I’m sure you’ve noticed it out on the trail: more and more ladies are rocking a fanny pack rather than a traditional back-pack style hydration 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 fanny packs, primarily for the comfort level.
So, the good news is that mountain bike fanny packs (also called hip packs or enduro packs) are awesome. The bad news is that there’s an explosion of options on the market, and that can be confusing. We’ve cut through all the noise for you and narrowed it down to the five best packs around.
In addition to our top five list, you’ll find a comparison chart and tips on what to think about before buying.
Osprey Seral 7L
Osprey makes fantastic hydration packs, and the 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.
Con: The only bummer about the Seral is the magnetic bite valve clip that isn’t as strong as it needs to be.
Read Review: Osprey Seral 7L.
Dakine Hot Laps 5L
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.
One thing we really like about the bag are the external straps that can hold a lightweight jacket or protective pads. The bite valves is also top-notch: it doesn’t leak or drip, and provides a nice flow.
Con: If you fill up the reservoir all the way, there’s not much interior room left for anything else. Also, for ladies with larger waists, the hose is a bit short.
Read Review: Dakine Hot Laps 5L
Patagonia Nine Trails 8L
Patagonia is known for making products that are durable and last, so we’re not surprised by the bombproof construction of this pack. The nylon ripstop looks good even after months of abuse thanks to the polyurethane coating and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish.
Since many women have small waists, we also like the off-center buckle and clip to hold excess waist strap in place. No matter how skinny you are, you won’t have to deal with awkward strap hanging all around the place or pinching your middle.
Con: The pack sits higher on your lower back than other packs making it more noticeable when you ride.
Price (MSRP): $119.00 USD
Evoc Hip Pack Race with Bladder
The Evoc Race 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.
Con: The hose is really short. Also, like the Osprey pack, the magnetic bite valve clip has a tendency of coming undone.
What would a hydration pack list be without a Camelback? The Repack is a smaller-sized fanny pack that keeps things simple and lightweight. The ladies we surveyed found the pack comfortable and the organization pockets useful.
We also like the top handle for picking the pack up when off the bike, and for hanging storage.
Con: The pack sits closer to your back than other packs. Don’t pick it if you tend to get sweaty.
Comparison Chart: Mountain Bike Hip Packs
|Fanny Pack||Price (MSRP)||Water Capacity||Total Capacity|
|Dakine Hot Laps 5L||2L||5L|
|Osprey Seral 7L|
|Patagonia Nine Trail 8L||$119.00 USD||1.5L||8L|
|Evoc Hip Pack Race with Bladder|
Why Use a Fanny Pack for Mountain Biking?
Most women 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 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 Pack
How long are your rides, and how much water do you usually drink?
Most hip packs come with a 1.5L bladder. For most women, this is enough water for several hours. If you need even more water, consider the Dakine Hot Laps pack that has a 2L bladder.
While all the packs we chose on our Top 5 list come with bladders, other hip packs don’t. Some allow you to use the bladder of your choice, or they may have pockets for water bottles.
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.
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.