We’ve spent 15 hours researching more than 30 models of hydration packs, vests, and backpacks to put together this list of the very best hydration packs for mountain biking. Our current top recommendation is the CamelBak Chase 2.5L Bike Hydration Vest – an affordable and lightweight hydration vest with 1.5 liters of water capacity and 8 exterior storage pockets for your possessions.
-Best Overall Hydration Pack-
- Pack lighter and ride faster
- Comes with 8 exterior storage pockets
- Reservoir holds 1.5 liters of water
- 3D ventilated mesh for enhanced airflow.
This hydration vest’s design reflects brilliant engineering: the 1.5L CRUX™ reservoir delivers a faster flow rate, harness pockets provide handy, quick access to essentials, and because the dual sternum straps are easy to adjust, you get a comfortable, custom fit that remains stable on the roughest ride. The mesh overflow pocket stretches to accommodate oddly-shaped items and allows you to shed a layer of clothing on-the-fly.
Optimized to fit Quick Stow flasks (not included) within the front harness pocket, this 13- x 12.6- x 5.5-inch storage vest won’t obscure pockets on your clothing, so you have access to stuff you carry on your person. Mountain bikers love this 11.6-ounce vest with a gear capacity of 2.5 total liters, and the 100-denier nylon/mesh material stands up to all kinds of weather. You will, too.
-Best for Women-
Deuter Attack 18 SL Biking Backpack
- Anatomically designed by women, for women
- Ergonomic, wing-style shoulder straps for short torsos
- Compatible with 2- and 3-liter hydration systems (not included)
- Optimal comfort via anatomically-sound construction
One glimpse of this colorful, multi-pocketed backpack tells you all you need to know about why this product sells out fast. This aluminum-framed backpack weighs only 3.1 pounds, yet you get 18 liters of total capacity plus shoulder strap “wings” designed to comfortably fit a woman’s body based on the latest physiological science.
Read more: Best Mountain Bikes for Beginners
The “smart” memory foam back system delivers on comfort, and strategically-placed holes help equalize a load, so shock absorption meets impact force while protecting the back from sharp objects stowed within the bag. Wide air channels built into the back padding provide ventilation, and this product comes with an integrated rain cover, helmet holder, reflective trim for increased visibility, and dedicated pockets for essentials like sunglasses, smartphones, and valuables.
–Big, comfortable, and good-looking–
- 3 liters/100-ounce lumbar reservoir
- Holds 12 liters of gear
- Features quick disconnect reservoir mechanism
- Magnetic clips secure the hose so it’s obscured.
This pack features a high-flow blaster bite valve with a shut-off feature and the back panel delivers air flow benefits. Padded shoulder straps contribute to the bag’s comfort and ventilation features. Available in 5 color choices (including a camouflage pattern), this product has plenty of room for a spine protector (not included) and extra touches like front helmet attachment loops and deployable armor carry straps will be appreciated. Three plus the main exterior pockets and mesh side pocket organize items you don’t want to leave behind.
At just 1.3-pounds, this ultra-light pack also has internal organizer pockets for valuables. There’s a safety-light attachment, fleece-lined sunglass pocket, hip belt for a snug fit, and integrated rescue whistle. DK Impact CE-certified, this 20- x 9- x 6-inch nylon bag gives you top access to the bag’s contents and the hydration system is easy to control thanks to the quick-disconnect tubing.
-Tiny Pack, 2.5L of Water-
- Delivers 20-percent more water per sip than earlier versions
- Sleek design and breathable fabric
- Refill reservoir on the go
- Affordable price tag
The CamelBak Rogue 2.5 liter hydration pack may be small, but its features are mighty and include increased water delivery capacity plus an ergonomic handle that is the “nerve center” for refills. An on/off lever stops leaks, and so all 85 fluid ounces of water wind up in your mouth rather than your shirt.
The breathable air-mesh back panel adds to the comfortable fit, and the stretch overflow compartment stands ready to accommodate items that won’t fit into the bag’s 4 pockets. Stay safe on early morning and evening rides courtesy of the fabric’s reflective accents and gain quick access to contents via the top panel. This frameless pack is BPA free and measures 15.7- x 8.9- x 6.3- inches, making it the ideal water storage product if you’re looking for quality and value.
-Durable, Cheap, and Lightweight-
- Small but rugged and crafted for action
- One of the most affordable packs on the market
- Stows enough H2O for a 2-hour ride
- It won’t weigh you down on short rides.
CamelBak helps mountain bikers find the size they need, and this “minimalist” CamelBak Hydrobak hydration pack offers all of the essentials found in pricier bags. The Crux reservoir (included) delivers 20-percent more water per sip. The ergonomic handle makes filling a breeze, and the on/off lever prevents leaks. Measuring 12.6- x 8.5- x 3.9-inches, this frameless pack is BPA free, weighs just 5.3-ounces, and stows 50 fluid ounces of water.
The Hydrobak has two exterior pockets plus a zippered pocket to secure small items, it’s fabricated of a 200-denier polyester textile, so expect many years of use. The air-mesh back panel is not just lightweight, but it contributes to a comfortable fit, and the mesh harness constrains this backpack from moving around. Further, you’ll be hard to miss in low light environments thanks to the bag’s reflective trim.
-Best for All-Day Adventures-
- The 2L reservoir sits at your lumbar for excellent balance
- Ripstop nylon exterior repels water, dirt, and snow
- Rear-opening main compartment for fast access to contents
- Bluesign®-approved materials protect the environment, workers, and you.
This REI Co-op hydration pack offers features you might not find elsewhere – like lumbar positioning that promises to be kind to your back. You’ll also find the webbing waistbelt, ventilated padded shoulder straps, and sternum strap contribute to comfort and balance during your ride. Measuring 17- x 10- x 7-inches, this pack holds 67 fluid ounces of water, yet it weighs only 22 ounces.
Control your water intake via the bite valve shut-off switch. While the pack’s main compartment is roomy enough to stow essentials like a pump and tools, use the zip mesh pocket to secure your phone, glasses, and small items, and stretch mesh side pockets handle the overflow. This pack’s compression straps double as helmet-carry attachments, and the bag features reflective elements to make your presence known when light is low.
–Best Combo of Ventilation and Size-
- Dedicated 2.5-liter reservoir
- Sternum strap magnet holds bite valve in place
- Stretch mesh front pocket plus a zippered tool pocket
- Integrated, high-visibility rain cover keeps gear dry on the fly.
This pack features an internal light wire aluminum frame, 5-liter gear capacity, and you can leave home toting 84.5 fluid ounces of water (2.5 liters) to get you through your ride hydrated. Weighing just over 1 pound, the Syncro 5 gives you top access for quick retrieval of contents, it measures a roomy 18- x 10- x 7-inches, and it’s crafted of 100-denier honeycomb nylon, a textile known for durability, tenacity, and lightweight.
The hydration system includes a bite valve shut-off switch, and there’s a hip belt to stabilize the pack on the move. Exterior pockets include one heat-embossed and zippered slash pocket plus a second pocket for overflow, and the LidLock bike attachment stashes your helmet when it’s not on your head.
-Premium Feel, Packed with Features-
Evoc Backpack, Black, Small/20 Liter
- TUV/GS-certified protector backpack (TUV Sud)
- CE-certified LITESHIELD back protector (EN 1621-2)
- Accommodates hydration system up to 3L
- Features Liteshield Carry Air System
You will have to install your own hydration system, but when you learn about how many safeguards this product offers, that won’t be a problem because the back portion of this pack could save your life. Acting as a body protector, the revolutionary combination of body-hugging fit and ventilated carrying system with breathable hip belt combine to make this Evoc a stand-alone product.
Why the focus on body protection? Because Evoc’s Blackline of products prides itself on making sure mountain bikers avoid injuries resulting from crashes on the trail. If that is of utmost concern to you, you won’t mind purchasing a separate hydration system to install inside this bag. Measuring 10.63- x 22.05- x 5.51-inches, this bag is truly a full-fledged safety device.
Read more: The Best Cycling Backpacks of 2021
-Best for the Trails-
- Dedicated Hydraulics LT 2.5-liter reservoir
- Lightweight sternum strap magnet holds bite valve
- Easy access to 2.5 liters of water on the move
- Side compression straps balance and secure your load
Keep moving at top speed but never go thirsty thanks to this Osprey Raptor 10 hydration pack that includes room for your gear, a helmet attachment, and a 2.5-liter reservoir. Stretch mesh zippered hip-belt pockets give you on-trail access to small items, and the scratch-free, heat-embossed zippered slash pocket secures essentials like sunglasses or electronics. In total, there are 5 pockets – one of which is found on the hip belt.
Read more: Best Fat Bikes Under $1000
Featuring an Atilon foam interior frame and redesigned Airscape back panel for improved, secure fit and increased ventilation, the Raptor 10 holds 84.5 fluid ounces of water, and you also get 10 liters of gear capacity. On the go, you’ll have no problem hydrating: the bite valve shut-off switch gives you access to water, and once secured, no worries about leaks.
This pack’s exterior is especially well-constructed of 210-denier double-diamond ripstop nylon/420-denier nylon pack cloth/Atilon foam, and you get a removable roll-up tool pouch to organize your stuff, too.
-Great Comfort, Features-Rich-
- Features 1.5-liter proprietary lumbar reservoir carry system
- Rugged ripstop nylon that repels water, snow and dirt
- Design helps riders maintain balance and a low center of gravity
- Bluesign®-approved fabric helps protect the environment.
Everything about this hydration pack appeals to mountain bikers. To stay in good shape from start to finish, this 17- x 9.5- x 5-inch product is ergonomically designed to protect the body during long and arduous rides. There is no shortage of pockets; there are four of them. The main compartment is roomy enough for tools, tube, pump, and rear access to make contents retrieval even easier.
The back panel is crafted of breathable mesh foam, and shoulder pads and sternum straps are padded and ventilated. Hook up the webbed waistbelt for added stability, and compression straps can secure your helmet. Tote 50 ounces of water within the internally-framed pack that weighs just 18 ounces, and when you’re thirsty, the bite valve shut off switch turns the tap on and off during your ride.
Read more: 8 Best Mountain Bike Tailgate Pads
Would it be an exaggeration to say that mountain bikers face one issue that is shared by this community? You want access to unlimited water while seeking a carrier that stays put on your back, doesn’t weigh you down and it would be helpful if you didn’t have to listen to sloshing. Further, you need access stuff that won’t require you to stop to retrieve it.
For those reasons, the integrity of the system that funnels water to you from the reservoir needs to be high-quality and dependable so the bladder neither leaks nor otherwise malfunctions. Of prime importance is the bite valve shut-off switch that regulates water flow.
The amount of water you need during your ride depends upon your body size and thirst, but if you’ve been comparing fluid ounce capacity, you noticed that the max amount of water the aforementioned products accommodate is 3 liters. For shorter 1-2 hours rides, you’ll be OK with a 1.5L to 2L hydration pack. For longer rides, get a 3L option like the Evoc Backpack, Black, Small/20 Liter, and DAKINE Syncline 12L Pack – 3 Liters.
Assuming you understand that your first priority is hydration rather than schlepping gear when you invest in a hydration pack, you’re going to have to consider everything you intend to bring along very carefully. Packs on our list offer gear capacity of between 3 and 12 liters, so unless you want to be known as a Sherpa on wheels, you’re advised to take a test run with a filled reservoir and essentials you can’t do without.
Fit and Comfort
Professionals will tell you that to get a proper fit, it’s important to audition a variety of styles to make sure the fit accommodates both the length of your torso and the width of your hips. You need a bike-friendly configuration that is low-profile, stable and won’t create massive wind resistance.
The right hydration pack’s waistband must be low enough to allow you to pedal without interference and in terms of comfort, adequate padding, especially on the back portion of the pack and shoulder straps are essential, particularly if your typical rides are long ones.
Besides the feature that tends to be the most valued by mountain bikers, the bite valve on/off switch, having a quick-disconnect tubing can really make life on the bike easier.
Further, textiles used to fabricate these packs require additional heft and extremely secure stitching, given the load mountain bikers carry to stay hydrated and well equipped. If you’re environmentally-minded, several of the hydration packs on our list meet standards like BPA-free and textiles that help protect the environment, so if these are important to you, find plenty of choices on today’s market.