Is a hip pack enough for mountain biking?

Viewing 13 reply threads
  • Author
    • #245701

      I just saw a couple of articles recently about the folks in Whistler doing outreach to mountain bikers about being prepared. Apparently there’s been an uptick in the number of search and rescue calls involving mountain bikers.

      According to the article, the manager of Whistler Search and Rescue Brad Sills says, “Everybody likes to ride a mountain bike without a pack — or God forbid you have a pannier — but that’s where we’re headed.”

      It definitely seems like the trend is toward ditching big backpacks in favor of hip packs and frame bags, and for generally minimizing the amount of gear people carry on their rides. Has anyone else noticed an increase in the number of unprepared riders over the past couple of seasons? Or are we just seeing more new riders?

    • #245703

      I have never carried much, and now carry more than I ever did, and most of the people I have seen riding don’t and have never carried a lot. On my old bike could carry a 20 oz bottle, and I had and under-seat pack with a multi-tool a snack bar, and patches. The only reason I carry more now is that my new bike does not have room for a decent size bottle; so as long as I have to wear a hydration pack, I carry a couple extra tools, a tube, a  couple rags, and snacks. But I also do not tend to ride areas where it is that far back to the parking lot. And if I do ride longer rides I don’t do it alone.

    • #245709

      I think like most, what I carry depends on the trail.  But I’ve never ridden with a hip pack.  I’m fine with a pack on my back, so never really thought about it.  I will say, however, I have spoken to a couple of riders that have tried them, and the one thing that comes up is how much the bounce around.  I’m sure it depends on the pack’s design, so I would guess not all do that.

      I have 4 back packs ranging from the smallest for just some water, to large enough for lotsa water, snacks, tools, tube and a full size DSLR camera with a 70-104 lens attached… or a bunch of food and extra clothe or small shelter, or extra tire, if I leave the camera out.  Don’t haul that much very often, but most frequently ride with 20 oz of water, tube, tools and gel.  But again, depends on the trail… how long, how technical, and exit options.

    • #245711

      Once you enjoy a ride without having a pack it’s hard to find the enthusiasm to ride with one. That does not mean I do not carry what I need for any given ride, rather smarter ways to carry and store such items have made it much easier to do so without the need for a cumbersome pack. My standard for all sub 2 hour rides around the metro is a 22 or 26 ounce water bottle, my EDC tool in my steertube, and a tube, CO2 inflater, spare chain strapped on with a mutherload strap. One Mega Maca bar , phone/id in a Banjo Bros. wallet, car key and my bottle filled with a couple of scoops of Tailwind. On really big all day (5+ hrs) rides without any stops/support I grab my EVOC Enduro FR pack and pack my life in it. The mid-length (2-4 hrs) rides I am experimenting with carrying refill water in recyclable bottles and a filter in a SWAT bib. If I live to tell, I will report back.

    • #245758

      Jeff I think there is some truth to the new rider aspect.  Most riders don’t carry the tool they need until that one time they break down and they need it, after that it’s with them for life.  As far as hip packs go, I just don’t get the fad.  I rock a camelbak and mostly forget it’s there while riding.  Trying to worry about what I’m going to take and leave with a tiny hip pack seems silly to me.  I personally like the peace of mind I get from my camelbak and very very rarely have ever run low on water.  I honestly think it boils down to wanting to be different and a trendsetter on the trail.  Like Fred mentioned above, I’ve seen hip packs bouncing all over the place.  Between that, the reduced amount of water, tools and snacks you can carry, what’s the real benefit besides cooler shoulder blades?

    • #245762

      When I lived in Montana, I religiously used a Dakine 30L pack. Tools, food, jacket, water and thankfully stuff that I never needed like poncho, emergency blanket, etc etc. I moved to Michigan in early 2016 and haven’t worn a pack since I got here. Nothing that I’ve ridden here is as really “out there” as the stuff out West and because I’m not gaining 1000s of feet in elevation the weather isn’t as unpredictable as it was in Montana.

      I carry one bottle on the bike and 0-3 bottles in SWAT bibs. I have a multi tool and chain breaker on the bike and a pump, tube, and tire levels in the SWAT door.

      I think hip packs would be enough if you could carry your water elsewhere because it seems like that is what causes most of the bouncing.

    • #245771

      Get the Camel off your back! A few years ago, I switched to a seatbag and it was a revelation. No more sweaty soaked back. No more aching shoulders and neck. I was so much cooler, more comfortable and had greater freedom of movement. Seatbag, framebag, downtube bag, handlebar bag, whatever! There are now so many ways to get the pack off your back that I don’t know why anyone uses them anymore. Take the load off your shoulders and hips and let the bike carry your gear.

    • #245809

      Nice thought, but just no room on my bike. Anything under the seat hits the tire when the dropper is down.  If you look at the avatar pic, you will see I had a seat bag, but had to take it off.

    • #245841

      Most of the rides here in Southeast Wisconsin are small loops around 10 miles, so I never carry anything more than a fanny pack. It just doesn’t make any sense. However, if I’m heading up to the Northwoods or out to bigger rides in the the mountains, I almost always have a backpack on.

    • #245885

      I have an Osprey hydration pack. Like others here, I used to use bottles and a small bag under the saddle, but started using a hydration pack when I got the bike I ride now and it didn’t have enough room for a bottle (which are a pain in the butt in their own ways). I like the hydration pack…it doesn’t make me feel hotter. My back is going to sweat anyway. I barely notice it’s there and it’s good for a few snacks, extra water, some tools, small first aid kit, bug repellant, etc. I’ve also started putting my phone in it since I imagine getting soaked in sweat – which it does in my pocket – is not the best thing for it.

      On another note, people don’t seem to drink much or else I drink a lot. Of water, that is. I bring at least a liter and usually 1 1/2 or 2. I don’t often run out, but there’s also not a lot left when I’m done. When I’m in the woods, I’d rather have a little too much than too little. Anything could happen.

      Edit: Meant to say something about hip packs…they’re not my thing, but to each their own. If one is choosing between a traditional hydration pack and a fanny pack, the one benefit I could maybe see is lowering the center of gravity.

    • #245954

      Take my Vaude Hyper Air everywhere. Biking, hiking and skiing. In Arizona we need lots of water and always a spare tube, so many pointy plants. Hip pack should be fine in mild weather but start talking winter or storms and you’ll need more room. As my pack expands via a bellows zipper from 14 to 17 liters and breaths for the summer heat I like it. Another plus is it’s bright enough to get noticed if on a road.


    • #245956

      I just returned from Whistler and noticed that about 60% of people weren’t wearing backpacks….or even hip-packs for that matter. Then again, they are mostly just riding on the park so even if they have a mechanical, it’s not too far to the base village. I personally wear a pack 98% of the time since 2 out of my 3 bikes don’t have a worthy water bottle cage and even the one that does can’t fit a full size 24 oz bottle. I also drink more than I could carry on the rides I do so I need a pack. I tried the hip-pack thing for a couple of rides and it actually created pain in my hips and lower back. I have to say that my backpack has also saved me a few times when I’ve went OTB and landed or rolled on my back.

    • #245961

      For short rides I’m sure it is. I still use a full size hydration pack because I can’t stand anything on the bike or in my pockets. A more recent benefit I found is that the pack can save some pain in a crash. I took a highspeed into-tree-over-the-bars digger last month and I rolled out nicely. Plus you can strap your helmet to it for stupid slow climbs or hike a bike sections. I’ve looked into not running the backpack but it just doesn’t bother me enough to make me feel like I need something different.

    • #245976

      For XC rides in Ontario it’s just a big water bottle on my frame and tools in my jersey. For big rides in Quebec Canada I always bring my Mule Camelback. Great back protection and can fit just about anything in it.

Viewing 13 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.