Across the Italian peninsula, we are fortunate to have potable public drinking water alongside the trails every hour or so. Clean mountain streams are gathered into spigots of all shapes to hydrate passing hikers and mountain bikers. Aside from camping trips and photoshoots, there’s seldom a need to ride with a full backpack, and with a few items stashed on the frame, I can get away with no bag at all on any ride that’s under four hours.
When I do have to strap on a pack, it has to be comfortable, stable, and preferably forgettable. The Rapid Pack from Bontrager covers those elements, and my lumbar, fairly well for a reasonable price of $59.99 (available from Trek). The closest comparable hip-pack that we’ve tested is the Mavic Crossride Belt, with a similar amount of storage and hydration.
External material across the Rapid Pack is stretchy and tough, closely resembling the fabric that durable riding shorts are made from. The swath of stretchy fabric that rests against your jersey or skin is lighter-weight and lined with foam padding so you don’t have to feel what you packed throughout the ride.
Bontrager placed the water bottle slot at the center to help the pack feel balanced, and the sleeve that it slides into is made of a thick neoprene-like material to hold the bottle in place on rough trails. I’ve had good luck with the bottle pocket, with no surprise launches across the trail.
The pack offers space for more than what’s pictured above. I don’t like to wear gloves while climbing in the summer heat, so I typically strap a tube to my frame and stuff my favorite finger protection inside.
The pockets on either side of the bottle holster are segmented to tidy your gear, with sturdy YKK zippers that keep on zipping when they’re dirty. The left flank zipper hides a main chamber large enough for a tube and protein bar, with smaller mesh pockets for a multi-tool and a tubeless puncture-tool.
The opposite side includes three pockets made of thicker fabric and a larger cargo bay that’s identical to its neighbor. The largest pocket is intended for a cell phone, but the top of it is overlapped by the external pack material, making it tricky to get a phone in and out when the other pockets are packed. Instead, this cellphone-size sleeve works well for items you don’t need access to as often, while a phone of any size and shape can fit in the main right chamber. This kidney-covering pouch also has a key clip to help you keep track of your ride home.
The Rapid Pack from Bontrager is a cozy stuff-packer for enduro racing and trail riding when you can almost get away with the bare minimum. It feels comfortable around my middle, and the padded backside keeps it supple against the skin should you want to wear it beneath your shirt.
⭐️ Find the Bontrager Rapid Pack at the Trek website.
Thanks to Bontrager for sending the Rapid Pack over for review.
Did you try it without a bottle in the pocket, and if so, did the pack still fit well and stay put?
I did try it without a bottle and it still fit nicely. It slides under a jersey even better sans bottle. I also stuck a tube in the bottle slot a few times instead of strapping it to my frame and that worked quite well.