Ever try cycling with a phone or set of keys in hand? It's certainly no easy task. What about laptop or basketball? Now, that's an accident waiting to happen. And while hiking backbacks can hold plenty of gear, they don't play well with bike seats. Plus, sometimes, you just want to get that pack off your back.
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That's where a bike bag, bike pannier or bike trunk bag comes in handy. Made for biking specifically, most of these bags attach to your bicycle and offer plenty of storage space. In other words, they're ideal for carrying things on your bike.
The difference between the three? Bike bags usually sit on your back or side and don't attach to your ride. Bike panniers clip onto the side of a bike rack (more on that below). And bike trunk bags sit on the top of your bike rack.
We chatted with endurance athletes and cycling coaches to learn exactly what you need to find the best bike panniers or bags for you. Browse our top picks and narrow down your search.
1. Best Large Storage: ROCKBROS Bike Pannier Waterproof 27L Large Capacity Bike Bag
- Capacity: 27 liters
- Mount Style: side mount
For those who like to carry groceries, this is definitely the best bike pannier for your hauls. It can be expanded to its full 27-liter size or rolled down to a smaller. That's a big plus, according to Lentine Alexis, former professional endurance athlete and chef, making it a versatile option.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $70.99
2. Best Backpack: Rapha Roll Top Backpack
- Capacity: 25 liters
- Mount Style: on your back
This is one of the best bike bags for the urban commuter or weekend warrior — who prefers to wear their gear. It has padded straps for extra comfort on longer rides and includes a 15-inch laptop sleeve.
Another bonus? This pack is waterproof, which, according to Andrew Kalley, CPT, USA triathlon level II coach, is a must if you ever cycle in rainy weather. Kalley also loves the plentiful pockets and storage compartments.
Buy it: REI.com; Price: $135
3. Best Waterproof: Thule Shield Pannier
- Capacity: 25 liters
- Mount Style: side mount
Thule's large, waterproof pannier is easy to detach from your bike so you can carry it wherever. The bags can hold up to 25 liters of gear and have three interior pockets for securing thing like snacks and extra pair of shoes. And they have reflective details to keep you visible at night.
"I try to avoid bags with zippers and opt for buckles instead," says IRONMAN athlete Meaghan Praznik. "I've had panniers with zippers that have torn when I've tried to stuff too much into the bag. You can easily avoid this with buckles or roll-over tabs, which this pannier has."
Buy it: Moosejaw.com; Price: $135.96
4. Best Insulated: ERRLANER Bicycle Rack Rear Carrier Bag Insulated Trunk Cooler
- Capacity: 11 liters
- Mount Style: top of rack
The next time you ride to the beach or park for a picnic, this insulated carrier bike bag is your new go-to. The cooler mounts on the back of your bike (more on that below) and will keep your stuff cold for up to five hours.
The outer fabric is also waterproof and resistant to dirt, sand and snow. So, if your cooler happens to fall onto the ground, you don't have to worry about any unwanted damage.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $22.99
5. Best Crossbody: Arkel Signature H Urban Pannier
- Capacity: 24 liters
- Mount Style: on your shoulder
If you're looking for a crossbody or briefcase-style bag to carry both on and off your bike, consider this durable, waterproof bag.
It features an easy-to-access pocket outside — perfect for your phone and other personal items you might need to quickly grab while biking — and a zippered inner pocket, along with a padded laptop sleeve. The bag's waterproof material also has reflective patches to keep you safe on your early morning and evening rides.
Carry it by the handle or use the padded shoulder strap, which makes it comfy to carry. When it's fully opened, it has shopping bag-style handles, which make it a great grocery run companion, too. Even better: The flat bottom allows the bag to sit upright, so it won't topple over and spill out all of your belongings.
Buy it: Arkel-od.com; Price: $189.99
6. Best Bike Trunk Bag: BV Bike Bag
- Capacity: 26 liters
- Mount Style: top of rack
When it comes to organized storage space, BV makes the best bike trunk bag. This double-sided bag is big enough to carry groceries, school essentials and/or any cycling gear you may need. The small front zipper pockets also make it easy to store your phone and wallet.
Another bonus? This bag is lined with reflective trim, so you're guaranteed visibility in case you plan to ride your bicycle later at night.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $28.98
7. Best Saddle Bag: Revelate Designs Terrapin System Saddle Pack
- Capacity: 14 liters
- Mount Style: back of seat
Revelate Designs' saddle pack is the perfect bike bag for those who don't need to take too many things on a ride. Unlike other bike bags, you don't need a rack to mount this pack on your bicycle. It attaches right to the back of your seat.
And because it's so small, you won't have to worry about much extra weight while you ride, Seacat says.
Buy it: REI.com; Price: $155
3 Tips for Finding the Best Bike Bags for You
1. Consider Where (and How Long) You Ride
The weather in your area is a big factor to consider when you buy a new bike bag, according to Praznik. When you often ride in rain, finding a waterproof pannier or bag is a must. Read product labels closely to find a bag that keeps all your belongings (especially your technology) dry.
You'll also want to consider how long you're usually on your bicycle. If you have an hour commute to work, or if you plan to go on trail ride, then you should invest in a bike bag that has padded straps and is made with more breathable material.
2. Note What You Tote
Some people might use their panniers or bike bags to stash groceries and work supplies, so having a spacious pack with several leakproof compartments (maybe even an insulated pocket or two) are a top priorities, Alexis says.
Those who carry their laptop pretty often may want to find a bag with a built-in laptop sleeve. Or, those who like to grab groceries should prioritize an insulated, cooler-style bag.
Use the chart below to get an idea of the best bike bag size for your purposes.
Bike Bag Sizes
Items to Carry
Groceries and purchases / fitness or sports equipment
25 liters and more
15 to 24 liters
Water bottle, phone, keys
14 liters and less
3. Check the Mount Style
Any bag that's labeled as a backpack or crossbody usually doesn't attach to the actual bicycle, so you don't need an additional bike rack to use them. These bags are all worn on your back or shoulder.
Other bags attach to the bike seat or rack. Here are the three mount styles you need to consider:
Back of the Seat: Saddle bags or saddle packs strap onto the bottom of your bike seat and sit in the air above your rear wheel. You don't need any additional mounts or racks to attach these to your bicycle.
Top of Rack: Bike trunk bags and cooler bags sit on top of the bike rack. These are secured with either clips or bungee cords that come with the bag itself, Seacat says. All you need to do is read the instructions on how to properly secure the bag to your bike.
Side Mount: Panniers connect to the side of bicycle racks. To secure a pannier, you clip the bag to the side of the rack, letting it rest along the left or right side of your wheel. The best bike panniers come with a clip built into the back so you don't have to buy an additional mount for these.