Group test: Hip packs

Bumbags were what many off-road riders used before hydration packs appeared. Now they’re back. Katherine Moore tests four

Hip packs, bumbags or (for Americans) fanny packs – whatever you call them, they’re gaining popularity among gravel riders, mountain bikers and bikepackers. More compact and lightweight than a backpack and offering more storage than many smaller on-bike bags, hip packs are being used for day rides and multi-day tours alike.

Most have room to stash your tools and spares, snacks and extra layers. This means you can ride in a technical T-shirt rather than needing a cycling jersey for pocket storage, yet still keep your valuables on your person rather than on the bike, which can be handy when going into shops and cafés.

Many mountain bikers have made the switch from rucksacks to hip packs as they offer a more lightweight and compact alternative, which can also help keep you cooler during the hotter, sweatier summer months.

While it can be tempting to opt for the biggest hip pack possible, there’s a balance to be had. Overloading a hip pack can put extra strain on your back, just as carrying a heavy rucksack might. If you plan on riding with a camera, a hip pack can be a good place to keep it stowed and safe, and can help to keep it dry during rain showers.

1. Alpkit Vora 6 

Price: £39.99. Available from: Alpkit.

At half the price of the next cheapest bag on test, the brightly coloured Vora 6 stands out as a great value offering.

You get all the features of more highly priced hip packs: multiple compartments and mesh dividers, water bottle holders, compression straps, a key clip and routing for a 2-litre hydration bladder and hose. The hip pack itself has an enormous 6-litre capacity, giving more storage space than needed for most day rides.

While the mesh back and hip panels offer good breathability, and generous straps enable the bag to be used by riders of most sizes, the shape of the hip strap isn’t the most comfortable for those with a smaller frame.

Verdict: Good value and neat features but lacks finesse with the fit.


2. Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3

Price: £84.99. Available from: Tredz.

Don’t be fooled by the smaller, 3-litre capacity: this is a Tardis of hip packs that’s loaded with cool features. The main compartment can easily hold all your spares, snacks and a pump, with the padded and highly ventilated back panel keeping items from digging into your back.

There’s plenty more storage, including zipped and mesh pockets on the front zip-down panel, two bottle holders and zipped pockets on either hip panel, plus an internal divider and port for a hydration bladder and hose.

The padded hip strap and buckle strap give a comfortable and stable fit. With plentiful storage, a comfortable fit and multiple hydration options, it’s a great alternative to riding with a backpack.

Verdict: Well constructed, robust and well fitting, with ample space.


3. Apidura Backcountry Hip Pack

Price: £80. Available from: Apidura.

While Apidura’s offering may be the slimmest on test with a 2.5-litre capacity, there’s still plenty of room for all your ride essentials from tools to snacks, although you may have to stow a jacket elsewhere.

The wide hip strap is incredibly comfy, with a little stretch and a Velcro fixing secured with a compression strap. Apidura’s signature dark grey fabric has been seam taped for enhanced weatherproofing.

Inside, a key clip is handy, and there’s a separate, padded pocket for valuables with a nifty chain-link-storage zipper pull. For comfortable storage on longer rides, the minimalist yet highly functional and durable Backcountry hip pack is hard to beat.

Verdict: A compact, weatherproof package for day rides.


4. Specialized × Fjallraven Expandable Hip Pack

Price: £110. Available from: Fjallraven.

Expanding from a 4.5-litre capacity up to 11.5 litres, the top section of the hip pack can be unrolled and shoulder straps revealed to create a lightweight backpack. The cheerful yellow hip pack boasts an external bottle pocket on either side, as well as two internal mesh pockets to help keep your tools and snacks stowed neatly.

A top bungee keeps the upper secured, and can also be used to carry a jacket. The comfortable fit is completed with an asymmetric buckle strap and a fairly breathable padded back panel. This clever, dual-purpose design will no doubt be a big hit with bikepackers stocking up on food before heading to camp.

Verdict: Stylish, comfortable and versatile, with extra capacity.


Overall verdict

For a minimalist approach that stands up to the elements, the Apidura Backcountry hip pack takes some beating. You get all the bells and whistles with the Evoc Pro 3, which gives more storage than you’d expect in a sturdy, well-designed package.

While the Alpkit Vora 6 seemed like a really promising, good-value proposition, unfortunately the fit lets it down. If you’re considering this one, give it a try first in one of Alpkit’s stores to see if it suits you.

Finally, the trendy Fjallraven × Specialized hip pack is a great middle ground for adventurous day rides as it also gives you the option to expand capacity, which will no doubt be popular with both bikepackers and post-ride supermarket raiders alike.

Our test promise

At Cycle magazine and Cycling UK, we are proudly independent. There’s no pressure to please advertisers as we’re funded by your membership. Our product reviews aren’t press releases; they’re written by experienced cyclists after thorough testing.

How to choose the best hip pack for cycling


It’s wise to try on different options before you buy to see just how comfortable the straps are on your body. Wider straps tend to spread loads more evenly, and padding can also aid comfort.


Ranges from a couple of litres volume to six or more. The best option depends on whether you’re looking for something to store all your gear (tools, spares, snacks and layers) or just a few essentials.

Water storage

Will you run bottles on your bike, store bottles in your hip pack or use a hydration bladder and hose? If you’re heading somewhere really hot or remote, you might want to opt for more than one approach.


How durable your hip pack needs to be will depend on whether you ride on road or off, just in summer or year round. Look for waterproof materials and seam taping for the most weatherproof packs.


For ultimate comfort, look for options that have ventilation panels built in to avoid a sweaty lower back.