This article was updated on 11/07/19
The hydration backpack isn’t dead, but it’s certainly ceding popularity out on the trail to the latest generation of hip packs offering adequate storage for tools and gear and water-carrying capacity without sweating up the rider’s back — an important benefit as the riding season kicks into high gear and sweltering summer temperatures approach.
And the proliferation of multi-tools that tuck away in a bike’s crank spindle, handlebar, fork steerer tube or even the front through-axle — not to mention the variety of straps and wraps to affix tubes, inflators and additional tools to bike frames and saddle rails — means we don’t have carry as much gear on our bodies as we once did, making the more compact hip packs a viable option for rides of just about any length or duration.
If these packs have one key drawback, it’s the hip-swaying lateral momentum that can result from attaching a heavy load around the waist. But for many riders, the tradeoff of a cooler ride and being unencumbered by shoulder straps are well worth it.
The Best Hip Packs for Mountain Biking
Thanks to some recommendations from our readers we’ve made some updates to our Best Hip Pack list and we’re excited to share some of our new favorites with you. We’ve got something for every rider in this list, so whether you’re looking to up your enduro-bro persona or just need to carry your cache trail tools in the most efficient way possible hip packs offer a great option, check out some of our favorites below.
Bontrager Rapid Pack
Constructed using a lightweight stretch woven material the 100 cubic-inch pack stretches to form fit to your waist and hips while a ridged foam back panel improves breathability. Key organizational features include two zippered security pockets hold essentials and a left-side opening features internal mesh pockets for easy gear organization. Water storage is accomplished with a middle water bottle pocket that centralizes carrying weight. The Rapid Pack is a great option for riders looking for a simple yet effective pack that doesn’t break the bank.
Dakine Hot Laps 5L Bike Waist Bag
The Hot Laps 5L includes a 2-liter Hydrapak lumbar reservoir with magnetic hose buckle. An offset waist buckle with stretch panel and airflow back panel are designed to provide added comfort.
The pack’s interior has organization for gloves, snacks, and essentials, including a fleece-lined phone sleeve. Side compression straps provide a smaller footprint when carrying less gear, and the straps can be adjusted to snug up the pack as the hydration reservoir empties.
As the pack’s name implies, it has 5 liters of total storage. Weight is 471 grams (1 pound).
EVOC Hip Pack Pro 3L
EVOC’s Airo Flex waist belt on the Hip Pack Pro 3l offers two-way stretch for a snug but not overly tight fit, with a buckled waist strap enhancing the hip pack’s security. The belt also features two zippered pockets that can be opened and closed using one hand.
The pack’s Venti Flap system allows the rider to cinch the bag down when descending or as the optional 1.5-liter Hydrapak hydration reservoir empties. Flexible rear exterior pockets on both sides of the pack’s main compartment allow riders to carry two water bottles.
Using perforated EVA pads, EVOC’s Air Flow Contact System boasts ventilation channels and a mesh cover to reduce the pack’s contact with the body and, hence, prevent overheating the rider.
The Hip Pack Pro 3l comes in three colors: Carbon Gray, Carbon Gray/Chili Red or Sulphur/Moss Green. Weight: 430 grams for the pack only, plus 130 grams for the optional reservoir.
Price: $120 (with hydration reservoir), $90 (without reservoir)
SOURCE Hipster Lumbar Pack
Although the aesthetics of the SOURCE Hipster may not appeal to every rider, the engineer-minded design will no doubt speak to some looking to get the best possible balance between carrying water/gear and comfort. SOURCE Hydration Belt Lumbar Pack comes with a removable harness for extra support, and though it’s completely functional without the harness, SOURCE suggest the pack carries most effectively utilizing the harness. Riders looking for the most function in a hip pack will truly appreciate the engineering that’s gone into the Hipster. Weight: 465 gr
CamelBak Repack LR4
This hip belt comes with CamelBak’s 1.5-liter (50-ounce) Crux reservoir, delivering 20 percent more liquid per sip than previous bladders, an easy-to-use leakproof cap, and a self-sealing bite valve. A quick-stow elastic pocket on the right side of the belt is ideal for trail snacks or a multitool, while the secure zippered pocket on the left side accommodates most phones (though not my ancient iPhone 6 Plus, even with a slim case).
Interior carry pockets to organize tools and other gear, CamelBak’s Magnetic Tube Trap keeps the drinking tube secure and easily accessible, and dual compression straps allow users to snug down the reservoir as it empties and keeps it close to their back.
Leatt Core 2.0
The new DBX 2.0 Core stands out from the rest with its incredibly lightweight. The shell material is durable but is made of a material that resists tears and abrasion.
Another quality of this hip pack is the well-padded fit that allows it to rest comfortably on the hips. The durable outer shell is equipped with several dedicated tool and hydration compartments, as well as waist pockets.
Providing 2 liters of hydration and 5 liters of cargo capacity, it has an inverted port that ensures maximum draining, and an auto shut-off bladder valve. It’s a little pricey at $80 for a simple, minimalist pack, but it disappears into the ride and that will make it an attractive option for some.
Mission Workshop Axis Modular Waist Pack
With no hydration system, this simple and lightweight (8-ounce) pack has become my go-to for rides under two hours where I can just rely on a bottle on the bike, or I’ll stash an 8-ounce bottled water or a soft flask in the pack if the ride or weather warrants it. The Axis is also great for days in my local bike park where I can get away with carrying little to no water.
The pack measures 5 inches high, 10.25 inches wide and 3.4 inches deep for 2.5 liters of total storage volume, and is made with weatherproof materials. It features an internal zippered pocket for items like keys or a phone, an external mini-U-lock holder on the rear, and a coated YKK zipper. For commuters, the Axis is also compatible with several of Mission Workshop’s Arkiv backpacks and duffles.
Osprey Troy Lee Seral Lumbar Pack
This limited-edition collaboration between Osprey and Troy Lee Designs gives a nod to TLD’s heritage in mountain biking while also introducing a new category into Osprey’s hydration line (the Seral is also available from Osprey without the TLD co-branding). The pack includes a 1.5-liter lumbar reservoir from Hydrapak with a magnetic bite valve, and the zippered main compartment features internal tool organization.
The pack’s compression straps and angled hipbelt are designed to keep the load stable by holding the pack close to the rider’s body. Dual zippered hip belt pockets are ideal for storing car keys, trail food or a phone.
Henty Enduro 2.0
You’re probably saying to yourself right now, “What’s a backpack doing in this hip pack roundup?” And you’d be right to question. But Henty’s Enduro tool belt/backpack hybrid, first introduced in early 2018, carries the load low on the rider’s back and features a lightweight ventilated mesh back panel with a zippered pocket to ride more like a hip pack than a backpack.
The second-generation Enduro 2.0 now comes standard with a 3-liter Hydrapak reservoir with a 48-inch drinking tube and boasts new refinements including a 10-centimeter rear shoulder strap extension to accommodate taller and larger riders. It’s made from Cordura 500D nylon, weighs 550 grams, and comes in either black or camouflage.