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Once upon a time, hydration packs were a staple at any trailhead and on any group ride. Then, there was a shift away from them. A trusty saddle bag and ample room inside the frame for water bottles meant that hydration packs became relegated to bike packers and riders who frequently ventured deep into the backcountry.

However, the rise of long travel trail bikes and dropper seat posts have seen the room for on the bike storage for water and other necessities disappearing over the past few years. As a result, more and more mountain bikers, including this one, have embraced hydration packs as the solution to their storage needs.

Could You Get By Without a Hydration Pack For Mountain Biking?

For most of us, the answer is yes. Most mountain bikes will still hold at least one small water bottle in the frame, and there are jerseys with pockets, as well as nifty new products like the Race Face Stash Tool Strap to hold necessities. However, for those of us who sweat like Shaquille O’Neal at the free throw line, or who take longer rides and need to carry a few extras like a spare tube, pump, etc, then a hydration pack affords us much needed space and flexibility. And just to top that off, numerous studies have shown that the ability to easily sip from a tube near your mouth, rather than having to reach for a bottle for every drink results in athletes consuming more water during exercise, thus staying more hydrated.

How to Choose The Best Hydration Pack For Mountain Biking

Pack Size

Of course, the best hydration pack for mountain biking will be the hydration pack that best fits your needs.  If all you want is a bag for water, a minimal pack such as the CamelBak Lobo might be all you need. Meanwhile, if you plan on big days in the backcountry, then a larger pack like the Evoc Stage 18 will give you plenty of room for spare parts, a turkey sandwich, and that world-famous superfood known as a PB&J. Most riders will find a pack in the 8l to 15l range perfect, as these hydration packs will allow you to carry 2-3l of water, as well as any tools and essentials that you will need for all but the most epic of day rides.

While it is a rather arbitrary cut-off point, we considered anything over 20l to be a backpack with a hydration reservoir, rather than a true hydration pack.

Water Reservoir Size

Most of the hydration packs for mountain biking that we reviewed accommodate either two or three-liter water reservoirs. Furthermore, many hydration packs that come with a 2l reservoir will actually accept a full or nearly full three-liter reservoir, though it will likely cut into the rest of the pack’s storage volume a bit.

All things being equal, we tend to recommend a 3l reservoir, as it will add virtually no extra weight and take up no extra space over a smaller reservoir, yet leave you with the option to carry more water when and if you need to.

Of course, water is heavy. Each liter of water adds about a kilogram of weight to your pack, so keep this in mind before filling your three-liter hydration pack to the brim before an hour-long ride, as you will probably be carrying around two kilos that will end up down your drain when you return home.

Generally speaking, you should consume around 24oz (0.7l) of water for every hour of hard riding, though I personally find that I need significantly more than that.  Experiment, and see how much fluid works best for you. And remember, during hard physical activity, particularly in the heat, your body cannot absorb enough fluid to replace the fluid that it loses, so make sure that you hydrate well leading up to a ride, rather than trying to make up for lost time by drinking more on the ride.

Fit And Features

Most of the best mountain biking hydration packs are highly adjustable and come as a “one size fits all” type of product. The fact is, that most of these packs do fit a very wide range of shapes and sizes, though some might be more comfortable than others. As always, this is why we recommend trying packs on before purchasing when possible or ordering from stores with quick and easy return/exchange programs, like Backcountry and Competitive Cyclist.

More and more full-size hydration packs are also starting to be offered in lumbar variants, like the Camelbak MULE LR 15. This is still a full-sized hydration pack, but it features a lumbar water reservoir, which rides much lower and wider in the pack than the traditional reservoir. We were a bit skeptical of these packs at first, but we came around to them pretty quickly after trying them out. However, some riders report that they just can’t get on with the fit, so we recommend trying out both if possible.

Another key feature to look for is well thought out storage compartmentalization. Hydration packs on the smaller end of the spectrum tend to only have one small pocket, but as they get larger, most of the best hydration packs have numerous quick access compartments, so that you aren’t constantly digging through your electrical tape, bike pump, and spare tube every time you need your multitool or a Cliff bar.

Most of the water reservoirs on our list are fairly easy to clean and refill, which are also good features to look out for.

Finally, some packs are just better suited to mountain biking than others, and we have groomed this list to reflect that fact. Activities like mountain biking and skiing require a pack to have a tighter, lower center of gravity, and they usually need to be tougher than those aimed at running or hiking. That said, if a hydration pack can perform great for mountain biking, it should perform well for just about any other activity as well.

How We Judged

We based our review of the top hydration packs for mountain biking on four main features. First, we judged by the packs’ storage, both the amount and convenience of it. Second, we judged by the comfort and ventilation that packs provided. Third, we judged the packs based on the quality of their water reservoirs, the ease of drinking from them, and how conveniently they could be accessed, refilled, and cleaned. However, it is worth noting that you can always swap out the water reservoir for one from a different brand if you are not happy with the amount of water you get in each sip from your preferred pack’s reservoir. Often times, you can even just swap out the hose or bite valve on the reservoir that you already have. 

Finally, we judged packs based on their weight. This consideration was weighted a bit less than the others, though, because most riders who opt to wear a hydration pack for mountain biking are not going to be of the gram counting variety.

As always, what fits one rider’s needs the best might not fit another, so take into consideration which attributes you value most highly and base your choice on those features!

The Best Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking

Top Picks

Osprey Raptor 14: Best Overall Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking

CamelBak Skyline LR 10l: Best Lumbar Style Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking

Platypus Duthie AM 10.0: Runner Up Best Overall Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking

CamelBak MULE LR 15: Best Lumbar Hydration Pack for Bigger Rides

Dakine Seeker 15l: Best Choice for Big Days with Gear You Want to Keep Dry

CamelBak Lobo 9l: Best Ultralight Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking

Osprey Raptor 14

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

Top Notch Comfort and Organization

Cons

Average Weight

Pricey

Gear Capacity: 11.5l

Bladder Capacity: 2.5l

Weight: 800g

Dimensions: 20” x 9” x 9” / 48 x 22 x 25cm

CamelBak Skyline LR 10l

  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Low Rider Technology is Comfortable and Stable

Best Water Flow in Test

Cons

Average Weight

Not Terribly Easy to Access

Fill or Clean Hydration Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 7l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 995g

Dimensions: 8” x 8” x 15” / 20 x 20 x 39cm

Platypus Duthie AM 10.0

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

Best In Class Ventilation

Great Organization

Cons

Only Slightly Above Average Water Flow from Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 7l

Bladder Capacity: 3l/100 fluid ounces

Weight: 800g

Dimensions: 9” x 6” x 18” / 23 x 15 x 46cm

CamelBak MULE LR 15

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Low Rider Hydration Reservoir Positioning

CamelBak Bite Valve

Cons

Subpar Ventilation

Heavy

Gear Capacity: 12l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 990g

Dimensions: 21” x 10” x 9” / 53 x 23 x 25cm

Dakine Seeker 15l 

  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 60% 60%
  • Weight 40% 40%

Pros

Water Resistant

Tons of Storage

Comfortable

Cons

Heavy

Not the Greatest Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 12l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 1340g

Dimensions: 19” x 12” x 8″ / 48 x 30 x 20cm

CamelBak Lobo 9l

  • Storage 60% 60%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 100% 100%

Pros

Lightweight

CamelBak Big Bite Drinking Valve

Sale Prices

Cons

Not Much Storage

Subpar Ventilation

Gear Capacity: 6l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 480g

Dimensions: 18” x 8.3” x 7.5” / 46 x 21 x 19cm

CamelBak M.U.L.E. 100 OZ

  • Storage 70% 70%
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Pros

“Everything You Need and Nothing You Don’t,”

CamelBak Big Bite Valve

Cons

Not as Comfortable as Some Newer Bags

Twist Off Water Reservoir Lid

Gear Capacity: 9l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 620g

Dimensions: 17.9” x 8.7” x 8.9” / 45.5 x 22 x 22.5cm

Thule Vital 6l

  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 40% 40%
  • Weight 90% 90%

Pros

ReTrakt Hydration Hose

Great Main Compartment Organization

Lightweight

Cons

J Shaped Zipper

Subpar Water Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 3.5l

Bladder Capacity: 2.5l

Weight: 540g

Dimensions: 8.7” x 3.5” x 17.5” / 23 x 9 x 44.5cm

Evoc Stage 18

  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 20% 20%
  • Weight 50% 50%

Pros

Top Notch Comfort and Storage

Cons

No Water Reservoir Included

Pricey

Gear Capacity: 18l

Bladder Capacity: Accommodates Hydration Systems Up To 3l (Not Included)

Weight: 965g

Dimensions: 8.25” x 17.3” x 4.75” / 28 x 50 x 12cm

Evoc CC 10l

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 50% 50%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Comfortable

Stable

Great Storage and Accessibility

Cons

Average Ventilation

Subpar Water Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 8l

Bladder Capacity: 2l

Weight: 690g

Dimensions: 7.9” x 19.7 x 3.9” / 20 x 50 x 10cm

Osprey Raptor 14

Best Overall Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Price: $150.00

Gear Capacity: 11.5l

Bladder Capacity: 2.5l

Weight: 800g

Dimensions: 20” x 9” x 9” / 48 x 22 x 25cm

What We Like: Top Notch Comfort and Organization

What We Don’t: Average Weight, Pricey

We chose the Osprey Raptor as our pick for the best overall hydration pack for mountain biking. It is a pack loaded with features. It packs plenty of storage for big days in the backcountry, has one of the better water reservoirs, and was as comfortable as any hydration pack that we reviewed. Furthermore, the Osprey Raptor is available in 14 and 10l liter variants, and there is a women’s version of each as well, called the Osprey Raven.

CamelBak Skyline LR 10l

Best Lumbar Style Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking

  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Price: $150.00

Gear Capacity: 7l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 995g

Dimensions: 8” x 8” x 15” / 20 x 20 x 39cm

What We Like: Low Rider Technology is Comfortable and Stable, Best Water Flow in Test

What We Don’t: Average Weight, Not Terribly Easy to Access, Fill, or Clean Hydration Reservoir.

The CamelBak Skyline LR 10l is a hydration pack for mountain bikers who don’t want to wear hydration packs. CamelBak’s new “Low Rider” series of packs aims to take the weight and stress off of your back by moving the pack itself, and the bulk of the pack’s weight, lower on your back. We were skeptical of this, but the CamelBak Skyline LR 10l is the pack that made us believers. Not only is it one of the most comfortable hydration packs for mountain biking, it also has all of the additional mountain bike specific features that you would hope for, and it packs them all into a smaller package than you would expect.

Platypus Duthie AM 10.0

Runner Up Best Overall Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Price: $104.73-$139.95

Gear Capacity: 7l

Bladder Capacity: 3l/100 fluid ounces

Weight: 800g

Dimensions: 9” x 6” x 18” / 23 x 15 x 46cm

What We Like: Best In Class Ventilation, Great Organization

What We Don’t: Only Slightly Above Average Water Flow from Reservoir

The Platypus Duthie AM 10.0 is an excellent choice for mountain bikers who want a traditionally styled hydration pack. It is only just edged out as our top overall pack by the Osprey Raptor 14, and it features outstanding fit and comfort features, a solid hydration system, great organization and storage capacity for a 10l pack, a 3l reservoir, and the best-ventilated back panel in our review. Finally, at $140, it is $10 cheaper than the Osprey Raptor 14, and it can even be found at the REI outlet as low as $104.73.

It is also available in a 15l variant, for those who want comfort and features of the Duthie for epic days in the backcountry.

CamelBak MULE LR 15

Best Lumbar Hydration Pack for Bigger Rides

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Price: $150.00

Gear Capacity: 12l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 990g

Dimensions: 21” x 10” x 9” / 53 x 23 x 25cm

What We Like: Low Rider Hydration Reservoir Positioning, CamelBak Bite Valve

What We Don’t: Subpar Ventilation, Heavy

The CamelBak MULE LR 15 brings everything that mountain bikers have loved about the original CamelBak MULE for years, along with CamelBak’s low rider setup. This makes for an extremely comfortable pack hydration pack that is purpose made for mountain biking, and long rides in the backcountry in particular. At around $150, its price puts it right in line with the Osprey Raptor.

If you want to try out CamelBak’s new Low Rider design that we were so fond of, and you need more storage capacity than the CamelBak Skyline LR 10 has to offer, then we would recommend the CamelBak MULE LR 15.

Dakine Seeker 15l

Best Choice for Big Days with Gear You Want to Keep Dry

  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 60% 60%
  • Weight 40% 40%

Price: $129.97-$210.00

Gear Capacity: 12l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 1340g

Dimensions: 19” x 12” x 8″ / 48 x 30 x 20cm

What We Like: Water Resistant, Tons of Storage, Comfortable

What We Don’t: Heavy, Not the Greatest Reservoir

The Dakine Seeker might only claim to have 12l of gear capacity, but this is a hydration pack that will carry everything you need for even the longest days in the most remote mountains. While it might not be the pack for after work rides, its comfort, top of the gear capacity and organizational features, and finally the fact that it is one of the most water resistant hydration packs on the market make the Dakine Seeker 15l a top choice for riders who carry lots of gear, particularly photography equipment or other gear that needs to stay dry.

Perhaps the Dakine Seeker 15l’s biggest drawback is its $210 MSRP. However, you can currently find select colors for under $130, which we feel is a steal for this pack.

Finally, the Dakine Seeker is also available in a 24l variant, which would be great if you plan to carry a full-on mobile studio, or if you want a hydration pack that doubles as a bike packing pack.

CamelBak Lobo 9l

Best Ultralight Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking

  • Storage 60% 60%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 100% 100%

Price: $44.95-$100.00

Gear Capacity: 6l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 480g

Dimensions: 18” x 8.3” x 7.5” / 46 x 21 x 19cm

What We Like: Lightweight, CamelBak Big Bite Drinking Valve, Sale Prices

What We Don’t: Not Much Storage, Subpar Ventilation

If you are in the market for a hydration pack for mountain biking that you want to carry plenty of water and the bare essentials for your ride, then look no further than the CamelBak Lobo. If we could only have one hydration pack, we might choose something with a bit more room, just for the added flexibility that it offers on epic rides, but for riders who want to stay ultralight with a hydration pack, the CamelBak Lobo is a mountain biking specific hydration pack that was made for you.

The Best Of The Rest

Camelbak M.U.L.E. 100 OZ

  • Storage 70% 70%
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Price: $53.00-$110.00

Gear Capacity: 9l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 620g

Dimensions: 17.9” x 8.7” x 8.9” / 45.5 x 22 x 22.5cm

What We Like: “Everything You Need and Nothing You Don’t,” CamelBak Big Bite Valve

What We Don’t: Not as Comfortable as Some Newer Bags, Twist Off Water Reservoir Lid

We actually loved the Smith Vantage MIPS. It just struggles to find its place in a very crowded lineup of Smith snow helmets. For our wants and needs, we would spend the extra $40 and get the Smith Quantum. If we were in the market for saving money on a Smith helmet, we would probably bump down one more level and choose the Smith Variance. However, the Smith Vantage does offer a middle ground between the two, and it is not one of the most popular ski and snowboard helmets on the market for nothing.

Thule Vital 6l

  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 40% 40%
  • Weight 90% 90%

Price: $119.95

Gear Capacity: 3.5l

Bladder Capacity: 2.5l

Weight: 540g

Dimensions: 8.7” x 3.5” x 17.5” / 23 x 9 x 44.5cm

What We Like: ReTrakt Hydration Hose, Great Main Compartment Organization, Lightweight

What We Don’t: J Shaped Zipper, Subpar Water Reservoir

The Thule Vital 6l is a mountain biking focused hydration pack that we liked and wanted to love. However, a few pesky details held back a pack that has the potential to compete with the CamelBak Lobo for the spot of best minimal hydration pack for mountain biking.

 

On the plus side, it is lightweight, a decent value, and it features a magnetic “ReTrakt” drinking hose that might be the greatest innovation in the history of hydration packs. 

Finally, there is also a three liter and eight liter version of the Thule Vital hydration pack, for riders who want just a bit more or less of it.

Evoc Stage 18

  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 20% 20%
  • Weight 50% 50%

Price: $150.00

Gear Capacity: 18l

Bladder Capacity: Accommodates Hydration Systems Up To 3l (Not Included)

Weight: 965g

Dimensions: 8.25” x 17.3” x 4.75” / 28 x 50 x 12cm

What We Like: Top Notch Comfort and Storage

What We Don’t: No Water Reservoir Included, Pricey

Don’t be fooled by its low placing on our list. The Evoc Stage 18 was actually one of our favorite hydration packs, and it would have even contended for our top choice but for one fatal flaw. It does not include a water reservoir, and at $150, we really felt that it should have.

However, if you are willing to overlook this and shell out the money for a reservoir from CamelBak or Osprey (both of which are much better than Evoc’s own water reservoirs), then you might just have found yourself with the best hydration pack on the trail.

Evoc CC 10l

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 50% 50%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Price: $130.00

Gear Capacity: 8l

Bladder Capacity: 2l

Weight: 690g

Dimensions: 7.9” x 19.7 x 3.9” / 20 x 50 x 10cm

What We Like: Comfortable, Stable, Great Storage and Accessibility

What We Don’t: Average Ventilation, Subpar Water Reservoir

Overall, the Evoc CC 10l is a solid hydration pack for mountain biking. While we are happy to see it ship with a water reservoir, which killed the otherwise perfect Evoc Stage 18’s rating, we wish the reservoir was a bit more on par with offerings from CamelBak and Osprey. Still, this is a great hydration pack for mountain bikers who want a bit more storage than the Osprey Lobo offers, but who want a bit more in the way of comfort and quality of life features than can be found on the CamelBak MULE.

Finally, its $130 price point is like most other aspects of this pack: good, but not great.

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!