Rapha's move into the mountain bike arena has scored more hits than misses. This hip pack shows the brand can do luggage just as well as clothing too.
When Rapha branched out into mountain biking a couple of years ago, it was tempting to think a brand whose image revolved around stylised monochrome images of noble suffering on road bikes might not be entirely welcomed by muddy skinflint bikers in the woods.
But as a secret roadie myself, I’d already seen the quality and thoughtfulness that goes into much of the brand’s kit. So I’m not surprised Rapha has already won over many mountain bikers.
This hip pack is a prime example of the brand’s values, proving that prioritising styling and design doesn’t automatically have to mean any performance compromises. Because, aside from its tasteful looks, Rapha’s hip pack also boasts the tech and features needed to perform when clattering down a filthy trail.
No matter how good the storage is, to be considered suitable for mountain biking, a hip pack mustn’t flinch an inch when riding. Even fully loaded, form-fitting blocks of densely padded foam keep this pack nicely lifted from the small of the back, making it super comfortable and stable. With side wings that wrap-around less than some of the best rivals, I had concerns that it might move around too much, but it proved not to be the case. 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.
These woven nylon waist straps don’t offer any wing pockets – I find theses useful for quick access to a multi-tool or energy bar – but this decision may help with the secure fastening, as they never wriggled loose or suffered from gradual creep during a day’s riding. Many others I’ve tried require frequent re-cinching at regular intervals.
In terms of organisation, there’s 3L storage advertised. This seems optimistic at first glance, but you can stash quite a lot in comparison to something like Camelbak’s Mule 5, where the rear padding eats into storage space.
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.
Almost everything about Rapha’s hip pack is totally dialled but for a perfect 10 rating I’d like to see the addition of a wing pocket on the hip. Better still, despite the premium brand image, Rapha’s MTB Trail Hip Pack is not that expensive compared to equivalent established cargo brands, and actually costs less than some similarly-sized rivals.