Mountain bikers are finding ever new spaces on their bikes for hauling gear, and as a result, many riders are downsizing from a backpack to a hip pack. Or, in some cases, from a hip pack to a smaller hip pack. Or to no hip pack at all. You get the idea.
Here are two smallish hip packs that should work well for shorter rides, or possibly all day epics, assuming you’ve made other accommodations for hauling the rest of your gear.
The Ion Traze Hipbag is a stylishly simple hip pack that’s just as comfortable as it is functional. It’s available in two mod colors — thunder grey (tested) and black — either of which could fit in at a trail party or a board meeting.
The main zippered compartment offers one liter of storage space, with three divided sleeves for organizing gear. On a few rides earlier this spring I used it to carry a pair of arm warmers and a packable jacket, plus a multi-tool, wallet, and phone. A flat repair kit, complete with a tube and bottle of sealant, takes up about half the space, leaving room for hundreds of calories worth of snacks and probably that packable jacket too.
Speaking of snacks, I like to keep mine accessible and the Traze has a couple of nice snack holding options on the waist belt. On the left side there’s an open mesh pouch with an elastic closure that fits a Clif bar, or two Gu packets. On the right there’s a fairly large zippered pocket that could also be used for snacks, or a phone. The pocket is wide enough to fit an iPhone X, but not an 11. Alternatively, it also fits a point and shoot digital camera like a Sony RX100.
The waist belt is wide enough that it doesn’t dig into my mid-section, even when carrying a heavy load. Unlike most other packs I’ve worn, the Traze fixes one side of the adjustment buckle to the right side, leaving all the adjustments to the left. It actually works really well and means there’s just one excess strap end to tuck out of the way when it’s time to roll.
Perhaps one of the most unique features is the generous padding in the lumbar region. This stuff is seriously thick and fairly firm, with channels for ventilating particularly sweaty backs (guilty!).
The pack is made from a sturdy fabric with something Ion calls “Diamond Dash structure.” Water beads up on the surface nicely, though the pack isn’t waterproof. Two sizes are available — 1L (tested) and 3L.
Osprey Savu 2
Osprey’s Seral and Savu packs were hits when they first debuted. Most mountain bikers are familiar with the brand and know that Osprey makes durable and functional packs, and that when things break or tear, they offer excellent customer service to make up for it. The Savu and Seral were downsized this year for additional, smaller options and the Savu 2 fits in as a lunch ride pack.
The Savu 2 can carry one bottle, inserted through the main cargo pouch. There is but one main pouch on the Savu 2 that is accessed by zippers on either side of the bottle. Inside, there are two small envelope-style pockets and the main pouch is continuous under the bottle.
With the unique design of the Savu 2, it requires a little bit of commitment or creativity. There wasn’t much more room for anything beyond a small mini pump, a tube, a snack and a multi-tool.
The fit and feel of the Savu 2 is nice and there is a vented back panel to mitigate sweat. The pack can feel a touch awkward through the belt, since some of the weight is loaded below the strap, making it feel a little floppy. Overall though, the Savu 2 is a quality pack, that is durable and comfortable and works well for 1-2 hour rides.