Sometimes you just hit it off right away with a great piece of gear.  You have this feature?  I love that feature! And this one too?  I love that one too! The more you learn, the more you like, and you know right away that you’ll be spending an awful lot of time together.

On a related note, I think I’m falling in love with a backpack.

Hydrapak Big Sur Features

  • 3L (100-oz) fluid reservoir
  • 7.4L (450 cu. in.) cargo capacity
  • Weight (with empty reservoir): 1.02 Kg (2lb, 4oz)
  • Fabric: 420 Double Ripstop and 300 Double Baby Ripstop
  • Air Chairman rear ventilation
  • Integrated Slider chest strap for vertical adjustment
  • Magnetic Quantum Clip secures drink tube to shoulder harness
  • Separate electronics port for music or lighting system
  • Stowable waist belt
  • Helmet carrier
  • Top or bottom tube routing
  • MSRP: $80

Hydrapak Big Sur Review

It’s tough to say what’s more impressive about Hydrapak’s Big Sur: the pack itself, or the fluid reservoir that comes with it.  Both of them combine thoughtful design with outstanding durability that make everything about the Big Sur very easy to use.

Sorry … old-school hardtail not included

Let’s start with the pack.  Storage capacity is 450 cubic inches, which is more than enough to pack food and extra clothing for a full-day adventure, with space left over for a few tools and an emergency kit.  The body is made with super durable ripstop material that will survive sharp brush-beatings on narrow single tracks (I’ve actually tried this) or totally gnarly crashes (not yet, fingers crossed).

Pockets, pockets, pockets!

If you’re one of those “everything in its proper place” people, the Big Sur was designed for you: it has no fewer than nine separate pockets and pouches to keep all your stuff organized.  There are high and low pockets, large and small ones, inner and outer ones, vertical and horizontal ones, as well as some nice touches like a fleece-lined pocket for sunglasses, and an expandable rear pocket to store your helmet when you get off the bike.

There’s also a completely separate compartment for the fluid reservoir (more on that in a second), with 360 degrees of closed cell foam insulation for temperature regulation.  This compartment has built-in gussets that expand towards the rider when the fluid reservoir is full, so you don’t lose cargo space in the main compartments just because you’re loaded up with liquids.

Air Chairman ventilation system

Between the fluid compartment and rider is the Air Chairman system, which combines comfortable ergonomic padding with deep channeling to allow air movement and ventilation.  The whole pack rides very comfortably, even on rough terrain, with a stowable waist belt to further secure the fit if needed.

Hydrapak may be making the best fluid reservoirs on the market today, and the Big Sur pack includes the 3L version to fuel you for the long haul.  The tough skin polyurethane is the same material used for whitewater rafts, so it’s highly puncture and burst resistant (and comes with a lifetime warranty against leakage).  It also sports several design innovations like a detachable tube, an easy fold and seal opening, and a top clip to prevent sagging inside the pack.

100-oz reservoir turned inside out

However, all those perks pale in comparison to this feature of the reservoir: it’s completely reversible.  Cleaning the inside of a fluid container has never been easier: you just turn it inside out, wash and let air dry.  The whole system is practically idiot-proof, which is a quality I’ve come to appreciate sometimes.


Good Big Sur

  • Room to carry everything
  • Comfortable and compact
  • Jam-packed with cool features and accents
  • Top-quality fluid reservoir

Bad Big Sur

  • Um … drawing a blank here.  Seriously.

Bottom Line: Hydrapak Big Sur

The Big Sur is Hydrapak’s most popular bike pack, providing all the cargo and fluid capacity you’ll need for multi-hour rides in a compact and comfortable design.  If you’re accustomed to spending long days on the trail and have a lot of stuff to take with you, the Big Sur is a pack you can truly fall in love with.

Buy Now: Search for Hydrapak Packs at

About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.


  1. A review without one single personal story of how the product worked for you? We might as well just read about the features on the product’s website. Horrible.

  2. J: Sorry – I thought I was fairly clear that it’s worked great for me. It rides secure and comfortably, is durable and easy to use, with lots of convenient storage. Is there a specific aspect you have a question about that I can help answer?

  3. In the top of the left strap there’s a little velcro opening with another strap tucked in there, do you know what it’s for? I haven’t found a use for it yet.

  4. I purchased a Hydrapak some time ago and it is still going strong. As a small mountainbiker I was looking for something small but practical that would not be too bulky. Now after numerous muddy rides and some “dry cleaning” I would like to put my pack, minus bladder of course, in the washing machine but I find nothing either on your website or on the pack’s labeling to say I could safely do so. I would assume if it can withstand rough riding conditions, it should love a gentle washing machine.

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