Mountain biking is about being outside and getting a full body workout, both while enjoying the surreal natural beauty that our planet has to offer.
In many cases, mountain bike rides can span over multiple hours. Some avid adventurists take that even further and go on trips that have them riding for days at a time.
Keeping this in mind, it is important to be prepared on rides of any length. Preparation could include bringing tools for any mechanical issues, bicycle tubes, food, water and even extra clothing such as rain gear. Perhaps most importantly though, a rider should have a good quality backpack designed specifically for mountain biking.
Osprey Raptor 14L
We’ve been testing backpacks for years, mostly in the Pacific Northwest, and we’ve finally put together a list of our top picks and the top picks of others.
Directly below you’ll find out top 10 table, but if you keep reading you’ll find a brief description of each pack and their important features that will help you make a decision.
Top 10 Mountain Biking Backpacks
|Rank||Picture||Pack Name||Size||Where to Buy|
|1||Osprey Raptor||14L||Check Price|
|2||Deuter Trans Alpine||30L||Check Price|
|3||Evoc FR Trail Team||20L||Check Price|
|4||Vaude Splash||20+5L||Check Price|
|5||Deuter Race EXP Air||12L||Check Price|
|6||Endura MT500 Enduro||Check Price|
|7||Dakine Nomad Bike Hydration Backpack||18L||Check Price|
|8||Ergon BA3 MTB All-Mountain||Check Price|
|9||Polaris Aquanought Backpack||30L||Check Price|
10 Best Mountain Biking Backpack Reviews
Note: We had to remove one of the packs due to unavailability, so for now it is a top 9 list.
1. Osprey Raptor 14
The Osprey Raptor 14 is a 14 liter hydration backpack designed for short rides, over any terrain. It features Osprey’s trademarked 3.0 Liter Hydraulics reservoir to hold water. This water bladder is specially designed to reduce liquid movement, which in turn increases the pack stability at high speeds. The excellently designed hydration system is easy for riders to use at any point, whether riding, or stopped on the side of a trail.
The pack is made of soft breathable fabrics to ensure comfort throughout the ride.
It also carries very close to the rider’s body as a result of Osprey’s bio stretch hip belt and harness.
A roll out tool pouch has also been integrated into the pack to help with trailside mechanicals.
Other features included in the Osprey Raptor 14 are:
- Osprey’s lock lid to securely attach helmets
- Backlight clip
- Front stash pocket
- Hip belt pockets
- Ridged foam for maximum ventilation
- Scratch free sunglass pocket
2. Deuter Trans Alpine 30
Living up to its name, the Deuter Trans Alpine 30 is a huge pack that thrives on multiple day mountain bike expeditions.
This 30 liter pack features a spacious main component that can be divided into two separate compartments. The lower compartment can be quickly accessed by a zipper which is perfect for storing clothes or even a sleeping bag.
Despite the size and weight of the bag, it rides well. The organized storage of the pack, and compression straps keep everything secure while shifting weight to different areas of the bike.
The back padding is removable which is handy to sit on trailside, or for convenient washing.
In case of rain, there is a rain cover to help keep the pack and its contents dry.
The straps are highly adjustable to help find the most comfortable spot for the pack to sit, which usually depends on how heavily the backpack has been filled. The airstrips back system creates wonderful ventilation considering the size of the pack.
Other features included in the Deuter Trans Alpine 30 are:
- Zipped map pocket
- Padded edges
- Helmet holder
- 3M reflectors
- Bright lining for increased visibility
- Reflective loop to attach safety light
- SOS label
- Wet laundry compartment
- Hydration system compatible
3. Evoc FR Trail Team 20L
First up is the Evoc Trail Team 20L pack. This backpack comes loaded with features that make it one of the best mountain bike packs you can buy. Note, you can also purchase the smaller 16 liter bag or larger 30 liter bag; they contain similar features.
One of the first things you will notice about the Evoc Trail Team 20L backpack is the integrated back protector. The patented liteshield back protector comes CE certified, and absorbs 95% of shock. This feature is very important if the rider is into extreme style trails. Perhaps the best part is that the back protector can detach from the backpack and be worn alone. This is great when the rider wants the protection without having to wear their pack. The liteshield back protector is also made of highly breathable material to help keep the rider cool and dry.
The Evoc Trail Team 20L is a mid-sized pack that has enough room to fit basically anything you will need to carry on day long bike hauls. It is not designed for short rides but thanks to ergonomic shape, it is comfortable enough to wear on one if you so desire.
The straps are wide and hold the backpack close to the body, preventing the backpack from moving around, even on rough trails.
Other features included in the Evoc FR Trail Team backpack are:
- Eyewear pocket
- Backlight clip
- Signal whistle
- Cellphone pocket
- Key hoder
- Helmet holder
- Protection gear holder
- Rain cover
- Tool pocket
- Map pocket
- Hip belt pocket
- Hydration component and clip
4. Vaude Splash 20+5
The Vaude Splash 20+5 is a versatile mountain bike backpack that can be used for a wide range of ride durations. This 20 liter backpack feels like a much smaller pack when riding but is capable of holding a big amount of gear.
The “+5” in the name stands for the extra five liters that this bag can give you thanks to its expandable compartment, which is used by simply unzipping a zip.
The Vaude Splash 20+5 may lack some of the style features that other backpacks have, but it makes up for that in durability. Many customers go back to Vaude after having packs that last over a decade!
The Splash 20+5 also features one of the most customized fitment systems ensuring it will fit the rider, no matter the body type or size.
Another handy feature is the detachable helmet holder, you can have it if you use it, but take it off and save weight if you do not.
Other features included in the Vaude Splash 20+5 are:
- Aeroflex back system for maximum ventilation
- Map Pocket
- Backlight clip
- Integrated rain cover
- Opening for hydration systems
5. Deuter Race 12 EXP Air
The Deuter Race 12 EXP air is a minimalist pack with amazing breathability.
It is designed for short rides where a few tools, and some tubes may be all you need. The pack does have expandable sides in case you would like to bring a little extra such as a change of clothes.
The name says it all as this pack is perfect for extended cross country races where the most important thing is keeping cool. At only 950 grams, riders will hardly notice when this is on their back. This is not a hydration pack (although it is compatible) which is a downside as water bottles will have to be placed on the bike or take up room in the pack if a separate hydration system is not bought. However, if a small amount of storage is all the rider needs, then this could be the perfect backpack.
Other features included in the Deuter Race EXP Air are:
- Mesh hip wings
- Anatomically shaped shoulder straps
- Fold-away helmet strap
- 3M reflectors all around
- Reflective loop for safety light
- Detachable rain cover
- Hydration system compatible.
6. Endura MT500 Enduro
The Endura MT500 Enduro is an all-around outstanding mountain bike backpack.
Designed for the dangers of Enduro racing, it features an integrated back protector to keep the spine intact in case of a crash. There is also an adaptive helmet strap which can easily hold both full face and half shell helmets.
The 15 liter capacity leaves plenty of room for anything you might need during a day out on the mountain bike.
It is also compatible with a hydration pack, although that must be bought separately. Furthering its features, the MT500 contains a rollout tool pouch to keep any tools organized.
A downside to all of these extra features is that the backpack is a little on the heavier side. It is also quite hot, and not as breathable as other backpacks.
Other features included in the Endura MT500 Enduro are:
- Waterproof zip pockets
- Durable, Splash proof base
- Quick release pad carry straps
- Ventilated, adjustable stretch waist strap
7. Dakine Nomad 18L Bike Hydration Backpack
The Dakine Nomad 18L is one of the best hydration style backpacks around.
The pack is designed exclusively for mountain biking and is comfortable during long rides out on the trails. The Hydrapack bladder holds 3L of water and features a quick disconnect. The water flows quickly into the user’s mouth when the high-flow blaster bite valve has pressure applied. The hose stays in place, and can be grabbed easily from the magnetic hydration hose clip.
The Nomad fits comfortably over the shoulders thanks to the ergonomic shoulder straps. It stays in place well over all terrain types from rough downhill trails to smoother cross country ones.
Another awesome feature for most Dakine bags is that they come with a limited lifetime warranty. It is also known as one of the best looking bike packs, with multiple natural colorways available.
Other features included in the Dakine Nomad 18L Bike Hydration Backpack are:
- Deployable armor holding straps
- Removable waistband
- Reflective logo
- Molded back panel with air channel ventilation
8. Ergon BA3 MTB All-Mountain
The Ergon BA3 mountain bike pack is a part of Ergon’s gravity line. This means that it is intended for the more extreme disciplines of mountain biking such as downhill and enduro.
The state of the art 4 step back fitting system, elastic hip belt, and automatically adjusting shoulder straps give this backpack an amazing fit, with virtually no bounce when out on the trails. The pack even comes in two different sizes to ensure perfect ergonomics.
15 liters of storage is offered in the BA3 with an expandable 2 liters. To make use of the extra room, it is as simple as unzipping a zip. It is designed to be great for a day at the bike park or out on the trails when not a lot of extra baggage is needed.
The Ergon BA3 does have a helmet holder however, it is quite small and riders might make better use of it by storing pads there instead.
Other features included in the Ergon BA3 MTB All-Mountain are:
- Vertical armor compartment
- Compression straps
- 4 separate compartments inside the pack
- Hydration bladder pocket (system sold separately)
- Small pockets to hold tools, tubes and a mini air pump
- Loop hole for phone holder
9. Polaris Aquanought Backpack 30L
Riders who live in wet climates or often find themselves riding in the rain may find the Aquanought to be the perfect pack. The Polaris Aquanought is a fully waterproof backpack designed to be worn when riding a bike. It features welded seem technology to assure a watertight seal.
The pack is designed for light riding, meaning it is not as durable as other packs on this list. It also does not hug the rider’s body as much as a serious mountain bike rider may be looking for.
However, despite the negatives, it does an amazing job at what it is designed for; keeping everything inside dry. It is also comfortable to wear on smooth trails due to its removable EVA foam back panel.
Inside the Aquanought’s 30 liter pocket, you will not find anything too fancy. It remains rather simple with just a few clips, and plenty of storage room. On the back it features reflective detailing to keep you visible at night or in gloomy weather.
Other features included in the Polaris Aquanought are:
- Easily accessed front waterproof pocket
- Elasticated shock cord to strap external items such as a jacket
- Full chest and waist harness
Complete Guide to Packing a Mountain Bike Backpack
Packing a backpack for mountain bike rides can be a daunting task, but now that you’ve picked out your favorite pack it’s time to make sure you have the right gear to go along with it.
Along with some basic mechanic skills, bringing some sort of tools with you on a bike ride is a surefire way to prevent many ride ending mechanicals. Tools are also helpful to make small adjustments to your bike which could increase your comfort. For example, if you struggle with climbs, rolling the handlebars forward a small amount will naturally make you place more weight over the front end, which in turn will help you on climbs.
When it comes to deciding what tools you should bring, you need to first think of the length of your bike ride and size of your pack. For most rides we suggest a quality multi-tool that includes allen keys (from 2 or 2.5mm to 6mm or 8mm), pliers, a mini pump, and ideally a flat head and phillips screw driver. These tools will allow you to adjust most components on your bike and even help with derailleur issues. Possibly the most important tools to bring are tire irons along with a spare tube or two. Since flat tires are common, it is recommended that you know how to change a tire before going out on a long ride. Also be sure to have the tools to take your wheels off (many bikes feature a quick release axle lever so tools are not needed to remove a wheel. For tubeless riders, extra sealant may also be a good idea.
How you pack tools greatly depends on the features of your backpack. Some packs feature tool-rolls. These removable holders are great for staying organized while being able to easily lay everything out on the trail. Other packs feature built in pockets and straps which keep tools in place, with easy access for the user. Some packs (usually lower end or smaller packs) do not have specific locations for tools. When packing these, be sure that your tools are in a relatively easy to access pocket and that your spare tubes will not get pinched where they are located.
Packing different clothing layers will vary based on the climate that you are riding in. However, we always recommend bringing at least a waterproof windbreaker. This simple article can help keep you dry in moments of unexpected precipitation, and keep you warm in windy areas such as canyons or mountain peaks. Many mountain bikers will also bring a spare pair of shorts or pants, socks, and gloves. Base layers are great to pack as they take up little space and can make a big difference to body temperature regulation. They are also often water repellent, keeping the wearer sweat free. Since extra layers are accessed less often than most products on this list, we recommend rolling up your articles (so they take up less room), and placing them in the bottom of your pack.
Skip this section if you do not ride extreme trails or need to carry protective equipment.
Mountain bikers who ride extreme trails that can consist of drops, jumps, rough terrain and other features often choose to wear protective equipment. In many cases, the protective equipment is not worn until riders come to extreme sections of a trail. As a result, it is important for backpacks to have a spot to attach the extra gear. Often knee pads and elbow pads can be stored inside or in outer mesh pockets of the pack.
If you choose to bring an extra helmet, be sure your pack has a spot to clip it on. If a helmet is not attached securely, it will bounce around and be an annoyance on the ride. If you plan on attaching a full-face helmet, make sure your pack is capable of holding it. Many packs that have helmet clips are only designed for the smaller half shell helmet styles.
Water is without a doubt, the most important thing that a mountain biker can bring along on their ride. The amount that you pack will be based on the length of your ride, as well as the climate you ride in. A good way to look at packing water, is to always pack too much. Running out of water can be dangerous and even deadly in unfortunate situations. Always pack enough to get you through your ride, and some extra just in case something unexpected happens.
Packing water is relatively simple. Most recommended is a hydration system in your backpack. There are plenty of options to purchase and almost all backpacks will work with one. Choose a bladder size that will work for you. A hydration system makes use of a long drinking tube which make them great to use while riding. If you do not need a hydration system, water bottles in specific pockets will also do the trick. Be sure your water bottles are leak proof before packing them to assure the rest of your gear will stay dry. If your backpack has water bottle pockets, place them in there. If not, place them in a compartment where it will be easy to keep them upright.
While riding, a mountain biker burns many calories. It is important to keep protein and carbohydrate stores full to maintain a high level of physical performance. The difficulty and length of your ride is the deciding factor of what food you need to bring. For short rides, simple food sources such as a banana or energy bar will be enough. For longer rides, packing food can be complicated. Day trips can include sandwiches, fruit, energy bars, jerky and other snacks such as fruit leather. For multi-day rides, we recommend to dehydrate meals and then pack them. This will save weight, and space in your pack. Remember to always pack foods that have a high nutritional value. Riders should be replacing every calorie burned if weight loss is not the goal.
When packing food for short to day long rides, try to keep in contained in a pocket separate from everything else. This will help prevent it from getting squashed. Many riders choose to bring a lunch box which serves the same purpose. For multi-day rides, it is likely that food will take up a large portion of your pack. Be sure it is kept in an area where it will stay dry and free from pests.
The following items are not what we consider essential, but are always a good idea to pack.
If you are exploring a new area, a map is always a good item to bring along. Specifically, a mountain bike trail map. Trail maps show route lengths and difficulties making it easy to plan where to ride. By looking at a trail map you can also see how to connect to different trails. In the unfortunate circumstance that a rider becomes lost, a trail map is also useful in helping them get their bearings to find their way home. Packing a trail map is easy, they can fold up and fit practically anywhere. Some packs have pockets that are designed specifically for maps. Just be sure your map is easy to get to as you may want to reference it often.
Cell phones are a staple of most first world countries. When out on a mountain bike ride, a cell phone can be used for pictures, videos, maps, and of course communication. If you find yourself planning a ride in a potentially dangerous location, bring a phone, especially if you are alone. Satellite phones are great for where cell phones do not have service. Remember that a phone in an emergency can be the difference between life and death. Phones should be packed in phone specific pockets or somewhere they will not bounce around.
A compass is an extra that many bikers do not need. However, even so, it is important to have so that you know which direction you are facing. This is especially handy when looking at a map and you are trying to figure out where to go. A compass can be packed anywhere however, we recommend to clip it to the outside of your pack or in a small pocket were it will be easy to find.
Camera Equipment is often carried by mountain bikers trying to take nature photos, riding photos, or even for video purposes. Since camera equipment is often valuable and breakable, only bring what you need. We recommend packing using a mountain bike specific camera backpack. However, if not, use camera cases that are designed to go inside backpacks. Backpacks with mesh, netting, or other compression straps work great for holding tripods.
When packing a mountain bike backpack, it is important to plan your ride first. This will allow you to make appropriate choices for gear and quantities for essentials such as water and food.
Picking a mountain bike backpack can be difficult as there are so many options in today’s market.
The list above breaks down the best of the best and will help riders choose the pack that is right for them. It is important to first think what size is needed (how long will the rides be etc.). Next think of the features, for example, is back protection important?
Finally, if the decision is narrowed down to a few packs, just go with the one that appeals to you visually. All the packs on our list are great, and if you absolutely find yourself in a jam, drop us a line in the comments below and we’ll get back to you.