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review

Rapha Backpack 20L

8
£120.00

VERDICT:

8
10
A great-looking and robust bag that's impressively waterproof – and good for cycling and off-the-bike duties
Reliable weather proofing
Well made
Large reflective strip
Front pocket lining can get caught in zip
Weight: 
912g
Contact: 
road.cc Recommends

This product has been selected to feature in road.cc recommends. That means it's not just scored well, but we think it stands out as special. Go to road.cc recommends

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The Rapha Backpack 20L is a roomy bag with plenty of pockets, a durable outer fabric and good weather resistance. It's comfortable to carry too and looks just as good away from the bike as it does when you're riding – it's certainly not a rucksack that screams 'cyclist'.

> Buy now: Rapha Backpack 20L for £120 from Rapha

Our best cycling backpacks buyer's guide covers our top choices from around £50 to £200.

Rapha has designed its backpack with plenty of compartments, which allows you to carry bulky items like a laptop and clothing while providing other areas for those little bits and bobs you want easy access to, and don't want to have to go rummaging around to find.

The 20-litre version we have here seems bigger than its volume might suggest, which I think is down to the backpack's quite rectangular shape that allows you to pack things right into the corners. If you want to go large, Rapha also makes a 30-litre model.

2023 Rapha Backpack 20L - chest strap adjustment.jpg

The main compartment has a pouch that'll take a 15in laptop, but other than that it's just a large open space. When commuting I could easily fit a pair of trainers, jeans and hoody inside, all bulky items that the bag swallowed easily.

2023 Rapha Backpack 20L - straps.jpg

The oil-waxed 420D nylon material used for the exterior is described as water resistant, but the addition of a roll-top closure rather than a zip allows Rapha to say that the main compartment is completely waterproof.

2023 Rapha Backpack 20L - roll top open.jpg

I tested this in the real world by riding in heavy rain and also by giving it a blast from the bathroom shower, and in both cases there was no water ingress.

The front pocket covers most of the front panel and is accessible through a zip at the side. The only issue I had was that the pink lining material would occasionally get caught in the zip, which then required plenty of force to pull it out.

2023 Rapha Backpack 20L - front pocket.jpg

Not a major issue, but a bit of a faff when you are trying to get out of the door and you can't get the zip pulled shut.

2023 Rapha Backpack 20L - side detail.jpg

Inside the front pocket you'll also find another zipped section and a small pouch area at the bottom ideal for keys and the like. It all helps to keep things organised and stops things rattling around too.

2023 Rapha Backpack 20L - back padding 2.jpg

The backpack is finished to a high standard, and the nylon material is very hardwearing. A large reflective strip runs down the middle for extra visibility, but it's dark enough in daylight that it doesn't scream cyclist's rucksack, and you also get a subtle light loop too.

2023 Rapha Backpack 20L - base detail.jpg

In fact, the whole bag looks just as good off the bike as it does on it.

2023 Rapha Backpack 20L - roll top strap.jpg

I found it comfortable on my shoulders too. The fabric did feel quite rigid when the bag was brand new, but once I'd loaded it up and used it a few times it became more supple and more comfortable.

2023 Rapha Backpack 20L - strap logo.jpg

The straps offer a good amount of adjustability and there's a sternum strap to stop it swaying. I used this bag when I was riding a more upright e-bike and on my road bike, and the Rapha bag sat on my back just as well on both bikes.

2023 Rapha Backpack 20L - chest strap.jpg

There's a decent amount of padding where the bag sits against your back and it's firm enough to allow a small amount of air to pass through between the pads if you are pushing the pace a bit.

2023 Rapha Backpack 20L - back padding.jpg

The padding isn't as thick as you'll find on some more performance-orientated bags though, so on warm days you will get a bit sweaty.

Value

The backpack comes in at £120, which is a tenner cheaper than Apidura's City Backpack. This has the same volume as the Rapha with a similar shape and design, albeit without a rolltop closure, and Suvi rated it for its simplicity and low weight.

Craft's 30-litre Cadence bag does have a rolltop design to make it waterproof and I found it well organised in terms of pockets and pouches. It costs just £99.99, which compares well with the 30-litre Rapha, which is £140.

The Elops Cycling Backpack Speed 520 is a little less subtle than the Rapha, but Laurence reviewed it very positively. It's slightly bigger at 25 litres but is tough, waterproof and very practical for cycling and walking. It also comes in at just £69.99.

Conclusion

There are cheaper backpacks available, but Rapha's is very well made, well designed and performs impressively against the weather. It's robust too.

Its biggest bonus, though, is how good it looks whether you're off or on the bike, so it'll get just as much use when I'm walking around the shops or taking the train.

Verdict

A great-looking and robust bag that's impressively waterproof – and good for cycling and off-the-bike duties

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Rapha Backpack 20L

Size tested: 20 L

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Rapha says: "Water-Resistant Roll-Top Backpack" which pretty much sums up what it is.

It's a good bag -roomy and great at standing up to the elements.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

20L capacity

Roll-top closure

Quick access front pocket

15" laptop sleeve

Fully waterproof main compartment

Reflective details

Raised lightweight padding for airflow

Adjustable shoulder and sternum straps

Materials:

100% Oil-Waxed 420D Nylon

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

A bag that makes full use of its volume available.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

It has a good capacity and its shape makes it easier to use the volume well.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The lining can get snagged on front pocket.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's at the higher end of the pricing scale, but it's not the most expensive as shown by the competition mentioned in the review.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

At the pricier end of the scale but that is justified by very good build quality and looks that cover cycling and day-to-day use off the bike.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 44  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,

As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

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