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5 Best Mountain Bike Hip Packs

I’m sure you’ve noticed it out on the trail: more and more riders are rocking a hip pack. And now you are curious too.

I was right there with you. After resisting the fanny pack trend for a while, but seeing all my friends use them, I finally caved….and discovered I LOVE mountain bike hip packs, primarily for the comfort level.

After testing a bunch, my favorite hip pack is the Osprey Seral 7. It is comfortable, extremely well made, and has lots of storage space.

Prefer other methods of carrying water? Check out our list of backpack style hydration packs and water bottles as well. And if you want tips on how much you should be drinking, we have a guide on bike hydration.

pnw womens merino tee and osprey hip pack

Our Top Picks

PackWhat We LikePrice (List)
Osprey Seral 7LLots of storage space, durable$110
Dakine Hot Laps 5LLarge hydration reservoir, fun prints$105
Sierra Designs Flex LumbarExpandable storage space$90
Evoc Pro 3L With BladderBest in class waistband$130
Camelbak MULE Waist PackMagnetic hose that works$90

Osprey Seral 7L

osprey seral on the trail

Price: $110 List

Osprey makes fantastic hydration packs, and the Osprey Seral hip pack is no exception. The best thing about the pack is Osprey’s amazing customer service and warranty. If something happens to the pack, they’ll fix it for you.

Luckily, the Seral also works well, so you’ll actually want to wear it for a long time. The pack stays in place with no twisting or bouncing, and includes several interior pockets to stash your keys, phone, snacks, and even a pump and a few simple tools.

I’ve had my Seral for five years, and other than needing a wash every now and then, it’s as good as new! This pack has been on hundreds of lunch rides, weekend epics, and it even went on the 400-mile Smoke N Fire bikepacking race with me.

The only bummer about the Seral is the magnetic bite valve clip that isn’t as strong as it needs to be. I tuck the hose into the hip strap. And speaking of the hip strap–it can look a little dorky. Otherwise, I can’t recommend this pack enough!

Read Review: Osprey Seral 7L

Dakine Hot Laps 5L

dakine hot laps rear view

Price: $105 List

The Dakine Hot Laps 5L is probably the hippest bag around. (Pun totally intended). It looks cool and comes in a couple of different fabrics.

The waistband is comfortable and the buckle is off-centered. This means there is only one strap rather than two to adjust (like on the Osprey Seral) and there is a loop to fasten it down. This means it looks cleaner and less dorky than other options.

One thing we really like about the bag are the external straps that can hold a lightweight jacket or protective pads. (That said, as you can see in the picture above, if you’re not using the straps for anything, they can kinda get in the way).

And while there is lots of external room, if you fill up the reservoir all the way, there’s not much interior room left for anything else. That said, there are plenty of pockets inside, and it is easy to keep your things organized.

Read Review: Dakine Hot Laps 5L

Sierra Designs Flex Lumbar

water bottle holder on the sierra designs flex lumbar

Price: $90 List

The Sierra Designs Flex Lumbar is my favorite pack for short rides. It does not come with a reservoir, but holds a water bottle (or two) and gives me a place to put my phone, keys, jacket, etc.

The best thing about it are the straps that allow it to expand to fit a jacket (or whatever) or to be cinched down when you’re not carrying much. The ripstop material has also proven to be very durable (I’ve had this pack for 5+ years as well) and easy to clean.

The only bummer is that the back panel doesn’t have the same level of breathability as packs like the Osprey Seral or Dakine Hot Laps. If you’re a heavy sweater, you might want to pass on this one.

Read Review: Sierra Designs Flex Lumbar

Evoc Pro 3L Hip Pack With Bladder

evoc hip pack
Photo credit: @ninaschlicki

Price: $130 List

The Evoc Pro 3L Hip Pack probably has the most attractive, female-friendly colors of all the packs on the list. Each of the ladies we surveyed really like the way this pack LOOKS.

It also has smart storage compartments. The pack has a double-zip, roll-out tool compartment like those you find on larger hydration packs. We also appreciate the small side pockets that work well for accessing a gel mid-race, as well as side bottle holders in case the included reservoir isn’t enough.

The other thing that really sets this pack apart is the waist band. It is wide, stretchy, and there are no straps to dangle around awkwardly.

The only issue is that if you fill the internal bladder, there is very little room remaining and it’s tough to fit something bulky like a jacket. (It’s also the most expensive pack on this list).

Full review coming soon!

Camelbak MULE 5 Waist Pack

camelbak mule 5 waist pack

Price: $90 List

What would a hydration pack list be without a Camelbak? The Camelbak MULE waist pack is the little brother to the good ol’ Camelbak MULE hydration pack.

What I really like about this pack, when compared to the others on the list, is the magnetic bite valve actually stays in place. There is a bungee at the top of the bag that allows you to strap on a jacket or extra layer, and the back panel is highly breathable.

Compared to the rest of the packs on this list, however, the MULE does not do a great job of staying in place. As you drink water, you’ll need to cinch it down, and when jumping and riding over technical terrain, it has a tendency of bouncing around. For that reason, it’s the last pick on this list.

Full review coming soon!

How We Came Up With This List

These are all packs that I (Kristen Bonkoski) have used and abused on the trails. I’ve used them not only at home in Boise, ID, but also in Sedona, AZ, Whistler, BC, Bend, OR, and so many other awesome mountain bike destinations. I’ve also used them for a bunch of different types of riding–gravel grinding, downhill mountain biking, and usually, just a good old trail ride.

But personal preference only means so much, so I also created this list by keeping other feedback in mind. I polled the Femme Cyclist community on Instagram and Facebook, and asked around for input from my riding friends.

Why Use a Hip Pack for Mountain Biking?

Most riders choose to switch to a hip pack because they find it more comfortable. Fanny packs work especially well for females because we tend to have narrower, less muscular shoulders and larger hips. As such, it makes a lot of sense to take the weight off your shoulders and put it onto your hips.

If you find that you get back pain while riding, or experience pinching in your shoulders and nerves in your arms, you might want to consider trying a fanny pack rather than a regular hydration pack.

If you also hate having a sweaty back, a fanny pack can be a good solution. If you have a hot body, you might still experience some lower back sweating, but you are unlikely to experience a soaked shirt like you might with a backpack.

The Drawbacks of a MTB Hip Pack

While some of the larger hip packs can carry as much water and gear as a small hydration backpack, most fanny packs simply can’t hold as much as a bigger hydration pack. That makes them work well for shorter rides (2-3 hours), but not for all day epics.

Things to Look For In a Hip Pack & How These Packs Compare

Still need some help choosing between packs? Here are a few things to consider, as well as additional info on how the hip packs on this list compare to one another.

Reservoir & Bottle Pockets

How long are your rides, and how much water do you usually drink?

Most hip packs come with a 1.5L bladder. For most riders, this is enough water for several hours.

If you need even more water, consider the Dakine Hot Laps pack which has a 2L bladder. It’s the only pack on this list with a 2L reservoir. I like the bigger bladder so much that for longer rides, I’ve taken it out of my Dakine pack and put it into my Osprey.

dakine hot laps 2L reservoir

Some folks prefer bottles to a water reservoir. If that’s you, consider the Sierra Designs Lumbar which only has bottle pockets (no bladder), or the Evoc Pro 3L or the Camelbak MULE which both have a bladder AND water bottle pockets.

Storage Space

The amount of space you have for storage is basically the total capacity of the pack minus the volume of the water bladder. Once you do that math, you’ll realize that most fanny packs really don’t have that much room for gear.

You can see in the table below that the Osprey Seral and the Sierra Designs Lumbar are the two largest packs and have the most space for storage. If you don’t need or want a reservoir, the Sierra Designs pack is particularly attractive in this regard.

Pack SizeBladder SizeStorage Space
Osprey Seral 7L71.55.5
Dakine Hot Laps 5L523
Sierra Designs Flex Lumbar707
Evoc Pro 3L31.51.5
Camelbak MULE51.53.5

The Evoc Pro 3L has the smallest amount of storage space, which makes it great for folks who don’t want to lug a bunch of weight around.

osprey seral front pocket

What do most of your rides look like? Are you doing laps at the bike park where it’s easy to bail to the parking lot for a pump or food? If so, a small hip pack might work great for your needs.

On the other hand, if you are doing long trail rides where you need to be self-sufficient, make sure to choose one of the larger packs that have plenty of space for a pump, spare tube, multi-tool, and a bar or gel.

Also consider the design of that storage. Is there a clip for your car keys? A pocket for your cell phone? Or a strap for your rain jacket? Make sure there is space for the stuff that’s important to you.

If you’re looking for maximum storage space, the Osprey Seral 7L is the obvious winner in this category.

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About The Author

kristen bonkoski

Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.

An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.

Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life.  Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son.  If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.

Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.

IG: @femme_cyclist

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