Mountain Biking UK

HYDRATION PACKS

Over the past few years we’ve come up with all sorts of ingenious ways to store water, tools and various spares on our bikes and bodies, for the purpose of riding without a backpack. But if you’re heading out further from civilisation, there’s still no getting around the need for a good hydration pack; one that’ll allow you to carry more, drink more and be better prepared.

The selection we’ve tested here all fall into the 7.5l to 15l size range, which we reckon is perfect for a one-day ride. All will accept (and often include) a 2-3l water reservoir, leaving room for tools, a spare tube, pump, jacket and the number one essential – sandwiches! Many also have outer stash pockets and helmet straps. The more enduro-focused ones work with full-face lids too, giving you the option to carry a second helmet if you’re out for a day of big climbs and burly descents. Those here from POC, Ergon and Leatt raise the protection stakes further with built-in, but removable, back protectors.

While a good backpack needs to adequately store all this stuff, for aggressive mountain biking it’s critical for it to sit comfortably and securely too, so as not to bounce around or impede movement. How and where the weight is distributed is important, and smaller doesn’t always mean better, because bigger packs that extend further down your back often have better support. Water needs to be stored in a way that’s easily accessible for refilling, while

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