Convertible backpack panniers are a great little invention. It wouldn’t be appropriate to wear a backpack as you would normally if you were riding a bike because you would struggle to maintain your balance.
But convertible backpack panniers are the ultimate solution, they attach to your bike safely without interfering with the motion of the wheel, and when you’re ready to get off your bike and head to your destination on foot you can carry your pannier as a backpack, and even carry your bike with your free hands if you needed to.
So, we’ve been looking into it, and we’ve found some really good convertible backpacks that are out on the market today. We’ve now handpicked our Top 5 and will be reviewing them for you shortly.
After that we’ve got a handy little buying guide for you, which walks you through everything you might want to think about before you decide which one to buy.
Top 5 Best Convertible Backpack Panniers
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
This convertible backpack pannier from Two Wheel Gear comes highly recommended. For example, on the Amazon page, after well over 100 individual customer ratings, the average Amazon customer rating comes in at 4 and a half stars out of a possible 5
In order to mount the convertible backpack pannier to your bike, you will need the Rixen & Kaul Kompakt Rail Mounting System which is an affordable system and is readily available online.
To use as a pannier, you simply place the backpack straps into the back pocket and use the included clip to lock onto the mounting system, using an additional lower strap for even more security. And when you want to use it as a backpack, simply pull out the backpack straps from the back pocket, and clip them into the now free lower strap.
Both of the above 2 procedures take just seconds, but if you didn’t have far to walk and you haven’t got much to carry, you could just grab the pannier by its top handle to carry it.
But that’s not all - it’s packed with handy features. It comes with a fluorescent, waterproof rain cover with reflective details, a pocket for your rain cover and U-Lock, 2 mesh pockets for large water bottles or a coffee flask, a padded laptop sleeve, and an integrated reflective and blinky light attachment.
It’s great for keeping all your items organized - there’s a special pocket for your phone or sunglasses, and there’s slots for storing pens.
It’s constructed from military grade waxed canvas, which means it’s designed to be durable, and perhaps more importantly, waterproof.
It’s somewhat pricier than the other convertible backpack panniers in our Top 5 Picks, but if money were no object we may have made this beauty from Two Wheel Gear our Number 1 pick.
It’s available in 2 go-with-anything colors, specifically either black or graphite gray, and is available in either color in a choice of 22 litre capacity or a bigger 30 litres. You may not need a 30 litre one, since even the smaller 22 litre one can fit a small to medium laptop inside.
It also comes with a limited time guarantee - you can try it for 30 days and if you’re not happy with it for any reason you can get a full refund.
- Comes highly recommended
- Easy to convert either way
- Comes with a raincover
- Padded laptop sleeve
- Pockets for bottles or flasks
- Keep items well organized
- integrated light attachment
- Military grade waxed canvas
- 2 large sizes to choose from
- 30 day guarantee available
- Premium product at a premium price
- Customers have said that the zippers are quite stiff
This is a great little convertible backpack pannier from Gonex.
What we really love about it is just how waterproof it is - it offers excellent waterproof performance, thanks to its 900 denier waterproof material and hot pressed seams. Because the weather can be unpredictable and sometimes it’s going to rain on your commute.
It’s also really wear resistant, which is exactly what you need when you’re always out and about with it. It’s even dust proof and resistant to extreme temperatures to boot.
It has a large 27 litre inner capacity, which is great because it means you can pack a change of clothes if you need to. And inside there’s a mesh compartment so you can keep all of your smaller items easily accessible and right at hand.
If you do have a lot of stuff to take with you, you could always opt to buy 2 bags and have one on each side of the bike. Great for your balance.
It attaches to your bike’s rack by way of a triangular attachment system. There are two solid buckles and a 360° rotatable bracket that can be adjusted and fixed into place. And when you’re ready to use it as a backpack, the shoulder straps simply clip into place.
It also has a roll top opening that’s so popular with panniers, which adds to waterproofing the bag’s contents even further, should you be met with a real downpour! It’s worth noting at this point though that rolling down the bag’s opening does decrease it’s inner capacity.
Customer feedback has largely been very positive. For example, on the Amazon page, there’s an average customer rating of 4 and a half stars out of 5.
It’s available in two color options, a very sleek looking black, or alternatively, a high visibility yellow, for a little extra safety to help you get spotted amongst the other traffic. And to that end there are also reflective strips on the sides of the bag.
- Excellent waterproof performance
- Really wear resistant and durable
- Large 27 litre inner capacity
- Triangular attachment system
- Easy to convert either way
- Roll top opening to keep items dry
- Very positive customer feedback
- Available in high visibility yellow
- Some customers have found defects with the bag, however these complaints seem to be very few and far between, with most customers very happy with their convertible backpack pannier
This is another great convertible backpack pannier for laptop users, with it’s protective inner sleeve that’s designed to fit a 15.6 inch, standard sized laptop (or tablet).
It has a 15 litre capacity, so it can carry a whole bunch of stuff besides your laptop. And there are two mesh pockets either side of the main compartment to stash your water bottle or thermos. There’s also an outer pocket to help you get to smaller items (like keys) more readily.
It uses a hook mounting system suitable for most universal bike racks, and also features lower adjustable Velcro straps for additional security. And when you’re ready to remove it from the bike and carry it on your back, simply pull out the shoulder straps from the compartment on the back. How quick and easy is that!
We love it’s smart looking shape and style, it carries a much different look to all the black nylon style varieties out there. Although it has a canvas kind of look, it’s made with really durable water resistant 300 denier cationic polyester, which won’t allow your laptop or other items to get damaged from any rain. To that end it also features a roll down opening.
- Protective laptop sleeve
- Durable & water resistant
- Large 15 litre capacity
- Fits most bike carriers
- Extra velcro straps
- Quick & easy to convert
- Smart appearance
- Reasonably priced
- Not high visibility
- It’s classed as water resistant rather than waterproof
What we love about this convertible backpack pannier from Banjo Brothers is just how waterproof it is. It features a double layered design including a waterproof ballistic nylon outer layer, and an inner layer besides. And to protect your gear from getting wet from rain even further, there’s also that ever popular roll down opening on the larger compartment.
It will fit on a variety of racks up to 12mm thick, and to convert from a pannier to a backpack, simply unhook, and swing the pannier flap to the opposite side of the bag to reveal the backpack straps.
It also has a large capacity of 1100 cubic inches which is just over 18 litres, which gives you plenty of room to stash all your stuff.
There’s plenty of different pockets to stash your smaller items and keep them handy, including one that will fit a water bottle or thermos.
With regards to visibility, although it’s a dark bag overall, it uses reflective piping and has
places for flashing lights on the convertible backpack pannier sides.
Feedback on this item has been largely positive. On the Amazon page for example, most customers gave it either 4 stars or 5 stars out of a possible 5.
- Waterproof material
- Roll down opening
- Easy to convert over
- Fits on a variety of racks
- Large internal capacity
- Plenty of different pockets
- Water bottle pocket
- Reflective piping
- Places for flashing lights
- positive customer feedback
- No laptop sleeve
This is a great little convertible backpack pannier from Tourbon.
There are two hooks with which you can clip it onto your bike’s backrack, plus a velcro strap lower down for extra security. And when you’re ready to remove it from the bike and use it as a backpack, you don’t have to go fishing around for the backpack straps - they are already in place.
It’s made with a high quality water-resistant canvas, and features a roll down opening, so it can take a bit of rain if you get caught out in it, and no rain will get inside.
It has a very spacious inner compartment, big enough to fit a laptop in fact, should you ever need to take one around with you.
It’s stand out feature though has to be it’s charging port - you can place a power bank inside the bag and connect your phone to the outer port. This is so handy when you’re out for a long stretch of time.
It has a smart unisex look about it which is quite appealing.
Customer feedback has been largely positive. On the Amazon page for example, most customers rated it at either 5 stars out of 5 or 4 stars.
- Easy to convert
- Water resistant
- Roll down opening
- Large capacity
- Charging port!
- Unisex appearance
- Positive feedback
- No dedicated pocket for a water bottle
- Although it can fit a laptop there isn’t a dedicated padded sleeve for it
Best Convertible Backpack Panniers Buying Guide
OK, so there are a few different things you might want to think about before deciding which convertible backpack pannier you want to get for yourself. Let’s walk you through them.
Easy to Convert
You want a pannier that’s easy to convert between pannier and backpack and vice versa. You don’t want to be spending ages fiddling with too many straps or trying to force a clip that’s too stiff. You want a straightforward quick and easy conversion. All of the bags in our Top 5 picks have this feature.
Even if it’s nice when you leave the house, that doesn’t mean to say that you won’t run into a little (or a lot of) rain on your journey. So you should certainly invest in a convertible backpack pannier that is at least water resistant, if not waterproof. All of the bags in our Top 5 picks are at least water resistant.
Or alternatively, you could pick one that comes with a rain cover included in the price, if this is of interest to you, you should check out our Number 1 Pick, from Two Wheel Gear.
Some convertible backpack panniers feature a roll down opening and this helps to protect the bag’s contents even further from any rain. All of the bags in our Top 5 picks apart from our Number 1 have this feature.
The last thing you want when you’re riding your bike is for your pannier to come off when you’re surrounded by heavy traffic. To that end you should look for a convertible backpack pannier that will stay securely in place, preferably with more than one place to attach it to the bike’s rack.
There’s no point having a convertible backpack pannier if it can’t fit in all of the gear you want to take with you. But it’s not for us to tell you how much room you need.
Some people like to use two convertible backpack panniers to store all their items, with one pannier on each side of the bike, which helps with your balance as you ride.
If you need a particularly large bag, then our Number 1 pick from Two Wheel Gear is available in a whopping 30 litre capacity.
Pocket for a water bottle
One of the more popular features is a dedicated pocket where you can place a water bottle or a coffee thermos. It’s important to keep hydrated on long journeys, and you wouldn’t want your bottle or thermos leaking and damaging the other items in your bag.
You may well be interested in a convertible backpack pannier that has a high visibility appearance. Some might say that this isn’t an essential feature, and maybe it isn’t essential for everybody, however if one day it saves your life you’d be very glad to have it.
Padded laptop sleeve
A more recent feature in convertible backpack panniers, is a special padded compartment for your laptop. This is a great feature for laptop users, because it keeps the laptop from getting knocked by other items and prevents it from getting scratched by your keys or leaked on by your drinks.
If you plan on taking a laptop on your journey, we strongly recommend that you invest in a convertible backpack pannier that has a padded laptop sleeve. If that’s of interest to you, we can recommend our Number 1 pick from Two Wheel Gear, or our Number 3 pick.
Most convertible backpack panniers can vary in price from about $60 to $160, which is quite a wide range. We will say that the more expensive convertible backpack panniers do tend to have more special and convenient features. However it’s good to know that there are cheaper alternatives around if you don’t have the budget for one of the more expensive varieties.