Best Hydration Pack for Road Cycling

Having enough fluid on you while you’re on your road cycling trip is essential so that you can enjoy it, stay hydrated and avoid getting tired but you don’t have to carry around a bunch of water bottles for that.

A good hydration pack will provide you with a lightweight and easy to use water reservoir to last you the whole period of your ride as well as a convenient storage space for all your items. It is important to find practical hydration packs with good functionality for your intended activity. So, here are our top picks for the best hydration packs for road cycling.

Our Top Picks

CamelBak M.U.L.E.

The CamelBak M.U.L.E. hydration pack is a great choice for bikers who go on long rides. It is lightweight as it weighs 800g but still has enough room for 12L of storage to fit all the needed tools, gears, and snacks.

The included Crux water reservoir has a large capacity of 3L (100 ounces) to keep you hydrated all along your ride. It features a self-sealing bite valve that gives you more water per sip so you can easily drink while biking and an ergonomic cap with an on/off lever to easily refill it and prevent leaks. The magnetic tube trap helps attach the drinking tube in its place with ease and keeps it at your reach at all times.

The air director back panel along with the ventilated harness provide airflow channels to keep the back cool. The removable stability belt secures the pack in its place on rough rides, even when it’s fully loaded due to its low center of gravity which keeps the weight near the hips and makes it more stable.

The M.U.L.E. also has external hooks for the helmet, lots of pockets for all the gears and tools, and an overflow storage compartment to stash an extra layer.

Pros

  • Lightweight with a big water reservoir
  • Removable stability belt for bumpy trails
  • Convenient compartments for tools and exterior hooks for the helmet

Cons

  • No rain cover included
  • Possible water leaks from the top

Osprey Raptor 14

The Osprey Raptor 14 pack will allow you to carry and easily access all the gear you need. It weighs 800g and has a spacious 14L storage capacity with different compartments and pockets.

The main compartment is well organized to make your gear more accessible. A scratch-free zippered slash pocket at the top could be used for electronics or sunglasses. Zippered hip belt pockets on both sides are convenient for small items. A removable tool pouch is also available to roll out from the zippered lower pocket.

The Raptor has a 2.5L Hydrapak Hydraulics LT reservoir found in its own direct-zip access compartment and is easy to remove and refill. It includes a hose guide and a sternum strap magnet to keep the drinking tube secured and easy to access.

The AirScape Backpanel is made from mesh-covered foam that increases the ventilation and has a winged style harness to closely fit the pack around your body in a comfortable and stable way. It also features a LidLock helmet attachment and a blinker light attachment.

Pros

  • Easily accessible pockets at different places
  • Roll-up tool pouch in a zippered lower pocket
  • Quick access zippered water reservoir with an over-shoulder guide and lightweight magnet strap
  • Blinker light attachment

Cons

  • The mouthpiece valve could be a little stiff
  • Inconvenient hip belt
  • Expensive

Osprey Syncro 10

The Osprey Syncro 10 hydration pack has a weight of 725g. It packs a 10L storage capacity with a front panel main compartment that includes mesh pockets to house tools and gears. The front zippered slash pocket at the top provides good storage room for glasses and electronics as it’s lined with heat embossed scratch-free fabric. A J-zip front pocket offers quick access to your small gear and repair tools. Dual stretch mesh pockets on the side are also available.

The pack features a 2.5L water reservoir with an easy-to-clean bladder. It also has an AirSpeed suspension system with a mesh back panel that provides good breathability and high comfort. The LightWire frame along with the Biostretch harness for the shoulders and the winged style hip belts keep the pack stable. There are also upper side straps for more compression and stability.

The Syncro also offers a Lidlock carry to secure the bike’s helmet and a blinker light attachment for better visibility in the dark. It comes with a removable rain cover for protection in such conditions.

Pros

  • Weight to volume ratio suitable for average length rides
  • Easiest bladder to clean
  • Comes with a protective rain cover

Cons

  • Inconvenient bite valve with a low water flow rate
  • Smaller storage than other options

CamelBak Rogue

The CamelBak Rogue is an extremely lightweight hydration pack at only 350g. It is suitable for short rides as it can hold a capacity up to 3L in the primary storage. You can also make use of the overflow storage compartment and the two external pockets to add more tools and small items to your pack and carry your bike helmet on the external hooks.

It includes a 2L Crux antidote reservoir with external fill through the quick-release flap at the front. The reservoir features a self-sealing big bite valve system with leak-proof on/off mechanism. The leak-proof cap tightly seals the reservoir to ensure no dripping as well as easy and fast refilling. The drinking tube is made from materials 100% free of BPA, BPS, and BPF in addition to being coated with anti-microbial HydroGuard to prevent the growth of bacteria in the tube. The magnetic strap keeps the tube attached in its place and quickly accessible.

The Rogue’s back panel is made from breathable air mesh to increase airflow for better ventilation. It also has air mesh harness and dual compression straps with elastic side panels to keep the pack steady and firm while also preserving comfort. The added reflective strips ensure you are visible whether you’re on morning or evening rides.

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Good hydration system with a big bite valve, an anti-bacterial drinking tube, and an easy external fill reservoir
  • Reflective back accents for visibility

Cons

  • The bladder is hard to clean
  • Not enough storage compartments

CamelBak Classic

The CamelBak Classic hydration pack is an excellent option for bikers who go on short rides and need a small number of tools. It will give you a great hydration system but without the extra storage. This is the lightest option on our list as it weighs only 170g.

It offers a 2.5L Crux reservoir with an external fill through the quick-release flap. The hydration system encompasses a big bite valve with tight on/off valve pairs to prevent dripping as well as an easy-to-open twist cap for sealing and refilling. The included drinking tube prevents the growth of bacteria and allows good water flow rate.

The pack has small main storage of 0.5L for your gear as well as two exterior pockets including an easily accessible zippered pocket to put your essential items in.

The back panel and shoulder straps are made from breathable air mesh that is lightweight and comfortable, along with the ventilated harness to fit the pack to your body. Reflective strips are also visible in different light conditions.

Pros

  • The lightest option that is perfect for short rides
  • Minimalistic design with good hydration system
  • Low cost

Cons

  • Shoulder straps are tight
  • No extra storage option

What to Consider When Choosing a Hydration Pack for Road Cycling?

Hydration packs designed for road cycling offer more than just a water reservoir to keep you cool and hydrated, they provide you with a storage capacity for all the gear you need on the road.

Due to the fact that hydration packs are mostly used by mountain bikers, the majority of the products are marketed towards and sold as mountain biking packs, so don’t worry about the categorization, you just need to find a good hydration pack that caters to your needs as a road biker. In order to do so, you should take into considerations the following aspects:

  • Size: For road cycling, it is better to look for light and slim packs that have low-profile so that they are easy to carry and don’t create a lot of air drag and wind resistance on the road, unlike mountain biking packs which are bulkier as they need extra gear.
  • Capacity: There are two capacities to be concerned with: water capacity and storage capacity. Depending on the length of your rides, you should consider the amount of water you will need to consume in order to decide the capacity of the water reservoir in your hydration pack. Most packs nowadays have a capacity between 2.5 to 3L which could last you for a whole day of cycling. The storage capacity, on the other hand, depends on how much gear, tools, clothing, snacks, and any other items you like to carry with you while road cycling. If you don’t carry much around, it’s better to look for the minimal packs that are lightweight and offer fewer pockets and storage room. Also, you might want to consider a pack with initial low primary storage capacity but offer the capability of adding more room in case of need through extended removable compartments, pockets, or pouches.
  • Features: Hydration packs offer different features for functionality and comfort that you should consider:
  • Helmet Hooks: you should definitely look for packs that include external hooks to strap your cycling helmet onto so that you can easily and securely carry it on your back when you’re not using it. It is also useful if you have different helmets like full face and open face helmets that you like to swap between.
  • Hydration system: the different parts of the hydration system should be practical for the ease of use during cycling. You should look for drinking tubes with good valves that provide a good water flow rate. The bite valve should also be easy to open and close so that you can keep your eyes on the road. A good feature to look for is a magnet clip or strap and guides to keep the tube tightly secured to the pack and easy to access. Some packs have two portals to be able to use the tube on either side. Also, make sure that the reservoir is easy to refill, clean, and has tight sealings that prevent leaks.
  • Strapping: During cycling, you shouldn’t worry about the pack being unstable or not firmly in place so you should look for one with a secure strap system that is also comfortable. For road cycling, it is more convenient to have low-profile waistbelts so as to not hinder your pedaling. Compression straps with good tension as well as winged style harness and hip belts help keep the pack secured to your body, even on bumpy terrains.
  • Back panel: It is important to have access to good ventilation to keep your body cool while you’re cycling, even when you’re wearing a hydration pack. To ensure this, the back panel of the pack should be made from a mesh of breathable fabric with air channels to provide the necessary airflow to your back.
  • Storage Compartments: It is a great benefit to have the main storage compartment along with the different smaller pockets divided into several sections with zipped mesh pockets and internal slots to keep all your items organized. There are also packs that offer tool organizers to put your repair kits and tools. Some also include a removable tool roll in order to access all your tools at once.
  • Lighting: Some packs have places to attach blinker lights and add reflective strips to ensure clear visibility during low-light conditions. You should consider such features if you like to go road cycling at night.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a hydration pack that offers a great hydration system with a large water reservoir and spacious storage capacity, the CamelBak M.U.L.E. is a good choice for you.

The Osprey Raptor 14 offers larger storage capacity and better organization with different compartments and pockets but with a less efficient hydration system and is more expensive.

Otherwise, if you’re looking for a lightweight option that is perfect for short rides and has little storage room, the CamelBak Classic will satisfy your needs.