Staying hydrated is extremely important when engaging in outdoor activities such as long hikes, especially if you are exposed to the heat and sun for extended periods of time. Hydration packs are a relatively new design for transporting water that offers an easy, convenient, and efficient way for you to carry enough water with you on the trail. Most hydration packs have a water reservoir, also called a bladder, where the water is stored and a tube extending from the reservoir that you can use to drink from.
Nowadays most smaller hiking backpacks will have a pocket to hold a water reservoir and a hole through which to feed a drinking tube so you can have easy access to your water. There are several hydration pack designs with different features available which can make it difficult to choose one or know which is the best. Our list of the 10 Best Hydration Packs in 2021 and our buying guide can make this process easier for you. Check out our list below to find the perfect hydration pack for your needs.
How To Choose A Hydration Pack – Buying Guide
When deciding which hydration pack is best for you, you will have to decide which design and what features will best suit your needs. There are differences in each hydration pack’s design that can enhance your experience and make using a portable water reservoir easy. The best hydration pack will allow you to easily add the water reservoir to a backpack and take sips from the tube as you go along your journey.
There are generally two types of hydration packs. The first is a hydration backpack and the second is a hydration waist pack. Within the two categories, the packs are then designed to be used for a variety of different outdoor sports.
Hydration backpacks are very commonly used for day hiking. There should be ample space to fit the water pack and any light gear from an extra warm layer to a few snacks. The main difference between a hydration and a hiking backpack is that hydration backpacks have built-in features like an interior sleeve and a pre-cut hole for the water hydration system. There are two main variations of the hydration pack design that are specifically made for cycling and running.
Both the cycling and running packs would have a low-profile design that fits snuggly to your body. This can assist cyclists and runners with carrying the weight of their water. Some hydration backpacks may also have a waist belt that can be used to attach the backpack securely to your body. These packs for cyclists and runners will often have more storage space for smaller items. Cyclists may need to carry repair tools with them, so having a few extra pockets can be a welcome sight, while runners may want to pack more food to keep themselves energized on their trip. These packs ensure the users have plenty of space for both their water and any other gear they choose to pack along.
There are also hydration backpacks that are designed for snow sports. These packs have the capacity of cycling and running packs but provide more insulation in the inner sleeve where the water is held and a bite valve cover for the drinking tube. These features can keep the water supply from freezing, while still providing hands-free access to water.
A hydration waist pack has a different design than a hydration backpack because it is smaller and is worn only around the user’s waist. Instead of having a water bladder and drinking tube, this type of water pack will often have one water bottle. Hydration waist packs are an excellent choice for day hikers who don’t want to carry bulky weight. The hydration waist packs are lightweight and have minimal storage, which means you can focus just on the very essential trail gear, without being weighed down by large unnecessary items. Runners who go for short distances tend to prefer the advantages of a small pack.
There are many different capacities when it comes to hydration packs. You can carry a little water or a lot, but you need to remember that water adds weight. Water is not as light as you think. 1 liter of water weighs about 2 pounds, so you should be sure that you aren’t carrying too much or too little. It’s best to determine which size you should buy based on whether you will have a chance to refill your water on your journey. If you will have constant access to clean water, you may choose to carry a smaller amount of water and refill on the go.
You also don’t have to fill your water bladder to its full capacity for every trip. If you are going for shorter distances, you may choose to only fill half of the water reservoir and still use your pack. The choice of how much water to bring is up to you. However, the amount of water you bring with you may affect which design you will use. Here is a breakdown of water amounts and the size of the pack they are best used with.
0.5 liters (16 fluid ounces) or less is perfect for adventurers who want to carry a minimal water supply to save on weight. Most commonly this amount of water is carried with a hydration waist pack in the form of 1 or 2 water bottles. This amount of water is great for light hikers and runners.
1 liter or 1.5 liters (32 or 50 fluid ounces) is a decent amount for short-distance trips. If you drink more water, but still don’t want to carry a lot of weight, 1 or 1.5 liters can be a good in-between for you. It is also a perfect amount for kids and short distance commuters who are cycling, hiking or running.
2 liters or 2.5 liters (70 or 85 fluid ounces) is a great amount to carry if you want to have to refill less often. This amount of water gives reasonable weight to the pack and still provides a sufficient quantity of drinking water.
3 liters (100 fluid ounces) or more is great for adventurers who intake more water and who don’t want to have to refill their pack. If you are exploring terrain that doesn’t have many readily available water sources, you will want to use a pack of this size to ensure you have a sufficient water supply.
Another aspect of the capacity of your hydration reservoir is the size of the actual pack you are carrying. The amount of water is important, but if you are wanting to carry your gear too, you will need a pack that can handle both. There is a wide range in pack sizes with 5 to 28 liters being the most common. The best way to determine what size you need is to estimate how much gear you feel you need for each trip so you can see how much space you will need to comfortably pack it all.
Once you have determined which type of water pack you want to use, you want to be sure it will fit your body. A properly fit hydration pack will properly match the length of your torso and feel snug on the hips to make carrying the weight easier.
The torso length is available in multiple sizes from extra small to large. The size and fit will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. All products should list their sizing and most stores should have a representative available to help you find the right fit. If you are between sizes, some packs can be modified to fit half sizes to ensure the fit is perfect for you.
The waist size of hydration packs also comes in a wide range to fit a variety of bodies. From mid-20 inches to mid-40 inches to larger, you should be able to find a pack that fits you. Again, each product should list their sizing and if needed you can get sizing help in stores if needed.
There are also hydration packs that are specifically designed for women. These packs will have contoured hip belts and a smaller shoulder area for a more comfortable fit. Women’s packs are generally shorter and narrower to reduce the bulk and balance out the carrying weight.
Child hydration packs are also available. These packs may have a suspension system to help accommodate the growth of the child. These packs will be smaller and have a smaller water reservoir capacity. Depending on the child, a woman’s water pack may also fit comfortably.
There are many different features available in water pack designs, but here is a list of some key ones we think you should look out for.
Bite valve shutoff or switch: To ensure that your water doesn’t leak from the mouthpiece, some bite valves will feature a twist or switch to open and close the tube. This starts and stops the flow of water to ensure the tube doesn’t leak when it is not being actively used.
Tube portals: Most hydration packs will have a small slit or hole in the design to allow for the water drinking tube to be fed through. This allows the user to leave the tube on the exterior of the pack but carry the water reservoir on the inside. The tube portals also ensure you always have easy access to your water, without getting tangled in the tubing. Depending on the pack, the tube should be able to rest on either shoulder.
Clips: A clip is often featured in a water pack so you can secure the drinking tube to the strap. This ensures that the tube isn’t a disturbance while you move and gives you easy access to it at all times.
Quick disconnecting tube: This feature is useful for when you need to refill your hydration pack. Many designs will have a tube that can be quickly and easily disconnected to allow the user faster refills.
Wide-mouth opening: Some water reservoirs or bladders have a wide-mouth opening for fast refills and easy cleaning. Often a small hand can fit through the wide opening, which is great for cleaning. If you can’t access the inside of your water reservoir, you can also buy specialized brushes to clean the inside with.
Cold weather add-ons: These accessories are meant to assist users who are exploring in colder to freezing temperatures. Often, this will mean there is added tube insulation, insulated reservoirs, and bite valve covers to help keep the water supply from freezing.
Rain cover: A rain cover does exactly as the name suggests. It is a cover that you can place over your pack to protect it from the rain. It is a great add-on for all types of weather and gives your gear an added layer of protection.
Q: What is a hydration backpack and what are the benefits of using one?
A hydration pack is a specially designed backpack that features an interior sleeve and tube portal for the use of water reservoirs or hydration bladders. A hydration pack is an alternative to carrying water bottles because they are designed to be easy to use and convenient. A hydration pack will have you carrying your water the right way and the convenient way.
There are many different benefits to using a hydration backpack. The first is that users, depending on their hydration pack design, will have hands-free access to their water supply. Rather than having to stop and take out water bottles, hydration packs can be used without stopping. Hydration packs can also help you save weight. Rather than carrying around multiple water bottles, you can get the water reservoir in different sizes. If you want to carry 3 liters of water with minimal added weight, a hydration backpack is an excellent choice.
Q: How do I clean the reservoir?
There are a couple of different ways to clean a water reservoir. Most water reservoirs are made of plastic, so that means you can safely use a variety of cleaning agents without risking damage. Some people prefer to use a natural agent like baking soda. Others will use dish soap or a diluted bleach solution. No matter which cleaning agent you choose, the steps are the same. You should remember to clean your reservoir after every use. This ensures that your reservoir is ready for the next trip and will continue to last regardless of how much you use it.
Taking the preferred cleaning agent, mix it with enough hot water to fill your water reservoir. Seal your water reservoir and flip it upside down. When it is upside down, you should pinch the bite valve so that the flow of water begins through the tube. Once the tube is full, stop the flow of water, leaving the tube full. Set your reservoir aside for 30 minutes.
Once 30 minutes has elapsed, begin to thoroughly rinse your reservoir. You want to ensure that you have cleared out both the reservoir, tube, and bite valve of the cleaning agent. This may mean that you have to rinse all the parts multiple times.
Finally, you will want to ensure that your reservoir is bone dry before you seal it again. It is crucial that you allow it to fully dry before it is stored because a moist environment invites the growth of mold and rot. If you discover mold or rot inside your drinking reservoir, you should follow the cleaning steps, but allow it to sit with the cleaning agent for several hours. Once you have let it sit, repeat the entire cleaning process again to ensure it is mold or rot-free.
Q: How do I drink from a hydration pack?
Drinking from a hydration pack is rather simple, but if it is new to you, there is a learning process. With hydration packs that have water bottles the process is straightforward but learning to drink from a hydration pack that has a bite valve may be new.
To drink from your hydration pack, you should fill the reservoir and ensure that it is properly positioned in your pack. No matter the activity, all you have to do is reach down and place the bite valve, which is connected to the drinking tube, in your mouth. You bite down on the bite valve and suck like you are using a straw. This will release the water and draw it into your mouth. When you are done drinking, you stop and return the bite valve and tube to their proper resting position. Depending on your hydration pack design, there will be different systems to secure the tube to your pack.
That’s it. It is a straightforward process that many users love because of its hand-free and on-the-go approach.
Globo Surf Overview
When it comes to your water needs, finding an hydration pack can greatly enhance your experience when hydrating in the great outdoors. With these top-rated hydration packs, you will you can rest assured that you can stay hydrated with ease while on the go. The best hydration packs will be easy to use and last for years with proper care. If you know exactly what you need and want, you can save time and money by investing in the best hydration pack for you!
More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:
- Hiking Pants
- Mirrorless Camera
- Shoe Glue
- Backpacking Sleeping Bag
- G Shock Watch
- Trekking Poles
- Tactical Boots
- Backpacking Stove
- Dslr Camera
Do you own one of the hydration packs that made it onto our list? Let us know how it has worked for your outdoor needs in the comments section below.