Backpacks fit for Bikepacking

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A backpack can be a useful piece of bikepacking gear, whether it’s a fully featured model designed for the most challenging of riding, or an ultralight stuffable pack to be cracked out when times demand. Here’s our take on the subject, and 6 packs we’ve tested to no end…

As much as we like to think we can make it work, sometimes a typical bikepacking setup doesn’t offer quite enough space for what we need to carry. While a frame bag, seat pack, and handlebar system can be roomy enough, a backpack is sometimes a necessary supplement… especially when using a bike with a small frame triangle, packing extra layers for a cold weather adventure, stowing additional water for a desert ride, or provisioning a week’s worth of food between resupply.

Backpacks can also provide a practical way to keep important items close to hand. If your route involves the challenges of protracted hike a bikes, there are situations where weight on your back — and a lighter bike — can also be advantageous. And when the going gets especially rough, backpacks provide better protection for electronic gear — like a camera — than carrying it on the bike itself.

Even so, we definitely prefer to ride backpack-free over extended, multi-month rides. After all, who wants a sweaty back every day? Which is where packable backpacks come into play. Whilst these packs aren’t designed for out and out trail performance, they can be an extremely useful addition to your long-distance touring gear list. This is particularly applicable during trips where off the bike exploration is part of the journey, whether it be day hikes into the surrounding countryside, or walks around town.

Ultralight packs such as these can also be useful for the occasional situation when extra food is needed, to be stowed away once more when said sustenance has been consumed.

What to look for…

When carrying loads of food or water, comfort is key. There are essentially two types which serve as cycling specific packs: traditional backpacks that spread the weight in a vertical orientation, and ‘lowrider’ packs, which take the weight off your back and shoulders and move it down to the hip area, lowering the centre of gravity in the process. Neither is necessarily better than the other, but everyone is different and one might work for you, but be uncomfortable for someone else. If you have the opportunity, try both on for a ride and see which works best.

Factors to consider are strap design and form, length, adjustability, plushness and lumbar support, and the contour of the back padding. In addition, be aware of the temperatures and humidity where you’ll be riding. There isn’t a pack on the market that won’t induce back sweat, to a degree, but some are better than others.

What will you be carrying? Most of the packs listed here, save the stowables, feature a hydration sleeve. This, of course, takes away some of the precious liters of space that the pack allows. Some folks may wish carry water on cages, and pack lighter and bulkier items on their back, such as a sleeping pad or a down jacket.

Do you need a pack that expands? This factor might be important if you are carrying food, such as that of the freeze-dried variety. Five days worth of Mountain House meals can take up a lot of space. By day four, a compression system comes in very handy. There are also packs with external mesh sleeves that can easily hold items that require on-the-go access; an exterior mesh pocket can also serve as nice place for packing out your trash.

Over the past year, we’ve thoroughly tested several of our favorite packs, both compressible models, and full-featured expedition packs alike. Although each serves a slightly different purpose and has features that are unique within the group, they are all comfortable and useable in their own right. Here are the six that made the list:

Full-featured Backpacks, for Bikepacking.

The following four backpacks are built for trail riding, and have capacity to carry water comfortably. We’ve used all four on bikepacking trips and long day rides alike.

Acre Hauser 10L

Acre Supply, San Francisco, California

There’s a reason this pack is listed first, and it’s not because Acre starts with ‘A’. This is hands down the most comfortable pack we’ve tried. On first inspection, the Hauser doesn’t look particularly ergonomic; its design isn’t wrought with curves, mesh contours, or over-technical bits and bobs. But it is, in fact, as form fitting as they come.

Acre Supply Hauser 10L Backpack for bikepacking

  • Acre Supply Hauser 10L Backpack for bikepacking
  • Acre Supply Hauser 10L Backpack for bikepacking

Overall, the Hauser is a pretty simple pack. It features four main compartments: the main area, accessible through the roll-top; the zippered back pocket that runs vertically; the perimeter zippered water bladder compartment; a lower tool pocket; and a top horizontal zippered gadget pocket. Constructed entirely in the USA, the majority of the Hauser is made of X-Pac which inherently has a waterproof layer. All of the zippers are weatherproof as well. These features help keep contents dry even in the heaviest of downpours. That said, Acre claims the Hauser to be weatherproof, not completely waterproof; but I entrusted my laptop in the pack on our trip through southern Spain. It’s reinforced main internal area, with two layers of X-Pac helped seal the deal.

Acre Supply Hauser 10L Backpack for bikepacking

  • acre-supply-hauser-10l-09
  • Acre Hauser 10L - backpack for bikepacking
  • Acre Hauser 10L - backpack for bikepacking
  • Acre Hauser 10L - backpack for bikepacking
  • Acre Hauser 10L - backpack for bikepacking

In addition to the shoulder straps, the Hauser has a chest strap and hip belt, which is vertically adjustable by moving it to different rectangle loop clip positions. While the padding for the straps, back, and hip belt are fairly minimal, simply a layer of vented honeycomb closed cell foam, they are extremely comfortable. When wrapped securely around the waist and shoulders, the malleable design reduces side to side sway, and fits like a glove. The only complaint one might have with the Hauser is that it gets pretty warm in hot temps. The Hauser is available in black, two shades of gray, blue, camp, black camo, and orange. The pack also comes in a 14L design, which we look forward reviewing soon.

  • Weight: 33.7oz/955g
  • Volume: 10L
  • Price: $205.00
  • Place of Manufacture: USA
  • Contact:

Acre Hauser 10L’s Take: “The Hauser is an impressive backpack, and my new favorite. It’s the only full-featured pack I’ve seen that’s damn near waterproof, and it’s amazingly comfortable. I didn’t use the tool pocket much, but all the other compartments are well placed and functionally near perfect.” -Logan

Talon 11

Osprey Packs, Cortez, CO

The Talon series of technical backpacks are bikepacking classics. Although’s not designed exclusively for cycling per se, this multi-use pack has long been a biking favourite thanks to its lean and lightweight design. Talons come in a range of volumes, the packs are extremely adjustable, and there’s two sizes available per model, depending on the length of your back. Note that the S/M Talon 11 is actually 9 liters in capacity. Taller riders will inherit those missing two liters, as the M/L Talon has the volume its name would suggest.

Osprey Talon 11 Review

  • Osprey Talon 11 Review
  • Osprey Talon 11 Review
  • Osprey Talon 11 Review
  • Osprey Talon 11 Review
  • Osprey Talon 11 Review

The Talon features handy mesh pockets on the hips, as well as an internal pouch at the top of the pack. There’s a helmet holder; it takes a little work to feed through the vents of your helmet, but works well. The back system is aerated and hard wearing, while the bungee cord that zigs down the front of the pack comes in handy for stashing extra layers when times demand. In terms of sizing, we’d hedge towards the Talon 11 for bikepacking, simply to keep payloads light – the 18 and 22 models also available are too tempting to fill. We consider $90 to be really good value for a pack that’s this well made; just bear in mind that whilst there’s provision for a water bladder, one doesn’t come included. To keep you looking sharp, a range of colours are available.

  • Weight: 600g/21.1oz
  • Volume: 11L
  • Price: $90.00
  • Place of Manufacture: Vietnam
  • Contact:

Osprey Talon 11 Review’s Take: “This particular Talon 11 is owned by a friend of mine – Gary Blakley – who swears by it for all his bikepacking adventures. In the past, I’ve used both the 11 and the larger 22 – both of which have worked well for me. Worth noting is that Osprey gear has a lifetime warranty, from which we’ve both had good experiences. The zips on my Talon 22 failed, and the pack was repaired at no cost, no questions asked. Gary owned the previous generation of Talon 11. After years of sterling service, he returned it for what he expected would be paid repairs. Instead, Osprey simply replaced his older Talon with the latest model for free. This kind of customer service counts for a lot.”- Cass

Wingnut Enduro

Wingnut Gear, Highland, NY

Wingnut Gear is a small company based in Highland, New York, and one of the first to make full-featured a ‘low-rider’ backpack. Low-riders have been popular amongst the endurance crowd for a many years now. In theory, the concept makes sense. With the weight of a heavy 3-liter water bladder, a backpack can inflict fatigue over long rides. The first place that feels the stress is usually the shoulders. The low-rider pack is designed to lower that weight and move the load to the hips. In turn, the weight would transfer to the seatpost when the rider is in a seated position.

Wingnut Enduro Backpack for Bikepacking

  • Wingnut Enduro Backpack for Bikepacking
  • Wingnut Enduro Backpack for Bikepacking
  • Wingnut Enduro Backpack for Bikepacking
  • Wingnut Enduro Backpack for Bikepacking
  • Wingnut Enduro Backpack for Bikepacking

The 18 liter Enduro is Wingnut’s flagship backpack, although they have a larger 26 liter pack called the Adventure, and several smaller packs. The design has five main compartments: the main pack, which has a top-zipper access, the zippered water bladder sleeve, the two zippered ‘wings’, which are accessible when wearing the pack, and a large exterior mech pocket. Another fun feature is Wingnut’s whistle buckle.

  • Weight: 21.5oz/611g
  • Volume: 18L
  • Price: $130.00
  • Place of Manufacture: New York, USA
  • Contact:’s Take: “My first use of this pack was on the Trans North Georgia Route. I didn’t use it for water, but carried meals in the main pocket, snacks and bars in the two wings, and found the exterior mesh pocket to be perfect for carrying out trash, or an extra clothing layer, when not in use. Overall, the Enduro did as expected; it’s a fairly comfortable pack that did indeed take the weight off the shoulders. That said, I wish there were additional compression straps to wrangle the load.” – Logan

Camelbak Skyline 10LR

Camelbak, Petaluma, California

Camelbak’s new Skyline is a departure from their traditional designs, like the iconic MULE. As a ‘lowrider’ lumbar pack, it centres payload around the hips, taking pressure off the shoulders while providing extra ventilation too. In terms of water hauling, the Skyline will add 3L (100oz) to your capacity, via a bladder that’s neatly stowed away in a zippered compartment, dispensed via a hose that features a magnetic clip to keep it from flailing around. Wrapping as it does around the waist, there’s no denying that the Skyline is an extremely stable pack, refusing to release its embrace over even the rockiest of descents. The pack is well bolstered though somewhat disappointingly, the all important hip area has worn noticeably on ours, perhaps due to its padded mesh rubbing against the adjustable waist straps that feature on some mountain biking shorts.

Camelback Skyline10 Review

  • Camelback Skyline10 Review
  • Camelback Skyline10 Review

Within the pack, Camelbak’s usual attention to detail prevails. The main compartment offers a pump holder and a series of dividers that will delight organisation freaks. Generously, the Skyline 10LR includes a really nice tool roll too, segmented into three mesh pouches. Other touches include a cubby hole that’s lined with fleece, perfect for keeping sunglasses scratch-free. Two additional straps at the base of the pack can be use for knee pads. Given that you’re unlikely to be wielding such armour on your average bikepack, they can also be deployed for the likes of a foam mattress. Further features include nifty hooks that allow the Skyline to hold a helmet when off the bike, a stretchy outer pocket for layers, and a tab for an LED light.

  • bikepacking-backpacks-35
  • bikepacking-backpacks-34
  • bikepacking-backpacks-31
  • Weight: 34.6oz/980g
  • Volume: 10L (7+3 for H2O)
  • Price: $130.00
  • Place of Manufacture: China
  • Contact:
  • bikepacking-backpacks-33
  • Camelback Skyline10 Review’s Take: “I have to admit that I’m not a massive fan of touring with a backpack. Despite this, the Skyline 10LR has surprised me; I’ve found myself using it far more often than I expected, on both day rides and bikepacking trips alike. Proportion wise, it’s small enough that I’m not tempted to overload it with gear, but roomy enough for extra food, a layer, or stuff I like to keep handy. Given how well padded it is, the Skyline is also a great way to carry my camera – it will even fit a DLSR. I don’t tend to use it to haul water water but if I did, I’d certainly appreciate Camelbak’s quality water bladder. In terms of riding comfort, the Skyline has kept back pain at bay, which is the most I can ask of any pack when I’m out riding for several days.” – Cass

Packable Backpacks, for Expedition Cycling.

As mentioned above, a stuffable pack can serve many uses on the road. We’ve used each of these to transport belongings on an airplane, as a daypack for off-the-bike treks, and simply as a general stuff hauler for cafe trips and city walks.

Stuff Pack

Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Biddeford, Maine

For expeditions that involve off-the-bike exploration, small side trips, or other activities, the Stuff Pack may be the ideal collapsible rucksack. It weighs almost nothing, it’s made from the venerable cuben sailcloth, and can be compressed to the size of a tall-boy can. Although it’s not seam sealed throughout, it’s highly weatherproof due to it’s roll-top design and cuben fiber properties.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack

  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack
  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack

Hyperlite Mountain Gear, a growing outdoor gear manufacturer based in Biddeford, Maine, is a cuben fiber specialist. Their products are focused on minimalism, and as their name implies, ultralight sensibilities. Cuben is nothing new, it has its roots in the boating industry as sailcloth used on racing yachts. As a material, it’s highly durable, 100% waterproof, and insanely lightweight — qualities that transfer well to ultralight tents, packs, and other outdoor gear.

  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack
  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack
  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack

The Stuff Pack is actually a pretty big backpack. At 30 liters, it’s almost too big. However, with a little finess in packing its contents, and a tight roll at the top, it can be quite small and manageable. Although its straps are generally comfortable, the ultra minimal Stuff Pack lacks padding or a back stiffener, so it might not be a great option for a heavy load. We found it perfect for hauling around waterproofs and a couple camera lenses on day hikes. It also makes a great way to tote around valuables that you might not want to leave in a hostel or campground, such as a laptop, documents, or electronics. It has also been a good tool for carrying some overflow while riding, when a stockpile of food is necessary.’s Take: “This is one of my favorite new pieces of gear that I brought on our Trans-Uganda trip. It can be folded flat or rolled into a tube shape. It weighs nothing. And it comes in really handy when we have to keep our valuables at hand during an off-the-bike activity. It’s also a great daypack for hikes and city walks. I wish it was a tad smaller, but otherwise, no complaints.” – Logan

North Face Verto 26

The North Face, San Francisco, California

Let me preface this by saying that The North Face no longer makes the Verto 26. There are plenty of other compressible packs out there, but this was my favorite, aside from the HMG Stuff Pack. It strikes a good balance of weight, space, comfort, and utility. The Verto has 4 compartments: the main body, a zipped lid pocket, the small zip pocket which doubles as its stuff sack, and a water bottle sheath on the right hand side. In addition, it features drawstring compression cords and ice ax hooks (in case you want to do some ice-packing, an up and coming ultra-niche crossover).

North Face Verto 26 Backpack for Bikepacking

  • North Face Verto 26 Backpack for Bikepacking
  • North Face Verto 26 Backpack for Bikepacking
  • North Face Verto 26 Backpack for Bikepacking
  • North Face Verto 26 Backpack for Bikepacking
  • North Face Verto 26 Backpack for Bikepacking

The Verto 26 also has nice minimally padded shoulder straps and two removable straps for the chest and waist. Other than being a very comfortable pack, it compresses to the size of a small grapefruit, perfect for tossing in the frame bag for occasional use. I used the Verto for food overflow and as a good walk-around or day-hike pack.

  • Weight: 11.5oz/326g
  • Volume: 26L
  • Price: Not Avalable
  • Place of Manufacture: ???
  • Contact:’s Take: “Dear North Face, Why did you stop making this pack? Sorry to tease everyone here, but this pack is unavailable now. There are other big guys making such packs, so if you find a good replacement, leave a comment.” – Logan

If you have a favorite backpack you use for bikepacking that’s not listed here, please let us know about it in the comments below…

  • Gary Blakley

    Great article. I own the Talon 11 above. I’d add that a pack is the ideal place to carry fragile electronics. I make a real effort to keep mine lite. I only keep a liter or so of water in my 100 oz. bladder unless I need to tank up for a long dry section. Fill everything on the bike first. Only carry clothing you might need for the day. By keeping it light I forget it’s even there, partly because I’ve worn it for many years. The Osprey is he most comfortable pack I’ve tried. Oh, they’re a great place to pack Fritos, for a treat, after a few days out!

  • (Logan)

    Thanks Gary! Fritos are great fuel; or Corn Nuts :)

  • Chris

    I used the North Face Verto on a long trip and loved how small it packed. I’d use just when I needed extra space for food etc. But it didn’t feel particularly comfortable or stable when loaded. I’ve used my Osprey Talon 22 for years and love it. It’s very comfortable and incredibly stable – I just don’t notice it on my back, even when it feels heavy to lift. As much as I like the idea of a packable sack that I don’t need on my back every day on a long trip, the reality of going pannier-less and having minimal space means that I’d take the Osprey again. The Wingnut and Hauser look interesting, and I’d consider taking the Talon 11, but I’d certainly be reluctant to change over from Osprey…!

  • Tyler Morin

    I have a acre 10 L ha user and it is awesome. I’m somebody who wants their stuff to look good and function very well. While on the expensive side, the ha user does just that. I had looked at several different hydration packs/backpacks and all of them just didn’t do it for me. Love my hauser!

  • Diego

    For 2-3 nights bikepacking trips, with a full suspension (enduro) bike I recommend the Evoc Explorer 30L. No bags attached to the frame at all.

  • Bill Wright

    I have owned an Osprey Talon 22 since 2008 and it has been bulletproof! I have used it for everything from bike commuting to the Colorado trail and everything in between. It has worked flawlessly and in terms of comfort – everything Chris says below is spot on. Keep up the great reviews!

  • mikeetheviking

    This article right here is what I love about this site…. I had a cheap walmart backpack “blow-up” on me after a 10 mile river expedition me and my daughter did last year. I noticed seems bursting at almost every pocket/zipper and strap… I couldn’t believe it!!! You can actually see the backpack bursting in the photo attached…. special note: The puppy “Olaf” in the picture, just a couple weeks old, joined us on this trip, he was GLUED to this backpack every time I set it on the ground….Anyways, after the #blownbackpack experience I went and grabbed a 50L Kelty redline off craigslist. I didn’t know it would be so big. But the Kelty bag is getting the job done big time. I do find myself wishing for a slightly smaller bag now and then… mostly when my a$$ is feeling crushed after a long day!

  • Josh Henry

    Thanks Logan for the writeup and comparison on these packs. Your timing on this article is ironic for me because just last week, I bought a similar pack for the “just in case” scenarios. I’ve not had a chance to use it yet, but you should check it out, as it might be a fair addition to the “packable” packs. It lists the volume aw 24l, and on my scale, it weighs 149g, and compresses into it’s own stuffsack to fit in your palm.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Great advice Gary, aka the Minimalist Master. I completely agree!

  • (Logan)

    Nice, thanks Josh… I’ll give it a look!

  • (Logan)

    Yeah, 50L is huge for a bike! I am pretty interested in getting my hands on a 14L Hauser…

  • (Logan)

    Thanks Bill. 22 sounds pretty good. I also have a Manta 28 which I have carried in 5-7 day backcountry trips… I like it, but it’s a bit large and heavy.

  • (Logan)

    I’ll have to check that out… I saw Evoc at Interbike, nice looking stuff…

  • (Logan)

    It’s really a great pack; I really want a black camo 14L.

  • (Logan)

    Yeah, when loaded down it can get awkward (depending on what’s in it). I often moved lighter soft gear into it and put door in the frame and seat packs. Worked pretty well. Good to hear all the kudos on the Talon as well.

  • Tyler Morin

    I have the black camo! It’s my favorite and matches my other MW pack! I purchased the 10 L but in hind sight I should have gotten the 14 L. Either way it’s hard to go wrong! The original black camo is much better than the new version they are producing.

  • mikeetheviking

    Yeah man, I love the idea of an Xpac Backpack… Cuben fiber looks cool too….
    FWIW I usually only load half of the 50L pack….

  • Christophe Noel

    I have the 10 and 14, both in black camo. I struggle to get much cargo in my 10, so the 14 sees more action. My favorite pack is the Osprey Hornet 24 which they discontinued a few years ago. Bummer. It was the uber-light version of the already light Talon.

  • Seth

    Great article as always, Logan and thanks for the writeup. I have logged countless miles with an Osprey Syncro 15 and have been exceedingly impressed with how it seemingly disappears off my back even with 3L of water and gear in it. Best cycling specific pack I’ve ever owned and lots of great features:

  • Seth

    Great article as always, Logan, and thanks for the writeup. I have been using an Osprey Syncro 15 for the last few years and have been exceedingly impressed with how it seemingly disappears off my back even when loaded and on technical terrain. Best cycling specific pack I’ve ever owned; lots of great features for what it’s worth:

  • Brian

    I have used the Wingnut Enduro for the past two years and I love the pack. I am not an expert in packs but I have carried my fair share over the years and 3 of those as a Grunt. So I have been unconformable carrying a pack! The low-rider pack is the way to go. It keeps a low center of gravity. I run a 3L Source bladder with mind. I do wish the clip on the strap to hold the bladder was beefier. I have also used it while doing trail work and forgot that I had it on. After that day of doing trail work with it, then I understood why Wild-land Fire Fighters used a low-rider pack!

  • Bob

    I have a camel back 14er its great for bikepacking it holds my whole sleeping system 40degree bag klymit pad even a pillow with plenty of room for a 100oz bladder a survival knife and a small hatchet

    and countless other things stuffed in the smaller pockets I’m amazed at how much I can fit in this thing and its holding up very well after 20+ trips this leaves me plenty of room in my bike bags to fill with food clothing and other essentials for the trip

  • Mark Troup

    I’ve been going back and forth on a traditional touring setup vs a more bikepacking-type setup for a long trip, and your article (and the comments) finally got me to pull the trigger on a Talon 22 and bikepacking bags. Found a great deal at too, just $75 for the Talon 22 (the 11 liter model is only $67).

  • (Logan)

    Good to hear!

  • (Logan)

    Thanks Seth, sounds like another good option…

  • (Logan)

    Interesting fact about Wildland firefighters… thanks for sharing.

  • Depestel Christ

    Any one tried or is using the Montane UltraTour 22 backpack ? Not bikespecific , but looks interesting (and on sale) .

  • Wayne

    What about the minimalist end of things like the Ultimate Directions vests? They work fine and will take bear spray upfront if you should ever need it ASAP after getting knocked off your bike by 1) a short range grizzly missile 2) a stealthy pounce-from-behind cougar or 3) Snickers-loving sasquatch. The AK Race vest, for example, weighs 7oz.