Here are three packs from Evoc: 30 liter to 10 liter. On the foreground: the Hip-Pack.
There have been many instances where I have taken off on a ride without a pack. I have, however, had my essentials stuffed in the zipper pockets of my shorts. On these pack-less rides, I’d always assume the weather would be perfect. I would never be any more than a few minutes walk from wherever I needed to be if something did came up mechanically that I couldn’t repair. And from a safety perspective, there were always plenty of people around to help.
Fashion police be damned, this is a great ride for the Hip-Pack. Throwing a bunch of expensive and important stuff into non-zippered pockets is never a good idea. And stuffed cargo pockets (with shredded layers, warm hat, etc.) means that the weight is going to have to go up and down with every pedal stroke, especially on your thighs. A Hip-Pack keeps your valuables secure and carries the weight of the contents on your lower lumbar, which is also the center of mass of your body. This will be the calmest and most efficient place to carry it.
The pack that is the next size up is a 10 liter pack (pictured above). This is my go-to for most mountain bike riding, as well as my first recommendation for fellow riders. There are many packs that are smaller in size (approximately five to six liters), but all they can carry is your water and the very basics. If you plan on really riding, you’re going to need to shed layers, as well as carry extra layers, and have space to put them. With a five to six liter pack, this is already too much stuff to fit in there. That’s why I personally jump up to the 10 liter right away. It’ll house everything you need, while not being too big or bulky.
The final pack is a 30 liter pack (pictured above). A pack of this size is a necessity if you’re carrying a sleeping bag, lugging food and camping gear, a GoPro camera set-up, and more, but it’ll be overkill for the majority of rides.
So, let’s start getting into the contents of your pack:
Light jacket. Most people are aware that a light jacket is a great idea, but I’m going to go a step further and suggest a waterproof one, too. If you can stay dry, you can probably stay at least relatively warm. Look for a decent water-resistant jacket that will pack well. I also carry a moisture wicking hat and some gloves. Staying warm while riding in light rain isn’t very hard to do even if you are a little damp. But when the weather changes and you’re out for an extended period of time, a little extra protection from the elements will come in handy.