From reading around on the internet I understand that pannier bags are comfortable to ride long distances with on a bicycle.

In my current rough travel plan I decided I also want to (hitch)hike a large part of the journey, so I would need a regular backpack (±70L).

To keep the costs down I wondered if there's some sort of hybrid pannier bag that not only can be hooked on to a bike, but also to a "body harness" in practice becoming a backpack. I found some hybrids but these are small and have far less volume than a hiking backpack.

So does a system where I can carry multiple pannier bags on my back exist?

  • Have you considered just packing a large bag with a removable frame for off the bike time? Any multiple use gadget is going to be a compromise.
    – alex
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 1:34
  • There are (or at least used to be) panniers that were designed to convert to a backpack while off the bike. But generally they were intended for commuter/day use, not touring. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 1:39
  • And note that your typical full-sized pannier has about half the volume of full-sized standard backpack. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 1:40
  • @DanielRHicks Yes, I found those hybrid panniers and linked to them in my question. But as you say, they're relatively small. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 10:10
  • @alex I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Could you clarify it a bit? Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 10:10

8 Answers 8


Yes. I own a north st bags convertible pannier and think it works great. It hangs a bit low, so don't try and use it on low rider racks.


North St Bags convertible pannier / backpack

Also see Richard Jones Convertible Backpack


Richard Jones Convertible Backpack

Also try WOHO bags "NINJA NINJA" convertible backpack:


WOHO bags

  • 2
    The "two small panniers are one backpack" seems like a better compromise than most.
    – Móż
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 20:03

If you want to carry a full-sized hiking backpack, your best option might be securing it into a BOB-type trailer. A big backpack would be hard to mount to one side of a bicycling without doing terrible things to weight distribution.

I have a 25L Timbuk2 Especial Viaje backpack/pannier for commuting, and it works well for that but is already pretty heavy on one side of the bike when loaded up. The plastic pannier hardware also isn't super rugged— I broke one of the hooks and had to send for a replacement after a minor fall while taking a short tour.

edit: Actually, though, I haven't heard about the Richard Jones Convertible in another answer before. It looks like the real best answer to this question, and appears to be designed for exactly this purpose.

  • Thanks for the suggestion on the trailer. That's the other option I'm investigating. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 18:20

Another option is to modify a rack so you can attach a backpack to it. I've seen this done, but unfortunately we didn't have a common language to discuss how well it worked. This guy had built the whole rack himself so it included a stand as well as the pack.

bike rack with backpack mount

This is how I would approach your problem, simply because panniers are all smaller than even a small backpack. It wouldn't be too hard to make a shelf at the bottom of the rack (probably below axle height) that would support the bottom of the backpack. It would be easier to use a travel pack to get the cover over the straps (straps and spoked wheels are a bad combination), but you could attach a sheet of ripstop nylon to the rack to get the same effect, or just put the worst of the straps facing out like this guy did.

My oversize panniers (bigger than an Ortleib rear pannier) are still only 60 litres or so, and they're ridiculously large by bicycle standards. For comparison, my ultralight backpack is also 60 litres and it's explicitly "extreme" and designed for people willing to spend their way out of size and weight problems. For real walks I use an 80+ litre pack and often strap extra stuff to the outside.

  • But the setup is highly likely to have serious ground clearance and heel clearance problems, not to mention being badly unbalanced. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 12:00
  • @DanielRHicks - yes, but I think it's the least awful compromise for a diamond frame bike. My ultralight pack will roll up and go inside a pannier, but it's ~30 litres that way, so you lose half a pannier.
    – Móż
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 20:02
  • I suspect the only way to achieve something remotely practical (without regard to cost) would be to have two panniers that would somehow be joined into a single backpack. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 20:05
  • @DanielRHicks: you mean the "Richard Jones Convertible Backpack" linked below? Yes, it looks reasonable, I'd probably use it as a front pannier pair so I could have decent size rear panniers. But my solution is long-tail with a bin behind the seat, so I can put a full size backpack in there.
    – Móż
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 21:34
  • Or a trailer. You could fit a full sized backpack in a Bob with ease. Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 21:37

Such a thing does exist and it's the best! I own an Arkel Sherpack and Randonneur rack. The rack is great because I don't have any mounting points on my frame for traditional panniers. The rack hold very tight. I have commuted with two hefty laptops, lunch, and a change of clothes on it. I've been doing that kind of thing for well over a year. Everything has held up.

The pack has a sleeve on the back into which the rack slides. You can secure, with a buckle that comes on the pack, the pack to your seat post. If the bag is full it doesn't move. If the bag is kind of empty and things can slide around I notice when I get off that things can be drooped to one side but I never notice while riding.

The pack's sleeve on the back unzips and can be tucked away in a velcro compartment on the bottom (inside of which you can also keep a rain fly). It turns into a hiking day pack with hip and chest strap in like 10 seconds. I have hiked with a 3 litre bladder in the interior pouch too.

The pack is by no means 70 L ( I think it is 22) but it is still a great compromise. Light commuter, easy access, fully functioning regular backpack. I've really enjoyed mine.


I rode with a nice Arkel pannier during my first year of bike commuting, but attaching and removing became tedious. Now, I have two rear-mount Wald folding basket panniers. I use a large messenger backpack for my daily commute that slides easily in and out one of the baskets. Likewise, my reusable grocery bags become my panniers when shopping. They may not be stylish, but they're sure convenient.


I really like my "Shoulder it" pannier bag by Ortlieb, it was very convenient for commuting to and carrying inside the university. I even carry it sometimes when I'm not on a bike, though it's not so comfortable on clip-on side. Check out their Racktime series, there are other convertibles there, including backpacks.

description here


Two more.

Detours Ballard market bag pannier. This is what I carry. It can be used as either a backpack or shoulder bag. One of its advantages is that it's a bit more fashionable and less "bike-bag" in appearance for those looking for such a thing. http://www.detours.us/panniers/ballard-market-pannier.html

Bontrager market bag pannier. http://www.bontrager.com/model/09573


I can recommend Dutch brand New Looxs. They currently have two backpack panniers in their line-up (12.5L & 37L). I haven't used these, but I have used their Mondi Single Pannier every day for >2 years and I think it's great. It's withstood very heavy rain and it still looks like a normal shoulder bag. http://www.newlooxs.nl/en/producten/rugzakken/

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