Ergon’s BA Hip Pack is a fit and stability masterpiece with mostly excellent storage design. It’s heavy, bulky and costly though and the ‘phone holster’ scares us. The hips don't lie out on the trail as we put it to the test to see how it fairs against the best MTB hip packs.
Ergon is famous for its complex pack fit systems and even on this Hip Pack there’s a lot going on. Four big padded rectangles run up the back of the main bag to provide ventilation and the bag back and flank sections are open plastic mesh. Deep elastic sections join them onto a deep wraparound belt that’ll cope with generous personal circumferences but is also marked for cutting if you don't need the full length. A big snap-lock buckle backs up the broad velcro overlap and there are additional ‘FIT CONTROL’ cinch straps over the elastic bits. Or to put it another way, there are four separate ways to tighten the waist exactly how you want. There’s a BOA style dial on the back for cranking up the main 3L cargo space to squeeze everything in tight too. Even the inside zipped apron pocket (which is fleecey lined for a phone) is on an elastic strap so it squeezes down on a bladder (it’s designed to take the $29.95 / £29.99 1.5l Ergon BH150 bladder) if you slide it underneath. The inside is also dayglo yellow to help you see into the depths easier.
There’s a zip pocket inside the top flap with a key clip, two flank pockets for tools/CO2 canisters etc. and then another zipped pocket on the bottom that hides a wrap with two adjustable straps that hook onto the back which you can use to lash on coats and armor. There’s a left-hand zipped mesh pocket on the waist belt for snacks and anything else that doesn’t need protection from the weather. There’s an open-top mesh holster with a wrap strap on the right side which is meant to be for your phone too.
The first thing I need to talk about is the weight of the BA which is at least 150g more than similar capacity and still well-padded and feature-rich hip packs I had lying about and over 300g heavier than basic but still durable designs. That’s a lot for a 3L pack and the depth of the padding blocks also sits the bag and contents weight further away from your back than most bags.
Having said that, once I'd arranged the various strapping and adjustment elements to fit me, the pack was outstandingly stable however much I was jiving around on the trail. The padding also provides extra protection if you slam land onto a pump or something else lumpy in your bag.
Despite initial cynicism, I found the dial genuinely helped reduce movement if I’d crammed a lot of soft stuff in and as it releases instantly it’s no trouble to use.
The mix of internal pockets and open space works really well and I used the pull-out wrap way more than I expected. The phone holster felt way too precarious and easy to knock for me to trust it though so I’d much rather have a standard zipped pocket please.
The mesh backing and pad blocks meant I did notice less sweatiness underneath than other bags, even though it covers more area. Plus while all the features make it expensive, build quality is excellent so you can justify the spend as a long-term investment.
To be honest I thought the multiple belt systems, bulky padding and dials of the BA were all a bit much at first and the cost and weight are certainly high too. However wearing other packs since has made me realize just how stable and comfortable the Ergon pack actually is, and how useful most of the features potentially are. That phone holster is still sketchy though.
Tech Specs: Ergon BA Hip Pack
- Price: $TBC / £80.00
- Weight: 520g (empty with trimmed belt)
- Colors: Black
- Capacity: 3L