Mountain biking is a physical activity and it is a very good idea to keep hydrated. CamelBak has been the most well known brand for hydration packs for a while now. Here is my guide to choosing the best hydration packs for mountain biking. I have also put together a little review of the best hydration packs you can buy right now.

How to Choose a Hydration Pack

Hydration packs are a convenient way to carry water while taking part in physical activities, such as mountain biking or running. I always use one when mountain biking, as I can easily take a sip without having to stop and get a bottle out of my backpack.

When you are looking to buy a hydration pack for mountain biking, you need to make sure it is suitable.

The Difference Between Hydration Packs for Mountain Biking and Road Cycling

Hydration packs designed for road cycling tend to have a lower profile. They are also light weight and offer low wind resistance. Hydration packs for mountain biking are a little larger. This is so they can store extra stuff, like clothing, tools and spare inner tubes etc.

Water Capacity

best hydration packs for mountain biking

You need to make sure that your new hydration pack can hold enough water for your ride. But, water is pretty heavy stuff, so the best hydration packs for for mountain biking, shouldn’t weigh you down, nor leave you thirsty. So, you need to consider how much water you want to take with you.

Obviously you don’t need to fill up the bladder all the way for every ride. If you are on a short ride, save weight by only filling it up half way. But there are hydration packs with different capacities available:

0.5 litre or less: These are pretty small, so they are only suitable for short hikes or runs. They are usually just worn round the waist.

1 to 1.5 litres: Hydration packs with this capacity are useful for and short-distance rides, hikers and runners or even kids.

2 to 2.5 litres: This is the most common size of hydration pack. They give you a nice balance between weight and the amount of water needed. 

3 litres +: These hydration packs are ideal for big days out or when the weather is hot.

Pack Capacity

5 litres or less: These are really made for running, hiking or short road rides. They are very compact and have a low profile. There isn’t much room, but you can squeeze a few essential items and a thin layer of clothing in them.

6 to 10 litres: For mountain biking, this is a pretty useful size. You can also use them for trail running, as they have enough room for a couple of clothing layers, snacks and maybe a camera.

11 to 20 litres: This size is popular with mountain bikers and hikers. Hydration packs of this size, usually have extra pockets and enough space for extra clothes, snacks, multi-tools and inner tubes etc. They are more suited to bigger days out.

21 litres +: Hydration packs of this size are ideal for big hikes. You could even use it for a light overnight stay.

Fit

The best hydration packs for mountain biking fit properly. You can buy some models in different sizes to fit the length of your torso. To make sure you get the right fit, check out the specifications. If you find that you are between sizes, go for the larger one and shorten the straps.

The waist size is worth looking at too. They are very adjustable, but they usually range from 20 to 40″. 

Features

Bite valve shutoff switch: These stop the water dribbling out of the hose. Some twist and others have a switch.
 

Tube portals: Tube portals are the slit in the pack that the tube comes out of. Usually, there will be one over each shoulder or one in the middle of the pack at the top.

Clips: Many hydration packs include a clip on a shoulder strap to keep your tube positioned for easy access.

Quick-disconnect tubing: Some hydration packs have a bladder with an easily removable tube. This is so you have the option to leave the tube in the pack to fill the bladder up. Just make sure you re-connect the tube properly, or you will get wet!

Cold weather protection: You can get different add-ons for cold weather. These include insulated tubes, insulated reservoirs, reservoir covers and bite valve covers.

Raincover: A raincover is a nice add-on if you get caught out in bad weather

1. CamelBak M.U.L.E Hydration Pack

The M.U.L.E is the best selling CamelBak hydration pack. It is ideal for riding the trails. The M.U.L.E is designed to be light and manoeuvrable, so even when it’s fully loaded for a day of mountain biking, it won’t get in your way.

Pros

  • Well priced
  • Looks great with a choice of colours
  • Very good breathability

Cons

  • Not that easy to wash 

Overview

The M.U.L.E is large enough to hold 3 litres of water. It is aimed at mountain bikers but can obviously be used for other activities. It uses the CamelBak Crux reservoir. This is designed to give you 20% more water per sip. Which os very useful when you are gasping.

Camelback have struck a good balance when it comes to the size of this hydration pack. It is narrow, lightweight and not bulky.It is quite common for hydration packs in this area to be a bit too large.

I really like the magnetic tube trap. This keeps the tube attached to your strap to stop it flapping in the breeze. Those of you that use a GoPro or Insta360 on a chest mount, will like this, as it keeps it out of shot.

In front of the reservoir area is the main compartment that can hold a lightweight layer, first aid kit or snacks.

In the middle is a stretchy pocket with straps to adjust how open it is. This is ideal to stuff  a lightweight layer or anything you want quick access to, such as inner tubes.

There are two outer zipped pockets. The smaller one at the top fits a phone, tissues, or your sunglasses.

The larger outer pocket is divided into compartments and includes a key clip. This makes it viable to serve as a small carry-on bag for when you are travelling.

There are no bungee cords for lashing gear to the outside of the pack, but it does have a helmet carrier.

Features

  • The brand new Crux delivers 20% more water per sip, with an ergonomic handle for easier refilling, and an on/off lever that makes it easy to prevent leaks.
  • Magnetic Tube Trap keeps your tube secure and accessible when you need it.
  • Air director back panel offers air channels to keep your back cool.
  • External hooks let you carry your helmet while still allowing full access to your pack.
  • Stretch overflow storage compartment lets you easily stash a rain shell or extra layer.
  • Reflective accents for visibility in low-light environments.
  • Removable stability belt helps to keep pack secure over technical terrain.
  • Pack only weight: 620g / 1lb 5oz
  • Torso fit range: 43-53cm / 17-21 in
  • Waist fit range: 66-116cm / 26-46 in
  • Fabric: 100D Robic Nylon Dobby / 210D Nylon Oxford.
  • Collection: Mountain Bike
  • Activity: Mountain Biking
  • User: Unisex
  • Hydration Capacity: 3l/100 Fl Oz
  • Hydration Type: Crux™ Reservoir with Quicklink™ System
  • BPA/BPS/BPF Free: Yes
  • Quick Link Disconnect: Yes
  • Gear Capacity: 9l/500 Cu In
  • Pack Weight: 620 G/1 Lb 5 Oz
  • Dimensions: 45.5 X 22 X 22.5 Cm / 17.9 X 8.7 X 8.9 In
  • Fits Torso: 43-53 Cm/17-21 In
  • Fits Waist/Hips: 66-116 Cm/26-46 In
  • Back Panel: Air Director™ Back Panel Provides Superior Ventilation
  • Waist Belt: Removable 3/4″ Stability Belt
  • Accessories Included: Magnetic Tube Trap™
  • Number of Exterior Pockets: 5

Verdict

5/5

You can’t go wrong with this CamelBak hydration pack. The M.U.L.E will be sufficient for most riders that want something more versatile than the classic hydration pack below. The features are great and it will not disappoint.

2. CamelBak Classic Hydration Pack

The “Classic” is probably the simplest CamelBak hydration pack.However, it is suitable for lots of activities. Don’t expect to load it up with lots of things for you ride, hike or run, as it is designed to be a light weight and inexpensive hydration pack with a little bit of storage space.

Pros

  • Easy to fill
  • Easy to drink from
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to clean
  • Well ventilated
  • Inexpensive
  • Well made

Cons

  • Not much storage space
  • Could be a bit tight if you have large shoulders

Overview

This CamelBak hydration pack is primarily designed for riding bikes. However, it is small and light enough to be used for running or hiking too. It has reflective details on it to increase your visibility in low light. It is a very simple bag with a small pocket at the bottom off it. You won’t be able to fit much in it, but it is ideal for a multitool or your keys.

With regard to the amount of water you can carry with this CamelBak hydration pack, it has a 2L capacity.

Features

  • Antidote™ Resovoir Features: 1/4 turn – easy open/close cap, lightweight fillport, dryer arms, center baffling and low-profile design, patented Big Bite™ Valve, HydroGuard™ technology, PureFlow™ tube, easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening
  • Key Pack Features: External fill, overflow storage bungee, essentials pocket, reflectivity
  • Designed To Carry: Multi-tool or wallet, extra layer secured by bungee, keys
  • CamelBak® Got Your Bak™ Guarantee: If we build it, we’ll Bak it™ with our lifetime guarantee.
  • Hydration Capacity: 70oz/2 L
  • Total Capacity: N/A + 2L Reservoir
  • Total Weight (Pack and Reservoir): 0.42lbs/0.19kg
  • Dimensions: 14.75 X 9.625 X 4 in/37.5 x 24.5 x 10cm
  • Torso Length: 13 in/33cm
  • Empty Reservoir Dimensions: Air Mesh
  • Full Reservoir Dimensions: N/A
  • Materials: LightWeight Mesh

Verdict

4.5/5

As an all round, no frills way of staying hydrated when out on your bike, this CamelBak hydration pack will suit most people’s needs. However, if you want to carry more stuff, such as extra layers, lunch or spares for you bike, you may want to look at one of the other solutions on this page or a proper mountain bike backpack.

 

3. CamelBak Rogue

The CamelBak Rogue hydration pack is aimed at riders that want something a little bit cheaper. However, the great CamelBak hydration pack quality is  still there.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • A few colours to choose from
  • Good low light visibility
  • Well made

Cons

  • Long hose
  • Filer cap could be a bit more secure

Overview

The CamelBak Rogue features an 2L reservoir, Leak-Proof On/Off Valves, a zipped pocket at the top. it also has a bottom pocket, which is ideal for your keys, a multi tool, or anything else you need to carry that’s small.

The back flap lifts up to give you access to the Crux bladder which features a large cap for easy filling. You do have to make extra care when screwing the cap on. It only has a couple of threads, so if you don’t put it on properly you can get leaks.

The rest of this CamelBak hydration pack is very well made, so it should last a good while. You may find the tube to be a little too long, so you may find that you are stuffing the excess tube in to the pouch to be slightly annoying.

Features

  • The brand new Crux delivers 20% more water per sip, with an ergonomic handle for easier refilling, and an on/off lever that makes it easy to prevent leaks.
  • Breathable air mesh back panel for a lightweight, comfortable fit.
  • Integrated tool organization keeps your tools organized.
  • Ventilated harness for comfort and breathability.
  • Stretch overflow storage compartment lets you easily stash a rain shell or extra layer.
  • Reflective accents for visibility in low-light environments.
  • Pack only weight: 230g / 0lb 8oz
  • Torso fit range: 38-53cm / 15-21in
  • Fabric: 200D Polyester Plain Weave.
  • Collection: Bike
  • Activity: Cycling
  • User: Unisex
  • Hydration Capacity: 2.5l/85 Fl Oz
  • Hydration Type: Crux Reservoir With Standard Exit Port
  • BPA/BPS/BPF Free: Yes
  • Quick Link Disconnect: No
  • Gear Capacity: 2.5l/150 Cu In
  • Pack Weight: 230 G/0 Lb 8 Oz
  • Dimensions: 40 X 22.5 X 16 Cm / 15.7 X 8.9 X 6.3 In
  • Fits Torso: 38-53 Cm/15-21 In
  • Back Panel: Padded Mesh
  • Waist Belt: N/A
  • Number Of Exterior Pockets: 4

Verdict

4/5

I do recommend the CamelBak Rogue hydration pack,  However, you need to make sure the cap threaded correctly, but otherwise it’s a great hydration pack.

4. CamelBak Lobo

The CamelBak Lobo is a great  hydration pack for mountain biking. It is for those that want to carry lots of water, but doesn’t want to carry lots of gear. It still has enough space to to carry enough stuff for a day on the bike without running out of water.

Pros

  • Large water capacity
  • External fill means you don’t need to take the bladder out to fill it up
  • Just enough space for a day on the bike

Cons

  • None

Overview

The bladder can be a pain to remove in a hurry, but with external filling capability and so much water, it’s not likely to need refilling more than once or twice, even on a seriously hot day.

The shoulder and chest straps are well-padded, as are the deep waist. This keeps it comfortable and everything in place. It has  several zipped pockets (one with cable port) to hold all your stuff and a rubberised back panel keep the worst muddy splashes at bay. It is quite long,  so it won’t fit everyones back. However, it is very narrow and doesn’t get in the way when you are twisting your bike through the treelined trails.

If you pack with some thought you can fit tools and an inner tube in the lower pocket and keep snacks and a phone safely higher up. It is a comfortable pack to wear, as it only weighs 570g empty. It also has an optional stability strap that keeps it firmly in place even when smashing the most technical of terrain.

The Lobo CamelBak hydration pack is ideal for two to three-hour rides. But, with a bit of rationing, you can make it last longer.

Features

  • The brand new Crux delivers 20% more water per sip, with an ergonomic handle for easier refilling, and an on/off lever that makes it easy to prevent leaks.
  • Magnetic Tube Trap keeps your tube secure and accessible when you need it.
  • Air director back panel offers air channels to keep your back cool.
  • External hooks let you carry your helmet while still allowing full access to your pack.
  • Stretch overflow storage compartment lets you easily stash a rain shell or extra layer.
  • Reflective accents for visibility in low-light environments.
  • Removable stability belt helps to keep pack secure over technical terrain.
  • Pack only weight: 480g / 1 lb 0 oz
  • Torso fit range: 43 – 53cm / 17 – 21 in
  • Waist fit range: 66 – 116cm / 26 – 46 in
  • Fabric: 100D Robic Nylon Dobby / 210D Nylon Oxford.

Verdict

4.5/5

A great CamelBak hydration pack for riders that like to have lots of water and want  take just enough gear with them on a ride.

5. CamelBak Skyline

The CamelBak Skyline LR 10 Low Rider hydration pack is made for mountain bikers that do a lot of  aggressive downhill riding. It offers maximum stability with a lumbar design that keeps your water and cargo stowed low and close to your waist for a low centre of gravity. This gives you more stability, especially when the terrain gets technical.

 

Pros

  • Low centre of gravity
  • Doesn’t move around
  • Lots of colour choices
  • Great pockets and tool storage
  • Fleece lined pocket for your phone etc
  • Magnetic hose clip
  • Easy open bladder
  • Helmet carrier
  • Well ventilated
  • Sufficient water carrying capacity

Cons

  • Lower back can get sweaty
  • Doesn’t stretch when you pack it tight
  • Not the cheapest

Overview

The Skyline is a full-featured MTB hydration pack with great organisation. It has  a 3-litre Crux reservoir, helmet carrier, webbing for storing soft armour, and an XV back panel to keep your back cool and ventilated.

I really like that this Camelbak hydration pack has its own tool roll, allowing you to  be prepared on the trail. You can also drink and refill on the fly. This ability comes from a zipped flap that gives you instant access to your bladder. It features the magnetic hose clip that keeps your drinking tube out of the way in one click.

The main things you will like about the CamelBak Skyline, is the low rider technology and the straps. The straps optimise the fit of the hydration pack by placing the weight more on the rider’s hips. It sits snug and close to your back with very little movement even while jumping and tackling tough terrain. Have a look at the video below.

Features

  • The brand new Crux LR reservoir delivers 20% more water per sip while keeping weight positioned low on your back, which translates to better stability in the saddle and on the trail.
  • Magnetic Tube Trap keeps your tube secure and accessible when you need it.
  • Stabilizing load-bearing hip belts with cargo optimizes a custom fit and keeps essentials close at hand.
  • Separate zippered compartment with gear organizer and tool roll.
  • Dual reservoir compression straps cinch the reservoir into the small of your back for a tight, stable fit.
  • Stretch overflow storage compartment lets you easily stash a rain shell or extra layer.
  • Reflective accents for visibility in low-light environments.
  • Pack only weight: 650g / 1lb 6oz
  • Torso fit range: 43-53cm / 17-21 in
  • Waist fit range: 66-116cm / 26-46 in
  • Fabric: 100D Robic Nylon Dobby / 210D Nylon.
  • COLLECTION: Mountain Bike Low Rider™
  • ACTIVITY: Mountain Biking
  • USER: Unisex
  • HYDRATION CAPACITY: 3L/100 fl oz
  • HYDRATION TYPE: CRUX™ Lumbar Reservoir with Magnetic Tube Trap™
  • BPA/BPS/BPF FREE: Yes
  • QUICK LINK DISCONNECT: No
  • GEAR CAPACITY: 7L/400 cu in
  • PACK WEIGHT: 650 g/1 lb 6 oz
  • DIMENSIONS: 43 x 28 x 21 cm / 17 x 11 x 8.3 in
  • FITS TORSO: 43-53 cm/17-21 in
  • BACK PANEL: Padded Mesh
  • ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: Bike Tool Organizer
  • NUMBER OF EXTERIOR POCKETS: 6

Verdict

5/5

Backpacks are getting thinner and taller. The CamelBak Skyline  halves the height, sits low and is very stable. Not everyone likes bum bags and this is a great option for those that need to carry some gear. This is a backpack for those that don’t like to wear backpacks.

Which CamelBak Hydration Pack will you choose?

These are all great, but which one you will choose is down to your personal preference. You will not be disappointed in any of them, but my choicer would be the Skyline. Let me know what you thing in the comments below.

Tom Fortune
tom@mtb-threads.com

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