Hydration packs are designed to fulfill a specific purpose, to give you a convenient way of staying hydrated while you are out and about for a few hours or for a day’s hiking or cycling. But many of them also serve more than one purpose, and have been cleverly designed to fulfill several needs that hikers and bikers will need while they are out on their excursions.
In this article we are going to take a look at the main benefits of using a hydration pack, the different situations they are very handy to be used in, and a few examples of different types of hydration packs so you can see which packs are best used in certain situations. As there is so much choice now when you start looking at hydration packs, it is important that you find the one that best suits your needs.
What a hydration pack will allow you to do
If you have never used a hydration pack before, you are probably used to carrying a bottle of water, or any refreshing drink with you in a bottle. The bottle will then be placed in your backpack, and any time you want a drink you need to stop, get the bottle out of the pack and have your drink. This is not ideal if you want to keep going, and not stopping every 5 minutes to re-hydrate.
If you like cycling, you may well have a bottle holder that you can keep your water bottle in. But the problem with this is that it will only hold bottles up to a certain size, so the fluid in the bottle will not last that long. Plus you also have to reach down to retrieve the bottle and have your drink, which again is not the most practical of things to do when you are cycling along at speed.
So the hydration pack enables you to carry your drink on your back, and take your fluid without having to stop or even use your hands. There is a straw that comes around from the bladder within the pack and you can just drink away whenever you need to. This is extremely convenient and a great way to keep yourself hydrated as you go on your hike or cycling trip.
The better hydration packs, such as the Camelbak Octane 18X and the High Sierra Quickshot 70 will have reservoirs that will be very quick and easy to refill, so any time you are running low (if that happens while you are out on your trip) you can stop and refill it without any problems.
Getting the right size pack
To benefit most from your hydration pack, you need to get the size best suited to your requirements. For example, if you just want a pack purely for the purpose of holding your drink while you are out on your 1 or 2 hour hike or bike ride, then you will only need to smaller 50oz pack, such as the High Sierra Wave 50. This will allow you to keep enough fluid for your 1 or 2 hour excursion, and you will not be carrying any additional bulk or weight.
If you like to go on much longer hikes or bike rides, then you will need a bigger pack that can hold more water. A pack with a 100oz bladder, something like the Camelbak LUXE is probably your best bet, so you will not have to worry about stopping to fill the pack back up with water very often. You may also want to carry some belongings with you, so some packs will have additional storage space that will facilitate this.
Weight is going to be an important factor, as you do not want to add more than you really need, as it will make your trip more uncomfortable than necessary. You also need the pack to be comfortable, so look for packs that have nicely padded shoulder straps.
Some of the better hydration packs will also have a design that allows air to flow through the back area, so you do not get too hot and sweaty when wearing it. Camelbak hydration packs have this excellent design feature, so this is something you should consider also, as it does make your trip that much easier too.