How to mount a backpack and/or panniers on a bicycle

Mounting a backpack and panniers on a bicycle

Updated: 15/04/2019.

The topic/theme of this post might seem funny to some, but I’ve had the following conversation many times over:

“My back sweats when I carry a backpack on a bicycle.”
– Have you tried putting it on the rear rack?
“How?”

That is why here I’ll explain, with pictures, how to mount a backpack (and panniers) onto a bicycle rear rack.

Contents:

  1. Mounting panniers on a bicycle rear rack
  2. Mounting a backpack on a bicycle rear rack


1. Mounting panniers on a bicycle rear rack

For mounting panniers on a bicycle, one needs a rack that is designed to take panniers. Such racks have sides designed to support panniers, preventing them from getting into the spokes. Good ones have pannier hanging rails placed a bit below the top side of the rack – so both panniers and a backpack/bag can be mounted at the same time.

Rack in the pictures below is no longer made, but the “current” most similar model is Topeak Uni Super Tourist DX (Amazon affiliate link). It is made in a version for bicycles with disc brakes as well. Model in the pics has also a spring loaded… “thing” (not sure what it’s called in English), that is not necessary, but comes in handy – for paved roads it is often sufficient so bungee straps are not needed.

Bicycle rear rack suitable for both panniers and backpack mounting.<br> 1 – pannier side support<br> 2 – lowered rail for "hanging" the panniers<br> Picture 1″ class=”wp-image-8242″/><figcaption>Bicycle rear rack suitable for both panniers and backpack mounting.<br> 1 – pannier side support<br> 2 – rail for “hanging” the panniers is lowered<br> Picture 1</figcaption></figure><figure class=Pannier mounted on the rack Picture 2
Pannier mounted on the rack
Picture 2
Pannier mounted on a rack - up close Picture 3
Pannier mounted on a rack – up close
Picture 3
What it looks like from the opposite side - pannier mounted on a rack Picture 4
What it looks like from the opposite side – pannier mounted on a rack
Picture 4

Principle is the same for mounting the other pannier. The one in the picture is Ortlieb (Amazon affiliate link) – durable, waterproof and with very convenient patents for mounting, dismounting and carrying around – I’d recommend it.

There are various types of pannier mounting patents. Some come with hooks, some have stripes to be thrown over the rack – in which case one must always mount both panniers. They all benefit from the above noted rack design that lets them sit a bit lower and further “out”.


2. Mounting a backpack on a bicycle rear rack

Here I’ll show how to mount a backpack on a rack. The method shown has proven as very stable and secure, even on rough (bumpy) terrain. It boils down to leaning the backpack against the saddle and securing it with a rubber bungee cord (Amazon affiliate link) to hold it in place.

Alternative to the shown method is laying backpack flat on “its back” and tying it up with bungee cords. For small and mid-sized backpacks, the method below is more convenient, faster and, if something is put in the “dividers” within the backpack, it won’t fall out of them on bumpy terrain. Let’s begin:

Start by placing the backpack straight up, leaning its back side against the saddle.

Placing a backpack onto the rack Picture 5
Placing a backpack onto the rack
Picture 5
If the rack has a spring, it can be lifted before placing the backpack, so that the spring holds it in place Picture 6
If the rack has a spring, it can be lifted before placing the backpack, so that the spring holds it in place
Picture 6

Next step is placing straps over the saddle – criss-crossed.

Placing the backpack straps over the saddle - first one, then the other, so they end up sort of criss-crossed Picture 7
Placing the backpack straps over the saddle – first one, then the other, so they end up sort of criss-crossed
Picture 7
Both straps crossed - this helps so they don't flap around Picture 8
Both straps crossed – this helps so they don’t flap around
Picture 8

All that’s left now is to secure the backpack with a bungee cord.

Backpack secured with a bungee cord Picture 9
Backpack secured with a bungee cord
Picture 9
Attaching bungee cord to the rack, so that the hooks point away from the backpack (and don't cut it) Picture 10
Attaching bungee cord to the rack, so that the hooks point away from the backpack (and don’t cut it)
Picture 10

That’s it – both the panniers and a backpack on a bicycle, securely attached. 🙂

Panniers and backpack on a bicycle Picture 11
Panniers and backpack on a bicycle
Picture 11

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