If you are new to mountain biking, you would prefer to ride bag-free on the trails with no weight on your back and no responsibility to keep the bag stocked during every ride. However, mountain biking is not an easy sport, and more often than not, you end up wanting spares for your gears or extra layers on long rides. Not only that, you will definitely need food and water along the ride.
So, what is the solution for a fully equipped mountain bike ride? A hydration pack! A hydration pack is a necessary evil that carries all your essential supplies like food, water, tools, spares, layers, and gadgets on a mountain bike ride.
Hydration packs can vary in shapes and sizes depending upon their purpose. If you plan to go for a full day or two rides, you need a large backpack with enough room to fit a toolbox and other essentials. If you are on one of the casual rides, you need a low-profile backpack or hip pack.
In this article, we discuss the best hydration packs for mountain biking based on various metrics.
Best All-Rounder Hydration Pack
Osprey Syncro 12
Carry Capacity: 12 L
Bladder Capacity: 2.5 L
Weight: 34.0 oz
Waist Belt: ¾” webbing
- Sufficient storage
- Offers great support
- Provides great levels of comfort
- High-end quality and construction
- Optimum organization
- The back panel offers good breathability
- No hip belt pockets
Osprey Syncro 12 offers an all-rounder excellence on mountain bike rides with its versatile design and high-end quality. This model has a good score in all performance metrics, including storage, comfort, organization, and breathability.
Osprey Syncro 12 offers a 2.5-liter water capacity capable of keeping you hydrated on a full-day mountain bike ride. It comes with a separate hydration pocket that makes refilling easier. Moreover, the quick-release drinking hose allows you to remove and clean thoroughly in lesser time. The hydration compartment includes a BPA-free Hydraulics LT reservoir by HydraPak. The bite valve is designed to have a mouthpiece that delivers fluids efficiently.
This model features a supportive, open mesh back panel that ranks high on the comfort spectrum. It conforms to the shape of your back and leaves a 2-inch space between your body and the back to maintain airflow. The shoulder straps are padded enough to provide adequate support without being too bulky.
Osprey Syncro 12 has enough pockets in terms of storage and organization, big and small, to house all of your supplies. The 12 liters of the storage volume is good enough for a full-day ride.
Best Budget Hydration Pack
Carry Capacity: 0.5 L
Bladder Capacity: 2.5 L
Weight: 11.2 oz
Waist Belt: None
- Reasonable price
- Great performance despite a minimalistic approach
- Limited storage
- Shoulder straps may be uncomfortable for people with broad shoulders.
CamelBak Classic is the hydration pack of choice for people on a tight budget or prefers a minimalist design. This model is derived from all the fancy features that make the rest of the hydration pack heavier and pricier.
With a 2.5-liter liquid capacity, CamelBak Classic does not have much storage to offer, but then again, if your concern is capacity, then this is not the pack for you. An ergonomic handle for easy refilling, the Crux hydration bladder with a Big Bite valve system delivers 20% more water per sip. Unlike other packs, it does not have the quick-release feature nor is it easy to clean.
CamelBak Classic provides the uttermost level of comfort if you don’t exceed the storage limit. The simple mesh back panel keeps the back dry and maintains adequate airflow. It offers a comfortable, ventilated, and lightweight fit.
Best Fancy Lightweight Hydration Pack
Evoc Ride 12L
Carry Capacity: 12 L
Bladder Capacity: 2 L
Weight: 24.0 oz
Waist Belt: 11” webbing with light padding at the back and 2 pockets
- Good storage
- Easy to access the bladder
- Features hip belt pockets
- Comfortable bite valve
- Has no rain cover
- The bladder has only 2L capacity
Among the hundreds of hydration packs, Evoc Ride 12L stands out due to its well-thought-out design that features a great blend of comfort and storage capacity. This model features the Air Pad System that provides optimum ventilation so that your back is not sweaty and itchy in under an hour.
The body-hugging technology and extra-wide hip wings ensure that the bag fits you perfectly while maintaining your comfort level.
The storage features a large main compartment with enough room to fit in your first-aid kit, snacks, layers, and other small or medium-sized items. An internal tool compartment is present to keep your tools separated from the rest of the stuff. Other smaller pockets can fit your wallet, accessories, and any gadget that you carry on the rides.
You can also carry your helmet on the back of the backpack using the exterior transport flap. The only drawback we found was the small 2-liter bladder it offers.
Best Capacity Hydration Pack
Gregory Endo 15
Carry Capacity: 15 L
Bladder Capacity: 3 L
Weight: 38.4 oz
Waist Belt: Padded with two zippered pockets
- Excellent storage
- Convenient organization
- Well-ventilated back panel
- Adjustable hip belt
- Comfortable suspension
Gregory Endo 15 is a complete package with nearly every feature that you can find in the market. This comfortable, excellent performing hydration pack offers the best storage and organization that you can find.
Boasting a huge 3-Liter water reservoir, Gregory Endo 15 features the Gregory proprietary 3-D dry soft-molded technology. The back panel provides adequate ventilation and moisture-wicking mesh to keep your back dry. It has a comfortable and adjustable ride stability hip belt stabilization system that allows your hip belt to shift vertically to ride lower or higher on your back to provide good stability, comfortable fit, and no-bounce performance.
With regard to storage, there is the main storage compartment for the water reservoir and a tool compartment. A front-zipped compartment is present that features a padded sunglasses pocket, zippered hip belt pockets, and external zippered valuables pockets for your essential travel companions.
Best Compact Hydration Pack
Osprey Seral Lumbar
Carry Capacity: 7 L
Bladder Capacity: 1.5 L
Weight: 18.48 oz
Waist Belt: N/A
- Provides ride stability
- You don’t have to carry on the back
- Well-ventilated panel
- Tough and durable material
- Magnetic latch lacks holding power
- Storage is not excellent
If you hate carrying backpacks on mountain rides and prefer a compact hydration pack that can fit your essentials and keeps you hydrated for short rides, Osprey Seral Lumbar is the right pick for you.
The convenient off-the-back carry and minimalism provided by this model are unparalleled. This model features a BPA-free Hydraulics 1.5-liter lumbar reservoir by HydraPak and a magnetic bite valve that allows easy access to the reservoir by attaching it to the hip belt.
The hip belt is bike-specific and angled with compression straps that provide stability and comfort by fitting snugly to the body. It integrates Osprey’s ErgoPull cross-body waist strap closure system that pulls the pack into the lumbar while the compression straps pull the load towards the body.
Key Considerations For Mountain Biking Hydration Packs
The main purpose of buying a hydration pack is to carry enough water for the strenuous sport of mountain biking. Whether you are going on a short ride or planning a full day of mountain biking, having adequate water by your side is essential to keep you from drying out on the trail.
The amount of water you will need depends on how long you plan to be on the road, the temperature, and whether there are pit stops along the way. The minimum water-carrying capacity your hydration pack should have is 1.5 liters per hour.
Most of the hydration packs feature 2 or 3-liter reservoirs, enough for most riding adventures. For a full-day ride, you need at least a 3-liter reservoir to make it through the day.
Contrary to the name, hydration packs are not just for carrying water reservoirs but also for other gear. When going on a ride, you should at least carry layers, snacks, rain gear, a full-face helmet, pads, and a toolbox.
Other compartments can feature essential items such as a tube, a pump, tire levers, a quick link, and a first-aid kit. The load you carry can differ from person to person, but usually, it lies somewhere between 7-liters and 20-liters.
While most of the hydration packs are one-size-fits-all, the adjustments from person to person are important to ensure comfort during the ride. It is best to consider your torso length and waist size and even try on the backpacks to play with the adjustability before taking them on a ride.
Poorly fitting hydration packs can result in sore shoulders or back. Look for a hydration pack with a sternum strap and a hip belt to stabilize the load and distribute the weight off the shoulders.
Let’s face the facts; you are bound to sweat a lot on a mountain bike ride despite donning the most breathable gear in the market. Over-the-shoulder hydration packs can make your back extremely sweaty and clammy during the ride.
It is crucial to get a pack with a breathable back panel, leaving some gap between the body and the bag to allow adequate airflow. Ideally, you should opt for a pack that has a suspended mesh back panel.
Bladder Bite Valve
Hydration bladders vary in shapes and sizes, ranging from 1.5 liters to 3.0 liter with a circular screw opening or a dry-bag-style fold-over closure at the top. A bigger opening usually has more advantages since it allows easier refilling, removing, cleaning, and drying options.
Since a hydration pack contains all kinds of stuff, from tools to snacks to the first-aid kit, it is important to keep these items organized in separate compartments, so you don’t have to take everything out when looking for a single thing.
Appropriately sized compartments prevent items from rolling around into one another and everything congregating at the bottom of the bag. The organization goes a long way when you need something urgently. Individual compartments and layouts are essential.
While it is important to invest in a fully-featured hydration pack that meets all your needs and wants, we know that not everyone is looking to pay top dollar for a backpack.
Most people are looking for good performance at a reasonable price, and the rest want everything perfect no matter what the cost. Hydration packs include both the bladder and the backpack, which cuts the cost significantly and provides both the purposes in one item.
One of the cheapest models you can find is the CamelBak Classic, a great performer in all aspects and offers a minimalist design at a low price. On the other hand, models like Gregory Endo 15 with superior capacity and all-rounder like Osprey Syncro 12 can cost a lot more.
Mountain biking is a demanding sport that can prove to be brutal to your body. Hence, you must keep your body hydrated and replenish energy every chance you get during the ride. Hydration packs cover all your storage and hydration needs during mountain bike rides. These backpacks can be your essential companion, and it is wise to keep one along for the ride.
While you will find several different kinds of hydration features, each with its own attractive feature and selling point, you should keep your specific need for the pack in your mind. Do you need a pack for long rides or short ones? There are many options in the market that will leave you dazzled, and focusing on your needs is the key to a wise decision. Plan your rides and get a hydration pack accordingly.
Remember to research well, invest wisely, and stay hydrated during one of these strenuous mountain biking rides.