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Best MTB hip packs: ditch the bag and travel light on the trails

Best MTB hip packs
(Image credit: Osprey)

When you're out exploring your local trails, you need to be able to carry 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 tool for the job. 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 will be less aerodynamic drag (if that's something you're concerned about).

Our testing explained

For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

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.

Whatever it is 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.

Meet the tester

Mildred Locke
Mildred Locke

Mildred is a Reviews Writer for Bike Perfect who 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 pedalling around Bristol and its surrounding areas. 

Best MTB hip packs

Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L in Multi Color

(Image credit: Mildred Locke)
The best hip pack available for hitting the trails

Specifications

Capacity : 3-liters
Hydration : 1.5-liter hydration bladder, 2 bottle holsters
Colours : 3

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of storage capacity throughout
+
Storage for two water bottles
+
Water reservoir included
+
Secure and comfortable to wear
+
Facilitates cooling airflow

Reasons to avoid

-
Not fully waterproof

Our reviewer was seriously impressed with the Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L, thanks to its super comfortable fitment (all thanks to the brand's Airo Flex belt design), 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 clever design and a nice added feature in a hip pack that is very well thought-out.

For all the details, be sure to read our Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L review.

Camelbak Podium Flow 4 belt

(Image credit: Camelbak)

Camelbak Podium Flow 4

A backpack alternative from the hydration powerhouse

Specifications

Capacity : 4-liters
Hydration : 1 bottle holster
Colours : 2

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely stable
+
21oz Podium Flow Dirt bottle included
+
Integrated tool organization
+
External pump sleeve

Reasons to avoid

-
Heat build-up

Camelbak has built a reputation designing tough high-performance bags so it is no surprise that it has applied its knowledge to hip packs as well. The Podium Flow 4 belt packs 4L of storage capacity, including a central cavity that houses the included 21oz Podium Flow dirt series bottle. The design keeps everything stable and in place, even while riding on the rough stuff, while the multitude of pockets with internal organization pouches keeps everything 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.

Dakine Hot Laps 2l

(Image credit: Dakine)

Dakine Hot Laps 2L

Small but well-organised hip pack for laps of your local

Specifications

Capacity : 2-liters
Hydration : Bottle holster
Colours : 5

Reasons to buy

+
Good price
+
Casual aesthetic
+
Phone pocket

Reasons to avoid

-
Gets a bit sweaty

Dakine’s Hot Laps Lumber pack offers just enough storage for a few hours of trail riding. With enough space for small tools, a snack and a packable jacket it should keep you equipped for a couple of hours worth of laps at your favorite local trail.

While the waist belt is simple by design it manages to keep the pack steady when riding. A water bottle holder gives the option for hydration and its non-racer aesthetic will no doubt appeal to those who prioritize a fun time, not a fast time, on a ride.

Osprey Seral 7

(Image credit: Osprey)

Osprey Seral 7

One of the largest capacity bags for those that like their extra comforts

Specifications

Capacity : 7-liters
Hydration : 1.5-liter hydration bladder, 2 bottle holsters
Colours : 2

Reasons to buy

+
Huge capacity
+
Supportive and solid Airscape lumbar pad

Reasons to avoid

-
Magnetic hose holder easily knocked loose

For those who seek big days out, the Osprey Seral 7 sports a huge 7-liters of storage space. The slimline Hydraulics Lumbar 1.5L Reservoir is stored in a sleeve and leaves plenty of space for additional clothing. On top of the 1.5-liter bladder, there are also webbing attachments on the sides for an additional two bottles or for securing other tube-shaped items, perhaps a rolled-up jacket.

To manage the Seral’s 7 liters of cargo is the Airscape lumbar pad, which features for airflow and a well-positioned ventilated waist belt.  

Bontrager Rapid Pack

(Image credit: Bontrager)

Bontrager Rapid Pack

A perfect companion to carry everything needed for a fast blast on the bike

Specifications

Capacity : 1.64 liters
Hydration : Bottle holster
Colours : 2

Reasons to buy

+
Simple but effective design
+
Great value

Reasons to avoid

-
No space for a pump

A very similar design to the Camelbak listed above, the Bontrager Rapid Pack also opts to mount the bottle in the middle. There is a good reason for this: mounting the bottle in the middle gives it support from both sides. 

The two pockets either side offer storage, 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 we're yet to put that claim to the test ourselves.

Evoc Race Belt

(Image credit: Evoc)

Evoc Race Belt 0.8L

A tool belt for super quick access to your mid-race essentials

Specifications

Capacity : 0.8-liters
Hydration : None
Colours : 2

Reasons to buy

+
Fast access to race essentials
+
Barely there comfort

Reasons to avoid

-
No hydration

Evoc’s Race Belt is a stripped back hip pack designed for racers looking for a little extra storage. Essentially just a tool belt, it has a selection of elasticated mesh pockets that will hold CO2, a tube, a couple of small tools and a snack. Evoc has included a zipped hip pocket to stop any valuables or easy to lose items from falling out on the trail.

Despite its minimal size, Evoc has still specced the Race Belt with its 3D Air Mesh which can be found on its larger bags. Air Mesh allows 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 rationalisation 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 ride with a mobile phone for emergencies and some riders like to have 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 it will be a lot more protected than being in your short 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 hold 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 the swapping of full bottles with empty bottles to keep the weight mounted low on the bike. Having multi-bottle setups is advantages for those who want a mix of plain water and sports drink 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 is drunk through a straw. As they are not a rigid shape so 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 is 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 have on-bike storage for hydration.

Mildred Locke
Freelance writer

Mildred previously worked as a review writer for Bike Perfect. She 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. She’s spent over four years volunteering as a mechanic and workshop coordinator at the Bristol Bike Project, and now sits on its board of directors. Her expertise comes from previously working in a bike shop and learning the ins and outs of the industry, and she's previously written for a variety of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. At home on slicks and knobblies alike, her ideal ride covers long distances through remote countryside, on mixed terrain that offers a bit of crunch, followed by a gourmet campfire meal and an overnight bivvy beneath the stars.


Rides: Stayer Groadinger UG, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Marin Larkspur, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike

Height: 156cm (5'2")

Weight: 75kg

With contributions from