While the backpack has long since become accepted as an alternative to the briefcase, it is still used mainly in sports and recreation. But there are special models suitable for everyday cycling.
A few essential things need to be observed for the backpack to be perceived not as a burden, but as an integrative part of the body. It starts with the shoulder straps. Good padding and ergonomic contouring are very important. There should be seam-free S-shape in the neck area. This avoids uncomfortable pressure points and chafing, especially when the backpack is full. Furthermore, this special shape helps prevent the straps from sliding off the shoulders.
The back structure plays a very special role. This part of the backpack is in direct contact with the back. It should take the physiological curve of the spine into account. This can for example be facilitated by shaped aluminium rods that allow the backpack to be adapted to the shape of one’s own back. Then the backpack always fits closely on the back. Relief for the spinal processes of the spine is also important, and the main load needs to be applied to the right and left of the spine. Good ventilation of the back region has to be assured here, notwithstanding sufficient padding, in order to largely avoid partial moisture accumulation.
The hip strap is often neglected on backpacks in general. Yet the strap, when properly positioned, can take a great deal of the load off the shoulders and distribute it over the hip bone. This is best assured by an individually adjustable back length. Without this back length adjustment possibility, the hip strap often sits too high or too low and cannot do its job. The hip strap also ensures a stable position of the backpack on the back and prevents pendulum movements, which is especially important when riding at high speeds.
Although somewhat unimposing, the chest strap is important for cycling. It keeps the shoulder straps in place when things get bumpy or your upper body has to work a bit harder. Posture changes play an important role for back health, also while cycling. It is therefore highly advantageous if the chest strap is easy to tighten and loosen, ideally with one-hand adjustment. This allows settings to be corrected quickly.
An important basic rule applies for packing the backpack: heavy items should always be packed as close to the body as possible and secured in the storage compartment. Suitable compartmentalisation is therefore important. Additional, easy to access storage compartments are advantageous.
There are other factors that can make using a backpack more comfortable. A means of lifting the backpack for example, making it comfortable to carry. Reflective stripes enhance safety, ways to adjust the backpack volume are useful and water-repellent properties or a rain cover protect the contents against wetness.
Aside from the right bicycle backpack, back-friendly cycling also includes an ergonomic bicycle seat and bicycle grips. But the bicycle’s individual adjustment to personal needs is the most important of all. While it is part of the service offered by good bicycle shops, you can easily do it yourself with corresponding instruction. Find tips on these AGR web pages: