If to commute to school by bike, how is the school rucksack usually transported? I can see the following options:

  • Keep it on the back. It is quite heavy, gravity center will be high and in case of falling over head it may add to the injury.
  • Put into basket above the rear wheel. The form of the usual rucksack does not fit well to secure it from falling.
  • Use specialized bicycle container for luggage. But the models I have used so far are time consuming to remove and not adapted at all to carry on hand when full.

Are there special equipment for that? Which approaches are usually taken?


3 Answers 3


I've always commuted to school (and subsequently to work) by bike, and my method was: none of the methods mentioned in the question. I'm from The Netherlands, and grew well into adulthood (and lived in other countries) before I realised that arriving to school like this is not the norm in most of the world.

I had permanently attached to my rack a set of heavy-duty luggage straps, then I would attach my backpack to this. I think the straps were actually attached at the axle, so it would have required some tools to remove it. My backpack was usually secure from falling, although it occasionally did fall or topple to the side, then I would stop to reattach it. From memory, I think that happened less than once a month in a 20 km/day round trip commute. I did not own any panniers at the time. I have fallen off my bike once during around nine years of commuting to school by bike, while turning on an untreated icy surface, the luggage did not add to injury.

Later I got some Dutch-style panniers that I also left permanently on my bike. I would put my school backpack inside one side of the panniers, and take out some books to put loose on the other side to balance the weight.

Most of my classmates simply cycled with their rather heavy backpacks. At the time there was a fashion to have the backpack extremely low, with extremely long shoulder straps. Some kids would have backpacks hanging as low as their knees. I remember seeing kids with their backpacks so low, that the backpack would actually rest on the rear luggage rack as they were cycling.

I think a pannier/backpack-combination is both a poor pannier and a poor backpack, and when it's heavy it makes for an imbalance bike too, unless you can somehow convert a single backpack into /two/ panniers?

  • +1 for a nice solution; presumably this requires a reaosnably wide rack (I can't see it working on the tortec velocity I use)
    – Chris H
    Aug 20, 2018 at 9:45
  • 1
    @ChrisH Indeed, the rack you link looks very narrow!
    – gerrit
    Aug 20, 2018 at 9:48

I also commuted by bike to school, and used something to widen the rear rack. I secured the backpack with elastic straps

Bagagedrager verbreder

(image source)

  • 1
    Doesn't that feel unpleasant against the bottom/back of the rider?
    – gerrit
    Aug 20, 2018 at 14:29
  • depends on how you place it. The way place in the picture is too close to the rider indeed Aug 22, 2018 at 7:54
  • This is interesting. Do you have a link for the maker/product?
    – Rook
    Apr 4, 2019 at 9:30

There are waterproof single side panniers which attach and detach quickly, have a rectangular shape meant for A4 binders and/or a laptop and have some inside pockets meant for office supplies.

An example is the Ortlieb Office Bag which I got when I was still in school, to replace my school backpack. It's an older model than the following picture but pretty much like it:


It has a padded detachable shoulder strap and a nice handle too.

When going on vacation it's also nice to have one bag like this, it doesn't fit as much as the usual round literal sacks but its content is much more easily accessible.

You get used to the imbalance, it's only really a problem when the whole bag is filled to the brim with books (like on the last day of school when bringing back all the borrowed books instead of just the ones for the day. In such cases I would use two panniers for once). The tires wear noticeably more on the side opposing the bag, so much that I once ran a tire backwards to get the last couple of hundred kilometers out of it (it was slick by then so the direction didn't matter).

I can very much recommend Ortlieb bags, they are expensive but last for decades. I still have that same pannier I got for school and it's still my favorite everday life pannier.

I also tried (in the shop) a convertible backpack/pannier back then and it took me too long to convert back and forth, but maybe they have improved since.

There is also an backpack adapter for all Ortlieb bags which I want to try at some point, but haven't yet.

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