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How to choose your MTB hydration bag?

Backpacks are really practical for biking as nothing beats having water, food as well as little tools and reparation kits at hand. They come in all sizes for all budgets; all the more reason to stay well-informed on the principal criteria for choosing one before buying yours.

To every practice its own backpack

As you can see it, the choice between a smaller or bigger backpack depends on your kind of practice. In cross-country competition, you must prioritise a backpack as small as possible, very compact and light with a volume inferior to 10L. You should generally be able to add a reservoir of 1.5L, your smartphone, keys and some tools.

  • For the hiking lovers, backpacks with a volume of 10 to 30L should suffice depending on the quantity of personal stuff and equipment you want to take. You can carry along your reservoir, your tools, a waterproof or windstopper jacket, etc.
  • Above 30L of volume, backpacks are better suited for camping or photo enthusiasts (to safeguard their imposing camera lens). The available space will be enough to carry your sleeping bag and tent but the backpack's global weight will inevitably be heavier.

Differentiating elements on every MTB backpack

Cyclists have very different expectations of their backpack depending on their sport. Different types of backpacks do not meet the same objectives. They are more or less light, breathable or rigid.

  • A performing ventilation at back level is an undeniable asset for your backpack. It will prevent excessive transpiration during your ride and thus maintain comfort even by hot weather.
    Different technologies are made available depending on the brand (Camelback, USWE, Salomon...) or the backpack model.

  • The reservoir size varies from one to more than 3L depending on models. Reservoirs can be purchased separately so that you can choose the most suitable size or replace a worn-out pocket.

  • It's crucial to look at the reservoir in its globality: global fabrication quality (resistance, quality of the plastics used in the manufacture), but also more precise elements such as the tube or the reservoir's opening size (if it's large, you add ice cubes to clean it more efficiently).
  • The number of straps varies on MTB backpacks but it's recommended to have 2 anchoring points at least (on the chest and lower abdomen) to keep the backpack in place, even on bumpy trails.

  • Some backpacks have external straps that allow to maintain your protections (kneepad, elbow pad, helmet) on the rear of your backpack, without getting in the way whilst climbing.

  • For those who wish for more protections, some brands offer backpacks with an integrated backplate, included in the purchase of a backpack or in option. It might prove very interesting for downhill or freeride fans who don't want to pile up too many different layers. Their comfort and performance can only increase.

  • A rain cover is also appreciated in case of bad weather. Even if your backpack is already waterproof, humidity will penetrate inside. Some backpacks have a foldable waterproof layer to help to keep your entire backpack dry.

  • Ladies, prioritise a backpack adapted to your morphology! Some fabricants like Camelbak provide models with a feminine cut.


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