Fanny Packs Vs. Backpacks: Which one Is Best for Mountain Biking?

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May 27th, 2019

The return of hip packs (perhaps better known by their 90s nickname as fanny packs) in the world of mountain biking has left many debating over whether they should opt for a fanny or a backpack. To help you settle the debate and identify which if best for you and your particular needs, we've unpacked the major pros and cons of each with the help of evo Denver's mountain bike shop and their experienced team of mountain bike experts.

 

carrying capacity 

The most obvious and significant difference between backpacks and fanny packs is the amount of stuff that you can carry. While most mountain bike backpacks range from 10L - 35L, most fanny packs offer anywhere from 2L to 8L. Those storage volumes ultimately translate to carrying less or more of your stuff. Sometimes less is more, and packing light can be beneficial on shorter rides. The difference in carrying capacity is the sole determinant between fanny packs and backpacks. In our opinion, it really comes down to the length of your ride -- while bike hip packs are great for shorter rides, longer rides often warrant a backpack.

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weight distribution

The next biggest variable to analyze between waist packs and backpacks is where the extra weight in your pack sits. While some folks prefer having weight distributed over their upper back, others prefer the lower weight and lower centre of gravity that comes with hip packs. Related to the positioning of the weight is the 'swing weight'. Generally, the more weight you have and the further away from your body that weight sits, the more it will impact your riding when maneuvering and cornering --- generally backpacks, by nature of their larger size impact swing weight more so than fanny packs. 

breathability

Perhaps even more so than weight distribution, the difference in breathability between a hip pack and a backpack is a pretty major factor for most riders. While bike backpack manufacturing companies will call-out numerous features that make their backpacks more breathable and sweat-wicking than ever before, they will never beat out the breathability of a waist pack. For some, a sweaty back is a major nuisance. For others, it's an inherent and accepted part of the sport.

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Protection

Not to be overlooked is the aspect of back/spinal protection - after all, accidents happen and mountain biking is an inherently dangerous sport. Bike repairs can always be made, but bodily repairs cannot. Recognizing this, many riders prefer riding with a backpack merely because it provides back protection. Fanny packs? Well, they provide a little extra padding for your lower back but it's pretty negligible compared to a backpack. What's more, several mountain bike backpack manufacturers incorporate back protection features into many of their offerings. If you ride hard, fast or technical trails then back protection is a very valid consideration.

Trendy 

Let's not underplay the value of begin hip (yes, that pun was 100% intended)! There's no denying that the resurgence of hip packs is trending within the mountain bike community as well as amongst streetwear enthusiasts. No, backpacks are not suddenly seen as 'uncool' but the timeless notion of 'new cutting-edge cool" the equation is simple: when you look good, you feel good and you ride well! 

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About the Author:   Asa Redfield is part of evo Denver. Evo is a bike store, ski shop, snowboard shop, skate shop, camping store and clothing retailer all under one roof in Denver, Colorado. In addition to retail, we provide bike repairs, mountain bike rentals, ski/snowboard waxes and tunes and ski/snowboard rentals. Visit our flagship store in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood where our knowledgable staff will happily assist you with all your outdoor gear and action sports needs. 

 
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