Hydration Packs - Staying Well-Hydrated in the Outdoors

Posted: Sunday, July 30, 2023

Quench your thirst for adventure with the ultimate hydration companion - the hydration pack! If you're tired of lugging around clunky water bottles on your outdoor escapades, it's time to embrace the convenience and efficiency of a hydration pack. A hydration pack is more than just a fancy water bladder tucked inside your backpack; it's a game-changer for outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, cyclists, and even sea kayakers. Say goodbye to stopping and fumbling for your water bottle or dealing with lukewarm sips on a scorching day. With a hydration pack, you'll be effortlessly sipping through a long straw and conquering your expeditions like never before. So, let's dive into the reasons why this ingenious piece of equipment deserves a place in your gear collection.

We have written in previous blogs, newsletter articles, and even in the notes section of our packing list about hydration packs. But I wanted to emphasize again why this piece of equipment can be superior to water bottles for outdoor adventure travel.

For those of you who are not familiar: a hydration pack is a water bladder (usually 50-100 oz./1.5 -3 L ranges) that fits inside a backpack and has a long tube that stretches from the water bladder, through the pack, over your shoulder and to the front of you (when you wear it). There is some type of soft silicone valve on the end of the tube that allows you to “bite and suck” when you want a drink, but it closes off when you want it to just hang loosely.

I got my first Camelbak hydration pack for bicycling, but now I carry it on hiking adventures and sometimes even bring it for sea kayaking tours as well.

AGC Recommendation: Camelbak Hydration Pack


You will drink more, drink more regularly and stay better hydrated.

With the tube in easy reach of your hands and mouth, you can drink as often as you want or need to. You don’t need to stop and get your water out of your pack, take your hands off the handlebars to get your bottle out of its cage, or even stop paddling very long for a quick drink.  Plus, it is fun to drink from a long straw.


It easily fits in a backpack.

Most backpacks made for hiking these days come with hydration pack compatibility. Typically there is a separate pocket on the pack for you to put the bladder in and a portal at the top of the pack for the hose to fit through so it can easily reach your shoulder strap to the front. Also, with it being carried in a backpack, you have room to carry a camera, wallet, rain jacket, bike tools, snack, etc. The packs vary in extra cargo sizes, so pick one that is right for your adventure. 

AGC Recommendation: Daypack with Hydration Sleeve (Osprey)


The water stays cold/cool longer.

How often have you stopped to drink from your water bottle on a hot hike only to find it like bath water? The hydration pack keeps the contents of the water bladder cold for quite a while, especially when you put ice in it. You can also freeze the bladder when it is half full, take it out the following day, top it off with water, and the ice chunk will melt even more slowly than ice cubes throughout the day. The top layer of water is not always cold, but nothing is more refreshing than sipping through that layer and hitting icy cold water in the middle of a long bike ride or hike.


You can carry a larger quantity of water.

Getting a 70 oz or 96 oz bladder allows you to take a lot of water pretty easily and all in one space. You would need 3 to 4 water bottles to equal that. You don’t have to fill it completely full if you don’t want to, but I have been on several hikes and bike rides where I drank it dry. And as you drink, the bladder empties and gets smaller, as opposed to drinking out of a bottle where you still have to carry the bottle around once it is empty. This feature also means it takes up less space in your luggage when traveling for equal water capacity as bottles.

AGC Recommendation: 70oz-90oz hydration bladder 



My bladder has stayed much cleaner and less smelly than any of my water bottles.  However, they do need to be cleaned, as does the tube. Putting flavored beverages in the hydration bladder is inadvisable due to the difficulty of thoroughly washing the tube. In that case, bring a smaller water bottle for your Elixir/Gatorade/Crystal Light/etc., and leave the bladder for water only. Most bladders have wide mouth/ziplock-type openings, making it easier to clean and fill with ice and fill in a variety of water sources. 

*Bladders and tubes should be cleaned after each use, allowed to dry thoroughly, and stored in a cool, dry environment to limit the growth of bacteria and molds. 


The hydration pack is certainly not suitable for every situation (like winter sports or high-altitude trekking - due to freezing temperatures). But more often than not, it is the ideal choice for staying superbly hydrated while being active in the outdoors.

We also recommend always carrying a lightweight water bottle and a method for treating or filtering water as a backup. This bottle can also be used to add electrolytes powders or Nuun Sport: Electrolyte Drink Tablets.


As you embark on your next thrilling adventure, don't let dehydration hold you back. Embrace the power of a hydration pack, and you'll discover a world of unparalleled convenience and refreshment. From savoring icy-cold water on hot hikes to effortlessly carrying larger quantities of water, the hydration pack is a true outdoor companion. Remember, it's not just about staying hydrated; it's about optimizing your journey, seizing every moment, and conquering the great outdoors confidently. So, gear up with our recommendations and elevate your outdoor experiences to new heights. And, of course, don't forget our bonus tip - always keep a lightweight water bottle and a water treatment method as a backup.

Now, nothing can hold you back from embracing the world of adventure with a well-hydrated and adventurous spirit! Happy exploring!

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