Choosing the Best Mountain Bike Backpack – A Buyer’s Guide

Mountain bikers usually avoid to hang baggage and handbag to the bike and prefer to use backpacks. It’s a matter of weight distribution, of security (with vibrations and blows, the bags could come off only to end up dangerously in the wheels) and aesthetics.

When you begin engaging in paths and unknown descents while suffering these problems and choose to get the backpack that is worn on the shoulders. In the practice of cycling and urban cycling, backpacks are generally not recommended, because they sweat and increase the weight on the saddle making it a pain in the crotch.

On the contrary, in mountain biking sweating is a given, and the time spent in the saddle is much less as you often have to move on the saddle to tame the bike between bumps, rocks and tight corners.

Even though the backpack should be chosen with care. A normal backpack with only two shoulder straps is uncomfortable and even dangerous. For this reason, if the mountain biking passion begins to hit, you may want to seriously reconsider the idea of investing several tens of dollars in a backpack designed specifically for the sport.

What to look for when buying a Biking Backpack Volume

Backpacks for mountain bikes are generally developed in length to save on width and depth, to keep its contents tight, still, and close to the body. Mountain biking trips normally last a few hours, and the backpacks often have a capacity of a few liters .

It is important to think carefully about what you need to carry around in a typical excursion, and buy a backpack that can contains the necessary objects and it is not too large. It must store a multi tool, must be equipped with numerous pockets and nets (zippered) for a tidy storage.

  • Less than 10 liters

Enough for a water bladder, a pump, and a few tools. Ideal for cross-country competitions, training, and short trips in summer (no need to bring in raincoat or warm clothing).

  • Between 10 and 20 liters

For a raincoat, a long shirt, a bag cover (for rain) and cereal bars. Ideal for long biking trips.

  • Between 20 and 30 liters

For carrying snacks, secateurs, a sleeping bag and warm clothes or no crease or so downhill protections Ideal for long rides, urban travel with purchases ( bread).

  • Between 30 and 40 liters

For carrying a small sleeping bag, gear for several days, a full meal, and toiletries. These backpacks are generally too wide and high and hence can be uncomfortable.

  • Beyond 40 liters

If you want to hike with your bike with bivouac, tents, a large duvet, stove, food for several days, warm clothes. Going mountain biking on a technical course with a backpack more than 40 liters can be detrimental and uncomfortable. Try transporting the equipment on a rack or trailer. Study the possibility of leaving the tents, sleeping bags and stoves in the base camp, and then bike with a smaller backpack.

Back length

The comfort of backpack depends on the body stature of the wearer. In addition to hip width and shoulder width, the back length is crucial. For this reason there is a distinction between models for men and women in most products. The right back length ensures a balanced load distribution, no slips and a sophisticated ventilation for a dry back.

Back length is measured from the iliac crest, the highest point of the located on the side of the body hip bone, right up to the lowest cervical vertebrae C7.

The shoulder straps on the backpack approach should be located between the shoulder blades. So the shoulder pads are optimally adapted to the shoulders. If it is found that the pack sits too high and is too close to the neck, the back length is clearly too long.

If the back length, however, be too short, then the backpack seems bigger than necessary. Thus the shoulder pads cut and are not stable on the shoulders. Even with length-adjustable shoulder straps, these problems can not be avoided.

Water and Hydration

Almost all backpacks for mountain biking are also equipped with water bag – it is basically a flexible plastic container that can be filled with water.

The container is connected to a small tube that protrudes from the bag, and passes the front (where it can be secured thanks to the slots normally present on the front part of the shoulder straps of the backpack), to reach the mouth of the rider.

In this way you can avoid drinking from bottle and bottle cage (which pose the same three problems identified in the first paragraph) and drink without taking your hands off the handlebars which can be dangerous.

Not everyone likes this system for drinking, especially cleaning the water bag.  If you have never tried it, our advice is to buy a backpack with water bag anyway. If you are uncomfortable, you can simply remove it and return to the traditional water bottle.

Volume to provide also depends on the volume of the water bag.

  • 1 to 1.5 liters

just enough for winter biking, a cycling event with pit stops or a semi-urban route.

  • 2 or 2 5 liters

the right compromise for b in any season.

  • 3 liters or more

For warm areas and seasons, when you need to drink a lot, when water sources are uncertain or spaced.

Mountain bike backpacks are generally equipped with a compartment for water bladder, a hole for the pipe outside and a clip on a strap to attach the hose. They are sometimes sold with a water bag, a hose and a nozzle.

Helmet Storage and Rain Cover

There are many features of a backpack which one can discuss such as back protection, hydration system, special compartments for maps. This is always dependent on application, requirement and taste. Two things, however, seem almost essential and you should not do without the helmet holder and a rain cover.

In some situations, it is advantageous if you can store the helmet in a safe and accessible storage without losing anything from the actual volume capacity. Therefore helmet fixations were developed. In addition to the “clamp-variant” in which the helmet is mounted externally on the backpack, there are also backpacks with separate helmet compartment that does not affect the space inside the backpack adversely.

Very important tool especially for mountain bikers who dare to bike even in uncertain weather conditions outside the door, is the rain cover. For several years, this useful feature can be found on all common outdoor backpacks. Either as a loose component or sewed and stored in a small pocket at the bottom of the backpack. The weatherproof cover can be easily slipped over the entire backpack to keep your food and clothing dry.

Modification Options

In general, the more a backpack can be adjusted, the more comfortable it is. The shoulder strap, the chest strap and the hip strap stabilization straps are responsible for fine-tuning. Every reputable manufacturer ensures a perfect fit and adjustment options in their backpacks.

But one should always be aware, despite the countless variations and adjustment systems – a backpack is only good for mountain bikers when its shape is adapted to the usual posture during biking. A typical trekking rucksack, for example, would be unsuitable.

Additional Tips

  • An MTB backpack should not be too big or too small. An overfilled bag will tend to deform and will not be comfortable.
  • External compartment for water pocket are not good.
  • Heavy items are stored as close to the back, otherwise the bag tosses.
  • Heavy bags provide comfort but may interfere with head movements.
  • Finding the right compromise to practice for a specific use. It is better to buy the bag after establishing a list of its contents and estimate the volume they hold.
  • Always buy from a reputed manufacturer. Amazon and other sports retailers carry some excellent mountain biking backpacks which are fine to start.
  • Some backpacks are more oriented towards enduro or downhill with integrated protection for the back.
  • If you bike in rain, it is important that the backpack must be both waterproof and comes with an easy to use waterproof cover.
  • If you like to use the GPS while biking, look for a backpack that allows to easily attach a smartphone support.

How to fill your MTB backpack

Finally, you have purchased a backpack that exactly fits your needs. Here is a list of items to take absolutely for biking. To exit a few hours in the summer and in good weather, it can be enough a backpack from 4-5 liters of total volume, in which to:

  • Mini pump
  • Multitool
  • Food
  • check-square
    Energy drink
  • check-square
    Small first aid kit
  • check-square
    Phone, house keys, money

If you bike in winter and in the rain, you must have a little more space for a waterproof and breathable jacket. If you are able to use them, it is useful to bring even more tools to use in case of emergencies (different keys, gear and brake cables, clamps).

There are also backpacks for mountain biking even larger, with a volume of 15 liters and more. For those who decide to stay out all day, taking more food and gear makes sense.

Conclusion

Finding the appropriate backpack is, thanks to the large supply of many manufacturers by no means an impossible task. It’s quite the contrary!

Due to the many variations that different adjustment systems and the wealth of different designs, there is a matching bike pack for everyone. 

It is important only to seek good advice, in advance to read and understand the subject and ideally to try out different backpacks. Because with the perfect backpack as a constant companion on the mountain you have double the joy!

Robert Flaherty
 

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