7 Best Hydration Packs [REVIEW]
|Table of Contents|
|How Exactly Is A Hydration Backpack Different From Your Average Bag||Key Benchmarks To Look For When Purchasing A Water Backpack|
|Capacity And Cargo Capacity||The 7 Best Hydration Packs of 2017|
|Mike’s Top Choice|
Best Hydration Packs: Staying Hydrated Without Missing a Step
What is the most important thing when setting out on an expedition? Correct clothing? An orientation map? Compass?
While all important for your trek, none of them come close to the importance of staying hydrated as you traverse over many miles of difficult and unpredictable terrain, or even if you are heading out for a brisk walk on flat surface, keeping your water levels topped up is absolutely crucial.
|Material||Ripstop||Nylon Fabric||Synthetic||High-Quality Nylon||–||–||–|
|Container Capacity||2L||2L||3 L||2L||2L||2L||2L|
|Cargo Capacity||6L||12L||11 L||4L||2L||18L||18L|
|Wight||1.7 Lbs||1 Lb||1.1 Lbs||1 Lbs||1.5 Lbs||2 Lbs||2 Lbs|
|Price||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
Stopping every few miles to unpack your bag, take out your bottle, unscrew the cap and take a deep gulp sounds time consuming and not to mention irritating for all of your group if you all happen to be doing this every so often, you’ll never get anywhere fast.
So what is the alternative? What else can you do to get water into your system without taking a pause as you progress on your hike?
Enter a great piece of kit; the hydration backpack. A specifically designed backpack that contains a bladder filled with fluid (typically water) this item is being used by hikers, ramblers, cyclists and many more who seek to keep themselves from succumbing to dehydration as they embark on their journey.
Clearly then, a hydration pack is the way to go in order to ensure you are getting the correct amount of water into your body as you travel. But as with all pieces of equipment, there are a whole host of varying products out there all coming in at different prices with various claims on why they are the best product in the market. Which brings us to today’s topic and purpose.
This article is going to take a selection of numerous different items, analyze the pros and cons and help you decide which is the most suitable water backpack for you and your needs. Here at Mike’s Gear Reviews we are committed to providing you the best advice for you to get the maximum enjoyment and safety from your outdoor excursions.
You may be wondering how exactly is a hydration backpack different from your average bag or carry case that you would use?
Well, as touched upon earlier, a hydration pack contains a bladder filled with water, which is fed into a hose that is secured over your shoulder and affixed to the backpack with a clip on the chest strap of the bag. Therefore, instead of messing around with water bottles and making frequent stops, you can just suck on the valve of the hose and viola; water that’s easily taken in with no fuss or stoppages.
Not only will these backpacks contain the water supply, there will also be scope for other cargo to be carried, so your hiking equipment such as maps, tools, food and anything else can still be taken around, you just have to select the size of bag that suits your needs.
Consequently hydration packs become something you should want as it will undoubtedly improve your outdoor experience, not only for you but your friends as well. Imagine you are in a group of 5 people, 4 of which have a camelbak backpack or similar and then there’s you, struggling with your heavy run of the mill bag containing multiple bottles of water, that in order to get at you need to pause, fiddle with your backpack to find your bottle, take a swig and then replace. All the time your friends are rolling their eyes, tapping their feet and losing patience as the day turns from fun outing to tedious walk. Don’t be the black sheep, keep up with the rest.
The intent of this article is to provide you, the savvy reader, with a list of products to ponder over and critically analyze before making the purchase. We’ll be taking a look at what makes the products work, and in depth look at the specifications for each item, before breaking down the pros and cons. We will also look at hydration pack reviews from numerous sources to give you a clear idea of what the device can offer.
However, before we jump into the items we have in store, it’s important to take a minute to look at the various criteria that apply when selecting the best hydration pack. Here are the key benchmarks to look for when purchasing a water backpack.
Capacity of fluid container
One of the biggest factors in choosing your hydration pack is the amount of fluid it can hold. This will play in to how long your trips outdoors will be.
If you’re going to be out all day, then clearly you will need a backpack with a larger carrying capacity. By comparison, if you are venturing to local spots that aren’t too lengthy, then you can afford to get something that’s smaller in size. Equally however, you could always buy a larger hydration backpack and not fill it all the way up for those shorter distances, preference on this will be dependent on you and your needs. Here’s a rundown of the differing sizes;
- 0.5 liter or less (16 fluid ounces or less): Usually coming in a variation of a waist pack, this will include a couple of water bottles. Generally made for use with activities that involve running or walking, they are better suited for these sort of pursuits.
- 1 liter or 1.5 liters (32 or 50 fluid ounces): Staying with a smaller size, this is ideal for younger adventures when you go on family hikes or walks. In addition, they make a fine choice for commuting to and from work.
- 2 liters or 2.5 liters (70 or 85 fluid ounces): One of the most common sizes and for good reason; this popular capacity gives a great balance between not being overly heavy or bulky and providing ample water supply that will usually last for most outings without the need of being refilled.
- 3 liters or more (100 fluid ounces or more): Larger than all, this is aimed at those who are extremely thirsty and don’t have time to refill, and also for those who are exploring areas that are off the beaten track and there may be scarce opportunities to get a refill.
Similar to the above category, the amount of gear that you can carry with your water backpack is another ingredient for consideration in picking the best hydration pack. Things to take into account are asking yourself questions such as can this hold the right gear for me? Will my waterproof jacket fit in here along with snacks and other equipment? Once again, the length of your foray will play a part in deciding which is more suitable for your cause, so let’s have a look at the options in terms of sizes available;
- 5 liters or less: A small pack designed primarily for quick and scaled down activities such as running and road biking. Compact and light, their storage capacity is mainly there for the essential items like your house keys, a snack or two and maybe a spare layer of clothing just in case.
- 6 liters to 10 liters: Mainly designed for those partaking in mountain biking, this size has enough space for additional clothing, more snacks and other paraphernalia such as a higher spec camera.
- 11 liters to 20 liters: The more common size you will see for hiking and trail running, these packs usually have additional features like extra pockets to give you a bit more organization and storage space. You’ll be able to fit in things such as food, ordinance equipment along with emergency items and extra gear.
- 21 liters or more: This will be chiefly used for hikers on long journeys. Cargo space is vast and will serve you well on expeditions that go on all day and even into the night. Comfort and load supporting features will be present in order for the protracted adventure to remain an enjoyment.
A hydration pack won’t come with a size chart like a sweater or pair of pants, but there is definitely a couple of key things to note when choosing the right item.
The correct fitment will be appropriate for your torso length, not your overall height. If applicable, the hip belt will fit nice and snug on your hips, however if your chosen backpack doesn’t have this then ensure that the torso size is correct. Let’s take a closer look at the variables.
Multiple sizes exist ranging from extra small all the way to large. These cater to an array of different torso lengths so it is always best practice to try it out for size and figure out which is best suited for your body.
As mentioned above, some hydration packs come with hip belts attached. These will spread across a huge span of wait sizes, from 20 inches up to 40 inches or even bigger.
Women-Specific Hydration Packs
Designed with the female form as a dominating factor, these packs have hip belts and shoulder straps that conform to the feminine body type. Torso dimensions are usually more narrow and shorter than the men’s packs. Another consideration is that due to the smaller size, they actually can work well with younger people of either gender.
Youth-Specific Hydration Packs
There are also specific packs for children which will be more accommodating than settling for a female orientated packs. The main difference being adjustable suspension being present which enables the bag to be adjusted as the child grows.
Finally, you should always pay attention the various features your chosen pack has. The best hydration packs may not be the ones that have everything, but have the specifics you require. Here is the inventory to consider;
- Bite valve shutoff switch: Probably the most important feature, as this controls the fluid that you take in. Some vales have a switch that makes sure water doesn’t get out when you’re not drinking while others will have a twist and open mechanism.
- Tube portals: This is where the tube will be taken from the reservoir inside your pack to the outside. Ideally, there will be two portals so the tube can be positioned over either shoulder. Occasionally a backpack will offer a single outlet that is positioned in the center.
- Clips: Used for keeping the tube in position, located on the shoulder strap.
- Quick-disconnect tubing: Mainly used for the time when you need to refill your container, the tube will be quickly and easily disconnected from the reservoir. A button will cause this release and the real benefit is that the tube can stay in place while you re-fill which is a plus especially if you have already snaked the tube through a tube portal, it would be time consuming and an annoyance to have to re-do that every time.
- Wide-mouth opening: This is for hygiene purposes, a wide mouth opening allows you to easily get your hand inside the unit and clean effectively. For a smaller opening, you would have to purchase a cleaning kit separately, adding to your overall cost.
- Cold weather add-ons: For the times when weather isn’t on your side, an assortment of winter additions are available which include insulated reservoirs and tubing along with covers for the container itself and the bite valve. Note that this will add weight to your load however.
- Rain cover: Self explanatory, a helpful device for those of you taking your excursions to the outdoors in all kinds of weather.
Where is the product manufactured?
Finally, you should always note where the product is being manufactured as you don’t want to find yourself buying second rate wares.
We’re now fully prepared to explore what’s out there to purchase. So without further ado, here are the list of top products that Mike’s Gear Reviews has put together. Please note, all prices are from amazon.com unless otherwise stated.
The List: 7 Best Hydration Packs
We begin with a camelbak backpack that is made in the USA.
An iconic bag that was first launched in 1996, is has proven to be one of the bestselling and popular iterations developed by CamelBak. It is light and maneuverable, thanks to a narrow gauge design, which also means it is able to be both lightweight but able to take good storage, big enough to carry 3 liters of water.
As the years have progressed, great features such as air channels which serve to keep your back cool have been added, along with functional and snazzy compartments which can be used to keep your peripherals such as keys and electronic devices such as mobile phones and mp3 players. A strong base, let’s take a look in detail at the specifications this hydration pack has to offer;
- Made in the USA and Imported
- Antidote reservoir features Quick Link system, easy open/close cap, lightweight fill port, Dryer arms, center baffling and low-profile design
- Key pack features: xv back panel, magnetic tube trap, bike tool organizer pocket, four-point compression, helmet hooks
- Designed to carry helmet, Multi-tool, pump, Spare tube, extra layer, lunch, phone, keys
- Lifetime guarantee
- Three interior slip pockets. Three exterior pockets.
- Capacity – 11 liters
- Closure Type – zipper
- Unisex adult
Now that we have a better idea of what we’re dealing with, it’s time to examine the pros and cons of this water backpack.
The majority of reviews online indicate that this is an extremely good product, well worth your time and money.
The customers who purchased this product have heaped praise on this, saying such things as “Consistent with normal Camelbak quality, the MULE is extremely well built with high quality zippers and heavy duty stitching. The back padding is just right for the size of the pack and the shoulder pads are comfortable but not bulky, even when weighted with three liters of water, tools and a drone”
This comment highlights a few points, including the great storage space that you find with this Camelbak backpack. Also examined and brought to our attention is the comfort that is offered, again a major consideration when choosing your hydration pack.
Elsewhere, the review on natureimmerse.com states “It is spacious with three interior slip pockets, stretch overflow helmet storage, a patented antidote reservoir (low profile bladder with a 100oz capacity, and a total capacity of 11liters plus extra 3 liters in the reservoir). Even with this capacity, the hydration packs weighs a mere 1.7lbs making it lightweight and easy to carry.”
Once more, the capacity is celebrated along with how lightweight this feels.
We can deduce then, that our first offering from Camelbak is certainly a strong candidate for the best hydration pack. With ample storage space present, along with a reservoir that is well constructed and easy to use, this product gives you everything you need when going on your excursion, either hiking or riding. Let’s now move on and examine what is next on our list.
Bladder Perfect For Running Cycling Hiking Climbing Pouch.
From Kuyou, this compact design is a smaller capacity bag than we have just reviewed and as such serves a different purpose.
This will be aimed at those who are taking part in shorter hikes or rides.
The main selling point of this product is the fact that it is extremely lightweight and breathable, owing to its nylon and mesh fabric construction. The hydration bladder itself is a 2 liter capacity bag that claims to be pressure tolerant and leak proof. Adjustable straps complete the main positive aspects of the hydration backpack. Finally, a guarantee is offered from the manufacturer, so there is peace of mind present and a confidence in the product. So let us take a deeper look at the specifications of the item;
- Material: Made from lightweight, breathable mesh back panel and high-quality nylon.
- 2L Hydration bladder included: BPA free and FDA approved.
- Water bladders passed pneumatic pressure test, 24 hour swing test and 24 hour vibration test.
- Adjustable shoulder straps, so you can make the backpack fit you perfectly and keep the pack from moving, Wide webbed shoulder straps help to reduce the burden of your shoulder.
- Two layers design: one for the liquid container, and the other for keys, compass, phones, etc .
- Reflective article design for better safety.
- Money back guarantee
- With this information in place, it is now time to analyze the positives and negatives that this product has.
A rather more mixed reception than our previous listing, this hydration pack scores reasonably well on Amazon.
Delving into the reviews though reveals some interesting insights, with multiple users complaining the quality felt cheap.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom, there are a multitude of positive reviews such as, “Great product. I used it for the Spartan Race in Chicago. Holds a little over 2 L of fluids and never feels heavy. I was able to stick gum and snacks inside the pack (no pockets outside).”
A polarizing product that seems rather hit and miss, the age old adage of “you get what you pay for” can apply here. Yes, this product is cheaper than many on the market and undercuts similar Camelback backpacks, however proceed with caution as you may find one that leaks and can ruin your hike, defeating the purpose. It’s not all bad news however, it certainly does the job insofar as offering a simple solution to your hydration needs while out and about on your excursions, just be aware of the potential pitfalls and make sure to take advantage of that money back guarantee if you are unsatisfied.
with a New Limited Edition Color; Free Rain Cover Included
Moving on, this offering from Teton is marketed as “[the] day hiker’s choice” and with features such as being light, comfortable and affordable, it’s pretty clear to see why.
An 18 liter capacity bag that contains a 2 liter hydration reservoir, this water backpack also boasts an “athletic fitment” which is fully adjustable to be able to suit the needs of men, women and children.
Armed with an array of features such as a big pocket with hidden teeth zipper, weather guard and a bungee cord system that can be used to affix riding gear like your bike helmet.
The final important and huge positive is that a free rain cover accessory is included, which is a fantastic bonus.
With a strong mission statement and promising attributes, it’s time now to analyze the specifications of this item and get into the details.
- Light, adjustable, comfortable
- Size 1100 Cubic Inches (18 L)
- HYDRATION BLADDER INCLUDED: BPA free 2-liter hydration bladder included; Complete with lightweight, durable, kink-free sip tube and push-lock cushioned bite valve; Large 2-inch (5 cm) opening for ice that also makes cleaning easy
- Backpack for men, women, and youth; Low-profile athletic cut with full adjustment fits all frames comfortably.
- Comfort-taped straps with high-density notched foam stabilizer and mesh covering means you can wear this pack for hours
- Large pocket with hidden-teeth zipper and weather guard protects gear, clothes, and lunch; Bungee cord system for bike helmet; Butterfly opening for jackets, etc.
- LIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY
- Free Rain Cover included
The facts are present, the intent is clear, it’s now time to weigh up the pluses and minuses of the hydration pack.
Another good product here on our list, this hydration backpack scores well on Amazon.
Hydration pack reviews usually hone in on a few key notes; comfort, durability and longevity.
Overall, we have a quality product that comes in at a very affordable price.
Multiple positive attributes see this as a strong candidate for purchase, however one glaring blemish on the resume is the poor construction of the hydration reservoir which has left many users with a bad taste in the mouth. Pun intended. We would recommend the product if you are on a budget and need a solid backpack for a day’s worth of adventuring, however there could be better products out there so for now, take stock and let this simmer for a moment as we continue exploring the other items on offer.
Adjustable Padded Shoulder, Chest & Waist Straps- Silicon Bite Tip & Shut Off Valve- Daypack For Cycling & Hiking
Our next hydration pack comes from Live Infinitely.
Boasting numerous features that are centered around your comfort, such as fully adjustable shoulder and waist straps fitting a large range of chest sizes; 26″ all the way to 52″. Included as well are horizontal and vertical adjusting chest straps, the thinking behind this is that this will prevent the bag from bouncing around and causing discomfort for your more brisk runs.
Staying with comfort, a unique back padded section allows airflow between your back and pack.
Moving on, storage is really honed in on as a big plus, with Live Infinitely claiming a “days worth of gear” can be stowed, including such peripheries as a 13″ laptop, Go Pro and a multitude of other necessities.
Finally, durability is displayed with the product exhibiting 600D polyester that is both strong and water resistant. Let’s find out what the finer points are and check out the specs;
- Key/Accessory Pocket
- Head Phone Jack; Phone safe in your bag, while easily accessing your headphones.
- 3 Large Compartments
- Side Pocket
- Trekking Pole Attachment
- Thick Foam with Airflow
- Vertical & Horizontal Adjustable Chest Straps
- Adjustable Waist Straps
- No leak, hydration spout hands-free “on and off” switch and silicone bite valve.
- Drinking Tube Clip
- Convenient FDA Approved Hydration- Every pack comes with the best bladder on the market. Made of TPU, which is a hybrid of BPA Free plastic and silicone so you get the best of both worlds. Extra large 3.5″ opening
A lot of features and lots to take in, let’s dig a little deeper and look at the pros and cons of this hydration backpack;
As seems to be the trend with a non Camelbak backpack, there are a multitude of positives to look at, but a reoccurring theme crops up; the water bladder leaks.
Reviews are in general very positive, but as mentioned some of the negative comments revolve around this leaking issue.
Another high scoring product, this is again a strong contender but once more not without its drawbacks.
The space offered is great and the multiple features are simply wonderful and will make a fine addition for anyone who frequents trails for up to a day or maybe even more. The nagging irritant that has also plagued other bags is the water leaking issue, which seems to not be present with every model, but enough to make a note of. One to recommend for sure, but be aware of this drawback.
A striking and aesthetically pleasing offering now, Yesing’s hydration pack includes a 2 liter water container within a multifunctional design that has high density notched foam stabilizer and mesh covering for comfort and durability.
Interestingly, a cooling sport towel is included, which thus far is new to our list of products and proposes an interesting selling point. A strong 18 month warranty also helps allay any fears should the worst happen, so there’s plenty of strong positives going in to this. Now let’s have a look in detail at the specifications;
- Capacity: Holds up to 2L water reservoir, total about 12L space
- Size: 17.1″ x 8.5″ x 3.2″(Height x Width x Thickness) ;
- Adjustable chest size from 38″ to 47″;
- Bear system: Airflow System
- Weight: 300g
- 2L water reservoir
Now with the facts in place, it’s time to delve deeper and get into the good and bad about this product;
As you can see from the very short list on cons, this product is widely praised and well liked. This puts is squarely on par with the Camelbak backpack which was first on our list.
Truly a strong contender for Mike’s Top Choice, this hydration backpack doesn’t just talk the talk, it walks the walk. The wildcard entry of the cooling towel did raise eyebrows, but it has been well received and proves to be an excellent addition giving it a unique selling angle that may tip it as our favorite. But all is not yet said and done, so let’s continue with our next product.
Keeps Water Cool!
From Freemove, we have another stylish hydration pack that has a 6 liter capacity bag and a 2 liter water container.
Featuring water resistant material, soft padded shoulder straps are also equipped, meaning durability and comfort are high on the priority list. Multiple compartments are present, meaning you can easily stow away valuables, electronic equipment and some snacks to take on your expedition.
They claim the water bladder is the best around, being FDA approved, tasteless and BPA free. The real statement of intent from the company is that this is the perfect water backpack to suit all needs, be it hiking, running or cycling. With these strong credentials in place, let’s take a look at the specifications and see how they line up.
- Constructed by Ripstop material, which is highly durable & waterproof.
- Air Flow system on the back, prevents sweating & provides comfort.
- MULTIPLE COMPARTMENTS – FULLY ADJUSTABLE – LIGHTWEIGHT
- Water bladder FDA approved, tasteless and BPA free
- Money back guarantee
Now with these variables in place, it’s time to get the microscope out and really inspect the positives and negatives that this product has.
Once again we have another strong offering here. There are a plethora of positive reviews that vastly outweigh the negative comments.
Many users are impressed with the functionality and comfort of the water backpack.
To surmise, this is a worthy product that comes with plenty of positives and very few drawbacks. Offering good comfort and lots of practical storage, this is well worth considering. However, there are cheaper options available which we have covered that actually serve a better purpose. It does hold up well to a Camelbak backpack, but we believe there is better.
Is it the next and final product on our list?
Let’s find out…
Compact Marathon Backpack Camel Pack with 2L Water Bladder for Outdoor Sports
The final hydration pack on our list, U’Be come to play with a design that looks like it wouldn’t be out of place as a Kevlar vest.
Incredibly sleek and simple design that is unisex and suitable for children, this water backpack has adjustable straps to make that possible. As with others on the list, a 2 liter water capacity is present and this is primarily the bags function.
There is however space for a few items to take with you on your adventure, thanks to zipper pockets and a pouch. But let’s see how the specifications line up;
- Bite Mouthpiece lets you sip on while the move without worrying about leakage
- Hydration Backpack is lightweight (0.670 lb)
- Exterior zipper pockets on sides help you to stash your essentials
- Fits women, men and kids, as straps are easily adjustable
- Guarantee offered, replacement or money back
With the specs in place, let’s see if this can be one of the best hydration packs on the list by looking at the pros and cons;
A high rating Amazon indicate favorable reviews in the main, however there are many users that have complained about the apparent leaking issue that is unfortunately present.
While this product does have nice features and looks the part, it’s probably not worth considering when you compare it to other items that we have on our list. Having said that, it would serve you well if you were going out for a cycle and required little storage space, but needed water at a convenient and affordable price.
Mike’s Top Choice
We’ve looked at many hydration packs in this article, each offering a unique way to keep yourself hydrated and refreshed whilst on the go during your expeditions.
Key to any good hydration pack is having great comfort, durability and practicality. But there are some that really stand out from the crowd.
The first item on our list, a Camelbak backpack really ticked all of the boxes, with a huge storage space, a non leaking water reservoir and premium comfort, there’s a lot to be admired here. The one drawback is that you will pay a premium, so our advice? If you can afford it, go for it as you will definitely not be disappointed. However, the true winner and best hydration pack on our list is the Hotspeed Yesing hydration backpack. With all of the positives of the Camelbak variant plus the added accessory of the cooling towel really did push this product to the top of the list.
Safe, Sane and In Control …That’s what we always say here in Mike’s Gear Reviews.
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