Q. Hi Gear Guy, Some of my friends have Camelbaks, the backpacks with the built-in water bottle. I would love to have one for camps but my dad says they are too expensive. Is there any cheap alternative?
—Thirsty Allan, Nashwauk, Minn.
A. Great question, Thirsty. While Camelbak-type backpacks equipped with hydration bladders can be expensive, there is indeed a more affordable alternative. You can simply buy just the reservoir (that’s the thing that holds the water and serves it up via a drinking tube) by itself and then slip it inside the daypack or backpack you already have. The new ones don’t leak much so the other stuff in your pack shouldn’t get wet, and you can just feed the hose out through where the zipper meets at the top. Some daypacks are already “hydration-compatible” so check and see if yours is. There are several different brands of hydration packs out there that make very good reservoirs and you should be able to get one for as little as $17 to $30 bucks.