Our Top 6 Picks for Road Cycling Hydration Packs

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As with any other form of exercise, cycling can take a lot out of you physically. Therefore, hydration is critical, whether you’re out for a day of cycling or just riding around the neighborhood.

While you could keep a water bottle in a holster, a much easier and more convenient option is to wear a hydration pack. Instead of pulling out a bottle whenever you’re thirsty, you can simply drink from a tube strapped to your back.

If you’re interested in staying hydrated while biking, we’ve compiled a list of the top six hydration packs for road cycling. We’ll even break down how to choose the right model for your needs.

Kuyou Hydration Pack

Hydration Pack with 2L Hydration Bladder Water Rucksack Backpack Bladder Bag Cycling Bicycle Bike/Hiking Climbing Pouch (Black) Check availability

Kicking things off is this cycling pack from Kuyou. This is a two-liter model, meaning that it’s intended for distance riding. However, you don’t have to fill it if you’re just cruising on down to the store.

Speaking of filling, the removable bladder comes with an extra-wide mouth, making it easy to top off before your next adventure. Also, since this pack comes with thick internal insulation, your water will stay cool for up to four hours. We recommend adding some ice cubes for extra refreshment during your trip.

What we liked

Although this pack holds up to two liters, it doesn’t feel bulky or heavy. It’s well balanced and has a slim profile, which is perfect for road cycling. If you want to add a bit of flair to your getup, you can choose from five different colors. Each one is bright to ensure better visibility at night.

What we didn’t like

Unfortunately, the bladder that comes with the pack isn’t very rugged. Some users have reported it leaking, particularly when filling the pack all the way. That said, if you do experience leakage, all you have to do is buy a new bladder. The bag itself is still well built and should last for a long time.

Pros

  • Large two-liter compartment
  • Thick insulation keeps your water cold for up to four hours
  • Multiple colors available
  • Expertly balanced for riding stability
  • Separate storage pocket for personal items

Cons

  • When the bladder is full, it may leak
  • The stopper valve can be hard to open at times

Camelbak Rogue

CamelBak ROGUE Hydration Pack, 85oz , Black/Graphite Check availability

When it comes to hydration packs, Camelbak is pretty much synonymous with this type of product. There are tons of Camelbak models out there, but we’re going to focus on the Rogue since it works well for road cycling.

What sets this pack apart is its slim profile and extra-comfortable fit. All road bikers will appreciate how light and ergonomic this pack feels. After riding for a bit, you may forget you’re wearing it.

What we liked

Since Camelbak was one of the first companies making hydration packs, it’s developed some cool proprietary designs. First, the Rogue comes with a swivel nozzle, meaning that it’s much easier to drink while riding. Second, the stopper is magnetic so you can keep it out of the way until you’re thirsty again.

What we didn’t like

Although the pack itself is pretty well made, the bladder isn’t. Some users have reported leaks, especially from the wide-mouth lid. Apparently, over-tightening it can cause it to wear down, creating significant leaks. As with other packs, you just need to buy a new bladder.

Pros

  • Swivel tube for easier drinking
  • Built-in top carrying strap for faster filling
  • External hooks for your helmet and other items
  • A magnetic tube stays out of your way until you need it

Cons

  • In some cases, the drinking tube may leak while you ride
  • The bladder lid can wear down relatively fast, creating leaks

Marchway Tactical Hydration Pack

MARCHWAY Tactical Molle Hydration Pack Backpack with 3L TPU Water Bladder, Military Daypack for Cycling, Hiking, Running, Climbing, Hunting, Biking (Black) Check availability

As a tactical hydration pack, the Marchway is highly versatile and works for all conditions. So, if you like road cycling and hiking or exploring, this pack will be a good option. There’s enough room for a three-liter bladder (included), so you can stay hydrated all day long.

Even with the extra water, this pack comes with a breathable air mesh on the back so you won’t get drenched in sweat. There are two compartments inside: one for the bladder and one for extra storage.

What we liked

Although this pack may sound like it’s big and bulky, it’s much slimmer than you would expect. That said, if you fill the water reservoir and put other items in the secondary compartment, the pack can get pretty heavy.

Overall, we like that this is a multi-sport model, making it a suitable all-around hydration pack for any outdoor enthusiast who loves biking on the road and the trail.

What we didn’t like

The makers of this pack promise that the bladder is made of high-quality materials that won’t leach into your water. While this claim is true for most packs, a few of them may have a chemical problem. Some reviewers noted that they couldn’t even drink from the bag until they had washed it a few times first.

The other issue with this product is that it may be a bit too heavy for long-distance riders. However, if you don’t fill it all the way, you can keep the pack pretty lean.

Pros

  • Made of heavy-duty water-repellent nylon
  • Air mesh material helps provide airflow
  • Holds up to three liters
  • A quick-release valve on the bladder
  • Three straps for more versatility

Cons

  • Not ideal for long-distance road cycling
  • In rare cases, the bladder may add a chemical taste to your water

SKL Hydration Pack

SKL Hydration Pack Water Backpack with Water Bladder 2L BPA Free Hydration Backpack for Running Cycling Biking Hiking Climbing Skiing Hunting Pouch Check availability

As we’ve seen, most cycling hydration packs are well built, but the bladders are a different story. In this case, however, SKL has delivered a nearly 100-per-cent waterproof reservoir, meaning that you can ride like the wind without getting drenched (in water, that is).

Otherwise, this pack comes with standard features that make it an excellent choice for road cycling. For example, reflective pieces ensure that you’re seen at night, and the bladder comes with a bite valve for easier drinking while traveling.

What we liked

Overall, this pack has all the right features to make it ideal for short or medium-distance riding. If you’re a bike commuter, you’ll appreciate the lightweight and slim profile. The durability of the bladder is also better than other models we’ve seen.

What we didn’t like

While bite valves typically work in theory, they can be tricky to master while riding. In this case, some of the valves have proven defective, meaning that you have to replace the whole tube. Some users have said they couldn’t get it to work no matter how hard they tried.

Another potential issue is that this pack doesn’t have insulation. So, your water will get warm while riding unless you pack it full of ice.

Pros

  • Two-liter bladder
  • Reflective strips for better visibility
  • Internal storage pockets
  • Mesh outer layer for better airflow
  • Slim design

Cons

  • In rare cases, the bite valve won’t work
  • Pack may move around too much for some riders

Osprey Seral Lumbar Hydration Pack

Osprey Seral 7, Black, One Size Check availability

Typically, hydration packs are worn like a regular backpack, meaning that all the weight is distributed on your back. The Osprey Seral, however, is a lumbar design, which resembles an extra-large fanny pack.

So, if you don’t like getting your back soaked in sweat while you ride, you can opt for something like this. Osprey is another well-known brand in the hydration pack industry, meaning that this product is built to last.

What we liked

Some road cyclists prefer lumbar packs, while others hate them. If you’re not sure which side you fall on, we recommend trying this out before making a final decision. The position of the water can feel a bit weird at first, but we like it better than the standard version.

Another element we appreciate is the contoured pad that helps the pack feel seamless while riding. The only reason you’ll know it’s there is when you feel the water sloshing.

What we didn’t like

Taller riders will have to buy a new hose since the one provided is pretty short. Another issue is the magnetic holder for the valve. It’s pretty weak. According to reviews, the tip will flop around more easily, making it harder to stay in one place.

Pros

  • Lumbar pack doesn’t insulate your body as much
  • Contoured design has a more comfortable fit
  • Dual-zippered pockets on the sides
  • AirScape mesh provides excellent airflow

Cons

  • The hose may not be long enough for some riders
  • The magnetic holder isn’t as strong as other models

Water Buffalo Hydration Pack

Water Buffalo Hydration Pack Backpack - Water Backpack - 2L Water Bladder Check availability

Finally, we have this cost-effective hydration pack from Water Buffalo. While some of these models can set you back three figures easily. this pack is much more affordable. That said, you don’t get a cheap, flimsy product that will fall apart on the first use. Instead, this pack holds its own with the big boys, making it an excellent buy for the price.

What we liked

Some higher-end hydration packs don’t have internal insulation to keep your water cold. Since we prefer a refreshing sip during our ride, we like that this pack can maintain colder temperatures for up to five hours (depending on the weather).

What we didn’t like

As with other packs, the bladder is not quite as strong as the rest of the product. Users have reported leaks shortly after buying the unit. However, since you can replace this component, it isn’t a dealbreaker.

Pros

  • Insulated design lasts up to five hours
  • Cost-effective model
  • Holds up to two liters of water
  • Lightweight pack
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • In some cases, the connection between the tube and the bladder can start to leak
  • Minimal storage space outside the bladder

What is a hydration pack?

These packs are simply a bag with a bladder inside for drinking. A tube reaches around to your head so that you don’t have to fumble for it while you ride. These products often have a valve or stopper to prevent water from pouring out during your trip.

Hydration packs can come with multiple options, such as zippered pockets and hooks to hold onto the rest of your gear. Buying the right bag can make a world of difference for staying hydrated and comfortable on the road.

How to choose a hydration pack for road cycling

We’ve already looked at some of the best hydration packs for road cycling, but now let’s break down the various features and elements to pay attention to when making your final decision.

Size

The size of your pack matters for two reasons:

  1. You want to make sure you have enough water for your journey. If you usually stay out for an hour or so, a small pack should be more than enough. However, if you’re riding for 25 miles on hilly terrain, you’ll need a lot more water capacity.
  2. Larger packs will weigh more—at least at first. As you drink, the bladder will get lighter, making it easier to ride.

Hydration packs come in a variety of sizes, from small (about one liter) to extra-large (about three liters or more). If you tend to ride one way most of the time, you can choose a pack to fit your style. However, if you alternate between casual trips and hardcore training, you may want to get multiple packs to suit different needs.

Breathability

One of the biggest problems with wearing a hydration pack is that it will insulate your back. Even if you’re not riding too hard, you’ll wind up with a pretty big sweat stain once you’re finished for the day.

Fortunately, most of these packs have a mesh back panel that provides a decent airflow while riding. Ideally, you can create a small air pocket between you and the bag to help keep your skin and shirt dry. Some packs breathe better than others, depending on the material used.

Cycling vs. multi-sport

If you’re strictly a road cyclist, you will want a dedicated hydration pack for cycling. These are lightweight hydration packs that provide better airflow against your body.

That said, if you like to go mountain biking or hiking regularly, you can choose a multi-sport pack that works for different purposes. Typically, these models will have more adjustable straps and pockets for extra gear to make them more useful when you’re not riding.

For example, hiking hydration packs will work well as both a day bag and water source so that you don’t have to carry two sets of equipment.

Reservoir included

Oddly enough, many hydration packs don’t come with a bladder. Instead, most units will simply have a compartment for a water reservoir of your choice. This design is actually pretty practical as you can adjust the bladder size more easily.

For example, you can swap a large bladder for a smaller one so that the pack is lighter. Alternatively, you can use the extra space for storage.

Insulation

Another issue you can run into with hydration packs is that the water can heat up over time. If you’re bike touring or traveling long distances, you’ll wind up with warm or hot water by the time you arrive.

To combat this problem, high-end packs will include thermal insulation on the inside. This material helps keep the liquid cold for several hours so that it stays refreshing.

Since the insulation is on the inside of the bag, you don’t have to worry about it reflecting heat on your back as you ride.

Final verdict

When it comes to staying hydrated while you ride, a good hydration pack for road cycling will make a huge difference. Although we’ve seen some high-quality models, we have to say that our top picks are the Camelbak Rogue or the Kuyou pack. Both of these models work well for long- and short-distance riding, and they’re built to last.

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