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The 5 Best Mountain Bike Backpacks & Hydration Packs of 2020

While hip packs and on-bike gear storage may be all the rage in some circles right now, many riders still want the security and storage of a traditional hydration pack for their mountain bike rides. And it makes sense, mountain bike hydration packs have been optimized to help you carry all your gear, snacks, tools, and water, as comfortably and easily as possible. They’re hard to beat. Bike packs have come a long way in the last few years. In response to the popularity of smaller hip packs, manufacturers have been forced to innovate, coming up with new harness systems and back panels that make the best mountain bike backpacks more comfortable than ever before.

Of course, there’s a huge range of styles and sizes to choose from, and it can be hard to narrow down which features are essential for you, and which are less of a big deal. To help with that, we’ve put together this list of the best bike backpacks on the market, and broken down the features of each. We talk about what kind of rider will mesh best with each pack, and how they stand up against each other. So if you’re in the market for a new bike backpack, this list of the best bike hydration packs around is the perfect place to start searching.


Dakine Session 8L

Best mountain bike bacpacks of 2020
 
 

Dakine’s Session 8L is designed for riders who want a minimalist bike backpack. It’s not much bigger than large hip packs, but its mesh strap system keeps it comfortable and secure over long days on the bike, and it has more storage capacity than its listed stats would suggest. The real advantage the Session 8L brings though is its 2L water capacity. That’s plenty for most day rides, and the Session stores that water securely against your back.

In addition to 8L of internal storage, the Session features smart compression straps that can carry your helmet, pads, or a spare layer. These straps help make the Session very versatile and able to adjust to different uses. The Session also comes in a women’s version with different prints. If you are just looking for a hydration pack to carry the essentials, and don’t need room for everything, including the kitchen sink, the Session is a great choice.

Storage CapacityWater Capacity Original Price
8L2L $89

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Osprey Raven 10 - Women's

Best mountain bike backpacks of 2020
 

Osprey has a reputation for sweating the details, and the Raven 10 is no exception. As its name suggests, the Raven has 10L of room for gear, and also features a big 3L water reservoir. So it’s got both more storage and water capacity than the Session. But the real kicker with the Raven is less how much space it has, and more how well it carries. Osprey has really dialled in the suspension systems on their packs to help the straps move with you and keep the pack secure and close to your center of mass. This means that even when it’s loaded down, the Raven feels smaller and lighter than a lot of similar packs.

The Raven gets all the little things right. There’s a seperate tool compartment with tool roll in the bottom of the pack to keep everything organized. There’s also an external stretch pocket that’s perfect for a raincoat or arm warmers, it’s easy to access and swap gear in and out of. Osprey also offers a men’s version of the Raven, with a tweaked fit for wider shoulders. If you’re looking for a pack that will stay comfortable and keep you hydrated over the biggest rides, the Raven fits the bill.

Storage CapacityWater Capacity Original Price
10L3L $140

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Thule Uptake 8L

Best mountain bike hydration packs of 2020
 
 

Thule might be a relative newcomer to the bike backpack market, but their offerings are dialed. The Uptake is lightweight, minimalist, and easy to use. While it has similar stated capacities to the Dakine Session, the Thule uses lighter materials to create a pack that feels even smaller on your back. The downside of this is that it does have a little less useable space than the Session, but the pack also stays put better, even when it’s not fully loaded.

The Uptake is perfect for folks who still need a bigger capacity but are keeping track of the grams and want something lightweight. Its pockets are intelligently laid out to help you stay organized, and the magnetic bite valve is easy to use while riding. The Thule perfect for the minimalist who still needs to haul quite a bit of gear.

Storage CapacityWater Capacity Original Price
8L2.5L $99

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Camelbak Rogue

Best mountain bike hydration packs of 2020
 
 

There’s a reason some folks call any bike hydration pack a Camelbak. Camelbak basically invented the category, and that experience shows through in the Rogue. The Rogue is the most minimalist pack on this list, it doesn’t even have a waist strap. That helps it disappear on the trail. And while the Rogue may have less space than other packs on this list, it uses that space very efficiently.

The Rogue stores the water low and close to your back, which helps keep the pack secure, and it features a stretch pocket that’s easy to access and is perfect for spare gloves or layers. So if you’re looking for the most stripped-down option, but still like to have all the necessities for longer rides on your back, the Rogue deserves your attention.

Storage CapacityWater Capacity Original Price
5L2.5L $70

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Dakine Syncline 12L

Best mountain bike backpacks of 2020
 
 

If you ride with a hydration pack because you want to be able to carry all of the things, the Dakine Syncline 12L is a big upgrade from smaller packs. The Syncline doesn’t just have more space, it has special features to help you use that space more effectively. These include things like a fleece-lined sunglasses pocket to keep your shades safe, mesh outside pockets, and an internal tool organizer.

No, this isn’t the lightest pack on this list. And it’s not as focused on all-day comfort. Instead, both the mens and womens versions of the Syncline place a premium on capacity and features. If you like to carry a lot of gear on your rides, and need each piece to have a specific place in your pack, the Syncline will help keep you happy. Overall, this is one of the best mountain bike backpacks, with its large capacity and attention to detail.

Storage CapacityWater Capacity Original Price
12L3L $119

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