Biking Backpacks vs Panniers [What’s Best For Groceries]

Panniers vs Backpacks

Throughout high school, I only used a backpack to carry my books and accessories. Later, I used a messenger-style bag for going to work. Now I have panniers for my bike so I can more easily carry larger quantities of stuff more easily. So, which type of bag is best?

A biking backpack is best for smaller loads and panniers are best for larger loads. This is generally true for most people but roads conditions, length of your travel, and bicycle type can also be factors in deciding which type of bags are best for you.

If I go on a longer-distance trip I need to bring my panniers, but if I am going a couple of miles my backpack is more convenient to carry as long as the weight isn’t too much. We’ll discuss which bag is best in different circumstances and compare bag types so you can find the right one for your grocery or other item-carrying needs.

If you’re riding your bike when going to the grocery store, a biking backpack or pannier can be great for carrying groceries. Of course, backpacks and panniers can also be very useful for other purposes too, not just for your grocery runs. 

You can also use it for your daily errands as well as when going on a picnic, or a long-distance trip. Sure, you can probably use a basket for your groceries, but using a backpack or pannier can benefit you in many ways, especially since they can be taken off the bike.  

They can be comfortable enough to carry and can give you more stability when you are cycling. Not only that, but these bags are roomy enough to accommodate all the items you will buy from the store. 

You’ll find plenty of options when it comes to bike bags and panniers to use.

Let’s take a look at some backpacks and panniers to use for your next grocery store run, or for anything else you need to carry.

1. Larger Sized Bags

Oakley Men’s Kitchen Sink 34L


When looking for a reliable biking backpack for groceries, you need to choose something durable and spacious enough to accommodate your grocery items. 

Thus, the Oakley Men’s Kitchen Sink is an ideal choice because aside from being durable, this massive backpack is roomy and has plenty of storage. 

It has a main compartment area where you can store most of your grocery items. Aside from the main compartment, this bag also comes with a pocket where you can keep your 17-inch laptop. 

What’s more, there’s a fleece pocket that’s intended for storing your sunglasses while keeping the lenses protected. At the bottom, there’s a compartment where you can store a pair of shoes. 


  • Equipped with a zip closure
  • Up to 34L 
  • Front organizer panel 
  • Machine wash a Made from 69% nylon and 31% polyester 
  • There’s a shoe compartment at the bottom 
  • Versatile design with a padded sleeve on the side

Bushwhacker Omaha – Bicycle Grocery Pannier


People really like this option of pannier because they are just like baskets. They hold an entire grocery bag on both sides, so you can do a lot of shopping.

They can also collapse, so you won’t have large baskets hanging off the back of the bike all the time.

People like that these baskets are durable and well constructed.

If you need to go the to store each week on your bike, these baskets can be very helpful, so you can carry more groceries and won’t need to visit the store as often.


  • There are two grocery basket panniers with attachments so they can hook onto your back bike rack. They also have bungee cords to secure your cargo.
  • Each pannier can carry one regular size paper grocery bag.
  • The panniers can folds flat when they are not in use.
  • Dimensions: 14″ Length x 9″ width x 11.5″ height
  • Should be able to carry 2×20 liter grocery bags.

2. Travel Bags

Timbuk2 Wingman Travel Backpack


The Timbuk2 Wingman Backpack is a reliable bag that you can take on your grocery shopping while riding your bike. 

It is easy to open because it opens like a duffel bag or suitcase. It’s equipped with an interior that is empty so you don’t have to try to fit your groceries into small compartments.

You can fit most grocery bags into this 40L bag. Just put the grocery bag inside without the need to worry about organizing things.  

You can also pack your clothing and 17″ laptop in this travel bag.

This bag is great for flexibility because you can use it as a backpack, use the handles, or add the shoulder strap to carry it like a duffle bag.


  • Light weight and lifetime warranty.
  • 450D poly hex ripstop.
  • Carry on size for most airlines
  • Two backpack straps that can be tucked into the back so you can carry your bag like a duffle bag on your shoulder.
  • 40 Liters
  • 15.7 Width x 20.9 Height x 7.9 Depth

Waterproof Messenger Bag


This roll-top bag is helpful when you need to drop in a grocery bag after going to the store. It has a roll-top opening that allows you to use the entire bag for your groceries.

When it’s not connected to your bike you can take out the backpack straps and use them as a regular backpack.

The 25L back can accommodate a lot of storage if you are on a bike trip for several days or going on a short trip in an airplane.

It’s nice to know that it is waterproof so you can keep all of your groceries dry as you come home from the store.


  • This detachable pannier is a good option for those who want to get groceries and also have bag that can go on a trip.
  • It will keep all your stuff dry with waterproof PVC fabric.
  • It has a 30 days warrenty for full refund.
  • The fabric is tough PVC.
  • 25 Liters
  • This travel bag has an over the shoulder strap and is about 12.99 x 6.69 x 15.75 inches

3. Popular Bags

Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack


When it comes to the best biking backpack for groceries, it’s important that you choose a bag that can accommodate all the things you buy from the local grocery store. 

The Hynes Eagle Travel Backpack is perfect for that. With a massive capacity of 40L, you won’t have to worry about carrying your grocery items while riding your bike. 

This spacious backpack is also known for its stylish design that resembles a suitcase. Even though this backpack hasn’t been designed specifically for bikers, its straps can work well in securing the bag on your back and keep your stuff protected. 

In addition, this bag is water-resistant so even if there’s a chance of rain, you won’t have to worry about bringing this backpack with you. 


  • 100% Polyester
  • Polyester lining
  • Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.4 x 9.8 inches
  • Designed to fit the maximum size allowed on an IATA flight
  • Can be used as a travel bag 
  • 40 Liter
  • Water-resistant 

BV Bike Bag Bicycle Panniers


BV Bicycle Panniers are good for taking your groceries back from the store.  

Open the large zippers and stuff your plastic grocery bags inside for a total of 26 liters of storage.

With 3M Scotch Lite reflective trim, you’ll be sure to stay safer on the road.

Use the handle to take off your panniers if you need to carry your panniers to other places.

Mounts easily with two bungee hooks and four shelf straps that fit most bicycle racks. Bungee hooks are height adjustable


  • Large zippered pockets
  • 3M reflective trim so car traffic can see you.
  • Adjustable hooks fit most bicycle rack
  • They have a rigid back panel so they maintain an easy to fill space.
  • Once you want to take the panniers off they have an easy to carry handle.
  • 26 Liters
  •  Each pannier is 13.4″ x 7.88″ x 11″ 

4. Best For Commuting

Osprey Radial Bike Commuter Backpack 


Another backpack that you can rely on when it comes to carrying things while riding your bike is the Osprey Packs Radial 34 Daypack.

This bag’s roomy compartment can fit all of your groceries with no problem. Furthermore, it has several added features that make using this bag easier and more convenient. 

With this backpack, you’ll be able to easily organize your grocery items while keeping them protected as you cycle back home. 

The bag is also equipped with a helmet holder and a rain cover to keep your grocery items protected in case it rains. Osprey Radial 34 Commuter Pack 


  • Available in two different colors 
  • Blinker light attachment is useful for low-visibility rides 
  • Built-in rain cover 
  • Comes with document sleeves and mesh pockets 
  • Integrated kickstand
  • Up to 26L – 34 Liters
  • Lid-lock helmet attachment 

Rhinowalk Bike Bag Waterproof


Rhinowalk Waterproof pannier is a good commuter-style bike bag. The feature I like the most is its quick-release system. That way you can get off your bike and pick up your bag and get going fast.  

This roll-top bag has up to 27-liter capacity and can carry your smaller-sized laptop if you are going to work or school.

Then when you are coming home you can pick up some groceries with the removable shoulder strap and place the bag on your bike with ease.

Use the handle to carry it if you needed and be sure it will hold up nicely for a long time with the 1000 D polyester material.


  • 12-month warrenty.
  • Uses 840D double-sided TPU IPX5 waterproof material, anti-tear, wear-resisting, cold-proof and heat resisting, fully waterproof, no need rain cover.
  • Easy install and quick release system.
  • Up to 25 – 27L capacity.
  • Includes: 1 Waterproof Bike Pannier Bag.

5. Mutlipurpose Bags

YOREPEK Backpack 50L


If you’re looking for a backpack that can carry a lot of stuff and can be used for school, travel, or work, this might be a good option for you.

This bag has lots of features and pockets to help you get organized and carry all of your stuff efficiently. 

With this backpack, you’ll be able to easily organize your grocery items while keeping them protected with high-density nylon lining for tear and water resistance as you cycle back home. 


  • 20 different pockets
  • TSA approved for travel and easier scanning with lay flat opening big zipper 
  • Use electronics with the ports for USB and earphones.
  • Carry a 17 inch laptop and all your books and school supplies. 
  • 50 Liters
  • Padding on the back and should straps for carrying a large load of groceries.

Rhinowalk Bike Bag Waterproof


Rhinowalk Waterproof pannier is a good commuter-style bike bag. The feature I like the most is its quick-release system. That way you can get off your bike and pick up your bag and get going fast.  

This zipper top bag has up to 25-liter capacity and can carry your laptop if you’re going to work or school and most of your supplies.

It has should straps so you can carry it around the city as you shop or go to school. I particularly like the chest strap that helps you stay comfortable for longer and carry the load longer.

The material is waterproof and the zipper prevents water from entering, and it includes a waterproof cover for extra protection.


  • Holds a 15-16 inch laptop.
  • Good for multipupose such as grocies, school, travel, and work.
  • Can hold your helmet.
  • Up to 25L capacity.
  • Includes: 1 Waterproof Bike Pannier Bag.

How to Choose the Best Biking Backpack or Pannier for Groceries

You cannot just rely on a bike messenger backpack if you need a bag to carry your everyday essentials while riding your bike. This is especially true if you need to also carry some stuff from your grocery store. 

Therefore, when it comes to choosing the best biking backpack for groceries, consider the following important factors. 

Here’s a video to help you decide which options are available and which you might like. (Panniers, basket, backpack, or milk crate)


It’s important that you are comfortable with wearing the backpack or using the pannier as you ride your bike. Thus, ergonomics is an important factor to take into consideration when it comes to this. 

If possible, give the bag a try and see how you feel. For online buyers, read the reviews of those who have tried the backpack and find out if the customers find it ergonomic. 

Remember that it’s a totally different experience if you are on a bike than when you’re running or walking. 

If your bike only allows a basket and you can’t attach a rear bike rack, then your options will also be limited to a backpack, basket, smaller bags, etc.

You need a bag with a reliable harness system to secure the backpack as you cycle. If you have a pannier, it should have an adequate latching system to keep the bag from moving too much.


As with buying any type of bag, size is an important aspect to consider. When it comes to this, think about the number of items you plan on storing in the bag. 

If you plan on using it to store bulky items, then an XL size would suit you best. But if you’re not going to put a lot of things in the bag, then there’s no point in buying an extra-large bag. 

This will only put you in an awkward position when riding your bike. The standard size of biking backpacks is around 10 to 15 L, which is compact and small. You can carry more with many panniers with ease.

If you want a bigger size, remember a backpack can strain your back and throw you off the balance if you go over a bump much easier than a pannier, unless you only have a pannier on one side.


Since you’ll be using the backpack outdoors, getting one with waterproof features is a good idea. 

This is especially true for those who live in wet climates where there’s always a risk of rain. You don’t want the items inside your bag to get wet, especially the grocery items.

Therefore, find out if the materials used for the backpack are fully waterproof. Others also come with features that can help to further protect the bag from the rain, such as the welded liners, coated zippers, synthetic fibers, and more. 

A rain cover is an option that is cheap to buy for both backpacks and panniers.

Other Features 

When shopping for biking backpacks and panniers, you’ll find that these bags have different features. 

Some have extra pockets for a laptop while others come with a rain cover, hydration packs, and more. 

These features can help to enhance the bag’s usability, but this can also increase the cost. If you think that these features are unnecessary, then you don’t need to choose these bags.

Some backpacks and panniers have to carry handles and straps on them. These allow you to easily carry the bag when doing your grocery shopping. This is a very useful feature and is truly worth investing in. 

Types of Biking Grocery Backpacks and Panniers

There are different types of biking backpacks panniers for groceries that you will find in the market. Let’s take a look at each of them in detail so you can decide what’s best for you.

Basic Daypacks Basic daypacks come with a central compartment for loading things. 

Aside from the main compartment, the bag has a sizeable pocket at the front as well as comfortable shoulder straps. 

There’s also a grab handle that makes carrying this bag a breeze. 

If you’re looking for a simple bag for your grocery runs, this is a great choice. It’s pretty basic yet it comes with pockets and compartments that can accommodate your things. 

Tote Bags 

Featuring a classic design, tote bags have parallel shoulder straps on their sides. Furthermore, they have two carrying handles at the top for ease of handling. 

The main compartment is covered with a zipper and the bag itself has plenty of pockets that you can use to secure your valuables. 

Furthermore, it’s equipped with shoulder straps that will allow you to easily carry the bag on your back. 

Most women prefer tote bags to other types of biking backpacks although some men will also find this design appealing, especially since it usually has a generous capacity, which is up to 35 liters. 

Some tote bags come with laptop sleeves so you can also use them to secure your computer device. 


The rucksack often comes up on the list when it comes to the best biking backpack for groceries. 

But unlike the other backpacks that have compartments, the rucksack doesn’t have any of this.

It only has the main compartment and a flap that serves as its cover. Compared to the regular backpack, the rucksack is much smaller, yet it should allow you to carry up to 30 liters of items. 

Some of the biking rucksacks come with external pockets for added convenience. 

Snowsport Backpacks 

If you prefer a sporty design, a biking snowsport backpack is ideal for you. With a whopping capacity of 20 to 45 liters, these bags can accommodate bulky and heavy items. 

It has sporty hip belts and adjustable padded straps that provide extra comfort to the user.  

The harnesses of this bag are well ventilated and are specifically designed for lugging heavy hiking equipment and gear. 

Furthermore, the bag is lightweight and isn’t a burden to carry on your back. 

Benefits of the Best Biking Backpacks for Groceries

You will probably argue that using a biking backpack is unnecessary and is just a waste of money. 

But having a good biking backpack for groceries can benefit you in many ways. Here are some of them: 


As mentioned, the biking backpack and panniers are equipped with compartments where you can securely put your things. Therefore, you’ll be able to conveniently cycle your bike. 

You won’t have to worry about accidentally dropping your stuff on the road. The bag will help make riding your bike extremely convenient and safe. 


The backpack and panniers provide different levels of stability. Depending on how the backpack or pannier sits on your back and bike rack and how much weight is in them will determine their stability while riding.

With a biking backpack, you’ll need to focus on staying stable a bit more since the center of gravity will be higher, meaning you’re going to be top-heavy.

With panniers, the center of gravity will be lower, making the back more stable if both sides have about the same weight.

Both options can pose problems, but panniers should generally make your journey much easier. 


The biking backpack can be used for groceries but the heavier it gets the less comfortable it will be on your back. The difference when using panniers is you have no load on your back so your comfort level is good on your back, but as your weight increases for both backpacks and panniers, your legs will have to work harder.

Getting an electric bike can help a lot in this area. Practice and getting a backpack that is fully padded can also help. Furthermore, whatever features a backpack or pannier can have that lets you secure your groceries better to your back and bike can help you feel more comfortable as well.

Final Thoughts 

Which is best, a biking backpack or a pannier? I would probably decide based on my individual needs, such as distance, the capacity needed, and ease of use. Then I would get the one that is the best quality for the lowest price.

I would use a backpack for short-distance trips when getting a few items. I would use a pannier when getting more items and going longer distances. I hope you can find an option that works for you and your circumstances.

Thanks for visiting

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