Camping Climbing Tactical

Guide to Buying the Right Hydration Pack

Guide to Buying the Right Hydration Pack for Your Adventure

If you’re going camping, running, hiking or cycling, having a hydration pack is a big advantage. Everyone knows the importance of keeping yourself hydrated at all times, especially while undertaking physical activity, and hydration packs allow you to drink as much as you like without any form of inconvenience whatsoever.

With one of these packs, you don’t need to worry about stopping and starting, taking off your backpack and rummaging around to find your bottles. Instead, you can simply take a quick sip whenever you feel like it and just keep on going. In this article, we’ll help you try and find the right hydration pack to meet your needs.

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Narrowing Down Hydration Packs by Activity

The first thing to do when shopping for a new pack is to think about the type of activity you’ll be doing. Certain packs are tailor-made to suit certain types of activity, so this can be a smart way to narrow down your options. If you’re going to be heading out for some climbing, backpacking, or long hikes, for example, one of the things you’ll want most of all is a pre-install reservoir.

hydration packs for activitiesThese reservoirs are very easy to fill up and clean out, greatly increasing the pack’s convenience level. You might also choose to simply add a reservoir to another pack, which can be done quite easily nowadays. Naturally, for long trips, your reservoir should be at least 2 liters in size.

If you’re planning on indulging in less time-consuming activities like trail-running or fitness walking, a smaller pack would be better. You’ll only need around 1 liter of water, so try to focus on finding a bag that is light and easy to carry, allowing you to focus all of your efforts on your sporting performance, rather than worrying about adjusting your pack all the time.

A similar situation presents itself to cyclists or mountain bikers. If you’re going to be cycling short, easy routes then a small, lightweight pack is all you need. If you’re going off-road, bigger bags might be necessary to store some additional gear. Finally, if you’re heading off to the mountains for some skiing or snowboarding, you’ll probably need a well-insulated bag to prevent your water from getting too cold or freezing. Certain packs are designed for use in the snow and come with handy features like bite valve covers.

Features You Should Look for in Your Hydration Pack

Now let’s look at the different aspects of a pack in closer detail, beginning with the volume of the reservoir. Hydration pack reservoirs usually come in sizes from 1L up to 3L. 1L Packs are ideal for short-distance activities, as well as being handy for cyclists or other athletes who don’t want to weigh themselves down too much. 2L packs are the most common and usually classed as the ideal compromise for most people. 2L is a good amount of water to get you through many activities, and it doesn’t weigh too much either.

The biggest variety of pack is 3L, with these packs being made for those long treks or camping trips. If you’re going on a relatively long journey or going somewhere where water is hard to find, this is the pack for you. Experts recommend that you drink a liter of water per hour of exercise, and dehydration can be life-threatening, so be sure to choose a pack that will give you sufficient hydration.

Now let’s think about the carrying capacity of each pack. Some sports and activities require bigger packs because you’ll have more gear to carry around. The biggest packs have around 41L of space inside them, along with tons of pockets and sleeves for all your various tools and items. These packs are perfect for overnight backpacking trips or camping excursions.

If you’re simply going on a day-long hike, you could probably go a little smaller and look for a pack around 29L in size. Cyclists and mountain bike fans won’t need all that room, so should be looking for packs that are around 23L, maximum. If you’re hitting the slopes, you might want to carry some extra clothes and essentials, so you should look around the 20L mark. If you just want to jog around the block or do some trail-running or basic walking, the smallest packs will be fine for you.

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Considering Comfort

One important thing to always remember is your own comfort. It might seem like a good idea to get a big pack for your mountain bike trips, but that extra material could actually hinder your performance and cause the pack to become a real inconvenience. These packs can be expensive, so you don’t want to waste money on a product that gets in your way.

Think about what you take on your trips and choose a pack accordingly. Small packs offer extra stability and, more importantly, they will weigh you down less. With the smallest packs, you’ll barely even notice you’ve got it on your back. Also remember that there are specific models catered for women and children.

To finish off, let’s look at a few of the most popular features of hydration packs to help you learn a bit more about the proper use of these packs. First of all, sip tubes. Pretty much every pack on the market uses polyurethane plastic tubes. Users are encouraged to wash out their tubes after every journey to prevent the water from developing a plastic taste. Next, bite valves. These valves allow you to bite down to open up the tube and take a drink.

Remember not to bite too hard though as you’ll simply damage the valve and potentially cause a leak. Some packs come with clips to help you keep the tube in a fixed location, and this can be very helpful. Others come with multiple portals to allow you to position the tube in different areas. Finally, some packs are specifically designed with features like insulation and covers to suit wintry conditions.

About the author

Mike Paris

Mike is the editor of NWT Outfitters and as you may expect, an avid outdoorsman... When Mike isn't logged into the NWT backend, he's camping, climbing, hunting, fishing, or doing some combination of the four.

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