Looking for a new mountain bike hip pack? We purchased 11 of the most intriguing options in 2020 to put through our rigorous testing process. We rode with these hip packs as much as humanly possible on various trails in all kinds of weather conditions. We even wore these packs around the house and while walking the dog. Then, we compiled our notes and identified the relative strengths and weaknesses of each pack. All of this in the name of helping you find the best mountain bike hip pack for your needs and budget.Related: Best Hydration Pack of 2020
Best Mountain Bike Hip Pack of 2020
The EVOC Hip Pack Pro takes home our top award by 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 a ton 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 overlapping elasticized bands that conform to the body exceptionally well, and the rear of the pack has a dialed ventilation system to help you stay cool.
It should be noted that this pack isn't 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 an extra layer of clothing, we would recommend looking elsewhere. Otherwise, we feel this is the best mountain bike hip pack on the market.
Read the full review: EVOC Hip Pack Pro 3L
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 tiny pumps. It doesn't have a bladder system and only fits one bottle, but that helps make it impressively lightweight. 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
There is 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 instead. While a hydration bladder system can be nice, sometimes the simplicity of using a water bottle is delightful. Best of all, it comes at an ultra-reasonable price. This pack offers 4 liters of storage, which is more than sufficient for 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. The hip wings feature pockets that are easily accessible from the saddle.
This pack isn't totally perfect. It has a system where you can collapse the water bottle pockets when not in use. Essentially, this helps slim down the bag when you aren't carrying bottles. We could do without this feature as it just seems like an overdesigned element. And, if you don't like logos, we suggest looking elsewhere. Our test pack was loaded with the manufacturer's name and logo. Some people don't like walking around like billboards.
If you need a waist bag for long days in the saddle, the Osprey Seral is a no-brainer. This pack offers a large amount of storage space. While it might be tough to fit a sandwich and a rain shell in most of the packs in this review, it is a non-issue for the Seral. It also delivers stellar levels of comfort and has a well-executed hydration system. 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. This makes filling and cleaning the bladder a much simpler process. Testers also found this pack to offer a high degree of comfort — it wraps and cradles the hips just right.
Given the size of this pack, it may not be the best option for small 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 their entire back. Those who are concerned with looks and style may find this fit to be an undesirable look. Given the larger storage capacity, this also isn't the best choice for riders who don't carry a lot with them on rides.
Read the full review: Osprey Seral 1.5L
The Deuter Pulse 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. The weight is subsequently better centered on your back compared to wider options. We found the Pulse to have a comfortable fit, and it boasts an impressively low weight among options with hydration systems. The quick-connect hose system is a huge bonus as it allows for much easier filling of the bladder.
Despite its unique and sensible shape, the Pulse can't compete with the top options in our review. The storage area is little lackluster, and while it has decent space for a 2-3-hour ride, it isn't quite big enough for packing 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 waistband. 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 shorter days.
Read the full review: Deuter Pulse 3 5L
The Leatt DBX 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. In addition, the Core 2.0 is a solid option for riders who might be more apt to crashing given the sturdy material. The normal functionality of this pack is about average. The quick-connect hose system is of critical importance, allowing you to remove the bladder without needing to pull the hose out too.
This pack is not without its quirks. The system to attach the hydration hose to the waistband when not in use is downright bizarre. 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 a major 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 durable is key, this is definitely one to consider.
Read the full review: Leatt 2.0 Core 2L
The Patagonia Nine Trails is a functional and versatile hip pack that works well on a bike, though it doesn't feel quite as optimized for mountain biking specifically as others in this review. Still, it is a solid performer that performed decently in most performance of our metrics. We also found the Nine Trails works well in a wide-range of off-the-bike situations. Yes, it is a solid bike bag, but it also works well for riders who enjoy trail running or hiking. Simply put, it doesn't feel like a dedicated mountain bike hip pack. While that may sound like a jab, many buyers may prefer to purchase a hip pack that comfortably crosses over to other activities.
While the Nine Trails is certainly versatile, this pack simply lacks the refinement of the best bags in our review. The storage space isn't particularly impressive. While 8 liters of storage seems solid, it isn't well organized, and our tools and other items would flop around while riding. In addition, the lack of pockets on the hip wings is disappointing. The two pockets on the side of the main storage compartment appear as though they should fit water bottles, but it is extremely difficult to actually fit a bottle into these slots. This isn't a bad hip pack. It just doesn't feel like it was designed specifically for mountain bikers. Depending on your needs, that might be just fine.
Read the full review: Patagonia Nine Trails Waist Pack 8L
The Platypus Chuckanut is a solid bag for riders who don't need to carry water. Maybe these riders have a couple of bottle cages on their bike and don't need to have water storage in their hip pack. It should be noted that this hip pack does come with a Platypus SoftBottle. The idea is you can stick this pliable bottle inside the hip pack along with your other gear. We don't recommend using it. It simply occupies too much space within the bag and doesn't hold enough water. The bag features a simple main compartment with a couple of organization dividers. Without the water bottle, the fit is decent, and the price tag is attractive either way.
This hip pack is definitely best suited for a niche group of riders. The storage area is small, and there is effectively no hydration option as we feel the included SoftBottle is pretty worthless. This pack is best suited for riders who don't require much space in their hip pack. If you like to pack lots of food and maybe an extra layer, this isn't the right choice.
Read the full review: Platypus Chuckanut
Most of us aren't made of money. If you are looking for an affordable waist bag with a hydration bladder system, the Dakine Hot Laps 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 isn't perfect. Our biggest gripe about this bag is the waistband. Waist straps that are more broad tend to provide a higher level of comfort. This bag has a narrow waistband that is far more prone to digging into your stomach and twisting around. Simply put, it isn't especially comfortable. In addition, the Hot Laps doesn't have the same level of fit as the top options in this review. The main compartment and the wings have a clumsier fit that doesn't conform very well to the lumbar and waist. Other bags hug the waist more tightly while this one feels a little awkward.
Read the full review: Dakine Hot Laps 5L
The Camelback Repack is a solid hip pack with stealthy looks, making it a great choice for riders who don't like flashing around lots of logos or huge text. It has a clean appearance and a classic, all-black look. This is a functional hip pack that gets the job done, but it doesn't have the design quality of the best options. Storage space is decent, and the hydration system works and is laid out logically. Camelback is also a brand that is readily available at a huge number of retailers, meaning any after-purchase support you might need should be easy to come by.
The Repack lacks storage space, however. The 2.5 liters of space is small for anything other than shorter 2-3 hour rides. There is ample space for tools, tubes, and a couple bars, but don't go thinking you will be shoving sandwiches or a windbreaker in this. The bag also has kind of a flimsy form. Other bags are quite structured and supported, while this one doesn't feel as substantial.
Read the full review: CamelBak Repack LR 4L
The CamelBak Podium Flow is the perfect choice for the rider who prioritizes low weight and wants a very simple pack. If you count grams and only carry exactly what you need, this hip pack is an excellent choice. Riders who can carry tubes and tools on their bike may particularly like this option. This feathery waist bag comes in at an airy 184 grams, which is more than 30 grams lighter than the next lightest option in this review. It does not have a hydration system but can carry a single bottle. The 2 liters of storage is enough for some snacks and some essential tools…that's about it. Overall, we found this pack to be mighty comfortable, and it is also a supremely strong value for the right customer.
Yes, the Podium Flow is a terrific choice for the minimalist, but riders who want to carry larger amounts of tools and supplies should look elsewhere. Simply put, there is just not much space. If you have to carry a tube in this hip pack, it will occupy most of the space. In addition, we found the diagonal, off-center orientation of the pack to be an odd choice. Yes, it is a little easier to slide the bottle in on the fly, but we would have preferred to have the weight centered.
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 about 16 years on a lot of different bikes, ranging in style from beefy downhill bikes, hardtails, and even a dirt jumper or two. Pat likes steep and rough trails and is particularly adept at breaking components. Off the bike, he can be found skiing in the mountains of the Sierra and playing hockey.
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 offer the highest level of drinkability. 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. Among options with hydration bladders, the CamelBak Repak is excellent. This isn't our favorite hip pack, but the hydration valve is superior. We also love the EVOC Hip Pack Pro because it provides the option for either bottles or a bladder.
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.
Among packs with hydration systems, the top performers all 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. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the hip packs that use water bottles instead of bladders scored quite well in this metric as well. After all, what is easier than filling up a water bottle? Other top scorers in this metric are the Leatt 2.0 Core, Osprey Savu, Platypus Chuckanut, and CamelBak Podium Flow.
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 in this area. This hip pack had a broad and soft waist strap that delivers supreme comfort. The backing on the wings and main compartment promotes excellent airflow, making it extremely pleasant on the body. Close runners up are the Bontrager Rapid Pack and Osprey Savu.
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 large and 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.
The Osprey Seral 1.5L takes the crown here — it's our favorite pick for long rides. The huge amount of storage is by far the best option for carrying lots of gear. If you need to carry an extra layer or significant amounts of snacks, this hip pack is a stellar choice. The Patagonia Nine Trails is also excellent and even has a bit more space, but the layout isn't quite as refined.
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 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 bag itself. 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 CamelBak Podium Flow. It hits the scales at a mind-blowing 184 grams. It does not have much storage, so it is a better option for riders who can carry tubes, pumps, and tools on their bike. The Bontrager Rapid Pack and Platypus Chuckanut are also impressive, weighing in at 216 grams and 229 grams, respectively. Among packs with a hydration bladder system, the Leatt Core 2.0 is 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 unarguably important. Nobody likes mold. 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 plasticy and amorphous bladder. Bladder systems that use a quick-connect system, however, are far and simpler to clean. Among packs with hydration bladders, the EVOC Hip Pack Pro, Leatt Core 2.0, and Osprey Seral 1.5 are our favorite bags for ease of cleaning.
There you have it, our comparative analysis of the best mountain bike hip packs. We spent an absurd amount of time riding, compiling notes, and coming up with scores for each bag — all in the name of finding the best hip pack for you, your wallet, and your riding style. It should be stated 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