Guy Gear

Hydration Systems buying guide




Things have come a long way since the good ol’ steel Boy Scout canteen. Today we have the luxury of hauling our water in a wide variety of high-performance vessels. Whether you’re hiking in the backcountry or hucking your bike off a cliff, there’s a bottle or hydration pack that makes it easier than ever to stay hydrated.

“Your body is kind of like a motor, and it needs lubricant. You can’t run a motor without any oil in it,” professional mountain biker Kirt Voreis says. “Same with water and your body. Stay hydrated and your muscles will work better and you can go a lot farther at a faster pace.”

Voreis knows a lot about speed and the importance of regular hydration on performance. That’s why we asked him to give us some buying tips. So read up, fill up and stay hydrated.

THE LOWDOWN: THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB

Voreis says the first thing to think about is what activity you’ll be doing most. For hiking or camping or hanging at the skatepark, a water bottle or canteen might be perfect. Just carry it in your hand or toss it in your daypack. If you’re doing something like cycling, snowboarding or kayaking in which you need your hands free, consider a hydration pack.

BOTTLES AND CANTEENS

“If you’re hiking or going to stay in one area, the bottle is great,” Voreis says. This is the cheapest option, too. A couple of buying considerations:

Weight: If you’re backpacking, get something lightweight. There are even special collapsible bags that weigh next to nothing.

Taste: Sometimes cheap water bottles and canteens can give your water a strange plastic taste or hold the flavor of something you had in the bottle weeks earlier. Usually those made of very hard polycarbonate plastic are best. Look for the words “taste-free” on the label or ask a shopkeeper in an outfitter store for help.

Seals: Make sure the top screws or pops on tightly.

HYDRATION PACKS

Like a camel, these packs are equipped with a special bladder that lets you carry all your water on your body; you just drink it through a special straw.

“It’s secure on your back, and you don’t have to take your hands off the handlebars to take a drink,” Voreis says.

Plan to spend $30 to $80 for one of these. When picking a pack, first think of how much water you’ll want to carry and how long you’ll be gone. Some hold as little as 30 ounces; the largest can carry up to 100 ounces or more. Most hydration packs have pockets and room for other stuff, and some are as large as a big daypack.

“Don’t buy a big giant pack if you’re just going to be doing jumps all day,” Voreis says. “And if you’re not going to do big epic rides, bring something small that’ll hold just like a cell phone and a bar.”

Finally, you want it to fit snug and not slung low on your lower back, otherwise it’ll cause painful pressure and bounce around like crazy while you’re moving.

IS A BLADDER BEST?

Most manufacturers offer hydration bladders separately rather than built into a special pack. These run as low as $6 and are cool and versatile because you can use them in your backpack and move it to your daypack for shorter trips.

CLEAN IS KEY

This is probably the last thing you want to hear about (especially after having to clean your room, the dishes and Dad’s car), but if you don’t keep your bottle or hydration bladder clean you’ll risk getting sick.

“If you leave water in something for a while, it gets stale and you can also get bad bacteria in it,” Voreis warns.

If you’re lazy, look for something dishwasher-safe. (It should say so on the label.) Bladder systems are notoriously tough to clean. The easiest are ones that have openings large enough for you to stick your hand inside. Some have detachable hoses, but to really get one clean, you may need to buy a special brush, which will cost you an extra $10 or so.

Comments about “Hydration Systems buying guide”

  1. Jahori says:

    I have numerous CamelBaks of different sizes. I like the packs with no frills. What I mean by this is no or few pockets. The reasons for this is they are less expensive to purchase, you have the convenience of putting it in a daypack or a backpack or wear it by itself. You have the insulation of the pack and it protects the bladder from sharp objects. And last but not least, in the winter you can wear it under your jacket to keep it from freezing.

  2. scouter says:

    My Camelbak is amazing

  3. scouter says:

    This really helped!!!

  4. Off-Trail Monkey says:

    Had a Camel-bak and Sierra blatter but opted to go back to my good’ole Nalgene bottle with a Nalgene Canteen as a back up. Works best for me and is the easiest to clean of any other option. Sometimes simplicity is the best; you just may need to try other options to realize it.

  5. randomscout says:

    camelback mule !
    it got a ton of space too

  6. Hydro Help!!! says:

    I need help finding a suitable hydration bladder for a camp at Haliburton Scout Reserve in Canada. Please help

  7. little curry says:

    should i get this peeps

  8. pink mercenary says:

    i love my camelbak

  9. Anonymous says:

    Get either a 32 Oz. Nalgene or a Geigerrig Reservoir, you can pressurize it with an included pump and spray it.

  10. doctor says:

    the badlands hydration pack is very good for hiking and camping and is not very heavy

  11. Sly Fox says:

    Camel-bak: I broke the hanger hook while on a BWCA trip; wrote to the company and they sent me a new system and said keep the old one. I’ m sold on customer service. A+.

    • Delta Force says:

      Camel-Bak has never let me down either, they can take abuse and keep on pumpin’. It’s for this reason that I have had two while in Iraq and Afghanistan and have another that I use for backpacking, camping, and biking.

  12. nicknack says:

    I need a spare bladder for a hydration pack please reply

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) says:

      I highly recommend SOURCE hydration packs. They put on a special coating that keeps the water from tasting bad even if it has been in the hydro pack for a long time.(don’t worry, the coating isn’t toxic) and they have dust guards. I got my two liter pack for $16.99 at Cabelas. Which is pretty darn cheap for a good hydro pack! look on Amazon or ebay too!

  13. searchyS.O.S says:

    Where can i find a really cheap,heavy-duty, hydration pack in Des-Moines, Iowa and surrounding areas

  14. Bob says:

    I am looking at the camelbak lobo so that i have a small pack with a removable bladder. I currently use a philmont nalgene, two camelbak better bottles, the camelbak big chill and a platypus softbottle. I carry them in a small hydration pack without it’s bladder (it got a leak).

  15. Delta 8 says:

    attention. I am changing my name from Delta Force to Delta 8 because that was my squad’s name while I was a Spec-ops Paratrooper.

  16. Sly Fox says:

    A Camel-bak blatter is a great system for water, but if you like to add the flavoring then it’s a lot of maintainance work. If you do not clean & dry it properly mold can result. You’ll need the cleaning kit to do this ($15.00). For the sugar scouts, use a Nalogene bottle. Works great and is easy to clean; soapy water soak and wash or use the dishwasher.

  17. Delta Force says:

    Camle bak rocks! had one while in Afghanistan.

  18. boyscout22 says:

    i am in the webolos and i dont know were to get a hydration system

  19. Z man says:

    High sierra are really heavy duty and good for camping.

  20. BWCAW says:

    The Badlands Hydration Pack is AWESOME!!!

  21. i cant think of a name says:

    Coleman hydration backpacks are great, and they are only about $40

  22. Chad 101 says:

    Source hydration backs work very well. And they have dust guards.

  23. mase says:

    cammel brand is good, right?

  24. Reece's Pieces says:

    The platypus is very cheap and affordable. they are quite difficult to clean unless you by the accessories, and mine has formed a slight yellowish/brownish tint after a week at tomahawk scout reservation.

  25. arrow of light scout says:

    field and stream ones are depindible and last

  26. Nick the Brick says:

    are the camalbak ones hard too clean?

  27. need one says:

    what is a good one to buy with a little money 30-50$ price range

  28. cups and magnets says:

    i got the camelbak zoid and it works great. it holds 70 oz.:)

  29. scout16 says:

    high sierra ones are great

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