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Five Best Mountain Biking Backpacks

The author has been a keen cyclist all his life and likes to pass on his experience and showcase the best products available.

Why Carrying a Backpack Is Important

Why choose to carry a backpack?

1. You can carry all your spare clothes.

2. You can carry a spare tyre and tubes.

3. You can keep your phone and wallet in a secure pocket.

4. You can carry extra food or drink.

5. On medium to long trips, you can carry your overnight essentials.

This is not a complete list, but it does show how convenient and flexible backpacks are. If you’ve ever been 20 miles into the back country and haven’t had the right Allen key to tighten up your handlebars you are in big trouble; this happened to me and it was no laughing matter. Trying to find a makeshift tool to tighten a cap head bolt totally spoiled the fun I had intended on having in the hills.

It is always going to be a judgement call on what you take with you, or leave behind, but taking next to nothing is not sensible. Carry essential spares and a few tools as the very minimum and you will enjoy your day so much better, and have peace of mind if something does go wrong.

Choosing the right backpack can sometimes be difficult and confusing because all of them look the same in the pictures and seem to have good reviews if you check them online. So in order to come up with the best among the best, some research must be done based on their performance, durability, the fit of the bag and their comfort.

If you want some tips about which backpack to choose, always look for the ones that have mesh lining to help with air circulation and to keep you cool at the back. Also, look for the overall stability of the bag. Consider also the hip belt because you cannot always guarantee the backpack’s shoulder strap's durability so you need a hip belt for a firmer hold on your body. Always go for the lightweight type and make sure the bag is not too bulky or large on your back. Remember that the lighter and compact your MTB backpack is, the better you can control your movements and the less resistance you will get from the wind.

Most mountain bikers prefer backpacks that have a built-in hydration system and this can be useful during biking uphill or downhill where you need your two hands to grip the handle bars. However, before buying a mountain bike backpack that has a hydration system, check first:

  • Is the bladder easy to clean?
  • Can it be drained fully?
  • Does it have a convenient and durable bite valve?
  • Is it made of a safe type of rubber?

I have chosen five of the best mountain bike backpacks which you can easily order online from Amazon. I have extensive use of these bags and I’m sure they will be excellent in providing you with what you need for a handy bike backpack.

Osprey Raptor 14 Daypack

Osprey Raptor 14 Daypack

Osprey Raptor 14 Daypack

If you want an MTB backpack that has a large zippered pocket on its front for easy access for your tools and other items, this is the one. It has 2X stretch woven side pockets and 2X mesh on its hip belt pockets. It also has a hydration system which can load 3 litres of water. The nice thing about this bag is its innovative suspension and ergonomic backpanel design that can give you excellent biking and riding comfort and can remain stable on your back.

Because of its size, you can even pack your helmet in it and the pockets will keep your gears well organized. Its straps are made from full elastics stretch sternum with their magnetic sternum buckles. Its Airscape suspension has a ridge molded foam with a constructed air chimney so the inside of your bag is well ventilated thus reducing the weight of your load. You will also love its magnetic bite valve so you can easily get it out of the way and just magnet it in place. Its bladder is also replaceable and it is standard in size so if you want other brands for its bladder, that would not be a problem with the Osprey Raptor.

Best Buy

Osprey Stratos 24 Pack

Osprey Stratos 24 Pack

Osprey Stratos 24 Pack

This is another excellent product from Osprey that has a back panel hydration system that can carry about 3 litres of water. The water system is separately placed on the backpacks AirCore back panel so that you can still use the backpack core to carry more things with you. It can actually contain 22 litres of volume of things inside it so this backpack is really designed primarily for a day’s mountain biking.

It has the Stratos harness that is sewn as a spacer mesh for better hydration routing and its stratos hip belt also has its mesh zippered pockets with Ergo Pull closure. Its stretch woven fabric front pocket can be used for additional gadgets and has easy external pockets for easy access for your things. You will also like its internal frame because every pocket are placed properly for more organization. This is just a light backpack that is packed with versatility, comfort and its airy you can use it during summer,on day hikes, everyday commuting, or just strutting into the woods for a day’s hike.

If your in any doubt about which backpack to buy the Osprey Stratos 24 is brilliant pack to buy check out the report in the comments section at the end, it is highly recommended by other mountain bikers.

Camelbak M.U.L.E. NV 100 Oz Hydration Pack - White

Camelbak M.U.L.E. NV 100 Oz Hydration Pack - White

Camelbak M.U.L.E. NV 100 Oz Hydration Pack - White

With its N.V.I.S. panel, this Camelback backpack is very comfortable for maximum use. Its back panel has a multi-directional ventilation which will draw the pack away from your back so there is more aeration on your back.

It also has superior and roomy storage for your items and can pack away 10 litre volumes of goods for your day’s travel. If you want more comfort from it, you can also detach its removable waist belt to maximize comfortability. Its hydration system is made from OMEGA Hydrotanium Reservoir built with a insulater reservoir to keep water cool for many hours. It can pack 100 oz (3 litres) of water. Other pluses are its built-in rain cover, storage pocket for the bike’s pump or other tools.

CamelBak Rogue 70-Ounce Hydration Pack

CamelBak Rogue 70-Ounce Hydration Pack

CamelBak Rogue 70-Ounce Hydration Pack

For those who want a slimmer biker’s backpack that is versatile and more streamlined, this could be your choice among the options in this review. It also has its air mesh channeled back panel and shoulder straps for more ventilation and secured storage room for your pump, energy bars, tubes and repair kits. The external zip pocket that has a clip and organizer is also another roomy storage space for other essentials like your cell phone, sunglasses, keys, wallet and MP3 player.

In terms of its hydration system, it can hold 70 oz of water and this is located externally so it will not get in the way of the backpack’s room. The bladder is also made from Omega Hydro Tanium reservoir. The L-joint bite valve has a built-in open and close valve so there will be no leaks while you bike. You don’t have to remove the water bladder when filling it with water. By just lifting its flap on the top of the pack, you can easily fill it in. The whole hydration system has a lifetime warranty so anytime this one breaks you can change it for a new one.

High Sierra Splash 70 Pack

High Sierra Splash 70 Pack

High Sierra 30L or 50L BackPack

This backpack has one large main compartment that can hold 2 litres of water in its reservoir. Unlike other backpacks, its bladder is easy to fill. It also has a hand-free reservoir pressure valve and an insulated water tube cover to stop water from freezing in the tube during the cold weather. It also has a hinged front pocket for a helmet and pockets for your CD or MP3 player.

This is one excellent hydration pack to take with you on a biking expedition and it is very comfortable on the back because it is lightweight with enough air flow all around the pack. Wearing this won’t get your back sweaty so you don’t have to worry your gadgets inside getting moist or damp from your own sweat. There is lots of space for your small items like your keys, cell phone, shirt or a towel, and wallet. Available in 3 colours, blue, gecko and black. I have tried this back pack on a long weekend and it proved to be a good investment I particularly like the large open bag as I like to see everything I have just as soon as I open a bag, you can stuff a warmer top or your down jacket for colder evenings into this pack and still have loads of space for your main essential items. It’s an easy decision in my opinion go buy this bag you won’t look back.

High Sierra 50L backpack

© 2010 Brian Slater


Liam Hallam from Nottingham UK on July 12, 2012:

I have another osprey pack the talon 22 I use presently. It's great for everything including the commute to work and has good ventilation. Although its great I'm not sure I could justify spending 100 dollars on a rucksack in future- lets hope it has a lifetime of use in it.

reagu from Los Angeles on May 28, 2012:

I like Osprey products. They're pretty solid in my experience.

Buc_Nasty on May 27, 2012:

I've tried several different backpacks with back ventilation my main concern for hot summer city biking commutes. The Osprey Stratos 24 (2011 version) is hands down the best. You can actually feel a breeze on your back. None of the other packs i've tried (deuter, camelbak, north face, other osprey packs even the new escapist) even come close the 3D airspeed vent or whatever they call it on the Stratos 24. Its far and away the best in terms of minimizing back sweat, and all around just a phenomenal pack. I'll easily fit enoguh clothes for a weekend trip in it, so its useful all around. Hopefully save some people some trial and error with this post

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