Why Cyclist Prefer Messenger Bags over Backpack? Commuting

Why Cyclist Prefer Messenger Bags over Backpack? Commuting

Bicycle has increasingly become a popular option for commuting nowadays. However, bikes are never known for their storage space, so messenger bags and backpacks are the way to go to haul your gear and belongings.

It is established that many cyclists prefer the messenger bag over a backpack because of a variety of reasons. This is unsurprising considering the age-old usage of messenger bags by paperboys at the turn of the century.

Biking with a messenger bag is arguably the preferred choice of commuters in this day and age.

Here are a few reasons why do most bikers prefer messenger bags.


Although both a backpack and a messenger bag are easy to use, a messenger bag shines brightly when you need to be fishing for your things throughout your ride.

Nothing beats the ease of accessing your stuff on and off the bike afforded by the trusty messenger bag. Its design makes swinging it around in front to retrieve something an easy feat.

Sliding it back and out of the way requires little effort. This is definitely an important quality for couriers, messengers, or any cyclist who wants to access its contents without too much hassle.

It is a hassle to get items from a backpack, especially when you need them fast or frequently.

Taking them off just to get something takes too much effort and time. It’s simply not as convenient or accessible as a messenger bag.


Whether you’re in a rush or pedaling leisurely, sweat will eventually catch up on you, especially on sunny days.

While backpacks don’t help your sweaty back, the messenger bag allows proper ventilation throughout your body. You won’t have to arrive at your destination looking like a sweaty mess.

Even with mesh and breathable backing, backpacks tend to cause bigger sweat spots on your back, more so when it’s packed heavily.

Because of its construction, a messenger bag doesn’t allow any slouching compared to a backpack which puts a strain on the back.

Backpacks ride higher, moving your center of gravity higher and making you less stable on your bike. Also, it might limit your rearward view.

A good number of cyclists who wear helmets also express their discomfort when their head kept hitting the roll-top of the backpack. If overstuffed, they can push the head forward in an uncomfortable way.

The adjustable shoulder strap of the messenger bag allows for quick strap adjustments that enable you to raise or lower it to sit at just the right spot on your lower back for the best balance and comfort.

You can also wear it any way you fancy, in front, at the back, or on your side.

Although some swear by the even weight distribution afforded by the backpack and lament the one-sided strain produced by the asymmetrical design of the messenger bag, the important thing to remember is to never pack messenger bags too heavily and to avoid over-exertion.

Construction and Shape

Because of their more rectangular shape, messenger bags are perfect for flat items such as laptops, notebooks, and documents, among other valuables.

Many come with organizational and safety features such as padded compartments, that make them a versatile way to carry important gadgets.

On the other hand, backpacks may look too big for someone who only needs to carry a few essentials, making them cumbersome and bulky.

Cavernous backpacks may also tempt you to overpack, leading to extra strain on the body when riding and walking long distances.


Messenger bags are considered much more secure compared to backpacks because they can be worn closer to the front of your body or your side, making it easier to keep an eye on your stuff.

This reason makes them efficient for urban mobility and crowded public transport.

Backpacks are easier to pickpocket or slash and grab because you can only see so far behind you unless you have eyes on the back of your head.

Furthermore, wearing a bulky backpack on a crowded subway will definitely earn you a lot of angry looks, especially from persons closest to you.

In comparison, you can bring your messenger bag with you to most venues.


Backpacks are notoriously associated with students and travelers. It doesn’t matter how nice or sleek a backpack looks, it can still make anyone look like a school-age kid in a sea of professionals.

Pairing it with a suit is quite jarring. If you care about a professional appearance and style, the messenger bag is the way to go. Shoulder-slung bags such as messenger bags are a more traditional choice for business use.

Most commuters would agree that messenger bags look more professional and put together when worn, both by men and women. They always go well with a suit and ties or a business casual look.

Yes, some backpacks might be constructed with a sleek vibe and style in mind, but other professions will want something more put-together than a backpack, such as businessmen, lawyers, etc.

Also, messenger bags won’t wrinkle your clothing as backpacks can. Using a backpack on a warm day can lead to perspiration pooling on your back which is never a good way to start your day.

If your personal tastes call for relaxed vibes, messenger bags come in a variety of styles to suit your other interests. You can go for structured and wide designs for work or smaller and softer looks for other interests.

Why Some Bikers Don’t Like Messenger Bags?

The primary reason why bike commuters prefer messenger bags is the ease of use. If you’re continually picking things up and dropping things off 2-3 times a day, you don’t want to take off your backpack all the time.

A messenger bag allows one to easily pick and drop things without the need to actually take them off to load or unload them. Plus they are small, handy and light with shape best for carrying laptop and documents.

But still this does not mean messenger bags don’t have its down side.

Though they are loved by some for the convenience of having one strap, there are other bikers who tend to dislike messenger bags for their impracticality on longer rides that require significantly more carrying capacity.

Having a bag on your back, like a backpack, can feel more secure because the bag won’t be hanging down on your side and potentially getting in the way as you pedal and handle the bike.

You can adjust a messenger bag so that it rests on your back too, but that ends up negating the idea of a bag with one strap that you can open without removing.

A backpack will also balance the weight of your belongings evenly between your shoulders, lessening the strain on your back and giving you more freedom to adjust your posture.

The best riding posture is with a fairly straight back and a comfortable grip on the handlebars, so a heavy messenger bag may disrupt your balance and pull you more to one side.

The Right Way To Wear A Messenger Bag On A Bike

To prevent the bag from unbalancing you as you cycle, you should always wear the strap across your body rather than on one shoulder.

This will help to distribute the weight more evenly and stop the risk of the bag slipping off your shoulder during a ride. You can adjust the strap to make it as long or short as it will go.

If you are carrying a lot in your messenger bag, you should make the strap short so that the bag rests on your back and doesn’t put weight on one side.

A lighter bag can be worn with a longer strap, but you want it to rest at your side to stop it from hanging down by the pedals and getting in the way of your feet.

Choose the side that is more comfortable for you to wear the bag on. If the bag is fairly light, it shouldn’t affect your steering or balance whichever side you choose to wear it on.

Keep the strap as tight to your body as you can so that the bag doesn’t swing around when you’re making turns or cycling at a higher speed.

If you have some heavier items to carry with you, such as a bicycle pump or parts of a tent, try to store them on the rear rack so that they don’t make your bag excessively heavy.

Use your messenger bag to carry your most important items because it will keep them safe and secured.

4 Best Bike Messenger Bags For Your Daily Ride

Why Cyclist Prefer Messenger Bags over Backpack? Commuting

1 ) Chrome Citizen Bike Messenger Satchel Bag

Chrome is considered to be among the best messenger bag producers in the market. Available in nine color variations, the Citizen Bike Messenger Satchel Bag is a perfect fit for both professional and casual settings.

It comes with the iconic quick-release seat belt buckle, which can be pretty handy for easy access. The shoulder straps come with a stabilizing strap and reflective strips to keep you visible and safe in the nighttime.

The added daisy chain is useful for enthusiasts to attach other accessories such as bike lights or carabiner.

Being a tech-friendly bag, it can accommodate up to a 17″ laptop with 24 liters of capacity. Further with its military-grade materials, be sure your tech cargo will be in good hands.

The lifetime warranty on the bag doesn’t hurt either.

Chrome Citizen Bike Messenger Satchel Bag: Check Its Price on Amazon!

Why Cyclist Prefer Messenger Bags over Backpack? Commuting

2 ) Timbuk2 Command Laptop Bike Messenger Bag

At first glance, the Timbuk2 Command looks like an ordinary messenger bag. One can easily deduce that this is a no-frills bag geared for organized travel, smart commutes, and business use.

The simplistic briefcase design veils a tricot-lined floating pocket that offers ample protection for devices and even fragile accessories such as sunglasses.

A 15″ laptop can comfortably fit inside with a clever zippered compartment that unzips all three sides of the bag to fold out so you can lay your laptop flat.

Internal pockets for electronics organization is very well thought out, providing plenty of space for writing tools, documents, a laptop, mouse, and cords not to mention the necessary bike gears.

What sets it apart from other brands is the unique tension aluminum hooks for quick and secure closure, instead of the usual buckle or direct Velcro.

Timbuk2 Command Laptop Bike Messenger Bag: Check Price on Amazon!

Why Cyclist Prefer Messenger Bags over Backpack? Commuting

3 ) Osprey Men’s FlapJack Courier Day Pack

Looking for a bag that can effectively carry your electronics, gadgets, and other cargos with ease without breaking the bank? The 20L Osprey Flapjack Courier Bag is an excellent alternative to more expensive options.

Awarded Best Buy Award by most cycling enthusiasts, this casual bag comes at a fair price.

Whether you are headed for a work meeting or wander around the rugged outskirts, this bag will safely carry your essentials. The reflective graphics and blinker light attachment helps to increase visibility in low-light situations, making it comfortable and safer to bike in traffic.

The seven interior slips, two interior zips, and three card slots can safely hold a laptop and other electronics.

The extra storage provided by the zippered pocket lends quick access to phone and power cords without opening the main compartment. All of these features help to maintain an effective accessory organization.

Osprey Men’s FlapJack Courier Day Pack: Check Its Price on Amazon!

Why Cyclist Prefer Messenger Bags over Backpack? Commuting

4 ) Timbuk2 Scumbags Origins Messenger Bag

A direct revival of the original bag produced in a San Francisco garage, the updated Timbuk2 Scumbags Origins still maintains its rugged original design.

Each bag is still manufactured by hand in San Francisco, remaining true to the company’s commitment to domestic manufacturing and loyalty to the city they represent despite the brand’s significant growth.

The heavy-duty 1000D Cordura Nylon that is built to take a beating makes up the main body. Red ripstop nylon interior creates a nice contrast and increased visibility, perfect for finding jammed stuff.

Two sturdy buckles with detachable industrial reflective tabs secure the main compartment and provide visibility. The adjustable crossbody strap enables commuters with different body types to find the perfect fit.

Timbuk2 Scumbags Origins Messenger Bag: Check Price on Amazon!


The messenger bag is an embodiment of necessary characteristics that bike commuters look for and value. It is an efficient and best choice for comfortable trips because of its outstanding accessibility, comfort, and design.

You will never look out of place in a messenger bag with its mature and stylish look.

The customization and personalization options are endless, whatever your purpose of usage is. Royal mail carriers in the United Kingdom and rural mail carriers of the United States Post Office still swear by the messenger bag.

As proven by its long-standing usage in biking, a messenger bag is a clear classic, and useful choice.

Also Read,

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9 Best Bike Messenger Bags 2022 | Work + Travel + Leisure

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