I ride my bicycle to school everyday with a backpack filled with books, papers, and a laptop . Some days I also carry a second backpack with gym clothes and shoes. There isn't room to fit the gym clothes in the backpack, nor would I want to even if they could fit (sweaty clothes and papers don't mix). But carrying two bags is awkward too, the second bag can't be easily carried comfortably alongside the first, it gets in the way of pedaling etc.

I had hoped to find a product out there where you can get an backpack which can attach a secondary bag, similar to how hikers attach sleeping rolls to the top of their backpacks. While some backpacks come with bungee cords on the front, it's not clear that this can be used to attach a bag.

This answer to a similar question shows a hiking backpack which includes a smaller detachable daypack. This is far too large for a daily commute though.

Other than that, what I was imagining doesn't appear to exist.

What solution will allow you to best carry a heavy backpack and a light gym back comfortably and portably, especially for when cycling? How would you combine your gym bag with your backpack?

  • 1
    Something like that? amazon.com/bike-trailers/b?ie=UTF8&node=3403501
    – SJuan76
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 0:59
  • 3
    Are you aware of bike panniers? Is there some reason they won't work?
    – DJClayworth
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 1:30
  • There are options, but we would need to know what you have now in order to understand what may be "far too large". I have a normal (for me) size back pack with a second compartment I use for dirty cloths/shoes/etc.
    – Johns-305
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 13:11
  • Welcome to Bicycles. Hopefully you're still around to hear the answers from this stack. Possible duplicate of bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/38314/…
    – Criggie
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 7:08

3 Answers 3


Get a rear rack for your bike and strap the gym bag to it. A low cost and much safer approach.


Backpacks are a generally poor way of carrying stuff when riding a bicycle. And the bigger the pack, the worse they are.

  • Higher center of mass
  • Obscured vision when checking behind you
  • Decreased recognisability by drivers (they're slower to perceive you as a person)
  • Massive increase in damage potential in the event of an accident.

Personally I've carried a large steel tool case in a tramping pack on a bike, and its no fun at all.

There are better solutions, but they all cost money.

  • Panniers / carrier bags work very well because they are much lower on the bike. Some even have shoulder straps to carry as backpacck when not on the bike. You will need a bike rack to mount them. You may use one or two.

  • Front panniers - these go on the side of your forks and are generally smaller, and intended for lighter things else they mess up your steering. You need forks that have mounts, and ideally rigid forks (ie no suspension)

  • Framebag - there are various bags that strap inside your bike frame and carry items. They tend to be sized to fit your frame, and are comparably thin. They also increase your side windage area so sidewinds become more interesting.

  • Trailer - The most versatile solution, but you can carry 50 kilos of static weight relatively easily. Single wheel versions can carry up to ~30 kilos roughly. I have a 2-kid trailer that I use for stuff and it works for me.

  • Load bike - the most expensive answer. Bikes exist with frames that are intended for moving items. Some have tubs in the front, some have extended areas behind the rider, some carry long thin things between the rider's legs.

  • Don't take it/carry less stuff - (the free solution) If you don't need to carry the items, then don't. I have a locker at work with clean clothes. I'll carry a shirt to work, change into it, change back to cycling clothes at the end of the day and ride home. The shirt stays at work and is good for a couple of days because it doesn't get sweaty like the one I ride in.

More directly - do you need to carry all your books back and forth as well as a laptop? Consider finding the electronic format of your texts and have that on disk. Do your writing on the laptop, so no need for much paper. Leave your shoes at the other end, no need to carry them back and forth, or consider wearing them to ride the bike.

tl;dr two large waterproof panniers and a rear rack for your bike. You can still use a smaller backpack as overflow for heavy days.


I can fit a full gym kit (excluding shoes, which I'd ride in, and water, which is in a bottle cage) in my handlebar bag. That may provide another option that's cheap than a rack+panniers. Otherwise backpack panniers start from quite cheap (OK, but not hard wearing) and go up to very expensive.

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