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wearing a hydration pack while bikepacking

Old 08-31-21, 11:57 AM
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rbrides
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wearing a hydration pack while bikepacking

Most folks i see do NOT use a hydration pack while bikepacking. I presume it is because several days with the weight on your back get to be too much. Or is it?
Bike-bag capacity being limited, it seems a useful way to carry the water and some light clothing, etc. I use one on day-long gravel rides so I don't see much downside. Am I missing something?
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Old 08-31-21, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by rbrides View Post
Most folks i see do NOT use a hydration pack while bikepacking. I presume it is because several days with the weight on your back get to be too much. Or is it?
Bike-bag capacity being limited, it seems a useful way to carry the water and some light clothing, etc. I use one on day-long gravel rides so I don't see much downside. Am I missing something?
Nope, not missing anything…other than lost bottles and bathtub temperature water. I use a hydration pack on nearly every ride in nearly every kind of weather (I use an insulation system for winter riding). When on tour…either bikepacking off-road or touring on-road…I have a Camelbak on and it is stuffed with ice if I have ice available. Ice water is refreshing and encourages you to drink more. The ice in the pack also serves as a cooling system while sitting on your back. In high humidity areas…not Colorado…water condenses on the bag and even drips down your back. It makes 90°F/90% humidity bearable for someone who is used to humidities far lower than that.
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Old 08-31-21, 05:30 PM
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Like cyccommute, I wear a Camelbak on every ride, whether it is local or on tour. LIke him, on hot days, I put ice in the bag and drink cooling water for hours. I also use it to keep foods I don't want to get too hot just a bit cool, like cheese or chocolate.

I made the switch when I got a kidney stone from not drinking enough water when I rode. Now, I don't have that problem.

I sweat alot, so backpack or no my jersey gets soaked. I do find that when the full 2 liters of water are in the bladder, it feels a bit heavy. But, after a bit of riding and sipping, I don't notice it. On average, it is only half-full ( or half-empty, take your pick).

Lastly, I keep all my valuables in the backpack, so I am never without them.
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Old 08-31-21, 07:03 PM
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40 Oz CamelBak and 2 25 Oz bottles when I tour. Maybe a bottle of water in a pannier if it’s going to be a relatively long time between services.
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Old 08-31-21, 07:20 PM
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They work great; the only downside is added weight and (arguably) less cooling

The added weight means more pressure on your hands, more strain on your lower back and more weight on your sit bones / saddle. But if it works for you it works!

I've found lots of other ways to carry water that I prefer

Bladder in the frame bag, bottle cage adapter to put two bottles outside the frame bag, bottle holders outside the seat pack, feed bags on the stem, over the aerobars, etc...
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Old 08-31-21, 07:24 PM
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I prefer to have the weight on the bike frame, not on me.

But, if it is a choice of carrying water on your back or not carrying enough water, you really should carry enough water. I have seen far too many badly dehydrated bikepackers come rolling into a campground asking where the water was.
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Old 08-31-21, 08:53 PM
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I've tried a hydration pack but unfortunately for me if I carry weight on my back or in my jersey pockets (think spare bottles of water) my lower back gets debilitatingly soe within only a few kilometers/miles.

When touring or even riding on hot days I use stainless steel Thermoses in my water bottle cages and keep a small clear water bottle in the handlebar mounted water bottle cage. I drink from the small water bottle and the replenish it from a stainless steel Thermos.

If my bike doesn't have a handlebar mounted cage I then use a toe-strap wrapped around the stem and over the handlebar to hold the small water bottle. Like this.



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Old 09-01-21, 05:06 AM
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The biggest complaint I hear is a sweaty back, but in hot weather a Camelbak full of ice feels great. I don't usually use one, but have tried it in the hottest weather in the desert SW and it was pretty nice. Filled with all the ice it would hold in the morning it was cold all day. Personally I prefer drinking from bottles in general though. Just personal preference and likely more habit than anything else. Also I find it easier to fill bottles at convenience store drink dispensers. Much of my touring is where I refill multiple times per day.

In hot places where you need to carry water for all day a big Camelbak is tough to beat.

I do often still carry a little backpack with a light load even when using bottles. It is a good way to keep a few items handy and to have valuables automatically go with you. A Camelbak would do the same.

If you like your Camelbak
it can be a great way to go, especially where you need to carry a lot of water.
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Old 09-01-21, 08:52 AM
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Depends on how far one plans to ride in a day and how hot it is.

If I'm putting in consistently high mileage I find it's just better to find a place on the bike. On long road rides, besides the weight on the back I find in hot weather I sweat underneath it and that travels straight down my backbone and soaks my chamois, leading to an increase in potential saddle sores. I sweat anyways of course but without a camelback it evaporates more. Shorter trips or mileage doesn't add up the same way and the sweat thing becomes less important.

For daily riding I do often use a camelback bag (sans the bladder sometimes) as a small day pack for wallet, keys bear spray etc... I also use it for trail running.

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Old 09-01-21, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by SapInMyBlood View Post
They work great; the only downside is added weight and (arguably) less cooling
Try ice. It really makes a difference.

The added weight means more pressure on your hands, more strain on your lower back and more weight on your sit bones / saddle. But if it works for you it works!
I’ve never found wearing a hydration pack do any of those things. The load of the pack is carried on the bicycle’s best suspension system…you! If it puts more weight on your sitbones/saddle, you aren’t riding the bike correctly to begin with. It’s called a “saddle” for a reason. You shouldn’t be sitting on it with all your weight. Same with hands. You should have a light touch on the bars with your core muscles providing most of your support.

I've found lots of other ways to carry water that I prefer

Bladder in the frame bag, bottle cage adapter to put two bottles outside the frame bag, bottle holders outside the seat pack, feed bags on the stem, over the aerobars, etc...
I see several problems with this approach. First water is heavy. Putting it on the frame makes it a huge mass of unsprung weight. That’s not a good thing. Second, when using bikepacking bags, space is limited and using it up for carrying water means that I have to put items elsewhere or I have carry more bags to provide space for the equipment displaced by the water.

Putting water bottles all over the bike means that you have more bottles to keep track of. I carry a 100 oz Camelbak and three bottles. Two of those bottles are dedicated to sports drink and one is an emergency backup for the Camelbak. I seldom use the water in the backup bottle even when riding in dry Colorado.
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Old 09-01-21, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
...
I’ve never found wearing a hydration pack do any of those things. The load of the pack is carried on the bicycle’s best suspension system…you! If it puts more weight on your sitbones/saddle, you aren’t riding the bike correctly to begin with. It’s called a “saddle” for a reason. You shouldn’t be sitting on it with all your weight. Same with hands. You should have a light touch on the bars with your core muscles providing most of your support
I really don't think it's one or the other as far as camelback go, whatever works for the individual, but suggesting this as if the poster is doing something wrong is disingenuous. There is no way anyone is riding light in the saddle or bars and engaging their core muscles continuously for support to sit lightly after 8+ hours in the saddle. We are talking touring and not just going for a day ride. That's a bit if a bs guilt trip.

You say you are using a 100oz camelback. That's over 6lbs of static weight. I would rather not have that on my back, hour after hour day after day. I have no problem with it when I go mountain biking though or for shorter day trips.

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Old 09-01-21, 02:41 PM
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I am also someone who uses a CamelBak more often than not. It does give me an excuse to drink frequently than I would from bottles and overseas is not a bad spot to put some key valuables on my person.

I am large so the weight compared to my weight isn't as big of a deal. On one occasion, traveling the perimeter of Australia, I normally brought enough water that I put two bladders in my CamelBak and hence had 6 liters of water carried there in addition to 2.5 liters on the bike and then more depending on particular gaps I crossed. However, in the more normal case, I have a CamelBak with a three liter bladder and not always topped to completely full.
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Old 09-01-21, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
I really don't think it's one or the other as far as camelback go, whatever works for the individual, but suggesting this as if the poster is doing something wrong is disingenuous.
SapInMyBlood’s post has the same elements that mine has. He is saying that riding with a hydration pack leads to more pressure on your hands, lower back, and sit bones. Isn’t that telling me that I’m doing something wrong? I’ve never experienced any of that and I’ve been using hydration packs for tours since at least 2003. The only reason that I haven’t used them longer is that they weren’t invented during my early years of touring. (I took a break in loaded touring from 1985 to 2003). I can’t speak for other people, but I’ve never seen a post here making the arguments that SapInMyBlood has presented. The only complaints I’ve ever seen related to sweat and, perhaps, sore shoulders.

There is no way anyone is riding light in the saddle or bars and engaging their core muscles continuously for support to sit lightly after 8+ hours in the saddle. We are talking touring and not just going for a day ride. That's a bit if a bs guilt trip.
I’m not new to touring. I’ve done around 10,000 miles while touring and never had a problem riding lightly in the saddle even after a very long day. On my most recent touring (July 2021), I even did several days over 70 miles (and at least one 90+ mile day). My hands hurt from the bars. My lower back had zero problems. My sit bones never hurt through 24 long days.

You say you are using a 100oz camelback. That's over 6lbs of static weight. I would rather not have that on my back, hour after hour day after day. I have no problem with it when I go mountain biking though or for shorter day trips.
It’s actually a bit higher as I carry tools in the bag. But it isn’t “static weight” which is my point. Water carried on the bike is static. The weight I carry on my body is sprung by my legs and arms. One of the reasons mountain bikers use hydration packs is because they are convenient and encourage drinking because of that convenience. Tourists can benefit as well.
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Old 09-01-21, 10:53 PM
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3 water bottles on the bike, and I have never run out of water.
I wear a pack when mountain biking, but not touring. I prefer to be "free", not only while riding, but going into restrooms, stores, restaurants, etc.
At the most I'll wear a fanny pack for wallet, phone, keys
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Old 09-02-21, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
SapInMyBlood’s post has the same elements that mine has. He is saying that riding with a hydration pack leads to more pressure on your hands, lower back, and sit bones. Isn’t that telling me that I’m doing something wrong? I’ve never experienced any of that and I’ve been using hydration packs for tours since at least 2003. The only reason that I haven’t used them longer is that they weren’t invented during my early years of touring. (I took a break in loaded touring from 1985 to 2003). I can’t speak for other people, but I’ve never seen a post here making the arguments that SapInMyBlood has presented. The only complaints I’ve ever seen related to sweat and, perhaps, sore shoulders.



I’m not new to touring. I’ve done around 10,000 miles while touring and never had a problem riding lightly in the saddle even after a very long day. On my most recent touring (July 2021), I even did several days over 70 miles (and at least one 90+ mile day). My hands hurt from the bars. My lower back had zero problems. My sit bones never hurt through 24 long days.



It’s actually a bit higher as I carry tools in the bag. But it isn’t “static weight” which is my point. Water carried on the bike is static. The weight I carry on my body is sprung by my legs and arms. One of the reasons mountain bikers use hydration packs is because they are convenient and encourage drinking because of that convenience. Tourists can benefit as well.
I've done rides up to 230 miles per day, so maybe those changes accrue over longer periods of time

And I have also used light camelbaks (my salomon trail running bag is my fave) and my evoc 26l touring MTB backpack for carrying more capacity, doing up to 150km days on MTB

I'm not saying you can't use camelbaks, just that you should possibly anticipate certain issues, such as the ones outlined above

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Old 09-02-21, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
SapInMyBlood’s post has the same elements that mine has. He is saying that riding with a hydration pack leads to more pressure on your hands, lower back, and sit bones. Isn’t that telling me that I’m doing something wrong? I’ve never experienced any of that and I’ve been using hydration packs for tours since at least 2003. The only reason that I haven’t used them longer is that they weren’t invented during my early years of touring. (I took a break in loaded touring from 1985 to 2003). I can’t speak for other people, but I’ve never seen a post here making the arguments that SapInMyBlood has presented. The only complaints I’ve ever seen related to sweat and, perhaps, sore shoulders.



I’m not new to touring. I’ve done around 10,000 miles while touring and never had a problem riding lightly in the saddle even after a very long day. On my most recent touring (July 2021), I even did several days over 70 miles (and at least one 90+ mile day). My hands hurt from the bars. My lower back had zero problems. My sit bones never hurt through 24 long days.



It’s actually a bit higher as I carry tools in the bag. But it isn’t “static weight” which is my point. Water carried on the bike is static. The weight I carry on my body is sprung by my legs and arms. One of the reasons mountain bikers use hydration packs is because they are convenient and encourage drinking because of that convenience. Tourists can benefit as well.
I'm not arguing against your personal experience. I think it's valid and worthwhile relating. But there's a difference between that and suggesting one "ought" to feel or act a certain way. No back issues - great. No saddle issues - awesome. It's good you feel that way but the hundreds and hundreds of posts relating problems in that area suggests other people may have different results. Like SIB I have done rides in excess of 200km and 10-12 hours in the saddle and don't want weight on my back for the same reasons. I have been bagged in the saddle many many times and have seen other tourers plodding along in positions I would not call "lively". I'm not saying your experience is wrong, just that others aren't wrong either. As he says: It's not what will happen (YMMV) but what could potentially happen. I agree with that sentiment. If it does happen it doesn't mean one is riding "wrong".

But the weight on your back is static. If it were in bottles on the bike it would be static to the bike. If it's on your back it's static to you. Your arms and legs are shock absorbers which makes it dynamic to the bike.
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Old 09-02-21, 08:51 AM
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I appreciate the passion you folks have for this topic!
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Old 09-02-21, 09:07 AM
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I knew if I put mileage into a post it would turn into a measuring contest.

Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
I'm not arguing against your personal experience. I think it's valid and worthwhile relating. But there's a difference between that and suggesting one "ought" to feel or act a certain way. No back issues - great. No saddle issues - awesome. It's good you feel that way but the hundreds and hundreds of posts relating problems in that area suggests other people may have different results. Like SIB I have done rides in excess of 200km and 10-12 hours in the saddle and don't want weight on my back for the same reasons. I have been bagged in the saddle many many times and have seen other tourers plodding along in positions I would not call "lively". I'm not saying your experience is wrong, just that others aren't wrong either. As he says: It's not what will happen (YMMV) but what could potentially happen. I agree with that sentiment. If it does happen it doesn't mean one is riding "wrong".
And all I’m saying is that if you have hand, back, and butt problems, look for reasons elsewhere. It isn’t the hydration pack causing the problem. Most people ride a bike like it’s a Barcalounger. If you start the day not sitting on the saddle like a sack of potatoes, you are likely to end the day with few problems.

But the weight on your back is static. If it were in bottles on the bike it would be static to the bike. If it's on your back it's static to you. Your arms and legs are shock absorbers which makes it dynamic to the bike.
No, the weight of a hydration pack isn’t static because the rider isn’t “static”. Even if it is static to you, you aren’t static to the bike. That makes the weight of the hydration pack…and the rider…not static.
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Old 09-02-21, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by SapInMyBlood View Post
I've done rides up to 230 miles per day, so maybe those changes accrue over longer periods of time

And I have also used light camelbaks (my salomon trail running bag is my fave) and my evoc 26l touring MTB backpack for carrying more capacity, doing up to 150km days on MTB

I'm not saying you can't use camelbaks, just that you should possibly anticipate certain issues, such as the ones outlined above

In all those pictures you’ve posted, have you experienced any of the issues you listed? If you have, have you repeated the ride without a hydration pack and noticed the issues going away?
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Old 09-02-21, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I knew if I put mileage into a post it would turn into a measuring contest.



And all I’m saying is that if you have hand, back, and butt problems, look for reasons elsewhere. It isn’t the hydration pack causing the problem. Most people ride a bike like it’s a Barcalounger. If you start the day not sitting on the saddle like a sack of potatoes, you are likely to end the day with few problems.



No, the weight of a hydration pack isn’t static because the rider isn’t “static”. Even if it is static to you, you aren’t static to the bike. That makes the weight of the hydration pack…and the rider…not static.
It's only a measuring contest to you because you attempted to use mileage as an unchallenged "appeal to authority". Others can also can refer to their experience when describing their subjective results. It's not a contest unless you are trying to say "I'm right-you're wrong" In some objective way. Which it appears you are.

You can say "a hydration pack causes no problem for me" subjectively. But you can't say "It's not a problem for anyone" objectively. You can only relate your own subjective experience.

Also, we are talking about the effect of weight on the rider- not the bike. The bike does not feel discomfort. In this context, adding weight to your back that does not move (static) increases stress to the muscles and joints. To what degree this effects the individual can be be debated (already addressed above as ymmv). How it effects the bike is not an issue.

From a purely physiological/athletic perspective there is no benefit to adding weight to the body when cycling. Less is better as in all other sports like running, skiing, rowing, horse riding - no one adds weight to the back to improve performance. I might accept the advantage of cooling in hot weather if ice is added but would ask where you get it on day two of a bikepacking trip.

Most other advantages proffered here have to do with: stimulating hydration - which could be achieved conventionally through self ddiscipline. Added volume - which could be achieved with bladders or bottles just as easily. Not enough storage on the bike - which could be addressed by building an adequate rig.

I'm not saying anyone has to alter their methods, only that most of the claims are really not solutions that don't already exist. The hydration pack is just another option that forcsome contains a few caveats.
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Old 09-03-21, 03:09 AM
  #21  
SapInMyBlood
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
In all those pictures you’ve posted, have you experienced any of the issues you listed? If you have, have you repeated the ride without a hydration pack and noticed the issues going away?
I haven't experienced any issues myself wearing the camelbak, apart from the odd time i put a hard edged object awkwardly inside it, and feel it prodding my back.

I'm simply sharing those as possible things to look out for; not many people would find 600km in 36 hours comfortable either.. Just sharing food for thought for someone who is considering it
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Old 09-03-21, 06:51 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by rbrides View Post
I appreciate the passion you folks have for this topic!
chuckle.
at least you are getting some good points to push you in one direction or another!
in the end, you'll have to just buy one and try it to see how it is.
My experience with one was a long time ago, I used it in the winter xc skiing, I wasn't keen on the rubber taste and the hose would freeze up.
The taste thing put me off it, but I'm fairly certain they improved this since then.
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Old 09-03-21, 08:46 AM
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I use a Camelbak. I'll acknowledge they have their downsides, but on balance I prefer them for anything longer than a one-bottle ride. I've got one with a 2.5-l bladder and carry very little apart from water in it—just a spare tube and patch kit.

The sweaty-back problem doesn't strike me as a problem except when you're riding up and down mountains: first you get hot and sweaty going up, then you get chilled going down. The sweaty back exacerbates that, and makes thermal management more important.
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Old 09-03-21, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by SapInMyBlood View Post
I haven't experienced any issues myself wearing the camelbak, apart from the odd time i put a hard edged object awkwardly inside it, and feel it prodding my back.

I'm simply sharing those as possible things to look out for; not many people would find 600km in 36 hours comfortable either.. Just sharing food for thought for someone who is considering it
I’ve never even heard someone…neither those for or those against…bring up the “issues” you raised when talking about using a hydration pack. You bringing them up without personally experiencing them is a red herring.

If someone has experienced those issues, I would say to look to bike fit and technique before attributing it to using a hydration pack. That’s what I object to.
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Old 09-03-21, 07:11 PM
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I post number 6 above, I stated:

Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I prefer to have the weight on the bike frame, not on me.
....
To expand on that, when using bottles, there is the advantage that I know exactly how much water I have left. Over the years I have used different things for water bottles, but currently when touring I am using the one liter size Smart Water or Life WTR (or in Canada, Life Water) brand bottles, three liters on the frame. Those bottles are clear, you can see how much water remains. When I finish one bottle, I know that one liter is gone, second means two liters are gone, etc.



I am fortunate that I can fit three liters on this frame quite easily. I have two other touring bikes, can only fit 2.7 liters on the frame on those two bikes.

For those of you that prefer to wear a backpack, if that works for you, great. Does not work for me.
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