Wizard Works Hobgob Hip Pack Review: A Cut Above
Two years in the making, the new Wizard Works Hobgob Hip Pack is the small London brand’s most technical bag to date, packed full of features and details that they claim make it functional, extremely comfortable, and easy on the eyes. We got our hands on one ahead of today’s launch to see how it compares to the crowded field of competitors. Find Miles’ Wizard Works Hobgob Hip Pack Review here…
I use a hip pack more than any other bag. From zipping across town with a wallet and a few snacks to hauling my camera while scouting new routes, they’re endlessly useful and great for stashing delicate items and electronics. There’s no shortage of options these days, including many high-quality handmade packs from some of our favorite bag makers. But, aside from a few, they’re all generally pretty similar, and there’s undoubtedly room for more options and further innovation.
When Wizard Works messaged me this spring asking about my thoughts on bottle holders and bladder compatibility for hip packs, I knew they were cooking up something exciting. We’ve had the pleasure of dropping in on Wizard Works’ London HQ a couple of times and reviewing several of Wizard Works’ bags now, and if there is one thing they all share, it’s that they aren’t rushed to market. The designs are dialed before releasing, and they have a distinctive, intentional look.
Hobgob At a Glance
Deriving its name from hobgoblin, a mischievous household spirit from English folklore, the new Hobgob is Wizard Works’ first hip pack. They gathered rider feedback to inspire a design that combines the fit and comfort features of big brands with the home-grown aesthetic they’re known for. The first prototype was made in September 2021, and the final version is beyond what the Wizard Works’ team originally imagined. According to co-founder Harry Major, the bag’s pattern is entirely curved and angled and was harder than any project they’ve worked on to date. Not only is the design a step forward for Harry, Veronica, and the rest of the small team at Wizard Works, but it’s also a reminder that there’s always room for improvement.
The Hobgob features a main zippered compartment, a smaller front zippered pocket with a weather flap, and an optional Bottle Pocket that attaches to MOLLE webbing on the hip straps. The pack is constructed from a burly 500-denier Cordura fabric (although the version I tested is made from 1000-denier Cordura), super thick spacer mesh on the back and hip straps, and a low-profile magnetic waist strap buckle from Fidlock’s Hook range. The inside of the pack is lined with high-vis nylon, the main compartment has two mesh organizer pockets and a key ring, and the smaller pocket has a length of elastic daisy chain to hold smaller items in place.
At first glance you might think, “So what? It’s just another handmade hip pack.” But a closer inspection shows some thoughtful details and extraordinarily high-quality construction. The larger zippered pocket curves around the contour of the bag, making it easier to open wide when stashing larger items, including cameras. The thick 9mm spacer mesh and 10mm EVA foam on the back are elegantly shaped to follow the contours of the bag and the wearer’s back, plus there’s an air-flow channel built into the middle of the mesh. The hip straps are oversized for comfort and weight distribution, and all buckles are positioned in a way that eliminates irritation. The main webbing strap is oversized and extra-long to fit a variety of body types, and both the main Fidlock buckle and optional Bottle Pocket can be operated with one hand. Further, on the base of the bag is an elastic cord with a quick-release buckle for stashing overflow items and layers, the main zip is a water-resistant YKK Aquaguard zip, there are reflective details, and there are tensioning/compression straps on each side to keep things tight.
As for specs, the Hobgob dishes up a solid 4.8L of storage, weighs 425 grams (15 ounces), and measures out to 30 x 17 x 9cm/12 x 7 x 4” (width x height x depth). The only other handmade hip pack I’ve used in this size category is the infamous Rockgeist Big Dumpling at 6L, which has a fully waterproof construction. The Hobgob isn’t waterproof, but it’s highly weather-resistant thanks to its construction, finished seams, and liner.
Getting on with the Hobgob
Emily and I have been testing out the Wizard Works Hobgob Hip Pack out for a couple of months now. Despite being a big hip pack, the fit has proven to be versatile and adaptable to different body shapes and sizes. The main waist strap is generously long and adjusts at both sides, making it easy to dial in the fit. There are two elastic loops to hold the extra webbing, which will be important for smaller users since the straps are so long. Emily had a good amount of excess strap that needed to be tucked away. If she was going to be the only one using the hip pack she’d be cutting the straps shorter.
For such a sizable pack, it’s great to see oversized hip straps or wings and so much padding. Big hip packs are great, especially for those of us toting around cameras, but if they aren’t designed for heavier loads, they are rarely comfortable for long periods of time. I generally use a full-sized DSLR as a benchmark for hip pack capability, and I’m happy to report that the Hobgob makes the cut. It has an elegant contour that follows the natural curvature of the lower back, the waist straps are wide and generously padded, and there are no weird seams or hardware to dig into your hips or ribs.
The backside of the Hobgob is perhaps the most impressive part of the bag. The 9mm Spacer Mesh that Wizard Works uses is super plush, breathable, and uncommon among cottage industry manufacturers. The way they integrate it into the back of the hip pack is clean and skillful too. The finished seams, crisp lines, and tapered air-flow channel are more common from bigger brands and a reminder that the folks at Wizard Works are at the top of their game.
The business side of the hip pack is also brimming with handy features. Unlike most zippered hip packs that use a basic flat zipper path, the Hobgob’s zipper curves around the edges toward the hip straps. It’s a more complicated design, but it allows the main closure to open wide, making it easier to access contents or stash larger items. The front pocket is a simple flat zippered pocket, making it perfect for a phone. We’ve been traveling around Colorado over the last few weeks, and having a phone easily accessible for navigating new trails has been handy. It’s not fully waterproof, but I’d trust my phone to stay dry in light showers thanks to the bag’s construction and integrated weather flap.
The various internal elastic straps and pockets are all fairly run of the mill but add some organization to the pack. For extra carrying capacity, Wizard Works designed an optional bottle pocket to go with the Hobgob. It has full one-handed use and attaches to the MOLLE webbing on the hip strap using two nifty Blackhawk Speed Clips. Instead of a cinch or elastic cuff, the bottle pocket uses an elastic cord with a chunky zipper-style pull that wraps around the top of the bottle. The pocket itself has some structure to it to make getting the bottle in and out easier.
All of the features that Wizard Works packed into the Hobgob create a functional and comfortable hip pack. The padded back, air-flow channel, and comfy hip straps are a step above all other hip packs I’ve used. The new “hook” style Fidlock buckle is much easier to operate compared to the latch-style versions, and it’s positioned off to one side so it doesn’t jab into the user.
Beyond it being a larger hip pack, which won’t be ideal for some people, I don’t have any substantial complaints about the Hobgob. If I’m getting super picky, I’ll point out that the thick Spacer Mesh can sometimes attract dirt and grime if it’s placed on the ground. Pine needles and other forest debris can sometimes get wedged into the mesh and are awkward to retrieve. In short, my recommendation would be to avoid placing the hip pack backside-down on the ground if you can avoid it.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Wizard Works offers the Hobgob as a custom order, like all of their bags. So if the standard colors (Black, Chocolate, Olive, Orange and Splatter) aren’t doing it for you, they have lots of other colors to choose from. Another benefit of going custom is the option to pick from a shorter (to fit up to 45″ / 114cm) and longer belt (to fit up to 65″ / 165cm). The standard version has a webbing strap that will fit up to 55″ / 140cm.
- Handmade in London, UK
- Impressive build quality and attention to detail
- Large capacity with organization options
- Plush padding and large hip straps makes for a comfortable fit, even when fully loaded
- Magnetic “hook” Fidlock buckle is the slickest we’ve used
- Lots of color options, including full custom colors and strap length
- Possibly too big for some riders’ needs
- Not waterproof
- One of the most expensive hip packs we’ve seen at £195 (~$240 USD)
- Spacer mesh likes to attract dirt and grime, which is sometimes hard to clean out
- Capacity: 4.8L
- Material: 500D/1000D Cordura
- Weight: 425 grams (15 oz)
- Place of Manufacture: London, UK
- Price: £195 / €225 incl Vat. (~$240 USD)
- Manufacturer’s Details: Wizard.Works
I wear some sort of hip pack on nearly every ride. Whether I’m carrying a spare tube, a multi-tool, and my phone or lugging around a camera while shooting photos for the site, you can pretty much bet I have a hip pack close by. They are great for long day rides when a top tube bag might not hold enough and for bikepacking with a camera. The Wizard Works Hobgob joins a short list of hip packs that are big and supportive enough to carry a camera or other bulky items, and it’s made with a high level of detail that makes it stand out from nearly every other option out there. It’s pricey, but considering the time they took to develop it, the quality materials used in its construction, and the fact that it’s handmade in London, I think it will be justified for many people.
Make sure to dig into these related articles for more info...
Please keep the conversation civil, constructive, and inclusive, or your comment will be removed.