When you’re physically active, fluid replacement must be a priority. Hydration helps maintain
your performance and concentration levels, improve your endurance, and prevent excessive
fluctuations in body temperature and heart rate. You need enough water if you’re going
outdoors for any physical activity. Your water storage should be convenient and must not restrict
your movements. Hydration packs are designed to offer exactly that. They allow you to carry
sufficient water to sip on the go. However, they differ in design and capacity. This piece reviews
the considerations you must make when getting your hydration pack.
Hydration Pack Types
Hydration packs come in two major variations. These are hydration waist packs and hydration
backpacks. You wrap waist packs around your waist and carry backpacks on your back.
These categories contain several other sub-types of hydration packs designed specifically for
certain outdoor activities. The common activities that demand slightly different hydration pack
features include running, skiing, hiking, cycling, and snowboarding. Despite the differences in
design, every hydration pack has a hydration reservoir that offers convenient access to water. A
minority — often created for running — incorporates water bottles in place of reservoirs.
Now that you know the general types of hydration packs, let’s lay out some factors you should
consider while selecting a hydration pack for an outdoor adventure.
Nature of Outdoor Activity
If you plan to go on a run, you require a hydration pack that will allow you to move comfortablyn for a long time and conveniently access your water without having to stop. Presently, the market
offers running vests and running backpacks.
Running vests resemble vests and are made to fit snugly into your frame. Like backpacks, you
carry them on your back and over your shoulders. However, they have a lower profile, more
pockets on the shoulder straps, and no hipbelt. Many running vests feature dedicated spots for
keeping water bottles on parts of the shoulder straps you can see and access while running.
Also, most vests provide hydration reservoirs for runners who prefer sipping from a tube.
Vendors sell these reservoirs separately sometimes.
Running backpacks look more like the regular backpacks you’d carry on a day hike. The only
difference is that they have features designed to make moving with them easier, like simple hip
belts, low profiles, and pockets that are easily accessible while running. Often, they offer more
storage at the back than vests, making them ideal for longer runs that require you to pack
snacks and other essentials. Almost all running backpacks accommodate hydration reservoirs
to allow you to sip your water easily on the move. Most also have pockets on the sides and
shoulder straps if you want to add water bottles.
If you are a cyclist, you require a hydration pack tailored for mountain biking and road cycling.
Packs designed for road cycling are typically low-profile and compact. That makes them stable
and light on your back. It also minimizes wind resistance, enabling you to hit top speeds without
distractions. Mountain biking packs are usually bigger to accommodate bike tools, extra gear,
and cycling attire. Both variations have low-profile waist belts that enable you to pedal without
For snowboarders and skiers, carrying water around can be challenging due to the sub-zero
temperatures. Enthusiasts of such sports must acquire special hydration packs with sufficient
insulation on the drink tube and reservoir. These packs typically have bite valve covers to
ensure your water does not catch the cold and freeze. To make work easier for you,
manufacturers even include carry straps on these hydration packs to enable you to transport
your snowboard hands-free.
Hikes require you to carry a lot more supplies than any other physical activity on this list. You
will likely venture into the wild for a long time and need food and emergency medical supplies to
manage injuries. Depending on the nature of the hike, you may need extra layers and sleeping
provisions. As a result, hiking hydration packs are larger, with ample storage space. Like the
others, they have provisions for a reservoir and water bottles.
Capacity of Hydration Pack
Once you have zeroed in on the type of reservoir you need based on your activity, you must
choose one with sufficient capacity to hold water and other gear you may need.
A liter of water weighs about two pounds. Carrying more than you need will add unnecessary
weight to your body, slowing you down. Take time to evaluate your hydration needs before
acquiring a hydration pack.
Anofollow US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study found that men had an
average daily fluid intake of approximately 3.7 liters. In comparison, women had an average of
2.7 liters. Therefore, a two-liter reservoir should be adequate if your activity lasts only a few
hours. This capacity offers a reasonable balance between bulk and weight.
If you’re going on adventures that last more than half a day in the summer, you will require a
reservoir that is at least three liters big. This size is also ideal for exploring terrains with scarce
water. For kids, minimalists, and those going on shorter expeditions, a 1 – 1.5 liter capacity will
do just fine.
Most hydration packs have a gear capacity of between five and 50 liters. To determine how
much space you require, do a mental inventory or note the gear you’ll need. Does the hydration
pack offer sufficient space for snacks to last you through your adventure? Does it have room for
extra layers and first aid supplies?
Five-liter packs are designed for light, short pursuits like ultralight hiking and running. Their low
profile and compact make can only accommodate essentials like keys, energy bars, and a
Mid-sized packs with capacities between 11 and 20 liters are great for mountain biking and
hiking. Their extra space allows you to pack sufficient emergency equipment, gear, clothes, and
food for more extended expeditions. They also have more pockets to keep you organized.
Any pack with a gear capacity above 21 liters is meant for hiking. These will allow you to carry a
lot more supplies for your adventure.
Fit of Hydration Pack
Anything you wear has to fit right, especially if you intend to move around with them for
extended periods. After you get the correct type and capacity of the hydration pack, you must test it to see whether it fits. The proper fit comfortably grips your hips and is appropriate for the
length of your torso.
The best way to determine fit is to try it. Some may not seem right immediately, but they have
adjustable suspensions to enable you to modify the fit. You can also check the waist size and
torso length on the product specifications. You don’t want to buy a hydration pack that won’t
offer you the convenience it is meant to provide.
In summary, your needs dictate the kind of hydration pack you get. Determine the outdoor
adventure you intend to pursue and get a pack with the appropriate design and capacity.
Whatever you do, ensure the pack fits well and does not limit your mobility. Any other personal
considerations like brand may also guide your choice.