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What's In Your Bike Commuting Pack?

By: Heather Foster, Co-Founder, KX3 Lifestyle + Coaching

The transition from winter to spring means so many things, but most importantly, it means more time on the bike outside and the opportunity to bike commute to work! 


Here in the mountains of Idaho, the mornings are still cold (20's-30's), and the afternoons are starting to warm up a bit (into the 50's-60's on a good day), so there's some prep work that goes into my bike commute and having my pack dialed in is key to making it fun! I've tried several packs over the past few years, and I've finally found the winner for carrying the "stuff" I need and I'm guessing you might too (we'll get to the details shortly). I work in a pretty casual environment, but I'm hopeful that the recommendations here can suit just about anyone with minor adaptations as needed.

First things first—the pack. Any backpack will technically work, but finding one that fits well while you're riding your bike and carries everything you need safely and securely definitely makes it more efficient and comfortable. I landed on the Osprey Metron. It's designed specifically for bike commuting and Osprey thought of everything with this pack, including features like the zippered compartment inside for shoes, a padded laptop area and sleeve for work documents, and the ability to collapse or expand the pack based on how much "stuff" you take with you—or for instance today I could expand it on my way home when I had to stop at the grocery store for a loaf of bread! :) It also has an integrated, high-visibility rain cover (just in case), Airscape back panel for increased airflow and comfort, and the appropriate adjustable straps to keep the pack riding comfortably on your back.

So, what goes in your pack?

I've included a basic checklist below, which hopefully will work for you too! Below the packing list, I've also touched on some other bike commuting tips and tricks.

What to wear when bike commuting:

It really depends on how far your commute is, and what your personal preference is. Personally, my bike commute is 15.5 miles each way and almost entirely on bike paths. With that said, I gear up in full cycling apparel for comfort, which this time of year includes shoe covers and winter-weight socks in the morning to avoid frost-bitten toes, winter-weight gloves/mittens, mid-weight cycling tights to keep my legs warm but won't be too hot to wear home in the afternoon, base layer top, long sleeve jersey, windproof jacket, beanie, and neck buff to pull up over my face if needed. My helmet and sunglasses are permanent fixtures when I'm on the bike :) Then I stash a vest and a lighter pair of gloves in my pack for the afternoon if it's forecast to be significantly warmer for my ride home. Or a light rain jacket if there's any chance of rain.

If you work in a more business-like environment, you can plan ahead and take an extra set of clothes to keep at work for those days when you commute, so you don't have to squish nice clothes in a pack. :) 

Remember to hydrate on your bike commute, just as you would on a training ride. I put electrolytes or a light carbohydrate drink mix in my water bottle, and pack a protein bar or yogurt with granola to eat when I get to work. I pack my own lunch most days, so in the pack it goes, along with a banana or other snacks that I like to eat for my pre-ride-home energy/calories for the 15.5 miles home.

This time of year I don't have to worry about riding in the dark, but come fall, a strong-lumens headlight and a blinking taillight are a must. If your bike commute is on city streets or on roads with regular automobile traffic, I recommend always running head and taillights on your bike.  

A few last tips for making your bike commute stress-free and something you look forward to:

  • Most of us don't have showers at work, so one option is to keep wet wipes in your desk at the office so you have them to "shower" after your ride.
  • Keep a stash of post-ride and pre-ride snacks at the office so you won't bonk.
  • Remember to always hydrate riding to and from work.
  • Always have your bicycle repair kit on your bike in the event of a flat, etc.
  • Practice good riding etiquette (e.g. inform others if you are coming up behind them to pass, follow your local cycling traffic laws on the roads, if you draft off someone's wheel try to give back with a pull for a bit too.)
  • Lock your bike if it's going to spend the day in a rack and not safely in your office.
  • Smile and say hi to passers-by along your commute!
  • Ride safe out there - be aware of what's happening around you on the bike.

*Do you have bike commuting ideas you'd like to share with us? We're all ears! Send them to [email protected] so we can share them, or post them in our Facebook group at KX3LifestyleAndCoaching.

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