A hydration backpacks for cycling is, like indicated by its name, a type of backpack specially designed to the mountain bike practice. It is convenient to use it for several reasons:
It fits perfectly to the back of the cyclist, which in long routes does not cause the appearing of pains in the lumbar zone. Besides, it fits in an amazing way to the contour of the body, which attached to the zippers, handles and other fastening elements of the backpack, makes that carrying it results very natural and not uncomfortable (unlike conventional backpacks).
The inside space is optimized with numerous compartments and pockets. This way it is easier and more practical to storage certain objects like energy bars, gels, money, cell phone, or accessories to repair flat tires.
The sweat does not accumulate, which makes it not so unpleasant to you to route, or that you get a cold if you stop. Besides, many of them are waterproof, so the objects you keep on the inside will not get wet.
There is a special compartment in which a bag with water can be stored. This has a little handle that comes out to the exterior of the backpack, and at the end of it there is a nozzle that allows us to drink the liquid in the bag. This way we can carry more water than usual and it will be fresh.
What are the existing brands?
– B’Twin. It is one of the most inexpensive options that exist, but is also one of the least technologically advanced. My hydration backpack for cycling is precisely of this particular brand.
– Camelbak. It is the brand for antonomasia for these products, not only because it is the most popular, but because it is the one who offers more variety.
– Dakine. It is a little unknown option, but not less valid because of that. It presents a great number of products and possibilities.
– Evoc. It is like Camelback, the one with more variety of hidration backpacks for cycling in its catalogue, but in here is not so well known.
– Hydrapak. Probably it is Camelback’s most known alternative, but it is not so popular and does not have as much variety.
– Mavic. It is one of the brands with greatest cyclist tradition. It has a catalogue a little bit short regarding to backpacks, but these are still interesting.
– Osprey. No doubt this is one of the most complete options when choosing a backpack.
– Scott. Best known for its bicycle manufacturer facet, Scott is a giant that manufactures all type of products for cycling (as for other sports). From my point of view it is the best choice to Camelback.
– Shimano. This is one of the most powerful brands that have within its range of accessories several models quite attractive.
How to choose a Hydration backpacks for cycling
The water bag is one of the critical aspects by which these backpacks are bought. The capacity is highly variable ranking, usually, from one to three liters. Depending on the weather when you go out, the capacity that you have for replenish your hydration, if your bike allows you to take one or two drums, if you count with big drums and the distance you usually cover, you may interest the backpack that is capable of supporting one load or another.
For my preferences this is the second of the critical aspects. Usually the load capacity is measured in liters, and it usually tends to be the same as the water bag (i.e. the backpacks with great water bags, they can store many things by volume). From six liters you can count with a backpack that adapts to long routes, for the majority of users. Everything above that (10, 12, etc.) will be ideal backpacks for carrying out stages and very long trainings, that require you to bear with a lot of material (a change of clothes, food, tools, maps, etc.).
The pocket distribution is something that from my point of view is very important. A backpack can count with a great load capacity but then having a very bad space assignment, mixing together even what it is reserved to the water hump and the rest of the utensils. Given the type of use you want to give it (for adventure, traveling, training or competition) and the class of objects you want to carry on it, you should pay attention to topics like:
- Number and size of pockets
- Presence of areas specially reserved for tools and nutrition
- Mini-pockets specific for keys, identification cards or money
- Special external mesh, special to carry windbreaks or similar objects
The pads that reinforce every backpack are essentials; they will cause that the zone that is in contact with the back results less bothering as the kilometers pass, as well as the handles zone, and also that will favor some humps to be more or less fresh. In this sense, the highest quality parts usually stand out over the more simple ones. The pads, for my personal taste, don’t have to be excessively soft (as they tend to warp themselves) nor excessively hard (as they are uncomfortable), so looking for an intermediate touch will be the most convenient.
Just like any other complement or wardrobe piece, the materials used are an element to consider. In the last few years, the low-end parts have improved considerably, making the differences between the different ranges and brands to be smaller each time. But, there are still some barriers that separate the best backpacks from the worst, regarding perspiration, durability and ease of cleaning, etc.
Personal advices for you hydration backpack for cycling
Before finishing, I’d like to give some personal advices if you are looking some backpacks of this type:
Nowadays, many new (and not so new) cyclists tend to consider that the backpacks with greater capacity (of load and water) are better than the rest and therefore are the most convenient to use. This is not all true, since although many brands make a special emphasis when they manufacture and sell their bigger backpacks (among other things, because they are more expensive), not always they have to be the best for everyone. Put your personal interests before the backpack size.
Usually, with a three-liter water hump you will be capable to make very long routes without having to worry about supplies (keep in mind that the water drums normally have a maximum capacity of 750 ml). These backpacks are the best for making really long stages, in very arid climates, for double suspension bikes that don’t allow two drums or for travels. The two-liters ones usually adjust for a greater number of users, because they are light, valid for competition, for making long routes, ideals for hot weather and ultimately valid for almost everything. The ones with one liter or less, are for those users that really want some hydration (without this liquid being affected for the room temperature), although this is not their biggest worry. They are ideals for who really wants to compete in races, bringing only some repair tools and extra liquids, and so not having to stop too much at the supplies.
The pads, while they have to be well designed for the back, for me they are especially critical at the area of the handles, as it is there where many models and low range brands usually disappoint. The worse the padding is, more annoying will be the backpack as more weight is taken.
Nowadays, and even more, there are many brands that work in this field (Poc, Evoc, Scott, Osprey, Mavic, Zefal, Fox, Shimano, B’Twin, etc.) giving excellent results, but the one who really continues winning is Camelback. It is the most famous, the most widespread in stores and also the most used nowadays. I’m not suggesting you to buy a backpack from this brand, but if you don’t know this market really well; this is a very good starting point.
At least, I give a lot of importance to the fact that these hydration backpacks for cycling have independent sections and auxiliary pockets specifically for tools and also for keys, as their location will be much easier and makes everything to be more agile and smooth.
As to the zippers necessary to make the backpack safe and comfortable, it is enough that it has two (one at the chest level and another at the waist), which usually most of the current backpacks have them.
Below there is a list with the best hidration backpacks you can buy, this way you can also consider one of these when you go to the store to buy your backpack.