothes, you aren’t forced to walk around all day with unprofessional-looking wrinkled clothes. This is accomplished by way of a shirt folding board that will keep your clothes flat and wrinkle-free while you ride in.
  • Internal Hook: The final feature that I loved is an internal hook. This hook unfolds from the interior of the pack so that you can easily hang up the pack when you need to change your clothes. It’s a flat design that is perfect for hooking onto the edges of doors and walls and will also let you hang up your pack easily when it’s time to get down to work.

Customization Options

This very functional cycling backpack also has some great customization options that will let you choose from a bevy of additional colors and color combinations. As a matter of fact, you’ll be able to choose from 11 different designs like black, stormtrooper (a white and black combination), acid (neon green), fire (red and white), and sand and sun (tan and black). Each of the available colors has all of the key features and really go well with most cycling outfits. When it comes to aesthetics and function, Timbuk2 designed this excellent pack in collaboration with the Mission Cycling Club.


As a bag that’s designed for the work commute, this won’t hold every type of large work laptop. In addition to this, the pack isn’t really designed to be waterproof, but the nylon can protect the contents as long as there isn’t a deluge. Also, if you remove the flap that keeps your clothes wrinkle-free, the pack doesn’t have much of a backbone and becomes a bit floppy. Finally, if you are packing sharp-cornered objects inside the bag, there is a chance that holes can form in the material of the backpack since the material is so lightweight.

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