The best bike hip packs for mountain biking offer storage space with all cargo centred around your waist, leaving you unrestricted and sweat-free
If you want to ride pack-less, have a clean bike but still plenty of carrying capacity try swapping to one the following best hip packs. Getting the gear off your body and onto the bike can be a relief but it can mess with your bike’s function, clean lines and overall aesthetic. It is also hard to find room on your bike to strap on all of the correct amount of stuff you need for longer rides.
Premium pack, without the premium price
Weight: 355g | Capacity: 3l | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Slim. Just enough storage. Great price.
Reasons to avoid: No easy-access wing pockets on waist strap.
Rapha’s hip pack boasts the tech and features needed to perform when clattering down a filthy trail. The raised/textured foam panels sit perfectly, allowing airflow to prevent sweat build-up, and the waist belt straps – sensibly affixed closer to the upper part of the pack – mean it doesn’t peel away from the spine under the weight of the contents. Inside the Rapha’s large internal pouch there are elasticated organisers and an extra fold-over zip outer pocket. One other feature that deserves praise is the mesh bungee on top that’s useful for a jacket, extra layer or even muddy goggles. There are also two external pouches that are designed for water bottles, but can also store other items – I used one to hold a spare tube.
Slim, but unobtrusive
Weight: 220g | Capacity: 3l | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Super stable and doesn’t ever creep loose at the waist straps. Plenty storage space. Good waterproofing. Waterproof fabric, rubberised zips and clasps are all top quality.
Reasons to avoid: A couple of tweaks could make it even more stable.
Canyon’s Hip Belt is discreet, competitively priced, and reasonably stable. While too small for wilderness adventures, it’s a great product for most weekend rides. There’s plenty of room for the essentials you’ll need on most 2-3hr rides. It’ll easily hold my mini-pump, tube, mini-tools, packable jacket and car key. Storage is separated into several areas, with a large main compartment flanked by two mesh wings, one with a key fob. In the middle there’s another small pocket that will happily hold a phone, although it’s right in the firing line of mud and spray. Because Canyon’s Hip Bag is really light, and you can’t load it up too much, it stays pretty stable, even when really hustling the bike.
Best hip pack with bladder included
Weight: 566g inc. 1.5l bladder| Capacity: 2.5l + 1.5l water| Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Great quality, comfortable, excellent bladder.
Reasons to avoid: Not as low-profile as some.
We’ve raved on about the benefits of getting weight of the rider’s back to increase freedom of movement and stay less sweaty. It seems plenty brands now agree and there are subsequently more hip packs available than ever. Now the straps are easier to cinch tight and more sturdy and secure, CamelBak’s latest offer makes a pretty compelling argument, plus it comes with the best hydration reservoir in the business. We’d love a more waterproof pocket option for muddy UK riding, but no brand offers that as yet with function and stability approaching the Repack.
Incredibly comfy and supremely stable – worth the money
Weight: 283g | Colours: Black, beige | Capacity: 5l | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Stable belt spreads the load. Plenty of storage.
Reasons to avoid: Storage fabric is a bit floppy. Beige colour gets filthy and stained.
Try and ignore the mud-splattered beige bumbag in the photo above – you can get this hip pack in a much more practical black colourway. And get it you should because it is most definitely our favourite hip pack out there currently. The key thing with this pack is the really broad (deep?) 80mm weightlifter-style waistband. This keeps the pack stable, prevents pinch points and also seems to help prevent builder’s bum ‘jersey creep’. Internally the pack is as good as any other premium hip pack too.
Well sorted waist pack
Weight: 370g | Capacity: 2l | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Great fit and stability, good storage organisation, good price
Reasons to avoid: Waist strap could be broader
This Fox Racing version has two litres of internal storage and ticks all the boxes when it comes to carrying gear at the waist versus the back; it doesn’t swing about behind you or put any extra strain on the shoulders, and hidden behind the waist, it’s less likely to snag on vegetation when riding. The storage and organisation are well thought out too, with a useful main compartment that is not excessively divided up, so it can hold bigger items like a packed jacket or even sandwiches There are two water bottle holsters on each flank and enough stashes and pockets to keep tools, tubes and potentially grubby gubbins separate from cleaner/drier items like phones or food.
Best value hip pack
Weight: 198g | Capacity: 2l | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Simple design, inexpensive, pop-out bottle holster.
Reasons to avoid: Belt is not as wide, or stable, as some hip packs.
Staying close to your hips and low on your body means it has negligible impact on your freedom of movement and it’s impressively stable, however wild the track. Good value and functional, the Dakine Hot Laps 2L is now a regular companion on our rides.
Organisation, fabric and retention materials are excellent
Weight: 335g | Capacity: 3l | Rating: 8/10
Reasons to buy: Very comfortable. Good quality. Packed with features.
Reasons to avoid: Not the most stable when fully loaded.
Overall, EVOC’s organisation, fabric and retention materials are excellent, it can hold a fair bit of gear, but the cargo stability in rough terrain isn’t quite as locked down as some other hip packs.
How to choose the best hip packs for mountain biking
Unless you’re riding big, multi-day adventures or heading out into the wilderness where you need to plan for every eventuality, you don’t need to carry a full-on back pack for most mountain bike rides. Instead, a smaller, lighter hip pack will carry everything you need and let you get more dynamic on the bike, ensuring you have the most fun possible. But there are a few questions you need to answer before choosing the right hip pack for you.
What capacity do I need?
The bigger the hip pack the heavier, bulkier and more expensive it will be, and in the spirit of just enough, it makes sense to avoid taking something bigger than you need with you on a regular basis. It also depends on how much kit you carry on your bike. If you have an inner tube, multi-tool and perhaps a pump strapped or bolted to your frame (or within the down tube if your bike has internal storage), then that frees up more space in your pack for snacks or a jacket. Equally, if your bike has a bottle cage mount and you only ride for a couple of hours, or it’s easy to stay hydrated on a ride by stopping at a shop or filling from a drinking water fountain, then you may not need a hip pack with a bladder or a water bottle holster. Decide whether you may need to carry a lightweight packable jacket with you on occasion, and whether you need straps to attach some knee pads while climbing to the top of a long descent. Once you’ve figured out what you need to carry, you can decide what capacity hip pack will work best for you. 5L is more than enough space for tools, a tube, a mini-pump, phone, keys and a packable jacket with room to spare. This will also just about squeeze into a 2L hip pack like the Dakine, but it’s a tight fit.
Is organisation important?
This depends how bad your OCD is to a degree, but it’s always nice to have essentials neatly stored so you know where to find them quickly, and so they don’t rattle around damaging each other. For instance, a multi tool could end up putting a hole in a fresh inner tube or cracking a phone screen if they’re loose. We like packs that have side pockets, such as the Scott and CamelBak above, so you can easily reach in a grab something on the move – perfect for a phone, multi-tool or snack. Key tags are also useful to make sure your car or house key doesn’t fly out when you’re rummaging for something, and so you can find it quickly when you get back to your vehicle.
Make sure you get one with a stable belt
This is crucial, especially when they’re loaded up, as a thin belt with no grippers will slide around and become really annoying and distracting on descents. Look for a wide belt that can be cinched up, preferably with a material that adds purchase to your clothing and keeps it stable. Also look for ventilated back panels to help promote airflow and wick away sweat on hot days.
How much water do I need to carry?
How long is a piece of string? Yes, it’s impossible to say exactly how much water you should drink when riding as it depends on multiple factors, but anything between 300ml per hour and 1l per hour is a rough guide. When deciding on your hip pack you should take this into account, alongside whether your bike has space for a water bottle, how easy it is to refill your bottle or bladder on a ride and how long you’re going to be out for. If you’re going to be in hot sun for several hours with no access to water then a hip pack is probably not the best solution and you should consider a hydration back pack instead. If you are carrying a bottle on your bike and supplementing that with another in a bottle holster in your hip pack, then remember to keep the empty bottles on your pack when they’re drained – this keeps the weight low on the bike and off your hips where it can restrict movement and place a load on your lower back.