Mountain biking is a strenuous sport that requires careful planning and a great deal of stamina. Before going on one of your adventures, it is important to keep your carry-ons in check so that you have no unprecedented troubles in the wild. If there is one thing you always carry with you on a ride, it is water. Hence, water capacity is important to consider in a backpack.
The best mountain bike backpack must have a hydration reservoir for a water bladder. In addition to water reservoirs, it is great to have backpacks that can harbor extra gear in the space. A good mountain bike backpack allows airflow between your back panel and shirt and provides good breathability.
In this article, we will discuss the features of the best mountain bike backpacks and what you should consider before investing in one.
Best All-Rounder Mountain Bike Backpack
Osprey Raptor 14
Carry Capacity: 14L
Water Capacity: 2.5L
Reservoir Present: Yes
- Great storage capacity
- Lid-lock helmet attachment
- Magnet hose holder
- Highly organized
Osprey is known for its signature comfort and design and Osprey Raptor 14 is an incredible example of the brand’s grandeur. Considering the storage space, this is one of the most lightweight backpacks on the list. If you are looking for a lightweight pack that functions like a heavyweight, this is the perfect pick for you.
When it comes to storage, Osprey Raptor 14 is not far behind the heavyweights and high-capacity backpacks on the list. There are enough compartments and pockets to keep your gear perfectly organized and easily accessible. That means you will not have to dig around for stuff you need when it is time to use it.
Moreover, the model is compatible with helmets using lid-lock attachment technology that allows you to keep your helmet attached securely to the outside of your pack. Another feature of the backpack is the magnetic tube holder which is simple and effective.
The only downside of this all-rounder backpack is the fortune it demands to get your hands on it. While the model is worth every shiny penny, it can be a huge investment most people are not willing to make.
Best Storage Mountain Bike Backpack
Camelbak H.A.W.G Pro 20
Carry Capacity: 17L
Water Capacity: 3L
Reservoir Present: Yes
- Space for organization
- Big space allows more gear
- Comfortable fit
- Well-ventilated back panel
- The size can be too large for some people
The Camelbak H.A.W.G Pro is the biggest backpack Camelbak has to offer. The big offers 20L of total space; 17L for your gear and 3L for water. The best thing about this pack is the organization galore it comes with. It features tons of organizational features, pockets, and compartments for everything that you could possibly need on the trail.
The back panel is Air Support Pro with body mapping technology which is designed to make sure the backpack is breathable and ventilates the areas of your body that tend to get the hottest during a ride. The cargo pockets in the hip belt and harness are a good place to store your tools or snacks for the ride to easily access them.
The e-bike battery sleeve ensures a secure and safe ride on the trail for all-day adventures. It is compatible with helmets and allows you to carry them around safely by stowing and securing your backpack.
While the bigger size offers far too many features that other backpacks lack, it can be a hassle for short people or people going on a shorter ride.
Best Budget Mountain Bike Backpack
Dakine Syncline 16L
Carry Capacity: 16L
Water Capacity: 3L
Reservoir Present: Yes
- Lumbar reservoir reduces the load on the bag
- Plenty of storage space
- Back protector available
- The hose can only go on the left side
If you are looking for a highly functional, mid-range backpack for all your mountain biking needs, you have come across the best pick. Dakine Syncline has a separate pocket for a 3L lumbar reservoir which offers incredible load stability, keeping the load low on the bag.
The major storage space is large enough to keep all your stuff in, including extra layers, tools, a first aid kit, snacks, and other such items. The front pocket offers a partially hidden zipper that has internal sleeves and several mesh pockets to organize the rest of the small stuff. You can keep your tools or other small items in these pockets.
Dakine Syncline 16L offers a phenomenal back panel that is well-articulated and is compatible with Dakine’s CE-certified spine protector to give you a bonus feature that will keep you safe on the trail.
Other added features include a magnetic hose clip that is user-friendly, helmet attachment loops to carry your helmet securely, and deployable carry straps for knee pads.
Best Multi-Use Mountain Bike Backpack
Osprey Packs Talon 22
Carry Capacity: 22L
Water Capacity: Absent
Reservoir Present: No
- External hydration pocket
- Incredible versatility
- Aerodynamic for cycling
- Tightly-fitting design
- Multi-use bag
- Small frame
- Narrow hip belt and small hip belt pockets
This incredibly popular model offered by Osprey is a big hit due to its great versatility. The model serves multiple purposes including being a mountain bike backpack and yet it is so much more than just that.
The tightly-fitting ergonomic design offers everything you will need while hiking or riding on the trail. It offers a total space of 22L which is ideal for long-distance bike tours. The size is in the middle range which is suitable for everyone whether short or tall or going on rides with variable duration. While the smaller TALON 11 can be too small for people who want to go for longer rides, the TALON 22 is just perfect for long adventures.
The external hydration pack is a great feature that some of the best backpacks often lack. This allows you to fill the hydration pack much more easily and also prevents the content of your bag from being soaked in case of a leak.
The frame of the pack can be bit small and congested including the hip belt. For people who have broad shoulders and back, this may cause some discomfort.
Best Breathable Mountain Bike Backpack
Osprey Packs Viper 9
Carry Capacity: 9L
Water Capacity: 2.5L
Reservoir Present: No
- Compression straps allow for extra gear storage
- Great fitting
- Great for long-distance treks
- The water delivery system is not as refined
- Less storage
When it comes to mountain bike backpacks, Osprey never disappoints. The Viper 9 offers the best of a lot of worlds including comfort, fit, and breathability. It takes advantage of the revolutionary flex-mesh technology for storage compartments that work and strap panels that flex and breathe.
The best feature of Osprey Packs Viper 9 has got to be the perfect fit. The key to the model’s comfort is their adjustability owing to their multiple adjustable points. You can keep the pack fitting at all times, in all conditions, and for people of all sizes. Another bonus feature is the compression straps that allow the quick and effective addition of gear to the pack.
The only downside of the model is the faulty water delivery system. The reservoir is hard to clean and the drinking tube is placed in an awkward position. However, there is an easy solution for this issue which is to easily swap out the mouthpiece, tube, and reservoir.
Key Considerations For Buying a Mountain Bike Backpack
If you just read the review, you will need a set of factors to navigate through the guideline for mountain bike backpacks. Here are some of the factors you need to consider before you invest in your MTB backpack with brief explanations of why they are important:
Size and Shape
Most MTB backpacks are smaller than traditional backpacks and significantly thinner, or with a significantly reduced profile.
Why it Matters: Here’s the thing about mountain biking: it’s all about speed. That means that there is no part of you or the bike that is not battling against wind drag, not to mention the occasional errant branch that is out to pull you from the seat of your bike. So the overall size of the pack is going to make a big difference in how the bike is controlling.
If there is one thing you absolutely need on a mountain bike ride, it is tons of water. Most full-sized mountain bike backpacks entail a 3L bladder but most of even the best backpacks that Osprey offers include 2.5L water reservoirs. In terms of water capacity, consider your own specific needs such as how long you are going to be riding and how much fluid you will actually need on the trip.
The first thing you need to think about is how much gear you take with you on the average ride. Think about extra layers, tools, snacks, extra tires, etc. MTB Backpacks range in internal storage capacity, with the smaller models coming in around 9 LITERS and the largest models pushing 30 LITERS and above.
Why it Matters: The amount of storage capacity you need is dependent on how much you need to carry, so it’s essential to figure it out beforehand. Ask yourself: am I going to need room to store other gear, such as pads and armor?
If you only go on short rides, then you probably only take a few tools whereas all-day rides in the mountains require that you take more with you. If you like bike-packing then you need even more space for food and camping equipment.
Carrying a hydration pack that lacks a magnetic clip to keep the hose in place can be extremely frustrating. The non-magnetic hose often flaps around and gets in the way while you are on the trail. There is seldom you can do about it on the way.
When shopping for a new mountain bike backpack, make sure it has a little magnetic clip or some other clip system on both the hydration hose and the chest strap so that you can avoid struggling with a wayward tube. Most of the packs above come with a magnetic hose system, such as the Dakine Syncline 16L, while others come with a simple clip system.
Some backpacks utilize a specialized pocket that you can stick the helmet into. Other packs, like those made by OSPREY, take it a step further with a LidLock system that is simply a well-placed bungee strap. Find a pack that can stash your helmet and you’ll be good as gold.
When you’re looking for your Dynaplug, CO2 inflator head, or a first aid kit, there is seldom anything worse than having to dump the contents of your bag out on the trailside because you couldn’t find your desired items.
Several mountain bike backpacks have zippered organizational pockets and compartments or dedicated sleeves for keeping specific tools. Others may have additional features such as removable tool rolls. However, the downside of dividers comes with a small cost on capacity. When it comes to organization, no one beats the Camelbak H.A.W.G Pro 2.0.
A mountain bike backpack can prevent you from radiating as much heat away from your body as you ride which will make you feel hotter than intended. When shopping for a pack, look for one that has a suspended mesh back panel, or at the very least channels for airflow and an air-permeable material.
One of the most important things to consider before investing in a mountain bike backpack is your budget. While the most expensive backpacks generally offer the best features, they can also be too costly for most people. For example, the Osprey Raptor 14L or Camelbak H.A.W.G Pro 20 can cost a fortune but if you are on a tight budget, Dakine Syncline 16L is the one for you.
When it comes to mountain bike backpacks, it is important to consider all the factors before you invest in a single backpack that fits all your needs. Among the plethora of options, you can pick one that meets your priorities such as organizational features, ventilation, storage space, greater water capacity, and bonus features such as magnetic clip system or helmet compatibility. Remember to stay organized, hydrated, and safe during your mountain biking adventures!