Staying hydrated is extremely important when you are exercising in the great outdoors. A relatively new product and design is the hydration pack. Hydration packs make transporting your water easy, convenient, and efficient. The most common hydration pack designs have a water reservoir, also called bladder, which is where the water is stored and a tube that you use to drink the water.

Hydration packs today are designed with a variety of activities in mind. Most backpacks will have a spot or interior sleeve to hold the water bladder and a convenient hole to feed the tube for easy drinking access. There are different features to many different hydration pack designs, so we’ve created this 10 Best Hydration Packs in 2018 article to help you determine what will best suit your outdoor needs.

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How To Choose A Hydration Pack – Buying Guide

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When you are deciding which hydration pack is the best to buy, 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 serve its function. You should be able to easily add the hydration pack to a backpack and take sips from the tube as you go along your journey.

Type

There are generally two types of hydration packs. The first type is a hydration backpack and the second type is a hydration waist pack. Within the two categories, the packs are then designed to be used for a variety of different outdoor sports.

A hydration backpacks are very common to an everyday pack used for hiking. There should be ample space to fit all your gear from an extra warm layer to a few snacks. The only difference is that there would be built-in features like an interior sleeve and pre-cut hole for the water hydration system. You may find two variations of the hydration backpack design that are specifically targeted for cycling and running.

 Both the cycling and running packs would have a low-profile design that fits snugger to your body. This can assist cyclers and runners with carrying the weight of their water. Some hydration backpacks may also have a waist belt piece that can be used for extra security. As well, these packs for the cyclers and runner, may 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. As well, runners may want to pack more food to keep themselves energized on their trip. These packs would ensure that the users would 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 would have the capacity of the cycling and running packs but may provide more insulation to 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 is a different design than a hydration backpack because they are smaller and are worn only around the user’s waist. Instead of having a water bladder and drinking tube, these 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. You may find that runners who go for short distances prefer the advantage of a small pack. Many runners use hydration waist packs as an alternative to the backpack if they aren’t going large distances.

Capacity

There are many different capacities when it comes to hydration packs. You can carry a little water to a lot, but you have 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 hydration pack 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 completely full for every trip. If you are going for shorter distances or times, you may choose to only fill half of the water reservoir and still use your pack. The choice on how much water to bring is up to you. However, the amount of water you bring with you may affect which hydration pack design you will use. Here is a breakdown of water amounts and the size of pack they are best used with.

0.5 liters (16 fluid ounces) or less are 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 this size to ensure you have a sufficient water supply.

Another aspect to the capacity of a hydration pack 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 the size of packs from 5 to 28 liters being the most common. It depends on how much gear you feel you need for each trip to determine how much space you will need to comfortably pack it all.

Fit

Once you have determined which type of hydration pack you want to use, you want to be sure that 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 by manufacturer, as well as gender. 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 the mid-20 inches to the mid-40 inches to larger, you should be able to find a pack that fits you. Again, the product should list their sizing and you can get sizing help in stores if needed.

There are also hydration packs that are specifically designed for women. These packs will be contoured in the hip belts and shoulder area specifically with the female form in mind. 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. As well, these packs will be smaller and have a smaller water reservoir capacity. Depending on the youth, a woman’s hydration pack may also fit a child’s body comfortably.

Features

There are many different features available in hydration pack designs, but here is a list of some that we think you should look out for.

Bite valve shutoff or switch: To ensure that your water doesn’t leak out from the mouth piece, 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 that 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 hydration pack so that you can secure the drinking tube to the strap. This ensures that the tube isn’t a disturbance while you move and gives it easy access 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-mouth opening too, which is great for cleaning time. If you can’t access the inside of your water reservoir, you can also buy specialized brushes to clean the inside for you.

Cold weather add-ons: These accessories are meant to assist users who are exploring in colder to freezing temperatures. Often, this will mean that there is 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 suggest. 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.

FAQs

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Q: What is a hydration backpack and what are the benefits of using one?

A: A hydration backpack is a specially designed backpack that features an interior sleeve and tube portal for the use of a water reservoir or bladder. A hydration backpack is an alternative to carrying water bottles because they are designed to be easy to use and convenient. There are many different benefits to using a hydration backpack. The first is that user’s, depending on their hydration pack design, will have a hands-free access to their water supply. Rather than having to stop and take out a water bottle, 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?

A: There are a couple 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. Other will use a dish soap or 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 be long-lasting throughout years of use.

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 thoroughly 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 the hydration pack?

A: Drinking from a hydration pack is rather simple, but if it is new to you, there is a learning process. Hydration packs that have water bottles are straight forward but learning 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 value, 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 straight forward process that many user’s love because of its hand-free and on the go approach.

Globo Surf Overview

When it comes to your hydration pack needs, finding the best hydration pack can greatly enhance your experience when hydrating in the great outdoors. With these top rated hydration backpacks, you will have the peace of mind that you can stay hydrated with ease while on the go. The best hydration packs will be easy to use and last throughout years of use 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!

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.

Globo Surf Hydration Packs Reviews

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I couldn't make up my mind which hydration pack to get until I found your buying guide. You have some great points there. Thank you for your help.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!