Find the best hydration packs that combine well-organised storage with convenient hydration bladders and stable, comfortable fit.
Find the best hydration packs with our grouptest that compares hydration packs and bladders from mid-size through to all-day ride capacity. The trend for riding packless might be liberating, but for big rides in the hills or multi-day adventures you’re going to want a hydration system for carrying essentials. This comprises a bladder and a backpack, but there are usually a host of other design features to make it more suitable for mountain biking.
Reservoirs come in several sizes, but we’d recommend at least a 2.5L reservoir because it’s large enough for a few hours and you obviously don’t have to fill it right up if you’re just going out for a short blast. The same is true of storage capacity – it’s better to have slightly too much, because sod’s law dictates that the tool/gear you leave behind due to lack of space will be the one you actually need. We recommend a starting point of around 10-12L of internal storage. That way you can accommodate a decent amount of food, a waterproof jacket, tools, a couple of inner tubes (good back-up even if you’re running tubeless), a pump and a first aid kit.
Best hydration packs
- Osprey Raptor 10 – TEST WINNER
- Decathlon Rockrider 6L MTB ST900 – BEST VALUE
- CamelBak Skyline LR 10
- CamelBak HAWG LR
- Evoc CC 10L
- Evoc FR Trail
- Camelbak Chase Vest
How we test the best hydration packs
Ask a dozen riders what they want from a trail pack and you’ll get a dozen answers – stability, tool access, fit and even hose routing are important. In this test we’ve looked at all of these things but specifically the fit and overall comfort, especially when the pack is fully loaded. And since this is a system, we’ve looked at each individual reservoir, focusing on ease of filling, cleaning, bite-valve durability, hose routing and storage. We also checked they didn’t leak.
‘View Deal’ links
You will notice that beneath each product summary of these best hydration packs is a ‘View Deal’ link. If you click on one of these links then mbr may receive a small amount of money from the retailer should you go to purchase the product from them. Don’t worry, this does not affect the amount you pay.
Osprey Raptor 10
A really well thought out pack with acres of storage
Price: £110.00 | Weight: 902g | Reservoir: 2.5L | Storage: 10L
The overall pack retains the familiar slimline profile of previous generations, helping it almost disappear when worn. This helps remove any possibility that it might restrict movement when on the bike. It also retains the excellent AirScape back system, making it one of the most comfortable and least sweaty packs to wear. The lower pocket with removable tool roll is genius, keeping weight low in the pack. The high viz tool roll even features a fold out section to place parts when carrying out essential repairs.
Camelbak Skyline LR 10
Not the first lumbar pack but the Skyline LR 10 is a highly evolved design
Price: £114.99 | Weight: 947g | Reservoir: 3L | Storage: 7L
Camelbak’s low-riding LR series sits its mass on your hips, dropping the centre of gravity and improving stability. It’s a great idea that really works, eliminating the chance of your pack hitting you in the back of the head on steep descents and stopping it sliding around when slamming turns and weaving through trees. The LR10 has space for three litres of water and seven litres of kit, enough for a big day in the hills, and the organisation – both external and internal – will satisfy even the most OCD trail rider.
Decathlon Rockrider 6L MTB ST900
Hard to be critical of a decent pack that’s 50% cheaper than anything else
Price: £39.99 | Weight: 825g | Reservoir: 2L | Storage: 12L
If you want a lighter mid-size trail pack there are great options in this buyer’s guide, and one of the cheapest is the Decathlon Rockrider. This feels like a Camelbak from 8-9 years ago but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that because it has all you need for a rock- bottom price.
Camelbak Chase Vest
Price: £89.99 | Weight: 532g | Reservoir: 1.5L | Storage: N/A
Camelbak Chase Bike Vest provides storage not just at the back but also over the ultra wide shoulder straps to provide quick access for regular use items. This not only helps keep weight balanced but also minimises the amount of times you need to take off the pack in order to access items such as multitools, phones or food. The best thing about this arrangement is it means stopping to take off the pack and find essential items is kept to a minimum, keeping your ride flow going.
Camelbak HAWG LR 20
Easily the best for big days out
Price: £139.99 | Weight: 1056g | Reservoir: 3L | Storage: 17L
The lumbar-situated reservoir that gives this pack its LR (Low Rider) moniker is from the Camelbak Crux, with wider-bore drink tubing and a 45° bend (rather than 90°) at the bite valve, all designed to improve flow. The HAWG LR is one of the few packs on test that came with a reservoir as standard and, while we like the ability to choose our own, in this case it was a good thing. Sure, it’s one of the most expensive packs out there, but it’s easily the best for big days out.
EVOC CC 10L
Stylish, sensible, well organised storage
Price: £74.99 | Weight: 838g | Reservoir: 2L | Storage: 10L
The Evoc CC 10L fits into the company’s extensive range as a mid-sized hydration pack aimed at shorter duration rides and races. That’s not to say it isn’t a good choice for all day epics in the wilds, just that its forte lays in shorter blasts, when you don’t need to overload yourself with kit. The CC 10L follows the CrossCountry family’s characteristic narrow profile, aimed at keeping the pack out of the way and minimising any restrictions to movement.
EVOC FR Trail
If riding hard and taking risks, this is the pack for you
Price: £174.99 | Weight: 1378g | Reservoir: none | Storage: 20L
Compartment sizes are well specced and the tool compartment is one of the best on test. The rest of the pack consists of a single compartment, always handy for bigger items, and two small side pockets ideal for tools and energy bars. One small omission is the lack of easy-access pockets on the harness.
Spot the best hydration packs
Some packs on test come with an adjustable back panel, which is helpful for riders with an especially long or short torso. There are also packs in di erent sizes, again allowing smaller and taller riders to find a pack that is comfortable and secure.
If you don’t want to empty the contents of your pack all over the trail when looking for your multi-tool, some sort of pack organisation is useful. Internal mesh pockets and a few suitably sized compartments will help to prevent your tools rolling around and everything congregating at the bottom of the pack.
A separate tool roll can make the di erence between emptying your kit onto a wet trail or simply reaching in for the part you need. Individual compartments and a good layout are essential.
Compressions straps not only hug large loads closer to your back, but they can also draw in excess volume to prevent things rattling about. The straps are also handy for attaching wet gear to the outside.
A few manufacturers, like Camelbak and Scott, produce their own reservoirs, but many use a third-party design, and the most popular of these are from Source and Hydrapak. Regardless of the brand, the reservoir needs a free-flowing bite valve, a secure closure that doesn’t leak and if you can get your hand inside it’ll be easier to clean.
Handy for enduro racers who might want to swap between full-face and open- face helmets on course. These are either elasticated tabs that pass through the helmet vents, or even just a few clips for sliding the helmet strap through.
Some packs are designed for harder riding and come with reinforced spine protectors, which are often made from a smart material such as D3O. Most of these protective panels are removable, which means you can save weight if you’re just out for an easy or mellow ride.
A lot of packs now use a magnetic quick-release attachment on the hose. This means you can easily unclip the hose to move it closer to your mouth, and it also stops the hose flapping about when you’re belting downhill.