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Handmade Hip Packs for Bikepacking

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No longer reserved for enduro bros and dawdling tourists, it seems like fanny packs, hip packs, and bum bags (or whatever you call them) are somewhat mainstream these days. Here’s our Gear Index of 14 hip packs we've reviewed—mostly made in North America—why they’re useful for bikepacking, what to look for when picking one, and how to make a DIY camera insert...

Although most of us try and leave the backpack at home, there are definitely situations that call for the use of a small pack, or our personal favorite, a hip pack. For many of us, it’s the perfect place to keep a camera at hand, a few extra snacks, or a lightweight layer and other handy items. Hip packs provide that little extra packing space without feeling cumbersome or restrictive, and won’t irritate your shoulders or back after a long day of pedaling. Best of all, their size means they are difficult to overpack, unlike a backpack, so you can focus on riding and not your comfort on the bike.

We’ve seen a huge surge of hip pack options recently, many of which are being manufactured right here in North America by the brands responsible for our favorite bikepacking bags. We’ve put together a list of 13 hip packs we’ve used extensively and why we like them, plus read on below for the best uses and how to pick out the one that’s suited for your needs.

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Hip Packs for Bikepacking (Uses)

Here are three valuable uses for a hip pack.

Carrying a Camera

Hip packs make great camera bags, there’s no question about it. After years of riding down rugged roads and bumpy trails, camera gear takes a beating while mounted to handlebar bags and stem bags—Logan’s killed two DSLRs in the last three years. The constant vibrations and bumps from the bike don’t mix well with sensitive electronics, and with the potential to damage expensive gear, why not take it off the bike completely? Transferring your small mirrorless camera or larger digital camera to a hip pack is a great way to keep things relatively safe, yet still very accessible. A quick rotation of the pack to your front, provides quick and simple access to your camera, a motion that will quickly become second nature. No camera-specific padding in your pack? No worries. Toss a small packable layer inside as well to keep things in check, or invest in (or make, see below) a padded camera insert if your pack is large enough.

Hauling Water

When your frame bag is reserved for your camp kitchen and food, or maybe your bikepacking rig isn’t blessed with mounts ideal for hauling a Nalgene or Klean Kanteen, a hip pack definitely come in handy. Many of the hip packs below can easily hold up to a 1L water bladder, and with an extended drinking hose, may also be used easily while riding. A few packs include separate bottle holders which we’ve found particularly useful when tackling dry sections or when you really want to carry an extra fizzy drink before heading to camp. Water is one of, if not the heaviest, part of a bikepacking packlist, so taking some time to figure out where you will carry yours is definitely worth some extra thought. Hip packs with a suspension system or elastic built into the hip strap, along with wider padding, are likely going to be your best option for carrying water.

The Essentials

If toting a camera or extra water isn’t important to you, a hip pack makes a great place to carry the essentials on both long day rides and bikepacking trips. An ultralight rain jacket, a few Cliff bars, your wallet and a cell phone. It can be a great place to carry those little essentials that can get lost within deep frame bags, or items you’d like quick access to whether you are on or off the bike. We’ve found it useful to keep a bit of cash, a passport and ID, and other such items that are best to have at hand. You’ll likely adjust this list depending on the trip, weather, and personal needs.

A hip pack also makes a great accessory for carrying essentials off the bike when traveling abroad. If you stop for in a city for a few days of R&R, it’s not always advisable for leaving valuables in your hotel or hostel, that’s where the hip pack shines. Toss it over your shoulder and it becomes a small sling/messenger bag.

If you have other ways you like to use a hip pack, let us know in the comments below. Now, here are 13 hip packs that we’ve tested—all but a couple are made in North America—each with a full review after testing over the last eight months.

  • ATM Goodtimer Hip Pack

    ATM Goodtimer Hip Pack

    • Type: Zippered Hip Pack
    • Volume: 3.5 liters
    • Made of: CORDURA/VX21 X-Pac

    Tested by Neil Beltchenko

    When I first got my hands on the original Goodtimer Hip Sack four years ago, it was the re-introduction of the fanny pack. As a kid, I often rocked a bright pink bum bag, tossed in my Walkman, and strutted around thinking I was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Fast forward 25 years and here we are, the hip pack, a great idea in the past, an even better idea now.

    When compared to other hip packs in this round up, the Goodtimer sits on the mid-to-large size range. It’s comprised of one large compartment that can carry a whole lot. I typically carry a camera in my hip pack, and this one proved to be well suited for photography. In short, by using your legs as a shock absorber, hip packs help eliminate the impacts that can’t be absorbed when storing your camera on the bike. Where the Goodtimer separates itself from other hip packs is the overall size and shape which lends itself to carrying this precious cargo. The most notable feature is its unique suspension and compression design that allow you to adjust the tension of the hip straps. This gives users a snug and extremely stable fit around the waist while resting the full load on the hips, an imperative feature considering the size of this bag.

    • ATM Goodtimer Hip Pack
    • ATM Goodtimer Hip Pack
    • ATM Goodtimer Hip Pack
    • ATM Goodtimer Hip Pack
    • ATM Goodtimer Hip Pack

    Dual directional zippers, a lightly padded back and hip straps, small interior pockets for tire levers and phones, daisy chains for rear blinky lights and a small, lockable hip buckle that keeps the same tension all day long is what truly put this fanny pack on a pedestal. While trying to swing the bag around to the front of my body to grab my camera was not as easy as some hip packs with the super staple compression hip straps, It was alleviated by simply loosening one of the compression sides.

    When you realize that your hip pack carries weight better than some of the backpacks you own, you tend to use it for more than just cycling, and I now I do just that walking my dog down to the park with beers in tow.

    • ATM Goodtimer Hip Pack
    • ATM Goodtimer Hip Pack

    What’s to Like

    • Has the ability to carry a large amount of weight and gear
    • Comfortable and stable fit with compression hip straps
    • Sharp design
    • Very clean aesthetic and stitching, typical Andrew the Maker quality

    Weaknesses

    • Might not fit smaller riders well due to its length
    • Would enjoy more pockets, especially on the outside of the pack
    • One inch webbing hip strap can lead to an uncomfortable fit over time
    • Weight: 247 grams (8.7 oz)
    • Price: $130
    • Place of Manufacture: Kansas City, Missouri
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Bedrock GreySill Hip Pack

    Bedrock GreySill Hip Pack

    • Type: Zippered Hip Pack
    • Volume: 4 liters
    • Made of: CORDURA/X-Pac

    Tested by Logan Watts

    Like other Bedrock bags, the Greysill hip pack is named after a geographic aberration in the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States. Specifically, it’s the namesake of a mining ghost town at Bolam Pass, just off the Colorado Trail near Bedrock’s home base in Durango, CO. The Greysill is also similar to other Bedrock bags in that it’s an original design, built with a bomber construction and meticulous attention to detail.

    • Bedrock Greysill Hip Pack
    • Bedrock Greysill Hip Pack
    • Bedrock Greysill Hip Pack
    • Bedrock Greysill Hip Pack
    • Bedrock Greysill Hip Pack

    What makes the Greysill unique is its opening system. It features a 4-liter main pocket that’s accessible via a large, burly zipper (with two sliders) that runs the length of the bag. On top of that, the Greysill has a secondary outer flap with two compression buckles to keep contents in place, secure, and compacted. Due to having two openings, it’s not quite as quick to access as several other hip packs that I tried. However, you don’t necessarily have to use both. When I carried my camera in the Greysill—which I might add, the Greysill is the perfect size for a small camera—I often left the zipper open, then just used the outer flap to keep it secure. When riding during prime photographic light, this allowed me to access the camera easily and quickly. Note that although the Greysill is a claimed 4-liters, the same as Oveja’s offering, it’s a little smaller and more compact. This makes it ideal for a smaller camera and makes it the most compact and secure of the four bags I tested.

    • Bedrock Greysill Hip Pack
    • Bedrock Greysill Hip Pack
    • Bedrock Greysill Hip Pack

    Other features on the Greysill hip pack include an internal mesh pocket on the underside of the flap, handy for a wallet, keys, or other small items. The Greysill’s outer buckled flap is made from a durable, internally-coated X-pac, which makes it more rainproof than several of the other bags listed here. The flap can also be used as expandable storage space for an extra layer, such as a rolled up rain jacket. The bottom of the bag is made from Cordura, and like other Bedrock bags, there are several reinforcements here and there, such as the hypalon backing at the compression straps. Lastly, Bedrock also offers Greysill Bottle Holsters in case you want to add a water bottle or two to the sides.

    All in all, the Bedrock Greysill offers a really good packing volume—not too big and not too small—is extremely comfortable, and a highly stable and comfortable.

    What’s to Like

    • Rugged design and attention to detail
    • It’s quite comfortable
    • Sharp design
    • Compression straps and wing design makes it rock solid secure

    Weaknesses

    • Not completely waterproof, but better than others listed here
    • Double entry system is not as quick to access as other designs (see above)
    • Weight: 290 grams (10.2 oz)
    • Price: $100
    • Place of Manufacture: Durango, CO
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Blind Chic Budapest Goliath

    Blind Chic Budapest Goliath

    • Type: Roll-top hip pack
    • Volume: 2L +
    • Made of: Waxed cotton

    Tested by Cass Gilbert

    The Hungarian made Goliath Hip pack is just that… a goliath! The website lists it as 2l, but that’s with it tightly rolled down, as it feels much bigger when loaded full.

    Construction is on the stout side with excellent quality throughout. The back is lightly padded, with a wide hip support and narrow hip belt, and two metal D rings for closure. Once you’re used to it, it’s a very easy system to loosen and adjust, though actually threading the belt strap through can be time-consuming. Also, because the belt is rather long, it needs to be tucked into its sleeve, which is fiddly. As a result, the Goliath isn’t especially quick to actually put on and take off; in practice, I found it easiest just to loosen off the bag and ‘step in and out’ of it, which works very well, even if it looks a touch unconventional… On the other hand, there’s nothing to fail and it’s certainly a lot better looking than and more sustainably-made than a belt that uses a big plastic buckle.

    • blind-chic-budapest-goliath hip pack
    • blind-chic-budapest-goliath hip pack

    Similarly, metal D rings hold the roll top down; because there’s a velcro closure too, you don’t actually need to roll it each time, just folding it over will do. Like the belt, it takes a moment to get used to but once you figure it out, it’s refreshingly simple and satisfying: it’s just a case of quickly loosening the straps off and pushing them to one side.

    • Blind Chic Budapest Goliath Review
    • Blind Chic Budapest Goliath Review
    • Blind Chic Budapest Goliath Review

    Detail wise, there’s both an outside pocket and an internal zippered pouch. Because the bag is lined, I found it mostly waterproof too, given the roll and the use of waved cotton canvas. Lacking from a cyclist’s point of view is a LED tab. I’d also note that unlike more ‘technical’ bike-specific hip packs, it feels a bit bulky and heavy. I’d love to see a similar design using a lighter, more packable fabric (in the interests of sustainability, maybe something that’s been repurposed) to make it more performance orientated.

    This said, part of Blind Chic’s ethic involves creating bags that not only look good but are built to last and can be repaired – that’s definitely waved cotton canvas and metal buckles for you. All in all, this is certainly a unique bag that’s cleverly designed and sewn with love and attention. There’s a number of really nice colorways available too.

    • blind-chic-budapest-goliath hip pack
    • blind-chic-budapest-goliath hip pack
    • blind-chic-budapest-goliath hip pack
    • blind-chic-budapest-goliath hip pack
    • blind-chic-budapest-goliath hip pack
    • Weight: 500 grams (17.6 oz)
    • Price: €75
    • Place of Manufacture: Hungary
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Exile Designs x Rodeo Labs: Fannie Packer

    Exile Designs x Rodeo Labs: Fannie Packer

    • Type: Hip Pack / Handlebar Bag
    • Volume: 3.5 liters
    • Made of: VX-21 X-Pac

    Tested by Miles Arbour

    Part hip pack, part handlebar bag, the Exile Designs x Rodeo Labs Fannie Packer was quick to make it onto this list and I’m happy to report that the hype is well deserved. Exile Designs is a small one-person company based out of Colorado. The first round of Fannie Packers sold out almost immediately.

    The Fannie Packer may look pint sized compared to some of the other hip packs in this list, however it’s the size and unique design that makes it comfortable to wear all day long. Made of VX-21 X-Pac, the main compartment features a weatherproof zipper, and some stretchy elastic to keep things organized inside. On the outside, another small zippered sleeve provides a great place to store quick access items like a phone or credit card. On the hip straps, two cylindrical pouches securely hold standard water bottles when extra water storage is needed. Like other packs listed here, there isn’t much internal padding for contents, so if you’re interested in carrying a camera, a padded insert or some cushion is advised. Otherwise, it’s excellent for extra layers and snacks.

    • Exile Designs Fannie Packer
    • Exile Designs Fannie Packer

    Even with a small mirrorless camera and two bottles of water, I found the bag extremely comfortable last summer during the Julian Bikepack Challenge. Its wide hip straps with built in elastic and slim design makes the Fannie Packer my personal favourite of the several hip packs I’ve tried. It’s versatile enough to be used on extended bikepacking trips, but not overkill for long day rides.

    Version 2.0 will have fully enclosed bottle pockets to carry other stuff. Plus, the handlebar function will be improved on, allowing users to maintain the use of the exterior bottle pockets, which will likely cinch down towards the stem. We’ll make sure to let you know when they are available, and we hear Exile Designs will have a brand new website soon as well. Right now they’re planning several small batches throughout the year, and maybe a made-to-order option with some wait time, so stay tuned.

    • Exile Designs Fannie Packer
    • Exile Designs Fannie Packer
    • Exile Designs Fannie Packer

    What’s to Like

    • Comfortable, well-designed hip strap
    • Fantastic design, truly unique
    • Slim to back, yet spacious

    Weaknesses

    • Availability
    • Price is a little higher
    • Weight: 200 grams (7.1 oz)
    • Price: $150
    • Place of Manufacture: Colorado, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Farsik Waist Bag

    Farsik Waist Bag

    • Type: Zippered Hip Pack
    • Volume: 2 liters
    • Made of: Cordura

    Tested by Miles Arbour

    Farsik, a small bag manufacturer based out of Victoria, British Columbia, is perhaps best known for their cylindrical handlebar bag that’s often spotted on gravel bikes and bikepacking rigs around BC. The Farsik Waist Bag shares a similar overall design, providing just enough packing space for a small camera, light jacket, or a cellphone and snacks. A large main compartment, accessed via a waterproof zipper, features a key clip, an internal pocket for organizing small items, and a fluorescent green liner that makes keeping track of its contents that much easier. The secondary face pocket is large enough to slip in a few granola bars and a cell phone. It features the same waterproof YKK zipper. A small length of webbing provides exterior lashing options, perfect for a small rear light or GPS tracking device.

    • Farsik Waist Bag
    • Farsik Waist Bag
    • Farsik Waist Bag

    There isn’t much in the way of padding or a focus on overall comfort, as the hip strap is simple and small, plus the back of the pack is no more than a layer of Cordura. But when packed strategically, or when reserved for long day rides and commuting, the Farsik Waist Bag will likely be a popular option for those looking to support a small Canada-based manufacturer. I found the overall design and aesthetics of the bag to be quite appealing, and Emily has grown quite fond of this pack because of its smaller size and fun colour options.

    What’s to Like

    • Simple, attractive design
    • Made in Canada
    • Great colour options

    Weaknesses

    • Only ideal for lighter loads
    • Smaller than we prefer for bikepacking
    • Weight: 225 grams (7.9 oz)
    • Price: $53
    • Place of Manufacture: British Columbia, Canada
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • High Above Lookout Pack

    High Above Lookout Pack

    • Type: Zippered Hip Pack
    • Volume: 2.5 Liters
    • Made of: VX21 X-Pac

    Tested by Neil Beltchenko

    The Lookout Pack is a product of many years of trial and improvements. They have a winner in their latest iteration. This dual compartment hip pack comes with plenty of bells and whistles that will intrigue bikepackers as well as serve your day ride or work commute needs.

    Dual zippers accompanied with long zipper pulls will greet you into the main compartment. This spacious compartment tightly fit my Sony A6500 and my largest e-mount telephoto lens, and its interior padding helped keep it from annoying my lower back. Interior pockets on the front and back of the bag separate personal items, including a small key chain loop for must not lose items.

    • High Above Lookout Hip Pack review
    • High Above Lookout Hip Pack review
    • High Above Lookout Hip Pack review
    • High Above Lookout Hip Pack review

    A small but convenient zipper on the front of the pack provides access to a small compartment where you will find a couple of individual pocket sleeves inside. My wallet, camera batteries, along with some spare zip ties typically lived here. The oversized hip straps and buckles helped create a nice stable fit and allowed me to twist the bag to the front of my body for easy access to my camera, however, the non-locking buckles would loosen up over time on my skinny waist. To alleviate that, you may consider their aftermarket Cobra Buckle upgrade.

    The most unique feature just might be the Lookout’s removable water bottle mount. The pack comes with two sets of daisy chains on each side of the hip strap in which allow the separately sold Malice Clip and High Above’s Bottle Rocket to be connected. The Install took a bit of figuring out but it was nice to add or remove depending on water needs, and the new V2 Bottle Rocket should help hold the bottle in place better. While the water storage is nice, It conveniently fit my full repair kit, excluding tube and pump in my Angry Catfish Keg.

    After testing this hip pack, it’s clear they have been making these bags for over four years now. Thoughtful design, durable materials, and stable fit got my precious cargo through some rugged terrain. The Lookout Pack is available in a variety of color combos, too.

    • High Above Lookout Hip Pack review
    • High Above Lookout Hip Pack review

    What’s to Like

    • High density padding on the back, really helps protect high dollar items (camera)
    • Stable fit over rough and rocky terrain
    • Exterior pocket got plenty of use, especially for wallet and snacks

    Weaknesses

    • Non-locking hip straps/buckles would loosen over time
    • Water add on was a bit confusing to install, and felt unbalanced when used
    • Weight: 259 grams (9.1 oz)
    • Price: $100
    • Place of Manufacture: Bellingham, WA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Hunter Cycles Shred Pack

    Hunter Cycles Shred Pack

    • Type: Zippered Hip Pack
    • Volume: 3 liters
    • Made of: X-Pac, Cordura, or Waxed canvas

    Tested by McCullen Murphy

    The Hunter Shred Pack is made specifically for Hunter Cycles by Porcelain Rocket in Alberta, Canada. The design is simple and timeless, offering approximately three litres of storage, which translates to four 12oz fizzy drinks. The Shred Pack recently saw an update, adding a bungee cord lash system on the top of the pack—great for stowing a light layer when not in use. An interior pocket, key clip, and waterproof zipper provide enough organization without making things complicated. The Shred Pack is available in a variety of colours and fabric options, including a few different camo patterns, coloured cordura, X-pac, and even waxed canvas! McCullen Murphy, who finished the Julian Bikepack Challenge alongside Miles, has been using a Hunter Shred Pack for some time now, so we picked his brain for some thoughts below.

    • Hunter Cycles Shred Pack
    • Hunter Cycles Shred Pack
    • Hunter Cycles Shred Pack
    • Hunter Cycles Shred Pack
    • Hunter Cycles Shred Pack

    “The Hunter Shred Pack. The name really says it all in this case, a minimalist pack intended for trail shredding! Low on features yet high in style points, this hip pack offers one large compartment with generous storage space likely designed around the portage of a six pack. When applied to bikepacking the lack of internal division can lead to a somewhat jumbled mess if not carefully organized but it can indeed carry an impressive amount of stuff given its larger volume. The narrow nylon hip strap is not the most stable nor comfortable when heavily laden with gear over long distances. This sleek offering is best suited to carrying a few essentials for shorter outings with an emphasis on getting rad!”

    • Price: $70
    • Place of Manufacture: Alberta, CA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Mission Workshop The Axis

    Mission Workshop The Axis

    • Type: Zippered Hip Pack
    • Volume: 2.5 Liters
    • Made of: 500d Nylon (TPU)

    Tested by Colt Fetters

    The Mission Workshop Axis is a bike specific waist pack that doesn’t scream “I RIDE BIKES!” With its minimalist aesthetic and slim profile, this pack can easily pass as street garb when slung over the shoulder or strapped around the waist. When riding, it’s sleek enough for you to completely forget it’s even there. Which is the reason most of us choose hip packs over backpacks in the first place.

    While I normally gravitate to larger bags, always wanting to carry as much as possible, I’ve enjoyed the compact size of the Axis. The size allows the pack to keep everything close to your body for a more comfortable feel. At 2.5 liters of capacity, there’s enough room for a small repair kit and a light jacket. This is a minimalists hip pack with a couple of hidden frills. The pack features a mini U-lock holder, a key clip, and an internal zippered compartment for things like a credit card.

    • Mission Workshop Thew Axis hip Pack
    • Mission Workshop Thew Axis hip Pack
    • Mission Workshop Thew Axis hip Pack
    • Mission Workshop Thew Axis hip Pack
    • Mission Workshop Thew Axis hip Pack

    Handmade in the USA, this seemingly simple bag has a trick up its sleeve. The Axis is compatible with their Arkiv Backpacks, allowing the pack to be attached to the back of their backpacks. The ultra-thin waist belt tucks inside the hip pack so that four clips can be attached then slid onto the rails of one of their backpacks for additional storage. While I don’t have one of their Arkiv backpacks to test this system, I can see how it would be useful. For instance, I carry a backpack when commuting to work but enjoy using a hip pack during lunchtime rides, this system would work well for this specific purpose.

    The laser-cut plastic liner on the back of the pack disperses pressure points nicely while the waist gussets are wide enough to support a decent amount of weight. The straps are a bit skinny for someone who like me, spends too much time eating pasta and gelato. They tend to pinch bellies of a more gelatinous nature. The pack is built from high tenacity nylon and uses a floating interior lining. In addition, a urethane coated zipper ensures the Axis is durable and weatherproof without compromising style.

    With a $130 price tag, this is definitely not the cheapest bag in the lineup. However, it’s hard not to enjoy the classically simple aesthetic of this pack. If you’re looking for a compact waist pack that can hold up to inclement weather, this just might be the one for you.

    • Weight: 227 grams (8 oz)
    • Price: $130
    • Place of Manufacture: California, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Nittany Mountain Works Deluxe Hip Sack

    Nittany Mountain Works Deluxe Hip Sack

    • Type: Zippered Hip pack
    • Volume: 3.9
    • Made of: 1000D Cordura Nylon

    Tested by Cass Gilbert

    The Nittany Mountain Works hip pack has pretty much stayed stuck to my hips during most of my waking hours these last few months. I’ve found its size — 5x15x9cm (2″x6″x3.5″) spot on for either a mirrorless camera and a short lens, or just snacks, a wallet, and other day-to-day sundries. It’s barely noticeable around your waist when lightly packed, and it’s more discreet than larger offerings. And the big chunky zipper makes it really quick to get into.

    • Nittany Hip Pack Deluxe Review
    • Nittany Hip Pack Deluxe Review
    • Nittany Hip Pack Deluxe Review
    • Nittany Hip Pack Deluxe Review
    • Nittany Hip Pack Deluxe Review

    Elsewhere, there’s enough padding to be comfy, without making me feel overly swaddled. The daisy chain is handy to hang a carabiner (ti mug dangle, anyone?), some keys, or an LED when I’m commuting. I like having two very usable pockets but because neither is waterproof, I do tend to stash a thin waterproof dry bag for winter use. Only the back is padded – there’s no sign of abrasion at all, after months of use – so for the way I use it, I add in the lightly padded insert from a Revelate Egress when I’m carrying my camera (see image). Detailing also includes two metal side clasps to cinch the bag down, which helps stabilise it for heavier loads. Build quality is excellent – the purple Cordura is now well worn and grubby from use but the stitching is holding strong.

    • Nittany Hip Pack Deluxe Review
    • Nittany Hip Pack Deluxe Review

    One comment I’d make is that the wide waist straps are velcro backed across their length. Although this means that there’s no chance that they’ll slip, it also means I couldn’t make quick adjustments on the bike — say, when I stop want and want to loosen off the bag a touch, to swing it around in front of me. Or if I want to let my stomach breath a little after some food, then make sure it’s snug against my back for a burly descent. It might not be a big deal for you, but it’s worth mentioning.

    It’s a great look bag, in a retro kind of way. And it’s super customisable, as Nittany offer a huge range of colour swatches, with all kinds of options for stitching, pocket, and daisy chain combinations. In theory, I’m guessing it’s possible that no two bags are ever the same! There’s also a smaller version, the Half Sack… which is half the size.

    Lastly, the Nittany workshop is 100% solar powered, which is very cool too, and orders generally ship within three days, so no long lead times to worry about.

    • Price: $56
    • Place of Manufacture: Philipsburg, PA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • North St. Bags Pioneer 9 Hip Pack

    North St. Bags Pioneer 9 Hip Pack

    • Type: Hip Pack / Handlebar Bag
    • Volume: 2.65 liters
    • Made of: VX-42 X-Pac

    Tested by Miles Arbour

    Portland’s North St. Bags is a small business that celebrates their own in-house manufacturing by “lowering the barriers between the process and the end user.” Besides a growing selection of duffels and backpacks, North St. Bags also offers a number of bicycle specific products including panniers, tool rolls, the new VX Micropannier, a top tube bag, and the updated Pioneer Hip Pack. Check out a first look on all three here.

    • North St. Bags Pioneer Hip Pack
    • North St. Bags Pioneer Hip Pack

    A rugged VX-42 X-Pac fabric provides great durability and protection from the elements, while heavy duty waterproof zippers and oversized pulls make accessing a small camera or cell phone quick and easy. The optional $12 handlebar kit adds two velcro straps, complete with quick release buckles, and an adjustable headtube strap. The waist strap, also removable, is simple and unpadded. It suits light loads over heavier cameras or water bladders. A zippered internal pocket with two dividers provides some organization, and large velcro strips on the opposing side can accept one of two available pocket add-ons as well.

    • North St Bags Pioneer Hip Pack
    • North St Bags Pioneer Hip Pack
    • North St Bags Pioneer Hip Pack

    Overall, The Pioneer 9 Hip Pack is a very versatile pack, and can be used in multiple ways, but is definitely better suited to lighter, smaller loads that deserve protection from rain and freak snow storms. The Pioneer hip pack is available in three different sizes, a variety of colours, and is stylish enough to be used for daily commutes or longer bikepacking trips. Don’t see a color you like? North St. Bags will whip up something custom for you with about a two week turnaround.

    • Weight: 180 grams (6.3 oz)
    • Price: $79.98
    • Place of Manufacture: Oregon, USA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • Oveja Negra Royale Hip Pack

    Oveja Negra Royale Hip Pack

    • Type: Roll-top Hip Pack
    • Volume: 4+ liters
    • Made of: X-Pac

    Tested by Logan Watts

    Made in Salida, CO, Oveja Negra’s Royale is a unique and elegant take on a hipsack. This was the second hip pack I tried and I immediately fell in love with it. Honestly, out of the four hip packs in this roundup that I tested, I found the Royale to be the easiest to use. Here’s why. First off, Oveja Negra nailed the Royale’s simple roll-top closure. It has just one compression strap and an easy to operate buckle. The roll top itself isn’t too long and has a small strip of velcro that keeps it in place as you roll it, without the buckle connected. However, when bounding down the rough stuff, it usually won’t stay in place without the buckle.

    • Oveja Negra Royale Hip Pack Review
    • Oveja Negra Royale Hip Pack Review
    • Oveja Negra Royale Hip Pack Review
    • Oveja Negra Royale Hip Pack Review
    • Oveja Negra Royale Hip Pack Review

    Second, the bag’s interior is the perfect size; It holds about four liters according to Oveja—although I think it’s a little larger—and it fits my DIY camera insert (see bottom of post) and Sony A7III like a glove (with a rather large lens). It also has room to spare; on several occasions I’ve carried an extra lens in it as well as other odds and ends. Generally speaking, it handles a lot of weight pretty well and can carry as much or more than many of the other packs listed here without getting too floppy. This is partially owed to the closed cell foam reinforced hip wings. In comparison to the other bags I tried, it uses a firmer and more rigid internal foam panel. It also has nicely implemented side compression straps that can be tightened to further pull the load in at the sides, which helps keep it stable and secure. It features a 1 1/2″ waist belt, which seems pretty common amongst most of these bags. There is one downfall to the design. With larger loads, the top buckle placement sits just on the rolled top, placing it an angle which causes it to loosen if the cam lock isn’t engaged. Overall, this is a non-issue that I just noticed once or twice, but not something to be too concerned about considering it has a locking buckle.

    • Oveja Negra Royale Hip Pack Review
    • Oveja Negra Royale Hip Pack Review
    • Oveja Negra Royale Hip Pack Review

    Other features on the Royale include an interior zippered pocket, which I’ve found handy for a wallet, spare SD cards, and other small items. Furthermore, like other Oveja Negra packs, the Royale comes in an array of colors, including, “Wack Pack,” as shown here. This color combo isn’t set in stone, though. The wizards at Oveja Negra simply create them at their own whim, so it’s always a surprise, and they always look pretty rad.

    What’s to Like

    • Large volume and easy roll-top opening
    • Bright, funky color combo options
    • Nice strap design and compression system
    • Reflective logo

    Weaknesses

    • Not waterproof
    • Roll-top buckle placement can be awkward with larger loads
    • Weight: 293 grams (10.3 oz)
    • Price: $100
    • Place of Manufacture: Salida, CO
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
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  • PackNW Ridgeline Roll-top Hip Pack

    PackNW Ridgeline Roll-top Hip Pack

    • Type: Roll-top Hip Pack
    • Volume: 4 liters
    • Made of: 1000d Cordura or X-Pac VX21

    Tested by Cass Gilbert and Colt Fetters

    Pack NorthWest—no doubt in part due to their geographic location—says that the beauty of their hip pack “is in carrying just what you need, but if you find some mushrooms on the side of the trail or stop for beer on the ride home, the Ridgeline Roll-top has you covered.” I have yet to find edible mushrooms on my current ride, but this hasn’t stopped me making the most of the roll top design to stuff it with extra supplies and a light layer. Size wise, it’s listed as being 12″(w) x 3″(d) x Approx. 8″(h) when packed, with the roll-top expanding to 12″ when open. There’s over a half dozen colors on offer; but I do rather like the Grey-Teal Xpac color way on my test bag.

    • Pack NW Ridgeline Review
    • Pack NW Ridgeline Review
    • Pack NW Ridgeline Review
    • Pack NW Ridgeline Review
    • Pack NW Ridgeline Review

    In terms of organisation, the Ridgeline features a big main pocket, a couple of inner sleeves, and a zippered front sleeve, helpful to keep things from jangling around. The back is well padded with a big wide belt and buckle for a comfortable fit. I passed it over to Nancy for six weeks while bike touring and travelling in Europe, and she found it a comfortable, roomy pack that’s light on the scales too, making it very versatile for both on and off the bike. We even slung it around her handlebars and rested it on her handlebar roll, if your waist needs a break (given the size, it’s tempting to overload it). Build quality is excellent. The only real downside is that there’s no daisy chain, so nowhere to securely attach a light tab—which I really miss when I’m commuting around town, or just caught out late when bikepacking.

    Note that the folks at PackNW are touring the Great Divide right now, so there won’t be anything in their online store until August. Be sure to check back then!

    Colt’s Take

    The extra wide waist gussets distribute weight nicely and are lightly padded for extra comfort. Typically hip packs have to be packed purposely to be comfortable, with soft/moldable goods against the body. The padded back adds a little comfort when carrying rigid items like a pump or a camera. My one gripe is with the width of the waist belt. It’s just a bit skinny for comfort. A wider belt would distribute weight better, especially when filling the bag to its fullest.

    • Pack NW Ridgeline Review
    • Pack NW Ridgeline Review
    • Pack NW Ridgeline Review

    The Rolltop is a personal choice over a zipper. I noticed it can be a bit cumbersome compared to a zipper, especially when trying to access the interior contents with one hand. The zippered exterior pocket is nice for accessories that need to be accessed quickly. I keep things like my bike tool or cell phone for ease of access. The interior has a couple of separate pockets as well to keep your items separate. Usually, I use these for important items that I want to keep on my person, like a credit card or even a passport when traveling abroad.

    At $80, you’re getting an awful lot of pack from Ridgeline. With its modern look, comfortable fit, and voluminous capacity, it’s sure to become a favorite amongst bikepackers.

    • Weight: 278 grams (9.8 oz)
    • Price: $85
    • Place of Manufacture: Bellingham, WA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    ^ Close
  • Porcelain Rocket Big Dumpling

    Porcelain Rocket Big Dumpling

    • Type: Roll-top Hip pack
    • Volume: 6 liters
    • Made of: PU-coated 420D

    Tested by Logan Watts

    The Dumpling hip packs (Big and regular; 6 and 3 liters, respectively) add to Porcelain Rocket’s growing line of seam-welded, fully weatherproof bags. The Big Dumpling is the only hip pack listed here that’s 100% weatherproof; note the “weatherproof” designation instantiates that it’s not submersible. But, based on using it quite a bit, I will attest that it’s pretty much waterproof. That means, no matter the deluge, contents will remain dry. That fact alone will convince a lot of photographers looking for a hip pack for camera-carrying duties. And, this is the main reason that it has been my choice hip pack for bringing on longer multi-day trips and shorter ones where weather was questionable. This includes our weeklong trip in Ethiopia, a recent trip in Montana, and several others.

    • Porcelain Rocket big Dumpling Hip Pack Review
    • Porcelain Rocket big Dumpling Hip Pack Review
    • Porcelain Rocket big Dumpling Hip Pack Review
    • Porcelain Rocket big Dumpling Hip Pack Review
    • Porcelain Rocket big Dumpling Hip Pack Review

    Similar to Porcelain Rocket’s 52hz frame pack, Horton handlebar system, and Nigel handlebar bag, the Big Dumpling is neatly designed and constructed with their own “LightBlack” PU-coated 420D fabric. Having extensively used several of the aforementioned bags over long periods of time, I can certainly back the waterproofness and durability of this fabric and construction. And, like those other bags, the Big Dumpling is designed around a roll-top closure which has a sewn in plastic stiffener to make it easy to roll.

    Similar to Nigel, it has a single elastic cord which loops around a replaceable plastic hook to keep it in place. The plastic hook is the one thing on the bag I was worried might break, but I’ve had no problems with it over 1,000+ miles of use. That said, if I did, it’s replaceable and would be an easy fix out on the trail. One other thing to note is that when the Big Dumpling was loaded with my DIY camera insert (see below), the double elastic straps were quite tight and put a lot of tension on the clip. I ended up removing the smaller elastic strap which gave it the perfect amount of tension.

    • Porcelain Rocket big Dumpling Hip Pack Review
    • Porcelain Rocket big Dumpling Hip Pack Review
    • Porcelain Rocket big Dumpling Hip Pack Review

    The fact that it’s waterproof is not all that sets the Big Dumpling apart. It’s also quite large, both in volume and its strap framework. The structured hip wings and belt are larger than the other two bags I tried, which make it the most capable of carrying heavy loads. I often loaded it up with a full-frame Sony A7III and two large/fast prime lenses, among other things. This resulted in a 2 kg (4.4 pound) load, which the Big Dumpling still handles really well. The larger wings and belt also make it quite comfortable and stable.

    • Porcelain Rocket big Dumpling Hip Pack Review
    • Porcelain Rocket big Dumpling Hip Pack Review

    Other features include an internal cell phone/wallet sleeve, MOLLE webbing along hip wings for additional accessories, and front and bottom accessory loops for adding carry straps for extra clothing, a fishing rod, knee pads, etc. All this coupled with the quick-access roll-top closure and the burly/waterproof construction adds up to a highly capable hip pack that is without a doubt the best-in-class for protecting gear from the elements. As such, the Big Dumpling is most often my choice hip pack for carrying a camera on a big trip, or even a small one when weather is questionable. The Big Dumpling weighs 413 grams and fits up to a 42” waist. Like all other Porcelain Rocket bags, it’s made in Canada.

    Note that this is a seasonal item, which they only sell one or two times a year. Keep an eye out this fall for more in stock…

    What’s to Like

    • It’s completely waterproof
    • Massive volume; excellent for a large camera
    • Compression straps, large wing design, and big 2” strap/buckle makes it very stable under load

    Weaknesses

    • Might be a little bulky for smaller riders or small loads (but there’s always the regular Dumpling).
    • Only comes in LightBlack
    • Weight: 411 grams (14.5 oz)
    • Price: $180CAD
    • Place of Manufacture: Alberta, CA
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    ^ Close
  • Swift Industries Elwha

    Swift Industries Elwha

    • Type: Zippered Hip Pack
    • Volume: 2.5 liters
    • Made of: CORDURA

    Tested by TJ Kearns

    Handmade in Seattle, the 2.5-liter Swift Elwha Pack isn’t your average fanny pack. The Elwha is equal parts hip pack and handlebar bag. Mounted to the bars using a soft-mount webbing system, the hip pack straps stow discreetly in a sleeve at the back of the bag. No racks needed. Swift purposely designed the Elwha to carry a fly fishing kit, sunscreen, maps, and a windbreaker. However, it’s a versatile bag that can carry whatever you’d like, with some restraint as it’s not the largest in this mix.

    It’s also expandable. There are two exterior webbing straps on the base of the Elwha Pack to carry a fishing pole, or other cylindrical object. With the waist straps, the Elwha Pack transforms to a well-constructed hip pack that easily stows a small camera, amongst other items. And, the Tenkara patch is attached with velcro backing, so feel free to swap it out.

    • Swift Elwha Hip Pack
    • Swift Elwha Hip Pack
    • Swift Elwha Hip Pack
    • Swift Elwha Hip Pack
    • Swift Elwha Hip Pack

    Originally, the Elwha Pack was collaboratively designed as a “bikefishing” hip pack by Swift Industries and Tenkara Rod Co. The Elwha pack was built for the essential fly fishing kit, sunscreen, maps, and windbreaker, and can be easily integrated into a front bedroll harness. As mentioned, there are two exterior webbing straps on the base of the Elwha Pack to securely carry a Tenkara fishing pole (or the limited edition Swift Industries X Tenkara rod), and features details that optimize the pack for fly fishing. These include several places to attach nippers, floating, or other fishing accessories, as well as the removable patch, which transforms into a fly catcher.

    • Swift Elwha Hip Pack
    • Swift Elwha Hip Pack

    The Elwha Pack measures 10 x 6 x 2.5″ (25 x 15 x 6cm) and has 2.5L (155 cubic inches) of volume. It’s made with a Dyneema Ripstop liner, 1000D Cordura exterior, spacer Mesh, and waterproof YKK zippers. The bag sells for $120, and the Elwha Tenkara Rod fly rod combo originally sold for $270.

    • Swift Elwha Hip Pack
    • Swift Elwha Hip Pack
    • Swift Elwha Hip Pack

    What’s to Like

    • Small and lightweight with a “barely there” feel to it
    • Nice internal pockets for organization
    • High quality build
    • Exterior straps for securing Tenkara Rod Case
    • Can Mount to handlebars or worn as hip pack

    Weaknesses

    • Not Waterproof
    • Small design isn’t big enough for a sizable camera and might not hold enough for extended trips
    • Expensive
    • Price: $120
    • Place of Manufacture: Seattle, Washington
    • Manufacturer's Details: Link
    ^ Close

DIY Padded Camera Insert (For Your Hip Pack)

While it’s pretty easy to stuff a down jacket into a hip pack to provide padding for your camera, that’s not always ideal. Instead, we recommend a dedicated padded camera insert if you’re planning on regularly using your hip pack as a camera bag. There are quite a few camera inserts available from consumer websites such as Amazon and BHphoto, however, they are never the perfect size. If you have access to a sewing machine (and very little sewing skill), you can easily make your own. We made this one out of a recycled flannel shirt and three pieces of lightweight closed cell foam that came from a packing insert.

  • DiY Padded Camera Insert
  • DiY Padded Camera Insert
  • DiY Padded Camera Insert

Aside from being free, the great thing about a making your own padded camera insert is that you can use a soft old t-shirt or other such cotton fabric that’s easy on the camera. The store-bought versions often have a nylon outer fabric which can be abrasive to the finish of a camera.

In brief, I traced the camera with the largest lens on a piece of cardboard. Then we matched that profile with a single piece of foam for the bottom and sides. Once that main body was established, the front and back panels were made. Then, all three pieces of foam were sewn inside of two pieces of cut fabric. Once each was enclosed in flannel, they were all joined together by stitching the perimeter with homemade 1.5cm wide grosgrain (we just used some old fabric we had on hand), which binds the edges of the stitched panels. The result isn’t exactly pretty, but it works like a charm and this one now has a couple thousand miles on it.

In closing, leave us a comment below if you have a handmade hip pack that you’d recommend…