Hip packs are definitely having a bit of a renaissance in mountain biking. But while for many they’re just a 80s throwback or long-forgotten relic of a techno party, the modest hip pack has never really fallen out of favour with outdoor sports like mountain running or cross-country skiing. So what happened with hip packs and riding and can these seven models heal the gulf that has formed?
Those known for sporting backpacks that are half their size with half a set of camera equipment and a wardrobe full of dry clothes might not be easily swayed by the thought of a minimal hip pack, but if you’re looking for a compact concept that’ll streamline your mid-ride essentials down to a few tools, an energy bar, your phone and a windproof jacket then prepare to meet your matches.
The market is vast
Right now, the market has crammed with hip packs of varying shapes and sizes. Some have hydration bladders, others can fit bottles in the sides, and others just aren’t bothered about your vital fluid intake. This group test welcomed the whole spectrum, with prices ranging from € 49.99 for the Bontrager Rapid Pack to € 89,95 for the EVOC HIP PACK RACE, which also comes with a bladder.
|Bontrager||Prapid Pack||€ 49.99||224 g||—||1|
|Camelbak||Palos LR4||€ 79.90||322 g + 200 g hydration bladder||yes 1.5 l||—|
|Evoc||Hip Pack Race||€ 89.95||334 g + 130 g hydration bladder||yes 1.5 l||—|
|Mavic||Crossride Drinking Belt||€ 70.00||254 g + 70 g Bottle||—||1 (600 ml)|
|Osprey||Talon 6 Lumbar||€ 80.00||337 g||—||2 (570 ml)|
|SCOTT||Hip-Belt Race Day||€ 59.90||357 g||—||—|
|Source||Hipster||€ 79.90||270 g + 91 g + 220 g||yes 1.5 l||—|
But what really needs to go in it?
Before you go ahead and buy a hip pack, run through what you’re planning on putting in it. Tip: the less that’s in your hip pack, the more comfortable it is. Can you mount a bottle cage on your bike? Are you putting a windproof jacket in your pack? Is a CO2 canister enough or do you need a pump? Our test winner gives you the flexibility to tackle these questions on a ride-by-ride basis, but if you’re willing to compromise in terms of storage, then there are some other enticing models to consider.
The right position is crucial!
The positioning of the hip pack is pretty crucial if you want a comfortable, hassle-free ride. As you can guess from their name, they’re intended to be worn as low on your hips as possible for stability. During our tests we found that each pack had their own sweet-spot too, so it just takes some experimenting to get the position.
How important is its ventilation?
Clearly way more compact and less spread across your back than a backpack, it’s easy to say that hip packs are already on a winning tangent in terms of airflow. The test fleet were all largely similar here; in fact, the better ventilated models struggle to give a good fit, and those snug-fitting ones simply weren’t so breathable. Hip packs ideally need a design that contours your body so that they won’t bounce around on the trails.
Less is more!
It became more and more apparent during testing that overfilling (or even just filling) a hip pack is pretty detrimental to its performance. So even if the hydration bladder can hold ample fluid, we wouldn’t risk filling it to the maximum – usually a litre will suffice on a short rides and it’ll pay off with increased comfort.