The best bike hip packs for mountain biking offer storage space with all cargo centred around your waist, leaving your movement unrestricted and your back sweat-free.

If you want to ride pack-less, but still plenty of carrying capacity, try swapping to one of the following best hip packs. These waist packs can hold all the essentials, but leave your upper body free to move around on the bike, and allow maximum airflow to cool you down on hot days.

Read more: Best hydration packs for 2021 – small, medium and large backpacks

Rapha MTB Trail Hip Pack

The Rapha MTB Trail Hip Pack is another well-designed product from the legacy road brand.

1. Rapha MTB Trail Hip Pack

Best overall hip pack

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. When we tested it we commented that 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”. Elasticated organisers inside the large storage compartment separate loose contents and reduce the need for rummaging, while the external bungee cord is a great feature for lashing down an emergency jacket. Other outer pockets bring further flexibility, being suitable for water bottles or spare tubes.

Read our full review of the Rapha MTB Trail Hip Pack

mountain bike hip packs

The Dakine Hot Laps 2L Waist Bag is great value with some really cool features.

2. Dakine Hot Laps 2L Waist Bag

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

Dakine’s Hot Laps pack is, as described, a simple waist pack that carries just enough stuff to get you round a sneaky hour or two before or after work. It’s not loaded with bells and whistles, but that keeps the price down. There’s a basic waist strap and large internal compartment with a couple of dividers, and a neat flap open holster for a water bottle, spare tube, or packable jacket. Good value and functional, the Dakine Hot Laps 2L is a great product for not a lot of cash.

Read our full review of the Dakine Hot Laps 2L

Canyon Hip Belt bum bag

Canyon’s Hip bag is minimal but practical.

3. Canyon Hip Bag

Best unobtrusive hip pack

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
  • 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 the slimmest design we’ve tested; more like a money belt than a hip pack. This means it hugs the waist line and sits unobtrusively under jackets or jerseys. There’s not enough space inside for a multi-day adventure, but for a quick blast on your local trails it’s spot-on. It’ll easily hold a mini-pump, tube, mini-tools, packable jacket and car key, with the storage space sensibly separated into several areas. We’re also big fans of the light weight and low price.

Read our full review of the Canyon Hip Bag

The CamelBak Repack LR4 let’s you have your water and drink it… while riding.

4. CamelBak Repack LR4

Best hip pack for staying hydrated

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

CamelBak is one of the top hydration pack brands, and has arguably the best bladder designs on the planet. This Repack model blends the mobility and freedom of a hip pack with the capacity and the ability to drink on the move of a hydration pack. Excellent stability, loads of pockets for organising storage, and a quality bladder makes this our top choice if you can’t fit a bottle on your bike, or want to take extra liquid on hot days.

Read our full review of the CamelBak Repack LR 4

Scott’s wide, wraparound belt design is particularly comfortable and stable.

5. Scott Trail Hipbelt FR 5

Best hip pack belt design

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 – Scott’s excellent FR 5 hip pack is available in a much more practical black colourway. And get it you should, because it is most definitely one of our favourite hip packs out there. The key thing with this pack is the really broad 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 with plenty of compartments and pockets.

Read our full test review of the Scott Trail Hipbelt FR 5

Double holsters for big slurpers.

6. Fox Hip Pack

Well sorted waist pack

Weight: 370g | Capacity: 2l | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Great fit and stability
  • Good storage organisation
  • Decent price

Reasons to avoid:

  • Waist strap could be broader

Fox’s Hip Pack is great value and well designed for the price. In terms of storage, there’s 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 for those hot days in the hills, and enough pockets to keep tools, tubes and potentially grubby gubbins separate from cleaner/drier items like phones or food.

Read our full review of the Fox Hip Pack

EVOC Hip Pack Race

7. EVOC Hip Pack Race

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

With a big capacity and loads of pockets, the Evoc Hip Race Pack is ideal for riders who like to load up on everything bar the kitchen sink. We loved the organisation and fabric quality, and the wing pockets are really useful for grabbing a snack on the move, or reaching for a multi-tool without rummaging inside the main compartment. It can also hold a fair bit of gear, but the cargo stability in rough terrain isn’t quite as locked down as some other hip packs.

Read our full review of the EVOC Hip Pack Race

Aneela McKenna and Julia Hobson hip packs

Hip packs are unobtrusive and encourage you to ride more dynamically

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.

Aneela McKenna and Julia Hobson hip packs

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.

Aneela McKenna and Julia Hobson hip packs

A stable hip pack should go unnoticed when riding

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.

Moustache Samedi hip pack

Bottle holsters are a great way to expand your water carrying capacity cheaply

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.