Today we are reviewing the best hydration packs for mountain biking. Staying hydrated while riding is important to rider safety, but its also important in terms of comfort while riding. Dehydration is awful and comes with some nasty symptoms you don’t want to deal with on the trails.
If you are a competitive mountain biker you may think you can power through the symptoms of dehydration. According to the National Institutes of Health, even mild dehydration can result in a 5.8% decrease in speed. The bottom line, dehydration decreases cycling performance.
Best Hydration Packs For Mountain Bikers: CamelBak vs Osprey
There are two main players in the hydration pack market. For the longest time CamelBak dominated market share for hydration packs. Their packs come in a wide assortment of styles and sizes. No matter what color you prefer, chances are there is a CamelBak for you.
Osprey on the other hand has been stealing market share from CamelBak each year. It doesn’t take long to understand why Osprey hydration packs have grown in popularity. There is a lot of research and development (R&D) that goes into Osprey’s hydration packs.
Lets break down what each of these brands has to offer for mountain bikers.
CamelBak Hydration Packs For Mountain Biking
One of my favorite things about CamelBak is their wide assortment of styles and color options. My kids love their CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E. that we picked up for less than $50 last year. (Check Current Price on Amazon.) If you are picky when it comes to style then CamelBak will be the brand for you. The kids love the feeling of ‘taking care of themselves’ when we are out on the trails.
When it comes to price, many people claim CamelBak is expensive. I don’t think that is the case considering what you are buying. In fact, they are quite a bit cheaper than several other hydration pack manufacturers out there. Part of what you are paying for is the exceptional customer service and warranty that comes with the brand. Unlike many outdoor equipment manufacturers, if you reach out to CamelBak you are going to get a response, and its going to be a friendly one.
CamelBak Warranty Problems
When it comes to warranty both CamelBak and Osprey offer a lifetime warranty on their packs, but a warranty is only as good as the company backing it. It doesn’t take much research to see CamelBak has an excellent history of backing warranty claims. If you need a replaceable part you simply send in photos and they can ship replacements to you free of charge. If your pack is destroyed or warn down you will need to find a way to send it back to CamelBak before they will send a replacement. They want to have an opportunity to repair the hydration pack if possible.
The company has been around since 1989. It doesn’t matter when you purchased your pack, they are going to make sure you’re taken care of. They don’t require proof of purchase, so if you picked up a used hydration pack or lost your receipt they will still take care of you.
The nicest part of the CamelBak warranty is that it extends to the bladders and reservoirs. Osprey gets their reservoirs from a third party manufacturer that only offers a 1 year warranty. (Although, according to the warranty claim reviews, Osprey has been known to help with replacement beyond that 1 year bladder/reservoir warranty period.)
Osprey Hydration Packs For Mountain Biking
If you don’t care as much about color options an styles, but want the latest and greatest science and technology put in your pack then Osprey is your brand. The Osprey Raptor is the best hydration pack for mountain biking because it was specifically designed for mountain bikers. The pack isn’t cheap coming in around $150 at most retailers. (Check Current Price on Amazon.)
What makes Osprey hydration packs so great for mountain biking? That is simple. They have thought of everything you need when it comes to hydration and cycling. Reaching down below your top tube for a water bottle can be dangerous out on the trail. With Osprey packs the bite valve has a magnetic piece that holds it in place on your sternum strap. That means your bite valve is only a couple inches below your chin making it much easier, and safer, to grab a quick drink out on the trail.
If you have ever had to dig through a bag to find something you know how frustrating it cane be when things shift around and sink to the bottom of your pack. Imagine that same scenario out on the trail when you are looking for your tool kit to make a quick adjustment on your bike. You want to get back to riding. Its a nightmare pulling things out of the pack and still not finding what you need.
With The Raptor hydration packs you have a bottom pocket that can store your tools or any other items separate from the main storage. This is an excellent feature for storing your multi-tool or other tools needed for trailside repairs.
The Best Hydration Pack For 2021 from Osprey
The Osprey AirSpeed feature is the greatest innovation in hydration pack history. Osprey AirSpeed hydration packs have a lightweight frame built into the pack. There is a 3D suspended mesh across the frame. It keeps the pack suspended off your back. It also allows air to travel between your back and the hydration pack. That means you never have to worry about your back sweating due to your hydration pack. The Osprey Synchro (Check Current Price on Amazon) comes with AirSpeed and is one of the most popular hydration packs on the market for 2021.
Osprey Warranty Problems
The company was founded in 1974 and they are still backing warranty claims on those original packs sold over 40 years ago. Their packs are not cheap, but you are buying a product that will last your entire lifetime. If it doesn’t, Osprey will send you a new pack without requiring you to ship your broken pack back to them. If photos determine the pack can be repaired rather than replaced you will need to ship it back.
Many customers of Osprey come from CamelBak and never look back. Their hydration packs are of such a high quality that buying an Osprey pack means you will be a customer for life. Its hard to beat the greatest innovation in hydration packs backed by a lifetime warranty. Its a warranty that gets honored at the time of a claim too.
Once you have decided which of the best hydration packs for mountain biking is right for you, consider upgrading your safety equipment. We share our mountain biking safety tips.
We also have a review on the newest technology in cycling helmets. MIPS helmets have become the standard in concussion prevention, but before you buy a new MIPS helmet, check out this WaveCel helmet review.