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Waterproof and rugged but light, the Apidura City Backpack is impeccably designed and built and has a lot of great features geared up for the needs of the commuter. It is quite an investment though.
Made by long-trusted bikepacking gear specialist Apidura, this backpack marks a foray into the arena of more urban-focused load-carrying.
With a stated 17-litre capacity, the backpack is made from waterproof fabric and has a curved and shaped lid that fastens with a hook closure and Velcro patches to secure it against the body of the bag.
The padded fabric straps are adjustable in length, there's a height and length-adjustable chest strap, and an adjustable waist strap.
The rear of the pack is padded in three sections and there's a handy carrying loop at the top.
Inside, there's a roomy main compartment, a padded laptop sleeve that will take a 15in laptop, a zipped pocket and a mesh pouch pocket. There's also a zipped side pocket on the outside with an internal key fob strap.
It's a good-looking bag, with clean lines and doesn't scream out cycling pack, so is a good choice if you're after something smart and versatile rather than a high-vis, brightly coloured shouty thing. It does feature very subtle reflective accents at the base, though, along with an LED tab.
It's very comfortable to carry, with good adjustment in the length of the straps, which are well-shaped for a variety of chest configurations. The height-adjustable chest strap is nicely considered, but those with a larger bust or chest may find there's not quite enough length in it.
The waist belt is basic but with plenty of adjustment and a nice secure buckle (as has the chest strap).
The padding of the shoulder straps is just the right balance of firm and cushioned, even with a heavily laden bag. The back padding is fairly basic but does the job, and the shape contours well to the body – if there's no rigid laptop in the rear pocket that is.
The overall fit is stable and secure, with little movement, particularly when the pack is full, and there are no issues with the top interfering with the back of a helmet, or impeding over-the-shoulder vision.
I found the capacity just about spot on for a pretty standard commute, with space for a change of footwear, a few items of clothing and some bits and bobs for the day, along with a laptop.
The lid design works well whether the pack is fully loaded or not, although there are only two different attachment points and the shape of the lid also means you can't cinch it down if the bag really isn't very full.
Clever folds at the sides of the bag that interact with the shape of the lid prevent rain from getting in through the top, even though there's no drawcord or anything. Again, the bag works much better when at least moderately full. The contents of the bag stayed good and dry even in heavy rain during testing.
At £159, it's at the expensive end of a very crowded spectrum of commuter rucksacks. It's more than both the (admittedly larger) Thule Pack 'n Pedal Commuter Backpack at £137 and Evoc Commuter 18L backpack at £130, both of which are similarly waterproof and effective.
It is incredibly well made and nicely featured, but the others are not noticeably less well made. The Apidura does have a distinctive low-key style, and the kudos attached to its adventurous branding, but it's hard to justify an extra £20-£30 on top of an already high price tag – especially when you can get perfectly serviceable waterproof commuter packs for a lot less, such as the Oxford Aqua V20 Backpack at £54.99.
The Apidura looks great, performs well and is comfortable in use, but it really is a lot of money.
Superb quality, comfortable, effective, well made and stylish, but very expensive
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Apidura City Backpack 17L
Size tested: 17 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?
A lightweight pack designed for urban cycling use - "inspired by bikepacking, designed for city life"
Effectively uses a lot of bikepacking kit technology but in a commuter-focused bag.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Waterproof fabric and welded seams
17 litre capacity
Padded laptop sleeve
Adjustable padded straps
Adjustable chest and waist straps
Padded rear back panel
Reflective accents and LED light tab
Internal organiser pockets
Side zipped pocket with key clip
Very well made indeed from excellent quality components.
Did a good job of transporting an average commuter load securely and in comfort.
Tough fabrics and well made so should last well.
Pretty good for such a rugged, durable bag.
Nice and comfortable thanks to the padding and shape of the straps, and the overall structure of the pack.
A good bit more expensive than even similarly featured high-end packs, so hard to justify the extra.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Rugged waterproof build, decent load-carrying capacity, comfortable and stable, understated looks, nicely featured.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Expensive, works at its best when full.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's at the expensive end of a very crowded spectrum of commuter rucksacks, more than both the Thule Pack 'n Pedal Commuter Backpack at £137 and Evoc Commuter 18L Backpack, at £130; and you can get good bags for a lot less, like the Oxford Aqua V20 Backpack at £54.99. The Apidura looks great, performs well and is comfortable in use, but it really is a lot of money.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If the friend was well-off and looking for an effective urban pack with bikepacking cachet.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's an extremely good quality, stylish and comfortable pack that fulfils its intended purpose as an urban commuter pack very well, and looks inoffensive off the bike too, but it's hard to get over the price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.