Hiking is a great way to get outdoors, explore nature, and stay active. But if you’re going out for an extended period of time, bringing hydration packs for hiking is a smart move.
Hydration packs are lightweight backpacks with an integrated water reservoir that allows you to easily access your drinking water while on the move. It can also hold other items you might need during your hike, like snacks, a first aid kit, or sunglasses.
In our previous review, we went over the best hydration packs for kids. This time we want to help you choose a great hydration pack for mom and dad.
Here are our top picks for the best hydration packs for hiking to bring for your next hiking adventure.
What Are Hydration Packs?
Hydration packs usually come in the form of backpacks or waist packs. It is specifically designed to carry water inside for easy access while we’re on the move. Water is contained inside a reservoir or the “bladder” which is usually made of rubber or flexible plastic.
Attached to it is a tube or a hose that transports water and allows us to drink hands-free without slowing down or stopping mid-trail.
What Should I Look For In A Hydration Backpack?
Before making a purchase make sure you consider the following features, so you can be sure that you’ll get the best hydration pack that suits your needs.
1. Type of Hydration Pack
Generally, Hydration packs come in two forms, these are your hydration backpacks and hydration waist packs. But to make it more specific, these hydration packs have different features that are fit for specific outdoor activities.
- Hiking packs– These packs are quite similar to the standard hiking backpacks and it has the largest capacity out of all the types. Aside from carrying water, there is also enough space for food, clothes, or added gears you can put inside that you might need for the hike. We will be focusing on this type so make sure you stick around
- Running packs– Running is an activity that is a bit challenging especially when you have something on you. These packs are designed to specifically be convenient for running. It is a lot like the daypack with a low profile design, a hipbelt, and multiple pockets that are conveniently located for you to easily get access to.
- Cycling packs– Specifically designed for cyclists or biking enthusiasts and are compact enough to be carried without interfering with the wearers pedaling. There are large cycling hydration packs that are ideal for mountain biking to accommodate extra biking gears or tools.
- Snowsport packs– For winter sports enthusiasts out there, this one’s for you! These packs have insulated tubes to prevent water from freezing. Typically, it has extra features like straps that are used to carry the skis or snowboards for you.
2. Hydration Pack Capacity
The hydration pack for hiking that you will choose should have enough space to carry water that you think you will need. And aside from this make sure it also has a space for your other things such as extra gears, clothes, and food.
Reservoir capacity, Carrying large quantities of water is not a walk in the park. Think about how much water you will need for your activity, from there choose a pack that is enough to carry the water you need. In case you’re wondering, 1 liter of water weighs approximately 2 pounds.
Reservoir capacity of 0.5 Liters or less is ideal for short runs or walking while the larger ones that can carry 3 Liter or more are perfect for more demanding activities like long trail hikes where clean water isn’t accessible.
Gear Capacity, Aside from carrying water, you should consider how much space will be left for other things that you will be needing for the activity. For light and minimalist running, cycling, or hiking 5 Liters should suffice, but when it comes to long runs and hikes, you want to choose a pack that has 20 liters or more.
Although bigger packs mean bigger space for your things, remember that all the weight is only yours to carry. Choose a pack that you think you can carry and won’t drag you down while you do your activity.
3. Hydration Pack Fit
Measuring your torso length, hips/waist can help you decide which is the best fit for you to carry.
Some manufacturers offer packs that are designed for specific genders and age groups, so make sure you look for that feature or specification when you’re choosing one.
4. Hydration Pack Material
Look for sturdy material and construction. Usually these packs are made of nylon or polyester, and the higher the denier of these materials, there is a greater chance that it will last longer. Check for water resistant capacity of the pack as well.
5. Hydration Pack Features
Each product may differ in features, remember to choose a pack that has added features that you think are necessary for your activity.
- Shutoff bite valve- This feature ensures that water doesn’t spill or leak. Some valves need to be twisted when opening or closing while others have switches in them.
- Easy access disconnecting tubes- tubes that can be quickly disconnected from the reservoir is necessary especially when you want to stop and refill the water reservoir.
- Wide mouth opening- wide opening makes cleaning the reservoir much easier. In case you have a reservoir with a smaller opening you can use reservoir cleaning kits that you can buy on the market.
- Clips- Shoulder strap clips keep your drinking tubes always in place and ready for use.
- Hipbelt- Allows the hips to take off some weight from the shoulders.
- Waterproof cover- Weather is unpredictable, it’s nice to have a rain cover for your packs to keep our things dry and prevent damage to your gears.
If you’re currently in the market for the perfect hydration packs to bring for your hiking rendezvous, you’ve come to the right place. It’s not that hard to choose when you know the basics, right?
How To Clean Your Hydration Packs
Cleaning the Water Reservoir
Although some people find cleaning a hydration bladder a challenge, there are simple steps and tricks that you follow to make it easier for you to clean your hydration bladder.
You will need the following materials to properly clean your hydration bladders:
For the cleaning solution, you’ll need mild dish soap plus 2 tbsp. of baking soda, household bleach, lemon juice or reservoir cleaning tablets can also be used.
For the cleaning tools: You can use cleaning brushes that are specifically made for cleaning the parts of the water bladder. Your regular kitchen scrubbing brush will do but it might not clean the hard t reach places in your bladder.
- Put hot water inside the bladder and add mix the cleaning solution inside
- Lift the reservoir above your head while pinching the bite valve, allow the cleaning mixture to run through the tube.
- Let it sit for 20-30 minutes, but if you’re using cleaning tablets you should follow the recommended time needed to clean the reservoir.
- Drain the water from the reservoir.
- Fill again the reservoir and the tube with warm water and dish soap.
- Use the cleaning brushes to scrub your the bladder and rinse it again thoroughly.
- Air dry the reservoir and make sure that no moisture is left inside as it will encourage mold growth.
Cleaning Your Packs
After each trip or outdoor activity make sure that you clean your pack, but as much as possible to make it a point to clean not only the water reservoir but the whole backpack aswell.
- If your pack has removable hipbelt or harness, remove them first. Loosen the straps also.
- It’s not advisable to clean your packs in a washing machine, instead, use mild soap, warm water and a soft brush to get rid of the dirt, sweat or food. Use soft brush in cleaning the compartments and zippers as well.
- Rinse your pack thoroughly and hang it to dry.
Caring For Your Hydration Packs
Caring for your Hydration Packs, especially the water reservoir is essential to keep them dirt-free and prevent bacterial growth inside.
- As much as possible, make sure that you only put water inside the bladder. Fluids like juice or sports drink contain sugar and when there is residue left inside the bladder it may encourage bacterial growth. This is especially true in smaller and narrower packs that are not easy to clean.
- After you’re done using the bladder make sure you allow it to dry completely. You can do this by following the manufacturer’s advice. You can also do a clever way of using tubes like cardboard tubes from tissues to keep the bladder open and eventually dry up. Reservoir hangers are also available on the market that is specifically designed for drying your hydration bladders. Before storing it make sure that it’s absolutely dry so that mildew won’t develop.
- Avoid using your packs extensively when the temperature dips below -20° or above 40°.
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