Hydration Pack VS Water Bottle For Hiking


Hydration Packs, which are also referred to as hydration bladders or hydration reservoirs, were introduced in the 1990s. Over the years, due to their numerous benefits, hydration packs have become increasingly popular among outdoor enthusiasts, including hikers, backpackers, trekkers, and mountaineers.

While there are numerous good things about hydration systems, they do feature some shortcomings in comparison to the traditional water bottles. In this article, we will focus on the hydration pack vs water bottle comparison. We will help you understand the limitations and benefits offered by both options.

Comparing Hydration Pack vs Water Bottle in Terms of Their Features

1. Ease of Use

Most of the modern types of backpacks are hydration system compatible. The packs feature a pocket or a sleeve that holds the hydration bladder and an opening for the tube that goes into the hydration pack. What this tells you is that a hydration system is capable of offering easy access to water – you get to drink your water without stopping.

If you decide to switch a CamelBak hydration system for a water bottle, you will have to retrieve the water bottle first before you can drink. Even if you manage to retrieve the bottle without stopping, stopping may be necessary when you need to put the water bottle back. If you are exhausted or in a hurry, you may postpone or omit drinking water to skip the hassle of retrieving the water bottle.

2. Storage

The storing options are largely dependent on the backpack you intend to use. However, when comparing CamelBak vs water bottles in terms of storage, the CamelBak hydration system tends to win.

If you intend to use water bottles, you may want to buy a backpack featuring side pockets – these make the water bottles more accessible. If you are embarking on a longer trip after donning your hiking boots, you may have to store additional bottles in the main compartment. The moment you empty the water bottles available on your side pockets, you will need to replace them with those in the main compartment – this is usually not very convenient for most people.

If you invest in a hydration system compatible backpack, you won’t have any hydration pack storage issues. Most modern backpacks will feature either an internal or external sleeve for your hydration bladder. The external sleeves usually exist between the back panel and the main compartment while the internal sleeves are usually placed inside the main compartment.

The external sleeves offer better convenience compared to the internal sleeves. This is because they allow you to insert the hydration bladder after packing your backpack’s main compartment. Also, they feature significantly fewer hassles with the tube.

3. Refilling

When comparing hydration pack vs water bottle in terms of refilling, the water bottles are more preferable – they are extremely easy to refill.

Hydration packs tend to cause some trouble when it comes to refilling. The trouble is usually more for people whose backpacks feature internal hydration pack’s sleeves.

4. Maintenance


In terms of maintenance, the CamelBak vs water bottle comparison could prove that water bottles are more appealing. In most instances, water bottles go to recycling after their use. If the water bottles are reusable, their cleaning process is generally easier.

CamelBak hydration systems require more complicated cleaning and efficient drying. If you fail to take proper care of the hydration pack, you will be increasing your chances of ending up with a moldy hydration system after using the system for just a couple of days. To reduce the chances of ending up with molds, you may need to take extra precautions, including storing the hydration pack in your freezer.

5. Durability

Most durability issues with the hydration packs tend to appear at the joints and mouthpieces. The mouthpieces are generally prone to leaking. The reservoirs are usually more durable and are capable of withstanding high pressure without leaking. If, however, you expose them to sharp objects or extremely high temperatures (say, fire) this could damage them.

Water bottles rarely leak. They offer great durability while being extremely lightweight.

6. Use at Varying Temperatures

When comparing CamelBak vs water bottles in terms of temperature, both feature benefits and limitations. During the summer season, the CamelBak hydration pack may keep your water cool enough. Water bottles tend to heat up and hence warming up your water.

During the winter season, water can freeze in both the water bottles and hydration systems. However, since the hydration systems’ tubes hold very little water volume, they are more prone to freezing.

It is worth noting that hydration systems are generally hard to deal with when you are wearing hiking gloves (you will need these in the winter). It is often hard to get them out of your backpack, open the slide closure, etc. with the gloves on.

7. Price

Water bottles are extremely cheap. You can even use empty plastic bottles from most of the soft drinks – this indicates that the water bottles can be 100% free. On the other hand, hydration packs are usually expensive. Also, hydration packs feature limited durability – this means that they may need to be replaced sooner than the water bottles.

Globo Surf Overview

As you have noted after going through this hydration pack vs water bottle comparison guide, neither the water bottle nor the hydration pack is 100% perfect. What you decide to take with you on your hiking trip will be largely dependent on your preference and the conditions you expect. For example, if it is hot, the hydration pack may help keep your water cool. If it is too cold, the water bottle can help avoid drinking frozen water.

More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:


  1. Hydration Bladder vs. Bottle; Which do you prefer and why?, Reddit.com
Globo Surf
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!