How to Choose Your Hydration Pack

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Right off the bat, the convenience of hydration packs jump out at you.  You may have doubts now, or at first, but once you’ve used one then you’re stuck!

The Benefits of Hydration Packs:

Ease of Use:  You carry it on your back and the tube runs as close to your mouth as you can get it without becoming inconvenient.  No matter what you’re doing (hiking, biking, climbing, etc) there is no slowing down or stopping necessary. As long as the drinking tube to stays in place then it’s a grab, drink, and go, go go!

Hydration Levels are Higher:  Because it’s more convenient and easier to drink from a hydration pack then you tend to drink more. Which means that you’re better hydrated during and after the activity.  This means, as an athlete, you perform better.  #boom!

Everyone’s Doing it:  All of your hiking homies, biking buddies, and running regulars that are still using large, bulky plastic water bottles (disposable or not) will be envious of you.  They’ll want to be you.  They’ll buy their own hydration packs and hoist you on their shoulders in thanks and adoration.  Okay, probably not, but you get the picture.  You’ll be the cooler one in the group.  And better hydrate.

Choosing the Reservoir Size of a Hydration Pack:

1 to 1.5 liters or 34 to 50 fluid ounces

If you want to go minimal but have hydration handy, then this is the size for you.  Most usually likened to kids, short distance bikers, bike riding with a light load, etc.

2 liters or 68 fluid ounces

This is the most commonly bought and used hydration pack size. This reservoir is best for those who are looking for a great combination of weight and load as well as a more than adequate reservoir of water. In many cases, the water won’t need refilling except on occasion.

3 liters or 102 fluid ounces

The large and in charge of hydration pack reservoir sizes.  These are for those users who will not want to stop and refill that often or if water is scarce in the location where your partaking in the activity.  Of course, a 3 liter hydration pack brings a heavy load to carry during action events.  However that can countered by using the size as versatility; just because the reservoir is 3 liters doesn’t mean you always have to fill to the max and bring only what you foresee needing.

So, Why Not Always Choose Hydration Pack Over Water Bottle?

Weight:  Yup, the hydration pack is going to be a large, bulky piece of weight hanging off of your back or waist. Lugging around a sack of water gets heavier as time goes on. Of course, you’re drinking the weight away as you go but, still…it’s there.

Cost:  The average cost of the hydration packs that we use and review at Hiking Hydration is somewhere between $50 and $100 on average. A bottle of water could be, literally, free. Also, a hydration pack for hiking and camping is another piece of gear to wear.  You’d be much better off to get a hiking backpack with a hydration pack already built in.

Cleaning and Sterilization:  It’s easier to rinse and clean a water bottle with your eyes closed than it is to clean a hydration pack, hoses, and mouth piece with both eyes open and an extra set of hands.

Loss of Water:  Lock valves sometimes won’t tighten correctly.  Hydratoin pack reservoirs sometimes fail or…puncture.  Guess what?  Water bottles don’t.

Ration:  You can easily look at a water bottle or give it a shake and know how much water you have left. With that hydration pack on your back then it’s difficult to tell how much you’re drinking (because it’s so convenient to do so) and how much remains.

How Much Water Should You Be Drinking Anyway?

Our favorite hydration pack company, Camelbak, is our go to authority on hydration and how it supports performance and safety during activity.  They recommend that you drink at least 1 liter of water for every hour of activity.

Now, too much (excessive) water intake is life threatening. Use common sense, though.  The greater risk here is dehydration.  Athletes and active people understand this or should understand it.

The US National Library of Medicine has conducted a study on water and hydration.  Basically the whole study says that drinking water is good and not drinking water is bad.  In one spot, under “III. Water consumption and requirements and relationships to total energy intake“,the study states: “Water consumption, water requirements and energy intake are linked in fairly complex ways.”  Water consumption and need equals energy.

Here’s our Table of the Best Hydration Packs

ImageNameCapacityFeatures
Camelbak Men’s Rogue

70-OuncesHigh-quality material
Extremely light
70 oz pack is great for 15-50 miles
Respectable storage
Quick access to drinking tube
CamelBak ThermoBak 3L100-OuncesTough and durable
Doesn't have issues with leaks
Easy to refill with large opening
Long drinking tube
Bite valve w/protective cover
Teton Sports Oasis 1100 70-Ounces45% below the brand name products
Great storage options for the day hike
Easy to use tube mechanism
Solid zipper quality
Multiple attachment points
Platypus Hoser1L, 1.8L, 2L, or 3L Holds a lot of water (make sure to purchase the right size pack)
Easy to use
Releases no rubbery taste
BPA-free
HyperFlow bite valve
Osprey Packs Hydraulics LT 70-OuncesEasily accepts a high volume of water
Its ridged construction makes it simple to refill.
Magnetic clip
Plastic free taste
Labeled water markings
Teton Sports TrailRunner 2.0 70-OuncesEasily holds 2L of water
Simple to clean
Lightweight to use
Easy to use mouthpiece
Great at keeping water cool
Quick and easy to refill
Outdoor Products H20 Performance 70-OuncesSlim and compact build
Easy to lift the bladder in and out
Light and easy to carry
Non-leaking
Quick adjustable straps
Outdoor Products 2L Reservoir 70-OuncesWide drinking cap, which is taintless and flavorless
Accepts ice cubes
Low cost
Ispeed 70 oz Sport70-OuncesMess-free and easy refill
The shoulder straps are adjustable, rubberized, and non-slip
Long tube for easy access to the water
Non-leak bite valve
Strong nylon zippers