Interested in a mountain bike hip pack? We purchased 10 of the most intriguing options available today to put through our highly detailed and ultra-thorough testing process. We wore these packs on 20-mile epic rides, shuttle laps, and even while walking the dog. After our testing period concluded, we sat down with our copious notes and painstakingly scrutinized every detail of each pack, identifying their key strengths and weaknesses. Yes, this process was certainly a lot of work, but it was all in the name of helping you find the very best bag for your needs, budget, and riding style.With summer approaching, we all need to stay hydrated out on the trail. If you plan to carry a bit more on longer rides, our experts have also tested the best hydration packs and even individual hydration bladders, just in case you already have your own pack. Beyond your watering needs, our riding teams have reviewed the best mountain biking gear on the market. We have in-depth reviews covering the top hardtail and trail bikes, and a round-up running down the 10 best mountain bikes based on our award winners across the board.
The EVOC Hip Pack Pro 3L is our tester's favorite for delivering the very best blend of comfort, fit, storage, and hydration. The hydraulic bladder system with quick-connect system makes filling and cleaning the bladder a breeze. In addition to the bladder, this pack also has two slots for water bottles. As a result, you can carry lots of water or choose between a bladder or bottles. The Hip Pack Pro has a fair amount of storage and can carry the necessary snacks and tools for most sub-4-hour rides. The comfort and fit aspect, however, is what we really find outstanding. The waist system features two wide overlapping elasticized bands that conform to the body exceptionally well and keep it very stable through rough terrain. The back panel also has a dialed ventilation system to help you stay cool.
We love the Hip Pack Pro but we don't feel it is perfect. It is one of the most expensive hip packs in our review and is the heaviest model we tested. It also offers only a moderate amount of storage. If you need a pack for huge rides and want the ability to carry a couple extra layers of clothing, we would recommend looking elsewhere. Otherwise, we feel this is the best mountain bike hip pack on the market.
Read review: EVOC Hip Pack Pro 3L
We found a whole lot to like about the Osprey Savu hip pack. It boasts a solid amount of storage, a comfortable fit, and a bladder-less design that holds two bottles. While a hydration bladder system can be nice, sometimes the simplicity of using a water bottle is delightful. Best of all, it comes at a reasonable price. This pack offers 5 liters of storage, which is more than sufficient for most half-day rides. There is plenty of space for snacks and tools — you can even sneak a carefully packed windbreaker in there if need be. We found the angled hip belt and compression straps to work well to keep the pack stable over rough terrain, even with a full load. The hip wings also feature pockets for quick and easy access to smaller items. On top of all that, it's made from Bluesign approved recycled fabrics.
The Savu has a system where you can collapse the water bottle pockets when not in use. Essentially, this helps streamline the bag when you aren't carrying bottles. We could do without this feature as it just seems like an overdesigned element. Beyond that, we found little not to like about his simple and affordable pack.
When you are going out for a quick ride after work or maybe sneaking in a hot lap between errands, the Bontrager Rapid Pack is a no-brainer. This hip pack offers just enough space for the essentials, including a multi-tool, tube, energy bar, and some CO2 cartridges or a tiny pump. It doesn't have a bladder system and only fits one bottle, but that helps make it impressively lightweight, slim, and stable on the back. The limited storage capacity also helps keep it light and very comfortable on the trail, making it a perfect option for short and sweet rides. The simplicity of the design is beautiful, and the lack of bells and whistles is quite refreshing. Oh yeah, this hip pack also comes at an attractive price point.
Since the Rapid Pack is designed for quick rides carrying just the essentials, it stands to reason that it is not the best choice for bigger trips or hot days where you need a ton of water. You will struggle to fit enough supplies in this pack to cover you for a half-day ride, even if you have a bottle cage on your bike. This pack is best-suited as a secondary pack for short rides, assuming you have a larger, roomier hip pack or backpack for those epics.
Read the full review: Bontrager Rapid Pack
If you need a mountain bike hip pack for bigger rides, we feel the Osprey Seral 7 is an excellent choice. With 7-liters of storage capacity and a 1.5-liter water bladder, it has you covered for long days in the saddle. While it might be tough to fit all of your trail essentials, a sandwich, and a jacket in most of the packs in this review, it is a non-issue for the Seral. It also delivers stellar levels of comfort with an angled hip belt and compression straps that keep the load tight against the body and impressively stable. The back panel features a functional ventilation system along with breathable airmesh on the hip wings to help keep sweat at bay. Water flows quickly from the hydration system's bite valve, which is secured at the waist with an easy access magnet. Instead of routing the hydraulic hose through a little hole in the side of the bag, Osprey takes a simple approach where you route the hose out of the corner of the main zipper for quick and easy filling and cleaning.
Given the size and width of this pack, it may not be the best option for smaller riders. Your back only has a limited amount of real estate available for a hip pack, and riders with a proportionally smaller lower back may feel that the Seral occupies a lot of that space. While we love how quick and easy it is to access the hose and bite valve with the magnet system, it can be prone to picking up sand and small rocks, which can decrease its integrity and may require occasional cleaning. Considering the larger storage capacity, this also isn't the best choice for riders who don't carry a lot with them on rides.
The Deuter Pulse 3 5L is an excellent compact hip pack with a somewhat unorthodox approach. While almost all of our test packs have an oblong, rectangular, or oval shape, the Pulse is square. While this may seem like a simple aesthetic move by Deuter, we also find it rather sensible. It creates a more compact storage area that occupies less horizontal space on your back with the weight nicely centered. Additionally, two pockets on the hip wings can fit snacks or other quick-access items and are big enough to hold some modern smartphones. We found the Pulse to have a comfortable fit, with large hip-cradling wings that provide a stable and secure hold on rough and rocky trails. It also boasts an impressively low weight among options with hydration systems. The quick-connect hose system is another huge bonus as it allows for much easier filling and cleaning of the bladder.
Despite its unique and sensible shape, the Pulse can't compete with the top options in our review. The moderate-sized 5-liter storage area has enough space for a 2-3-hour ride, but it isn't quite big enough to pack substantial amounts of food or extra clothing. The hose attachment system is a little clunky, and it takes some force to reattach the hose to the clip on the waistband. When packed full, the pack doesn't hold its shape as well as some others and can be a little round against the back. However, these issues are relatively minor, and if you like the look and layout of this pack, it's a great compact option to have on hand for short to medium-length rides.
Read review: Deuter Pulse 3 5L
The EVOC Hip Pouch 1L is a tremendous choice for riders seeking a simple, minimalist hip pack. This small, 1-liter pack is a high-quality piece that is the closest thing to wearing nothing at all. It has space for snacks and all of your essential repair items such as a tube, multi-tool, and CO2 cartridges, and can also fit a compact mini-pump. The Hip Pouch is well-organized, featuring two pockets on the pack's wings for smaller items like keys, a snack, or a GPS unit. Perhaps the most impressive aspect is the extremely comfortable and low-profile fit, thanks, in no small part, to how light this bag is. Even when loaded with gear, it sits close to your body and has a very slim and slender feel on the trail. The backing is exceptionally comfortable as well, with channels to promote airflow.
The Hip Pouch has two main downsides. First, it does not have the ability to carry water. As a result, you will need to rely on a water bottle cage on your bike. This bag was clearly designed for quick laps and short rides that don't require lots of water, but a single bottle on the bike may not be sufficient for riders in hot climates. Second, with only 1-liter of storage capacity, you're obviously limited in what you can carry. It is important to keep in mind the intended application of this pack — it is designed for quick laps carrying the bare minimum. If you like to carry a sandwich and a windbreaker when you ride, you'll be better off looking elsewhere.
The Leatt Hydration Core 2.0 hip pack is durable, substantial, and has a tough feel to it. If you are riding in the rain or slop, this bag is a great choice for fending off the elements. Additionally, the Core 2.0 is a solid option for riders who may crash occasionally given the sturdy material. The 2-liter hydration bladder holds enough water for longer rides, and it has 5-liters of storage capacity plus pockets on the hip wings. Inside the pack, it has a well-designed tool storage compartment along with room for all your snacks and even a light jacket. On the trail, we found it to be quite comfortable with a soft feel that conforms well to the body. The bladder also features a quick-connect hose system, allowing you to remove the bladder for filling or cleaning without needing to pull the hose out too.
The Hydration Core 2.0 is not without faults. The system to attach the hydration hose to the waistband when not in use is a little odd. It doesn't use a magnetic system or standard clip like other options in this review. Instead, it uses a small clip on the hose, which then clips to the waistband. This is exceptionally difficult on the fly and we feel it is a design flaw. Also, it can be difficult to deal with the excess strap material as there isn't a great way to secure it. Still, if durability is key, this is definitely one to consider.
Read review: Leatt Hydration Core 2.0
The ION Traze 3L is a stylish and comfortable hip pack that delivers a nice amount of storage. The clean and subtle styling is absent of large and loud logos, and the finish feels substantial and durable. This bag has an extremely pleasant feel against the lower back, thanks to the channeled and padded backing. The raised padding promotes airflow, and the mesh covering feels great against the body. This channeled and padded mesh material occupies not only the backside of the body of the pack but also the wings that hug the hips — a nice touch. The 3-liters of storage space are generous, with a wide-open main pocket and a zip-out pocket and flap. There is a smaller pocket located on the main flap that is the perfect size for a cell phone and a pocket on each one of the hip wings. One really nice and unique touch is that this pack buckles on the side by the hip while most packs have straps that clip together in the center of the lower stomach. This enhances the already impressive comfort levels.
While we love the way the Traze looks and feels, it isn't totally dialed. The 3-liter storage space is generous, but the main compartment feels a little clumsy. There isn't much in the way of organization, so your multi-tool and CO2 cartridges/mini pump can just bounce around on rough terrain. Other hip packs have small sub-storage areas within a compartment that keeps everything in the right place — this one is a bit of a free-for-all. The Traze is compatible with bladder hydration systems, but they are sold separately or with the Plus model that comes with a 2-liter hydration bladder/hose system for a slight increase in price.
Most of us aren't made of money, so if you are looking for an affordable hip pack with a hydration bladder system, the Dakine Hot Laps 5L is a great choice. This pack does its job dutifully without being flashy or packed with crazy features. It's a sensible size that is perfect for 2-3 hour rides. The storage area is totally functional and has some organizational slots that help keep your tools and supplies in order. The hydration system is clean, and it is easy to manage the hose when not in use.
The Hot Laps is a relatively simple pack that lacks the refinement of our top-rated models. Our biggest gripe about this bag is the waistband. The narrow waistband is far more prone to digging into your stomach than the broader straps used on most other packs, particularly when it's fully loaded with water and gear. Additionally, the Hot Laps doesn't have as secure a fit as the top options in this review. The main compartment and the wings don't conform very well to the lumbar and waist making it more prone to bouncing around.
Read review: Dakine Hot Laps 5L
The Waterfly Water Bottle Waist Pack is a simple and effective hip pack with loads of space. If you are on a tight budget, this hip pack gets the job done without breaking the bank. It offers a generous amount of storage, can carry two large water bottles, and is reasonably comfortable. This will surely get you out on the trails with all of the supplies you need to have a great ride. The Waterfly can easily hold a tube, multi-tool, some snacks, and a packed-down spare layer. The waistband is quite large and should fit nearly any waist.
We love products that deliver functional performance at a low price. This can make the sport of mountain biking more accessible to riders who are on a shoestring budget. Oftentimes, however, you get when you pay for, and there is no mistaking the Waterfly with a more-refined, dedicated mountain bike hip pack. The storage areas are mainly open compartments that allow your tools and items to bounce around on bumpy sections of trail. The construction is also a good deal more flimsy than some of the competition. In addition, the two water bottle holders use a relatively weak elastic to secure everything. If you like rough trails or jumping, don't be surprised if a bottle pops out on a big impact or hard landing.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lead hip pack tester is Pat Donahue. Pat is a frequent contributor to OutdoorGearLab and is the co-owner of Over The Edge in South Lake Tahoe, CA. He has been involved in the bike industry since his high school days and has been riding for 18 years on all manner of bikes, ranging in style from beefy downhill bikes, hardtails, and even a dirt jumper or two. Pat likes steep and rough trails and is always seeking the perfect solution for carrying his water and gear when he rides. Pat was joined by the Senior Mountain Bike Review Editor at OutdoorGearLab, Jeremy Benson, for this review. Benson is an avid mountain bike rider and racer who spends an inordinate amount of time on the bike each year. An early adopter of the fanny pack for mountain biking, Benson has spent over a decade riding with this style of pack. His years of experience with hip packs have given him a keen sense of the design features, fit, and performance that can make or break a product.
To say that we are addicted to mountain biking is an understatement. We are always cruising the internet to find the latest and greatest gear. Mountain bike hip packs have been on our radar for years, and we've had the pleasure of conducting extensive research on some of the best options on the market. Our test suite features some particularly intriguing models from tried and true manufacturers. We did our best to have our selection feature multiple styles of hip packs with varying amounts of storage and different hydration systems. We rode with these waist bags as much as humanly possible and scored each on six performance metrics that we feel represent the most critical aspects of a mountain biking hip pack.
Analysis and Test Results
Our testers spent months testing these mountain bike hip packs. We rode with them on sweltering summer shred missions as well as crisp and cold night rides. We spent countless hours in the saddle and loading and unloading each pack. We obsessively organized our tools in each one, drank copious amounts of H20 from each bladder, and even crashed on a few of them. Once we had spent a satisfactory amount of time with every model, we compared notes and identified the key performers.
Ease of Drinking
This metric is of critical importance when evaluating a mountain bike hip pack. You can have the most feature-packed, comfortable, and stylish waist bag on the planet, but if hydrating is a difficult process, you have a problem. Despite its importance, this was a very simple metric to test. We just rode our bicycles, and, when we were thirsty, we made notes on how easy each pack was to drink from.
We found the bags that carry water bottles to make it quite easy to drink. The Osprey Savu stood out as particularly impressive. The bottle slots are located on the side of the main compartment, making them exceptionally easy to reach and drink from. The Bontrager Rapid Pack and Waterfly pack also scored respectably, although the position of the bottle pouches is more difficult to work with compared to the Savu. Among options with hydration bladders, the EVOC Hip Pack Pro is excellent as it provides the option to carry either bottles or a bladder… or both.
The packs with water bladders all make it relatively easy to take a drink. With hoses that are easy to reach up to the mouth and bite valves, most systems allow you to drink while riding. Some of the standouts have magnetic clips that hold the hose by the waistband, making it especially easy to remove and reattach. The Osprey Seral 7 and EVOC Hip Pack Pro use this magnet system, and both of their bite valves provide a swift flow of water.
Ease of Filling
It is important to have a hip pack that is easy to work with. Being able to fill the hydration system or bottles efficiently and without stress can make or break a pack. After all, the easier a product is to use, the more often you will want to use it. To test this metric, we simply loaded up our hip packs with water as many times as possible during our test period, paying attention to every detail.
These days, almost all hydration bladders have large openings that fold closed with a slider system to secure them. Since they open so wide, they are generally quite easy to fill, and some riders will even fill their bladder while it is in their pack. There is the risk of soaking the contents of your pack while doing this if you aren't careful. Among packs with hydration systems, most of the top performers have quick-connect valves. This allows the user to remove the hose from the bladder with a single click, meaning you can fill the bladder without having to undo the hose routing. The EVOC Hip Pack Pro has this feature, one of many reasons why it is a top-scorer. The Leatt Hydration Core 2.0 and Deuter Pulse 3 also use user-friendly quick-connect systems. Osprey designed the Seral 7 so that the hose actually exits the pack through the main compartment zipper, making it super easy to remove the bladder without needing to even disconnect the hose.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the hip packs that use water bottles instead of bladders also scored quite well in this metric. After all, what is easier than filling up a water bottle? Bottle-carrying options include the Osprey Savu, Bontrager Rapid Pack, and the Waterfly pack.
We all want our gear to be supremely comfortable. Nobody wants to embark on a multi-hour mountain bike ride only to have a hip pack chafing their back or have the straps digging into their stomachs. To test this metric, we used each hip pack with various shirts, jackets, jerseys, and shorts to suss out any important quirks.
The EVOC Hip Pack Pro is a clear winner for its exceptional comfort. It has a broad, stretchy, elasticized waistband that conforms to the body and delivers supreme comfort without bouncing around. The backing on the wings and main compartment promote excellent airflow, making it extremely pleasant to wear. The Ion Traze 3L is another top performer in this metric. The backing on the main body and wings is channeled to promote excellent airflow and keep things dry.
Close runners up are the Bontrager Rapid Pack and EVOC Hip Pouch 1L, both of which are small and lightweight with limited storage. Having just the bare minimum of items in the pack gives it an ultra-light feel, and these low-profile hip packs are barely noticeable while you're wearing them. Both the Osprey Savu and the Seral 7 also deserve a nod for their comfort levels. These well-designed packs have angled waistbands and broad hip wings that cradle the hips just right and hold the pack securely while in the riding position. Both models also feature well-executed back panel ventilation systems along with Airmesh lined hip wings that help keep them from getting stifling in warmer temperatures.
Storage was a fun metric to test. We loaded these hip packs up with our tools in as many configurations as possible. We used mini-pumps and CO2 cartridges, tightly wrapped tubes, and loose and sloppy tubes. Sandwiches, bars, snacks, and beverages were also shoved into these packs. The best waist bags have storage that is well organized with special compartments for smaller items. Having storage pockets on the waist wings of these packs is also a bonus, as these are easy to access on the fly. How much storage space you need will depend on how much you intend to carry with you.
The Osprey Seral 7 takes the crown here — it's our favorite pick for long rides. The larger storage compartment is by far the best option for carrying lots of gear. If you need to bring along an extra layer or significant amounts of snacks, this hip pack is a stellar choice. If you are on a shoestring budget, the Waterfly pack offers loads of storage at an impressively low price, even if the storage area isn't the most well-organized.
In the middle of the field are several packs offering moderate amounts of storage that may be ideal for many riders. Packs like the Deuter Pulse 3 and the EVOC Hip Pack Pro have ample room for all of your tools and snacks, plus you can just squeeze a compressible jacket into them for those shoulder-season rides. You can't fit the kitchen sink, but they should have you covered for most rides.
Among the small, compact options, we love the EVOC Hip Pouch 1L. This minimalist hip pack doesn't have the ability to carry water and is best suited for quick laps after work or during lunch. While it is short on space, the storage area is very well-organized and functional. Likewise, the Bontrager Rapid Pack has only a small amount of storage space best suited for shorter rides or riders who only carry the bare minimum. You can fit all the essentials, plus a water bottle, and it is held very securely and unobtrusively.
Weight is an interesting consideration with a mountain bike hip pack. Mountain bikers tend to be gram counters, and weight can indeed make a difference. That said, the vast majority of the weight will come from what you are carrying inside of your hip pack, not the hip pack itself. Deciding what you store in your waist bag will have more bearing on overall weight compared to the weight of the pack. That said, if you can shave a few grams with a featherweight construction, it's undoubtedly worth exploring.
Those riders who really want a light hip pack will love the feathery EVOC Hip Pouch 1L. It hit the scales at a mind-blowing 228 grams. It doesn't offer an abundance of storage, so it is a better option for riders who can carry tubes, pumps, and tools on their bike. The Bontrager Rapid Pack can carry a bottle and weighs in at just 216 grams, the lightest in our review. Among packs with a hydration bladder system, the Leatt Hydration Core 2.0 was the lightest at 292 grams.
Ease of Cleaning
Ease of cleaning is not a particularly flashy metric. While cleaning your hip pack is far less fun than cycling with it, it is arguably quite important. Nobody likes a moldy sip of water. Being able to thoroughly clean your hip pack without it being a hassle is absolutely a trait you want.
Hip packs that use bottles instead of bladders, like the Bontrager Rapid Pack, are inherently easier to clean. It is a whole lot easier to scrub out a bottle as opposed to a plastic and amorphous bladder.
Bladder systems that use a quick-connect system, however, are far simpler to clean than those without. Among packs with hydration bladders, the EVOC Hip Pack Pro, Leatt Core 2.0, and Osprey Seral 7 are our favorites for ease of cleaning.
There can be a lot to consider when searching for the perfect mountain bike hip pack. We spent an absurd amount of time riding, compiling notes, and coming up with scores for each model — all in the name of finding the best hip pack for you, your wallet, and your riding style. It should be mentioned that there are absolutely no bad hip packs in this review. Each option is totally functional; some simply perform better in key areas or are more versatile. Happy riding!
— Pat Donahue & Jeremy Benson
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