When you're out exploring local trails, you need to be able to carry all your essentials with you, whether that's tools, extra layers, or simply lots of snacks. There are plenty of luggage options out there, and for many, the best MTB hip packs are the number one solution. Even the best mountain bike backpacks can add unwanted weight and cause you to sweat, while you might not be keen to load up your bike with the best bikepacking bags.
Whatever you call it, a hip pack, fanny pack, or bum bag can be the greatest asset to your ride because it offers a streamlined storage method. Forget stuffing the pockets of your best mountain bike shorts and best MTB pants, with a great hip pack you'll carry the weight on your lower back where it's best supported, and it'll sit behind you so there's less aerodynamic drag (if that's something you're concerned about).
A mountain biking hip pack can come in many different guises, with varying sizes, shapes and features. Some are bulkier, with lots of organizer pockets and perhaps even space for a water reservoir so you can drink on the go – something the best hydration packs can help with immensely – while others are more slim and streamlined race belts that will only have space to store gels.
We found the best overall was the Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L, thanks to its comfort, great storage and clever design, while best value for money was the Bontrager Rapid Pack which carries all you need for a quick blast and is widely available at a serious discount.
Whichever one you're after, we've rounded up our pick of the best MTB hip packs you can buy today, so keep reading for those, and if you're not sure what to look for, then there's a list of FAQs at the bottom to help you out.
Our reviewer was seriously impressed with the Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L, thanks to its super-comfortable fit (all thanks to the brand's permeable and flexible Airo Flex belt), the hoards of carrying capacity, including two holsters for water bottles, a completely waterproof phone pocket and organizer pockets for small tools.
It comes complete with a 1.5L water reservoir included, which has proven to be very easy to remove, refill and repack, while the bite valve is stored via a magnetic clip which can be moved anywhere that's convenient for the rider.
The Hip Pack Pro 3L also features Evoc's Venti Flap System, which enables you to cinch the bag tight on descents and loosen it slightly on climbs, tailoring your comfort, all with the pull of a tab. It's a smart design and a nice added feature in a hip pack that's very cleverly constructed.
For all the details on why we loved this hip pack, read our Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L review.
A very similar design to the Camelbak listed below, the Bontrager Rapid Pack also opts to mount the bottle – not included – in the middle. There is a very good reason for this – doing so gives it support from both sides (and increases stability).
The two pockets either side offer ample storage for a quick ride – on the right there's a phone sleeve and key fob, and on the left, a mesh pocket for gear.
Bontrager says that the pockets are large enough to fit any type of tube including fat bike tubes. Though they are surprisingly roomy, we're yet to put that to the test.
Overall, the Rapid Pack is great value for money as it's widely available at a big discount, and the compact, low-profile design is a clear winner.
Best for build quality
With a five-liter capacity, the Pulse 3 is a bit bulkier than some MTB-specific designs and it’s quite deep too, but that means there's a decent amount of storage left even with a full 1.5-liter bladder (not included) loaded into the back sleeve.
Three mesh pockets (one zipped) in the outer compartment give basic ‘easy to see where things are’ storage, although fans of one pocket for each thing might get itchy.
Semi-stretch mesh hip pockets add plenty of extra storage and will swallow a smartphone and/or chunky snacks, no problem. They’re both zipped for security too which is a welcome relief from packs that insist on having a ‘special pocket’ of some sort on one side.
The waist belt uses Deuter's 'Pull-Forward' system to create a snug, comfortable fit, no matter how bumpy the trail.
With an overall capacity not far off a small pack, practical pocketing and an impressively stable, load-spread feel when riding, Deuter’s Pulse 3 has already become one of our favorite ‘longer ride’ waist packs.
Keen price, excellent build quality, and awesome repair or replace warranty absolutely guarantee it a place in our best MTB hip packs line up.
For more details on why we loved it, read out Deuter Pulse 3 review.
Best for stability
Camelbak has built an impressive reputation designing tough high-performance bags, so it's no surprise that it has applied its knowledge to hip packs as well.
The Podium Flow 4 belt packs 4 liters of storage capacity, including a central cavity that houses the included 21oz Podium Dirt Series bottle.
Clever design keeps everything stable and in place, even while riding on the rough stuff, while the multitude of pockets with internal organization pouches keeps all your gear exactly where you need it while on the go.
The external pump sleeve is a nice touch, as it offers a space to store an essential that can sometimes prove to be too long for small bags, especially if you're carrying one of the best mountain bike pumps. There's free a lifetime guarantee covering manufacturing defects, too.
Best for shorter rides
With enough space for a multitool, snack, tube and packable jacket to fit neatly into the organized main compartment, Dakine’s Hot Laps 2L hip pack should keep you equipped for a few hours at your favorite local trail.
While the waist belt looks simple, it manages to keep the pack steady when riding and the latest version now features two deployable water bottle pockets that disappear when not in use, while the dedicated fleece-lined pocket for your sunglasses or phone gets an external zipper for improved security.
At the rear, the breathable air mesh backpanel helps keep riders cool in hot weather. Overall, the Dakine Hot Laps 2L's non-racer aesthetic will appeal to those who prioritize a fun time over a fast one on a ride.
Best for capacity
For those where only big days out will do, the Osprey Seral 7 sports a huge 7 liters of storage. With compression straps to keep weight close to your back, the zippered compartment has organizer pockets with enough room for a tube, tire levers, pack kit, mini pump and tools, while zippered pockets on the hip belt are big enough for a phone and sunscreen.
The slimline Hydraulics Lumbar 1.5L Reservoir is stored in a sleeve and leaves plenty of space for additional clothing. There's a magnetic latch to prevent tangles, but this can sometimes be knocked loose by trail-side branches.
Webbing attachments on the sides allow for an extra two bottles or for securing other tube-shaped items like a rolled-up jacket.
To help manage the weight of so much cargo, the Seral 7's supportive Airscape lumbar pad helps improve airflow and there's a well-positioned ventilated waist belt.
Take a lot of stuff with you, but backpacks aren't your bag? This capacious hip pack makes a great choice.
Best for tools
Evoc’s Race Belt is a stripped back hip pack designed for racers looking for a little extra storage. There's no hydration, but that's not really the point here.
The low-profile 'hip carrying system' has been updated to include separate zippered mobile phone and tool compartments, with an additional three lightweight elasticated hip mesh pockets for anything else you might need, plus a carabiner to attach your keys. There really is a pocket for everything.
Despite its minimal size, Evoc has still specced the Race Belt with its 3D Air Mesh which can be found on its larger bags as well Airo Flex for ventilation and comfort. Both these improves airflow and should help keep you cool when redlining for the finish line.
How to choose the best MTB hip pack for you
How much storage capacity do you need?
The first considerations should be the amount of storage required based on the items. For quick rides or a minimalist race setup, a hip pack with a few slimline pockets to keep little more than a few gels and multitool. For bigger excursions, some hip packs offer up to 7 liters of storage for squeezing in a range of spares, extra layers and even expanding potential water capacity.
While it may be tempting to simply jam all the items from your almost empty backpack into a hip pack its important to not overfill. As there are fewer straps to leverage stability, hip packs can potentially move around a lot if over or poorly packed. Packing smart is the key to avoiding an irritating or distracting bag while riding rough trails.
Before buying, its important to consider what you will be needing to take with you. How much food do you usually eat, how much spare clothing do you need and how many tools and spares should you take. For those that like to take a small workshop with them and like to be prepared for a blizzard in the summer a hip pack may not suit, but for many riders, some careful rationalization of your regular trail kit should allow it to easily pack down to fit.
Quite often companies list the storage capacity without taking into consideration the space that a hydration bladder will take up when full. Remember to factor this in when you are choosing what bag will suit your needs.
How much organization do you need?
MTB hip packs come with a range of pocket layouts to keep equipment and food close to hand. Consider items that you may want quick access to and whether there are pockets to accommodate them.
One of the key considerations when planning your packing is where to put items that are easily damaged. Every rider should carry a mobile phone with them for emergencies and some riders like to take a camera or GoPro too. These items don’t play well with scratchy multi-tools or bumps and scrapes.
Many MTB hip packs include a specific pocket to keep a phone safe and we think this should be a priority as your mobile will be a lot more protected than being in your shorts or jacket pocket.
How much water do you want to carry?
For very thirsty riders or those that have complicated frame designs that don’t work with bottles, having a hydration option is a must. MTB hip packs come in a couple of different options, but what works best is up to your specific setup.
The bottle-holding style will feature one or two bottles that can be easily reached while riding. This setup is recommended for riders who already have a bottle cage option on their bike as, once one bottle is finished, it allows full bottles to be swapped with empty bottles to keep the weight mounted low on the bike.
Having multi-bottle setups has many advantages for those who want a mix of plain water and sports drinks rather than committing to one or the other. Lastly, bottle setups are a lot less hassle if refills are needed mid-ride.
Hydration bladders hold water in a pouch that's drunk through a straw. As they are not a rigid shape these can offer much more liquid capacity and can bend and squish as need be for a more stable setup. To avoid the bladder hose from waving around, it's usually fixed with a clip to the waist belt.
Some MTB hip packs don’t offer any hydration options, instead opting for a lightweight approach. These are only suitable for riders that already have adequate on-bike hydration storage.
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Mildred enjoys everything from road cycling to mountain biking, but is a utilitarian cyclist at heart. Determined to do everything on two wheels, she's even moved house by bike, and can regularly be found pedaling around Bristol and its surrounding areas.
Guy's been testing and writing about mountain bikes since the early nineties and we reckon he's got down and dirty with more MTB bikes and gear than anyone else in the UK.