There are a number of things to consider when choosing a hydration backpack. If you pick a backpack that’s uncomfortable, too heavy, not able to carry everything you need, or poor quality – you are just wasting your time and money.
I’ve learned a lot over the years from trying out numerous backpacks. Here are my top tips and some advice to help you make the right decision when choosing one for yourself.
What Is a Hydration Backpack
A hydration backpack is a backpack designed to carry a bladder full of fluid that is easy to drink while outdoors. There is a tube that carries the water from the backpack, clips in place over your shoulder and into your mouth.
They were great innovations when first introduced to the market, and once you’ve used one you are not going back to carrying bottles of water manually. They make the life of a backpacker so much easier, and keeping hydrated means you are keeping safe and feeling better.
Some of the better designed backpacks also have some storage to carry other items too. So if you choose carefully and find the perfect hydration backpack you can hike hands free with all the items and fluid on your back, an easy access tube to drink whenever you want.
Why Choose a Hydration Backpack over Water Bottles?
Firstly, let’s look at why people choose backpacks over water bottles or other methods of keeping hydrated while outdoors.
Easier to drink without stopping – With a hydration backpack you can keep drinking while you are moving. This is via a tube that goes from the hydration bladder in the backpack to your mouth. You can be walking, running, cycling, or doing any other activities and still have access to your water.
Easier to keep hydrated – Being a lot easier to drink while moving, it’s a lot more convenient to drink more. People with hydration backpacks are more likely to stay hydrated. The user is more likely to carry a larger amount of water too.
The Importance of Comfort
Being comfortable when outdoors is incredibly important. Hydration packs are typically more streamlined than traditional backpacks, and designed to the more active outdoors person. So comfort is a large part of the design, but you still get the good and the bad.
If you can’t try a backpack in person you should always read user reviews to see how comfortable the pack is. A pack should be tightly secured to your back and have almost no movement at all while you’re running.
Know the Difference between Pressurized and Unpressurized
There are two different types of system; pressurized and unpressurized. The difference being that pressurized hydration packs have a second tube that pressurizes the water hose and means you don’t have to suck to start the flow.
There isn’t a huge benefit to this if you ask me. It’s not hard to suck on the tube to start drinking, and pressurized hydration packs are often heavier and a little trickier to get to grips with.
How Easy Is It to Clean
Hydration packs need to be cleaned out regularly to keep them hygienic and the water tasting fresh. If you use fluids other than water or electrolyte powders, you will need to clean them more often.
Some models are designed to be really easy to clean out. Look for a model with a zipper on the top so you can get a brush or other cleaning utensil inside to give it a thorough clean. Some are even dishwasher safe if you want the easy option.
Water and Cargo Capacity
Pick a hydration backpack that’s big enough for your needs. If you do long-distance hiking go large, but take into account the weight when filled to max. It needs to be manageable without breaking your back.
But at the same time you need enough water when you are hiking, otherwise you risk dehydration. Also choose a pack with a large enough cargo area to hold your snacks and other items you want to take with you.
Taking into account all of the above, you can make an informed decision when choosing a hydration backpack. You will end up with a stylish, adequately sized, comfortable and reliable backpacking companion for years to come.