7 Mountain Bike Hydration Packs Ridden & Rated

Jul 29, 2019 at 14:54
by Nikki Rohan  

The mountain bike community is usually at odds on almost any topic. Some people prefer carbon while others prefer aluminum. Some people prefer 29inch wheels, while others prefer 27.5inch (or now possibly a mullet or reverse mullet setup). Some people prefer their white Sprinter vans in the color of white, and... well I guess that's your only option.

One of the age-old questions is the hip pack vs. backpack debate. There are many advantages and disadvantages to each. The main difference being the ability of a backpack to carry much more gear and water, allowing greater distances to be covered. But that all comes at the expense of freedom, breathability, and maneuverability.

While Nikki has been testing the hip pack side of things, I have been testing seven backpacks designed specifically for mountain biking. These packs all carry an "average" load, ranging from ten to twenty liters of cargo capacity (except for the CamelBak vest), and all have the ability to carry more than a liter of water in a hydration reservoir.

Note that while most of these packs are marketed towards men, female shredders Taylor and Nikki helped out with testing (and modeling for the photos). They didn't find any usage limitations or fit issues with these brawny "manly man" packs, so don't let the male label scare away you ladies looking for a pack.

Read on for details and thoughts on some hydration pack options for those who prefer to use a proper pack instead of worrying about offending the fashion police with a "hip" pack.


Platypus Duthie AM
• Weight: 990g
• Colors: Carbon, Titanium Gray, Red Alloy
• Volumes: 10L or 15L
• MSRP: $139.95 - $149.95

The Duthie AM (or Siouxon AM for the ladies) is Platypus's all-mountain pack meant for all-day epics when you need to carry more than just water and a single gel.

The Duthie AM checks all the boxes for a modern riding pack, and there wasn't a single thing I missed while using the pack. One of the main features that stood out was the rigid frame and mesh back material design, which provides a good amount of ventilation and comfort. The pockets are laid out in a useful manner, and the hydration system is the cream of the crop with a wide fill mouth, a magnet for keeping the hose securely in place, and an easy to use bite valve. The stretchy material on the sides and back is perfect for stashing apparel and other random items for quick access without having to unzip any pockets or worry about deconstructing the Jenga of widgets that might exist in your large main pocket. As a bonus, a rain cover stows neatly away in the bottom should you ever need it. The Duthie AM somehow even feels like it has more capacity than its claimed 15L when compared to other packs. Maybe it contains a small black hole?

One negative is that that sometimes the magnetic clip for the hydration hose would come loose on chundery bits of trail. This may have been due to the fact that I ended up using this pack more often than the others I tested, but I didn't have that same problem with them.

Rigid frame with excellent back ventilation.
Magnetic hose attachment keeps a tidy cockpit.
Material on sides and back is versatile and stretchy.
Plenty of pockets for organization (fleece sunglasses pocket shown).

+ Excellent venting.
+ Comfortable while riding.
+ Lots of useful pockets.
+ Stretchy mesh zones allow for unique organization.
- Magnet doesn't always keep hose in place.


Gregory Drift 14 H2O
• Weight: 880g
• Colors: Eclipse Black, Citron Orange
• Volume: 14L
• MSRP: $109.95

The Gregory Drift 14 H20 offers a good blend of features, weight, and price. It isn't the wildest in terms of pockets and organization, but it's sensibly laid out. There's no rain cover or helmet holder, which helps keep the bulk and mass of the pack small and svelte.

This pack offers one of the cleaner cockpits, with zippered tube routing along the shoulder, and a magnetic clip to hold the bite valve in place. The Shift RS adjustment lets you tune the pack to your specific torso length, a feature Taylor used it to shorten things up to match her torso while wearing it. The Matrix 3D foam in the shoulders and back is comfortable and conforms to your body, but isn't the most breathable I've experienced. I also missed having side hip pockets, which I often use for quick access to small snacks during a ride.

I found that the water bladder fill opening was a little small and harder to fill as compared to the wide fold openings that other companies offer. But the speed clip hydration hanger inside makes it easy to attach the bladder inside the pack; there's no having to fumble around with velcro straps and the like to get 'er done.

All in all, this is a solid choice that's on the cheaper yet lighter weight side of things compared to others in this review.

Tidy cockpit with zippered tube routing and a magnetic holder.
Shift RS torso adjustment lets you dial things in.
Water bladder fill hole is a little small and not the most flexible for filling.
Rear pocket for organization.

+ Shift RS waist belt allows you to dial in torso length.
+ Tube sleeve on shoulder strap keeps the tube from flapping.
- Small fill opening on hydration pouch.
- No hip pockets.


Deuter Race EXP AIR 14+3
• Weight: 1100g
• Colors: Cranberry Maroon, Black, Petrol Arctic, Navy Denim
• Volume: 14L (expands to 17L)
• MSRP: $135.00

The Race EXP AIR is a do-everything pack with lots of ventilation and an expandable volume section that allows the pack to change from either 14L or 17L by closing or opening a compression zipper. The rest of the pocket layout is pretty standard, but there are two little mesh zones on the sides for storing snacks or what have you. There aren't any hip pockets, which is a downside in my book. Both a hidden helmet holder and a rain cover are stowed away at the bottom of the pack for when you need them.

The "blowfish" volume zipper compartment isn't really a game-changer for me; I usually just left it expanded while riding—the last thing I'm thinking about while I am bombing down the trail is: "Gee, I really wish my pack was three liters smaller". Deuter could instead have made this pack lighter by just ditching this huge zipper that spans the entire pack. However, the combination of a rigid frame and good venting was a big plus, as it allowed for great comfort while riding on hot days, regardless of how stuffed my pack was.

But... I have another pet peeve: I didn't really care for the hydration system. For starters, there is no clip or magnet for holding the tube, so it flops around a bit when riding. Secondly, the twisting bite valve and cover combination are kind of a pain to use while riding—once I even managed to pull out the bite valve while trying to open it and spewed water all over myself.

That's not to say it's all bad. Overall, the pack carries a load well, and the Aircomfort system for ventilation on big or hot rides is awesome: it's super comfortable, breezy, and keeps the pack from sucking onto your back like a leach when riding.

Lots of back ventilation and expandable storage.
Velcro water hose routing.
Bite valve and cover are a little finicky at speed.
No clip or magnets so you are on your own for tube placement.

+ Comfortable rigid frame.
+ Breezy back ventilation.
- No clip or magnets for holding tube.
- No hip pockets.


Osprey Raptor
• Weight: 960g
• Colors: Wildfire red, Cedar green, Black
• Volumes: 10L or 14L (tested)
• MSRP: $150.00

The latest Raptor 14 pack straps up with a broad set of features and organization that makes this pack incredibly popular for good reason. Newer versions of this pack feature shoulder wings that curve the same way your shoulders do while riding, leading to a more locked-in feel with less bouncing around, a definite bonus when ping-ponging down a rock strewn bit of gnarliness.

Additional features include a scratch-free, heat-embossed zippered stash pocket, Osprey's excellent Hydraulic 2.5L water bladder, and zippered hydration routing that keeps the tube from flapping around even when blasting down the trail at a Mach number of 0.05. Osprey uses a different mouse trap for helmet retention, ditching the typical mesh panel that other companies use, and instead going to their LidLock, which threads through a vent hole in your helmet to secure it to your pack. It may not be compatible with all helmets (Smith lids and Bontrager's new Wave Cell lids come to mind) so be aware.

The performance of the Raptor 14 pack is darn near identical to the Duthie AM from Platypus. The volumes are roughly equal, there's a goodly amount of pockets and stretchy bits for organization, and both have hip pockets, which if you hadn't noticed by now are important to me. Instead of a rain cover, Osprey provides an integrated tool roll which keeps your tools organized and the weight low. The back ventilation isn't quite as breezy, but it's comfortable and you don't really notice it while riding. Additionally, the new shoulder wings do a great job of distributing the load on your shoulders without any pressure points and kept the pack from jostling around.

Contoured shoulder wings and zippered routing sleeve for a hydration tube.
Lightweight and soft pocket materials.
Hip pockets for your storage needs.
Magnetic tube holder.

+ Osprey high quality and craftsmanship.
+ Ample pockets for the organized rider.
+ Integrated tool roll keeps weight low.
- Back isn't super breathable.

Hydro Flask

Hydro Flask Journey Hydration Pack
• Weight: 1690g
• Colors: Black, Graphite, Cobalt
• Volumes: 10L or 20L (tested)
• MSRP: $200.00

Hydro Flask's Journey Hydration Pack sticks with the trend of keeping your beverages frosty cold while on the go. First of all, the hydration bladder itself is lined with neoprene. Additionally, it's stored in a reflective pouch similar to your Ford Fiesta's windshield sunshade. The entire pack is made out of a waterproof material and separated from your back by a gaping chasm of ventilation to minimize heat transfer. This all led to my water staying frigidly cold even on some of my longer riding days in blazing summer heat.

The Journey pack doesn't have much in the way of organization for tools, gear, or food. You basically get two larger main compartments, a singular small pocket that is fleece-lined for your more delicate items, and a wee little accessory pocket on the rear. No mesh zones for gear organization or straps for stashing stuff while riding. You don't get any hip pockets either, meaning no snacking on the go; eating is a full stop endeavor.

While this pack is pretty roomy at 20L, it feels much bigger than the rest of the packs. I think this is due to the huge back vent which moves the pack even farther away from you. It's also heavier, weighing in at around 1700g as compared to roughly 1000g for the rest of the packs. Personally, because of the larger volume and weight, I found this pack was much better suited for day-hiking to your local waterfall with a backpack full of beer than for mountain bike use. For riding, I would probably opt for the 10L version of the Journey Pack, which seems like a more sensible size.

Huge back venting keeps things cool.
Three back pockets are sealed with waterproof zippers.
Water bladder is both insulated itself and sits in a reflective sleeve.
Back material is airy and light.

+ Chilly water while on the trail.
+ Water proof/resistant material and zippers.
+ Good venting on back.
- Bulky and heavy (at least in the 20L version).
- Not many organization pockets or straps.


CamelBak Chase Bike Vest
• Weight: 510g
• Colors: Shadow Grey/Iceland Poppy, Racing Red/Pitch Blue, Black
• Volume: 2.5L
• MSRP: $100.00

CamelBak, the OG in the bike-specific hydration pack business offers up the Chase Bike Vest as a minimalist option for the light and fast approach to mountain biking. This gravity-defying pack/vest features an airy mesh frame that keeps things locked in place, but also provides a good bit of ventilation. A 1.5L bladder covers hydration duties. Lots of stretchy pockets on the front and back allow you to squirrel away your goodies.

When I first received the Chase Bike Vest, I thought there was no way I would end up using it. My thinking was that, at only 2.5L of capacity, why wouldn't I just use their Podium Flow belt or their Repack Belt? But my expectations were seriously overturned, and I found myself using this vest way more than I thought I would. The biggest advantage I found was that unlike a hip pack, it was absolutely, totally locked in while riding and had none of the bouncing and flopping around that your standard bum bag possesses. Additionally, the huge front pockets were black holes and I could pretty much store everything I needed in them, but still easily access them while moving.

The Chase Vest is an excellent choice for racing as you can carry the minimum amount of tools and clothing required on your back, and items you might need to access while on the move go on the front. For instance, I used it to race the three day Raging Tiger stage race this summer. It was a perfect choice for that venue as there was a mix of fire road climbing that required snacking on the go that was spiced up with some fast, root-infested descents where a locked-in pack was key. The easy front access kept me fueled up, but I was never distracted by a bouncy pack when I was racing.

Although this vest doesn't have a magnetic tube holder, I was actually ok with CamelBak's set up: the tube just goes straight down and is held in place with two clips. It tucks neatly out of the way along your side while riding, and never bothered me while riding or racing. On the ventilation front, the pack does sit directly on your back so it is not the most breathable. But I found the stretchy mesh material with huge holes actually worked pretty well and I didn't get too hot or sweaty, even in high output race situations.

This may not be the most fashionable piece of gear out there, but if you are ok with channeling your inner XC racer this vest is worth serious consideration.

Comfy and breathable back/shoulder material.
Big front shoulder pockets for snacks on the go.
Double chest clips for keeping things locked in (please excuse sloppy organization).
Lots of small pockets on the back. Or is it the front?.

+ Locked in feel while riding.
+ Huge front pockets for on-the-go items.
+ Lightweight and minimal.
- Minimal cargo capacity.


EVOC Stage 18L
• Weight: 980g (without bladder)
• Colors: Black, Moss Green - Olive, Loam - Carbon Grey, Neon Blue
• Volume: 18L
• MSRP: $150.00

EVOC's Stage 18L is a roomy, versatile pack that is an excellent choice for bigger days up in the high country. Features include a dedicated tool pocket with a dual zipper system, a clip for water tube storage (no magnet), and straps/stretchy pockets on the side for handling extra gear. An integrated helmet carry can handle a dinky little XC lid up to a full face DH hard hat. It also has a hidden rain cover stashed away at the bottom. EVOC's Brace Link shoulder strap mechanism adjusts to your exact shoulder size by pivoting the straps at their attachment point with the pack. Ventilation duties are handled by the Air Flow Contact back ventilation system which is designed to have alternating channels between foam supports to provide airflow to your back.

Although this pack doesn't have any hip pockets, the Airo Flex waist belt is one of the most comfortable with a stretchy soft material that readily conforms to one's hips, girthy or skinny as they may be. Furthermore, despite being 18L, it doesn't feel anywhere near as bulky or large as the 20L Journey pack from Hydro Flask.

While riding, this pack was comfortable and the Brace Link shoulder system did a great job of conforming to both me and Taylor's shoulders as advertised. The back breathability wasn't the greatest compared to the Hydro Flask and lead to a sweaty back when carrying heavy loads of gear. Although ventilation wasn't up to snuff, I found the large foam back area to be comfortable and it distributed the load evenly.

I would choose this pack over the Duthie AM if I needed a bit more room, such as for carrying camera gear or an extra post-ride beer or three.

Foam and mesh back material.
Fleece lined sunglasses or gear pocket.
EVOC emergency plan should poopoo ever hit the proverbial fan.
Helmet carry for trips to and from the trail.

+ Lots of organized space.
+ Despite size, feels stable and not too bulky.
- Not the best venting on back.
- No hip pockets.


You can't really go wrong with any of these packs. The main differentiators are volume, ventilation, and a few features such as rain covers, helmet carries, tool rolls, etc... To sum up each pack:

Platypus Duthie AM: Do everything pack with breathy ventilation.
Gregory Drift 14 H2O: Lightweight with good value.
Deuter Race EXP AIR 14+3: Cool airy ventilation, with some hydration issues.
Osprey Raptor 14: Full of features, but a small ding for ventilation.
Hydro Flask Journey: For those who can't handle warm beverages.
CamelBak Chase Bike Vest: The light and fast attack approach.
EVOC Stage 18L: Big mountain all day pack.


  • 70 6
 But But... Nowadays we use a water bottle (or 2) on our bikes and strap to hell things on our frames!
What is this kind of sorcery?? A single device to carry 2L of beverage and tools and spare parts if needed? That can't be real! *Grabs fork and torch*
  • 19 17
 The issue for me is that I get really horrible nerve pain when wearing a backpack for more than a few mins, it feels like cool water running down my upper back i'm working on my mobility to fix this but in the mean time I either have to strap things to my bike or wear a hip bag
  • 51 0
 Currently working on a mannequin prototype that bolts to your water bottle bosses so you can wear your hydration pack in-frame...
  • 4 2
 @MTBrent: HAHAHA good one, you are on a new trend, keep going!

P.S: If you could please create a new standard for the bolt spacing on the frame, that would be perfect for our current fashion in the industry! Smile
  • 13 0
 @MTBrent: I'm going the other way, thigh mounted bottle cages..
  • 9 0
 @arthom: Lower center of gravity..... It's genius!!!!! I'll be your first investor. We'll need a name; 'Thighydration'?
  • 9 0
 Hydration pack is still the best solution for me. I don't like my bike heavy.
  • 4 0
 I can't carry enough water using bottles. I'm away from the car for two to three hours, at least, and sweating! No choice but to do a pack, or a decent size fanny pack.
  • 35 1
 was hoping to read up on USWE bags Frown
  • 8 7
 I have a USAE bag. I hate it. Super uncomfortable and can't adjust the shoulder straps, only the lower straps. The bag sags, even when relatively empty so that it swings around. It isn't possible to cinch it up tight to keep it compact and prevent it slapping around.
  • 18 1
 @Mitch243: you must be doing something wrong , there’re pretty fool proof
  • 12 0
 USWE packs kick ass
  • 7 0
 @Mitch243: What is this USAE bag you speak of? Because it sounds nothing like the USWE bag I have, which is most excellent. Does not sag. Does not move around. Super comfortable.
  • 2 0
 i love mine. i have 2 sizes, and usually use the smaller one for riding motos.
  • 1 0
 Yeah I'd add my vote in there. You most definitely can adjust every strap and it doesnt sag at all. The four point deal may get you some looks and questions on trail but if you have to ride with a pack that's the way to do it. That other guy must have a body like E.T.. it would absolutely still fit if he could figure out the shoulder straps.
  • 4 0
 USWE for the win!
  • 2 0
 @ckooi Glad you said it. That was the only pack I was interested in hearing about.
  • 3 0
 USWE user here as well, I'm surprised they were not included. They make hands down the best pack I've ever tried. Everything else bounces around on my back when things get sendy.
  • 1 0
 @Mitch243: you should try readjusting, I have used every single hydro pack for 20 years, I would say the USWE packs are the best period no question. I wore them thru alot off-road dirt bike races, in the high country of Colorado to California! best packs!
  • 2 0
 i just bought a 15l patriot. it feels a little weird at the beginning but i really like that there is no strap around the hips, it feels like riding without a backpack. and yes, the shoulder straps are adjustable.
  • 1 0
 Agree, mine is getting old, and I was interested in what's new. It feels so secure on me, that I'm just not really interested in the traditional setup anymore.
  • 2 0
 @Thisisbenji90: USWE bags don't work with boobs, I have had a few lady friends try mine, and the first comment is "nope, this bag doesn't work with these" *gestures towards chest.
  • 1 0
 I have an airborne and a patriot. Brilliant bags, they don't move and the straps definitely have plenty of adjustment in both over and under shoulder Used the patriot with back protector on the dh bike for a week in France, no problems at all
  • 1 0
 Same here, I clicked on this review looking for some opinions on USWE. Thanks to those who have responded to this comment, though!
  • 1 0
 @Eggfriedrice: once i went to a pack that has food storage that i can easily reach without taking off the pack, i can't imagine going back. feel free to convince me why not being able to reach food without removing the pack is good.
  • 1 0
 @merlin33: pro tip - put some soup into a camelbak.
  • 21 0
 Would the Camelbak M.U.L.E. not be more comparable to the other reviewed packs?
  • 7 0
 Thats what I was thinking as well, but guessing camelbak wanted to promote the vest.
  • 1 0
 I was thinking the same thing...
  • 5 0
 Such a good pack. Reasonably sized while being able to carry a lot of stuff. My fave for the last 12+ years
  • 7 1
 None of these packs had anything in common and don't seem to compete with each other at all. Each just seemed randomly ridden and tested. I'm a bit confused by the pairings honestly.

Also, female tester. No female torso specific or female friendly torso style packs?
Bought a Camelbak Luxe (female specific) for my daughter for practically nothing a while back & went to put it on & it really is for short torsos. She didn't complain & her sister likes it too.

Both hate the fit of my Mule.

This review is a mixed bag & I'm surprised the reviewer liked ANY of them except the Camelbak. They look more like she's hitting the Appalachian Trail than a bike ride, they look so big on her.
  • 2 0
 @bizutch: As Pierce states in the opening paragraphs he was the tester but with the disclaimer he shot the packs on his partner. We had a busy month and coordinating shooting was difficult. And yes, it is a mixed bag of packs, hence no ranking - the idea was to do a review on a mix of styles and options or newer products that the companies may have recommended. Most the companies do make a female specific model that has a smaller torso but the bags are not gender specific.
  • 2 0
 @nkrohan: I skipped over this article. My badness.
  • 2 0
 Perhaps the HAWG. Those packs reviewed are quite big. All day packs.
  • 1 0
 Or the Volt, their 13L pack/3L reservoir jobber.
  • 12 0
 Raptor 14, second gen now. The first lasted for amazing 5 years, saved my back a couple of times and kept me supplied on transalps while guiding. The latest generation is subtely improved on key spots (durability, fit). The hydration system is second to none. I take it on every ride, also to the parks and shuttle days - the times when I bothered with water bottles are left more than a decade in the past...
I also use the larger Syncro 20 for the rainy winter days when i need to stash in and protect more stuff.
  • 4 0
 I have Osprey Escapist 25 and Raptor 14 and they're both really great packs. I'm truly amazed that someone thinks that airscape on the back is not good enough because for me it's superb and I'm a person that generates a LOT of heat.

Riding with Osprey packs is great in any conditions and time of year.


  • 4 0
 I rock the Raptor 14. I snagged it ducking under a fallen tree. Sent it back, they fixed, went riding. Best warranty in the business. My only thing with them, which I just recently saw, is their warning:

"This product can expose you to chemicals including dimethylformamide, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer"

What's up with that? Do the other bag manufacturers use that chemical too? If so, why don't they use the warning? Or am I just jumping into the deep end?
  • 10 0
 @MikeyMierk: To be fair, doesn't everything cause cancer in California? I think it's a geographical thing....
  • 3 0
 @MikeyMierk: It's a CA thing. Most any chemical is known to be carcinogenic by the State of California.

Osprey packs are the best, IMO. Plenty of ventilation with the mesh back for me, and it's got a real smart set of straps and pockets for all my riding gear. Not to mention, they have a true lifetime warranty. 1 year, 20 years, doesn't matter. They'll fix or replace it if it breaks.
  • 3 0
 @InsaNeil024: Quit stalking me. PB-Commenter Mikey and Real-Life Mikey cannot coexist. Worlds are colliding!
  • 2 0
 Using their siskin 8 - best so far, could fit plenty of stuff for the day at the mountains;
Quality is top notch, 5 years without single issue;

Also have plenty of their bags for the other sports, only positive experience
  • 2 0
 Glad to hear your review. I literally just bought one a week ago! I'm looking forward to using it.
  • 1 0
 @nickmalysh: My Raptor 14 is a bit big for my rides. I was eyeing the Siskin 8 so good to hear you like it. I have a small Camelbak with no waist strap. I've come to the conclusion that I need it and the Siskin delivers
  • 1 0
 @MikeyMierk: a good hint would be fulfilling the bladder 1/2-3/4; unless you really need more; i can comfortably ride with that pack bike park with big airs
  • 10 0
 I'm a big fan of Camelback's LR line which puts the hydration bladder really low in the pack so the weight stays lower on the hips. As a relatively tall person I was an early adopter of hip packs for hiking as well as biking, as small day packs never had torso straps able to put any weight on my hips. I end up carrying my Camelback LR for lots of activities as it actually puts the weight where it works best for me and is more stable than my hip packs.
  • 1 0
 Yep - came here to say the same thing. The LR packs work and I prefer it over hip packs generally.
  • 11 1
 Are these 150 to 200€ bags really any better than the 20€ BTWIN 3L backpack I have been using these last 2 years ?

Most look huge. Who needs to carry 15L or more of stuff in the trails anyway ?
  • 6 1
 No idea about your BTWIN backpack but I agree that these all seem huge. What are people taking on their rides, sleeping gear and a tent, or just a spare drivetrain?

Around 6-8L is about the sweet spot for me.
  • 14 1
 When I go on day long day alpine rides I usually pack some snacks, lunch, a second shirt, windbreaker, kneepads and the usual small stuff. Not every backpack is for 2 hour trail rides only, some are made for longer rides.
  • 2 1
 @Upduro: I have been using said btwin bag for 7h rides. Not using kneepads but carrying the pump, some tools, food, windbreaker, gloves, arm warmers...It was pretty stuffed but nowhere near the point I'd need a 15L backpack.
  • 3 0
 @opignonlibre: personal preference I guess. My windbreaker doesn't pack very small, and sometimes I need long rain pants or something, so extra space is nice while not being a hindrance.
  • 7 0
 When you are riding in the alpine, you generally need to carry more stuff. Extra clothing for volatile weather, more water, more food and a first-aid kit. Prices of dedicated bike backpacks are very high, compared with hiking or trailrunning packs. Not sure about the BTWIN stuff, but my various Deuter packs have been indestructible and basically immune to wear. They have been in use for 12, 9 and 3 years, respectively.
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: I was living until recently in the swiss Alps.
  • 2 0
 @opignonlibre: Out of genuine interest, how did you manage with a 3l pack? Food and water can't be packed excessively small and even a thin rain jacket takes up considerable space.
  • 1 0
 I have mine for like 7 years now. I changed the bladder, but the pack is still fine despite multiple crashes on it. I sincerely don't feel the need to change it, especially for one costing 150/200 bucks.
For a day of riding it is sufficient for me I guess...
  • 2 1
 @Upduro: I certainly won’t dispute that people doing big alpine rides may need bigger packs than most and I’m not experienced in that area.

That kind of misses the point though as it still seems like these packs are way over the top for the riding that the vast majority of people might do.
  • 2 0
 Yes they are better.
  • 2 0
 @Tim2: We did a 3 day hut to hut ride where we had to carry everything but meal food and camping gear so I needed all that space for that. When I was done with that trip I realized the big Osprey pack only weighed 0.5 lbs more than the smaller camel back pack I had been using so I started using the Osprey for all of my weekend rides (average trail time ~6 hours). Its rarely full on those rides but its so nice to have room for everything without having to overstuff it. I used to make my sandwiches from bagels so they wouldn't get smushed but after moving to the big pack I use regular bread. And I never have to sweat whether to bring an extra layer or not cuz there is plenty of room. So for me there is no real downside ot the larger pack and it makes life easier for bigger days or trailwork etc.
  • 2 0
 @preston67: we all know you don't do trailwork
  • 1 0
 @preston67: Fair enough. I kind of feel the reverse about pack size. I’m a fan of using the smallest possible pack for any given job. It stops everything from moving around inside. The fact it’s usually a bit lighter is just an added bonus.
  • 1 0
 One thing to keep in mind is that the capacity includes the hydration bladder - so a 10L pack with a 2.5L bladder actually has 7.5L of usable gear space with the bladder full.

I've found that 10-15L packs are the sweet spot for me. They're big enough that I can cram a bunch of stuff in for a long day, but not so big that they're floppy and unwieldy if they aren't loaded down. Could I get by with a smaller pack most days? Sure. But then I'd need another pack for long rides, which means buying another set of tools and spares too (or risking forgetting to swap stuff between packs and stranding myself).
  • 6 1
 probably get neg'd for this. But my hydration pack was £15 from halfords and i picked up the display one that had the bladder inside and they didn't say anything. The other week i went to a Cotswold outdoor shop, found an amazing hydration pack, real light weight and what not and it was £40 in the sale. Looked for the correct bladder for it and that was £35 on its own. Put it back. I'll stick to 'old faithful.
  • 6 1
 I have an USWE Ranger. Pro's - 3L hydration and plenty of room for the essentials. Once the straps are done up tight the bag doesn't move. Looks like I'm going base jumping. Cons - Expensive. My back gets super sweaty. Once the straps are up tight, it can feel like someone is squeezing the life out of you. Looks like I'm going base jumping.
  • 10 1
 No Dakine?
  • 6 0
 Love my dakine Drifer 18L for big days.
  • 2 0
 especially since the testing was done in Hood River and the model is full of Dirty Fingers Dakine gear.
  • 1 0
 Dakine still my favorite. The packs are well design to organize and fit my stuff perfectly. The straps and back are really well designed and super breathable. Really well made as well. The Dakine Session 12L and perfect for everyday rides and some long day rides. They just are color challenged and are pricey just like Santa Cruz. lol.
  • 3 0
 these are huge, might be good for like an overnight epic type of deal but for most all day rides this is a lot. For anyone that likes the platypus but wants something smaller check out the tokul XC I can fit first aid, snacks, tube, tools and a windbreaker easily and knee pads in the outer pocket. The platypus bladder hooks in super secure in the pack too plus its 3L which is essential here in NC

  • 3 0
 On my second Osprey Syncro. The first is still running strong and it's been used and abused on the dirtbike for over 5 years, dunked in mud, pressure washed after, still looks new. Literally only one small rip at a zipper seam and the zipper still functions fine so no issues. Bought the smaller Syncro for mtb. Love the airspeed ventilation which fixes the breathability of the Raptor and advertised weight is only 50g more. Osprey also offers lifetime warranty. Tough to beat and even harder to kill.
  • 3 0
 My first osprey was a raptor 14. I now have 3 other ospreys for hiking/traveling and probably won't buy anything else.

Two things won me over:
1- the small design details. The zipper pull spreaders as an example.
2- the fact they continually update and improve existing models, rather than blowing up their entire product line every few years (looking at you, camelbak. Still a bit chapped I couldn't buy a 2nd Blowfish...)
  • 3 0
 A couple notes on the Deuter... I've found the best way to place the hose is to shorten it and run it a few inches longer than the velcro strap on the shoulder. That way you can reach your mouth, but there's no excess length to secure. I've got one from 2012 that's still going strong, except the zippers are beginning to weaken.

I'm glad to see they've revised the shoulder strap material, it was a rubber coated wire mesh before. Over time, and several hundred/thousand flexes, the material started to break apart. The straps still support the pack but it's a bit annoying.

The best part about the design remains the same though, my back runs way cooler than with any other pack I've tried before.
  • 4 0
 7 "one size fits some" day packs. Ergon appears to be the only manufacturer who understands people come with varied torso lengths.
  • 2 0
 Osprey Raptor 14. Easily the best bank for the buck pack I've ever had. The roll up tool pouch on the bottom is ingenious. Super comfortable and I use it for trail running, quick hikes and just traveling. It's incredibly versatile. If this thing ever wears out, I'll buy another without hesitation.
  • 2 1
 I'm yet to see a backpack that has the build quality and materials that EVOC has. It's second to none.
They don't cut corners and everything is sturdy and well thought with small little nice details everywhere.
I use my Stages 18 l both on my bike and ski and never lets me down. It sure is 900g +, but it sits so well on your back, balanced and comfy on the shoulders that you don't even notice it after a few mins. I use a source dual hydration (two hoses - one for water and another for isotonic) 3 L and if you make the hose through the shoulder loops they don't need a magnet. Not sure about the ventilation complain, mine is usually packed and that mesh vent thing usually does it's job in sunny Portugal.
Ordered their Pro hip fanny pack also.
  • 5 0
 Hip-pack vs backpack is an "age-old" question? Exactly what age are you?
  • 1 0
 A little surprising that the Camelbak Chase Bike Vest is in this review. Would have figured they would have sent a bigger pack. That said I have one and in my opinion it can't be beat for shorter rides and I love it for longer XC and Gravel racing. It rides high up on your back so you can still use jersey pockets if you choose to, and I love all the storage on the front which helps to balance the load.
  • 2 1
 I have Osprey Escapist 25 and Raptor 14 and they're both really great packs. I'm truly amazed that someone thinks that airscape on the back is not good enough because for me it's superb and I'm a person that generates a LOT of heat.

Riding with Osprey packs is great in any conditions and time of year.


  • 1 0
 I rode the Osprey for two generations, not a bad pack, but wore quickly and fits small.

Upgraded to an EVOC Stage 12l and it's been everything I want from a pack for long days on the trail. Durable, comfortable, carries anough gear for an all day backcountry ride, 3l of hydration is bearable, full kit including food, clothes, tools, spares, first aid. Next pack will be the 18l.

I get that folks like to go minimalist, I got a Dakine waist pack, I can also carry two bottles on my enduro and three bottles on my XC, but face it, there are lots of rides in the summer where three liters is not enough.

Of course not everyone has the luxury of riding six hours in the backcountry ... to that I say: Move West!
  • 1 0
 The Osprey Syncro 10 or 15 would have been the right pack to put up against the others in this lineup. I don't know why the Raptor always gets the hype from that brand. The Syncro has the same rigid alloy frame as a couple of the others here, and supports any level of weight. I always thought Osprey was over-hyped under I tried this one. .

As far as USWE - I have the Airborne 9. The straps are way too hot for mtb (the straps themselves are not vented at all and the back isn't arched for ventilation either), but its great for moto.
  • 1 0
 I'd stay away from Camelback lately. Their quality has gone way down and they won't honor their lifetime warranty, had a few in the last few years and had multiple problems with them: broken clips, broken zippers, stitching coming apart... Never had a problem with the bladder tho. Next one will be a Dakine
  • 1 0
 Here's another manufacturer, their bladders are REALLY good,with anti microbial coating, and I've been using a Paragon pack with 3L bladder since 2015, no issues so far.......

  • 1 0
 Article missed the mark not reviewing Opsrey's Synchro series for biking. The lack of ventilation con listed against Talon should not be a factor with Synchro series and the Airframe backing. I rock the Syncro 3, 15 and a 12. Amazing durability and function, true to their warranty. Synchro 3 was my daily driver for 5 years, repaired twice and replaced under warranty. They stand by their guarantee and worth every penny for a high quality product and warranty service.
  • 2 2
 I've had an Evoc Stage12 for a few years now - really like it and one of the only packs I've had which stays in place when things get bumpy.

However, it still makes me cringe when I see a pump put in a pack. Enjoy landing on that Frown
  • 13 0
 I always carry a pump in my pack, haven't had any bad luck so far. It's fixated vertically with a small strap in the most outside pocket so the bladder can act as a cushion, and there's also a hard plastic layer behind the ventilation pads.

I'd worry more about rocks, sticks or roots or the bottle cover win a hipbag when landing on my back in a crash, pumps are relatively small in comparison.

Still worth a read though:
  • 4 0
 Not sure why the Stage 18 was tested - 18 is absolutely huge for a riding pack imo. I have the stage 6. Easily fits 1-2 water bottles or a bladder, a rain jacket and a bunch of tools. You could also fit a few bars and gels in there should you need.
  • 1 0

Decathlon´s ST900: 35€ including a 2 liter bladder, rain cover etc... can't go wrong
  • 2 0
 the osprey whatever it is works for me. easy fill rez, a large main compartment for whatever and a second pouch for wallet, keys and phone. perfect.
  • 4 0
 Okay, who at Platypus has been riding "all-day epics" at Duthie?
  • 2 0
 i know, right? seriously had me laughing when i saw the name.
  • 1 0
 The old Gregory Drift 14 had side pockets (have one), bummer the new ones don't. I love my Gregory Pack, was cheap and is just as functional/high quality as ones that costs twice as much.
  • 1 0
 Osprey raptor 6, perfect size and 3 liters of water. Don't know what I'll do when it comes time to replace, apparently Osprey doesn't make 3L reservoirs for biking packs anymore.
  • 1 0
 that is what I have and it has been the best, going on about 4 years now and still like new.
  • 4 2
 I have a Dakine, only problem is when it's fully loaded with tools, and water, it weighs ten pounds.
  • 3 0
 I mean, you could leave the water and tools behind...? isn't what matters the dry weight?
  • 1 0
 @powderturns: I wish I had QR in the back, then I wouldn't need a crescent wrench which is heavy. Can pretty well fix anything non-catastrophic with the current setup.
  • 2 0
 @Kramz: if the sizing/threading is somewhat common, you could get a proper through axle like the DT ones - they remove pretty easily without tools, or loads of after market ones that remove with a hex... worst case, maybe a properly sized aluminum wrench
  • 2 1
 At the risk of sounding like a weight weenie (guilty as charged) my 58L Osprey Exos I use for backpacking weighs 1192g. Why can't these be made lighter?
  • 3 0
 I have the Osprey raptor reviewed in this article. I agree that even empty, the bag is quite heavy for its size. But having owned a lot of bags from many big cycling companies, this one is really tough thanks to the thick material, after a good clean it could be mistaken as new. Other bags I've owned from Evoc, Raceface, Giro etc all got torn up or the straps loosened after a year or 2.
  • 3 0
 I have a Osprey Syncro 10 from 2012 that's still going strong. It weighs just shy of 700g I think. I just don't get why they can't make a nice pack for biking, with even a thin hip belt, that weighs a pound or less. Someone should get on the ultralight bike backpack business. Maybe I'll buy a sewing machine and experiment.
  • 2 0
 Because some things are still the same no matter what size the bag. Straps? Yeah they weigh the same. Zips? Maybe more of them or longer on the bigger one but not by much. Back panel is relatively the same. Waist strap is usually the same or similar. A pack with 1l capacity still weighs something, look at the camelbak, still over 500g. I have a camelbak mule nv and a hawg nv, 9+3 vs 19+3, and they're really not far off the same weight either, the bigger issue is the extra 10l of kit adding a good 3 or 4kg potentially.
  • 1 0
 I think its a combination of all the sub-pockets, tube channels, magnets, helmet holders, zippered compartments and excess stitiching/panels for the tech/military looks.
  • 1 0
 I get that but look at some of the packs from ultralight backpacking companies. Thinner or less zippers, thinner materials, less organization pockets, minimal back panel. I think it is possible. My base weight for multi week backpacking trips is only 5.4kg (everything except food, water, and fuel) and I know there are people who have like 3.6kg base weights.
  • 2 0
 @GBeard: Oh i agree that its certainly possible. You can buy light bike packs, just not the ones tested here. For instance, Deuter has a Race Lite pack that holds 8L and weights ~400g. The other companies might have similar packs, they just decided to send Pinkbike the feature-packed ones instead.
  • 1 0
 I guess it's been a while since I looked at packs because I just looked at four different companies (Osprey, Camelbak, Deuter, and USWE) and they all have packs that match my description. I stand corrected. Maybe it's time for me to upgrade.
  • 4 1
 I want the heaviest, hottest douchebag they make.
  • 1 0
 Nice to see some other packs are running with what osprey has been doing with the frame to get the bag up off your back. Makes them way more comfortable
  • 1 0
 camelbak KUDU. protects back and lots of space without feeling too heavy. ventilation ok, but i wouldn't consider giving it up to even try one of these 7 packs.
  • 2 0
 Could you please do one for Camera backpacks as photography plays such a large role in the PinkBike community?
  • 1 0
 Are those things big enough? Is someone planning to do the tour divide? Oddly enough, I though camelbak was losing touch but they have the only one that makes sense
  • 1 0
 Just as long as we can all agree the only thing hip packs are good for are finding H2O btls on the trail and dying in the desert of dehydration.
  • 1 0
 I had a Ergon BX3 for normal daily life and a Ergon BA3Evo for riding, great choice!
  • 2 0
 I like the back ventilation on the Deuter. I also like fanny packs...
  • 2 0
 I've got one from 2012. My back has been very cool ever since. This model is almost the exact same as my current one, and I'm considering getting the same again.
  • 3 2
 $35 Obus forme back pack from Walmart & bladder from my Eberlestock.

These prices are insane.
  • 2 0
 It seems very odd that no Dakine packs were reviewed?
  • 1 0
 Those are some big packs. I want to see some reviews on the everyday smaller packs.
  • 1 0
 Not sure why these are so overpriced? I bought my coleman hydration pack for 35 bucks.
  • 1 0
 Hey yo, sometimes i cruise onto on the internet, sometimes 'coz outside is too windy or wet.
  • 1 0
 Just a suggestion to all of these companies how about a built in go pro mount in the sternum strap
  • 5 4
 Which one is best for carrying a 9mm? I always ride strapped.
  • 8 1
 With the American flag next to your name I have no idea if this is a joke or not Smile
  • 3 0
 @korev: See what we have to deal with over here. Even I don't know if he's joking. : (
I'm going to be optimistic and say that he's just joking around....
  • 1 2
 Of course I'm not joking. I'm in TX, USPSA and IDPA grandmaster, and I always ride ready to party.
  • 3 0
 better get the biggest one for your penis extension, too. gonna need lots of room for that.
  • 2 0
 @bikeskibikeski: LMAO! Right?!! And I'm sure he's driving an absolutely massive 4X4 truck! There's a big sign on it that says, "My penis is not small!"
  • 2 0
  • 2 1
 No Source?
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