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Best Hydration Pack [2020]

IBTXO 12L Hydration Vest

  • Insulated hydration bladder and hydration tubes
  • Caters to runners but appeals to many other interests
  • Design for comfort

At first glance, the IBTXO 12L Hydration Vest seems to be geared to appeal to long-distance runners and hikers. Though when you spend time with it, you’ll see that it’s also very functional for other pursuits like cycling, climbing, and trail running.

It comes with a 2-liter hydration bladder with an FDA approved anti-microbial treatment. The compartment that holds the bladder is nicely insulated, as are the hydration tubes. It also includes a no-leak connection with a soft bite mouthpiece.

Combined the vest pouches and the rear compartment provides 12-liters of storage capacity. It’s made from water-resistant fabric and decorated with reflective tape and printing. The shoulder straps are made from breathable fabric and there are thoughtful storage pockets for a smartphone or an MP3 player.

G4Free Military Hydration Pack

  • Tactical hydration pack with MOLLE webbing
  • 3-liter hydration bladder with insulated hydration tubes
  • Straps and internal buckles for comfort

The G4Free Military Hydration Pack is a true tactical backpack with a large 3-liter hydration bladder included. It’s meant to appeal to people who appreciate tactical functionality. This backpack is made from high density 600 denier polyester fabric which imparts superior water and abrasion resistance. It also has external MOLLE webbing, with two large front pockets for quick-grab items.

It’s also worth noting that the hydration hoses are insulated. Not only does this ensure that you have cool refreshing water in hot conditions, but it also reduces the chances of water freezing into slush if you need to take it to places where the temperature dips below 32-degrees Fahrenheit.

The G4’s shoulder straps are breathable as well as cushioned and breathable. It includes a chest and waist strap which helps keep your load balanced while you walk and reducing wear on shoulder and back muscles.

BLACKHAWK! Titan Hydration Pack

  • 40-liter maximum storage capacity
  • 2.9-liter hydration system
  • Microban anti-microbial treatment in the hydration bladder lining

The BLACKHAWK! Titan Hydration Pack was designed to meet the needs of people who want a hydration backpack that can also support them on a multi-day trip off the grid. It comes with a 100-ounce (2.9 liters) hydration bladder with Black Hawk’s proprietary Hydration System. This includes a Microban anti-microbial treatment in the hydration bladder’s lining.

The Blackhawk Titan was made from 1,000 denier nylon for superior water resistance and has comfortable shoulder straps. It includes a waistband with multiple attachment points for utility items. The backpack itself has a 40-liter maximum storage capacity. If you pack it carefully, you could even use it as an airline carry-on bag.

How We Picked

Hydration packs first emerged on the consumer landscape to answer the niche hydration needs of hikers and day campers. As time when on runners, cyclists, climbers, and other outdoor enthusiasts started to embrace the concept of being able to bring water with you when you are away from any semblance of utility.

Of course, this drove a way of innovation and specialized features. In short order hydration pack manufacturers realized that while a niche interest like trail running had certain needs, that hydration packs would also benefit from a broad approach.

Hydration Bladder Volume

The amount of water that a hydration bladder can hold strongly influences the type of person or interest who will gravitate toward it. For instance, long-distance and cross country runners tend to look for a hydration pack with a small bladder, or perhaps one that comfortably accommodates small water bottles. On the other end of the spectrum, climbers, hikers, and campers might prioritize a much larger hydration bladder to answer their support needs for a day or more.

While we were looking through the possible options, we tried to keep an eye out for packs that appealed to certain niche interests. At the same time, most are good old-fashioned all-rounders that will support your hydration needs for an entire day hike.

Backpack Storage Capacity

Most backpack manufacturers measure storage capacity in liters. A 10-liter storage compartment is usually too small to support someone for more than a few hours, or perhaps an afternoon. This volume tends to be more appealing to trail runners or day hikers. Especially those who are taking small field samples.

A large storage capacity of 25-liters or more tends to be more appealing to people who want to take everything they need on a multi-day hike-in camping trip. Some of these packs will even include tactical features like MOLLE hooks and webbing which allow you to add custom compartments and sheathed equipment.

While we were reviewing the various options we tried to include small storage capacity units that are appealing to runners and cross country skiers. Then we also made sure to include a few hydration packs that could support a solo hiker for an overnight trip or longer.

Insulated Hydration Chambers And Hydration Tubes

If you are going for a leisurely hike on a mild spring day than the temperature of the water delivered by the hydration bladder and tubing will likely go unnoticed. Yet in very hot conditions, an uninsulated bladder can leave you with a lukewarm, and unrefreshing mouthful of water. An insulated bladder compartment and a bladder with a large opening that can accommodate standard ice cubes can help ensure that you get a cold refreshing sip from your first to your last.

On the other end of the spectrum, insulated hydration tubes can be very important when the mercury dips below 32-degrees Fahrenheit. Dehydration is a major concern in cold conditions and some people forget to drink until they are desperately thirsty.

Not only does this increase the risk of dehydration, but the lack of water passing through uninsulated tubes can also cause areas to slush up. Also known as “Transition Phase” this is the middle ground between where water is a liquid on its way to becoming a solid. An uninsulated hydration tube can “Slush” upon you preventing you from access to the water you so desperately need when exercising in the cold.

Strap Configuration And Overall Comfort

The earliest hydration packs often drew criticism for feeling increasingly uncomfortable when worn for a long period of time. Some of this is the overall physics of carrying water on your back as it shifts inside the non-baffled hydration bladder.

As time has gone on, hydration pack manufacturers have worked hard to design hydration compartments that keep the bladder secure and balanced. Some even have special clips that essentially lock it in place.

The shoulder and other straps are also an important consideration when it comes to long-term comfort. Ideally, we tried to look for padded compression shoulder straps. Though there are some smaller lightweight units that are perfectly comfortable with basic straps that work in tandem with sternum and waist strap.

TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack

TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack


  • 2-liter hydration bladder
  • Large opening for easy fill
  • Kink-free sip tube with O-ring connection
  • Push-lock bite valve
  • 18-liter backpack
  • Ripstop fabric
  • Padded compression straps
  • Sternum and waist straps
  • Limited lifetime warranty

The TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack represents a convenient marriage between a high capacity 2-liter hydration bladder and a high-quality backpack. It’s made from special Ripstop fabric, which gives the backpack superior tear and abrasion resistance.

TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack

The pockets and compartments provide 18-liters of storage space. This means with thoughtful packing it could support you for two days or more in the bush.

Hiker wearing the TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack

The overall design of the straps is geared toward comfort. The compression shoulder straps are padded to minimize shoulder strain. It also has a sternum strap and an optional waist strap, which helps the back feel comfortable and balanced.

TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack on a hike

The internal hydration bladder can hold up to two liters of water and has a large fill opening. The kink-free sip tube is connected to the bladder via an O-ring port. It has a push-lock bite valve for convenient drinking while you’re on the go.

What We Liked

The strap configuration on the TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack is a nice touch. The padded compression shoulder straps are comfortable, and the sternum strap with the optional waistband will help keep the backpack properly balanced. Not only does this maximize comfort, but it also adds to the stability, which can be a factor if you are hiking over uneven ground.

You also can’t look past the limited lifetime warranty and the semi-waterproof nylon Ripstop fabric.


The TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack is a great option for hikers and backwoods campers who need a pack capable of supporting them for a day or perhaps two. If you frequently hike over uneven ground, this pack’s stability and convenient design might even reduce your risk of suffering a mechanical injury.


TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack

  • 2-liter hydration bladder with kink-free sip tube
  • 18-liter capacity backpack
  • Padded compression straps with sternum and waist strap

Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack Pack

Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack Pack


  • 2-liter hydration bladder
  • Click connection sip tube
  • Superior leak resistance
  • Insulated bladder compartment
  • Padded straps
  • Chest buckle sternum strap
  • Convenient waist pocket

The Mubasel Gear hydration pack was designed to be an effective hydration pack that you can take with you in extreme temperatures. It houses a two-liter bladder with an insulation layer, that is rated to keep your water cool for up to four hours.

Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack Pack

The hydration bladder’s sip tube has a click-in connection. This configuration has a reputation for superior leak resistance.

Open Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack Pack

The shoulder straps are padded for comfort and include a chest buckle, sternum strap to help balance the load. Mubasel Gear also designed this hydration pack with a convenient waist pocket. This is a great place to keep small loose items or a flashlight.

What We Liked

The insulation layer in the hydration compartment is the thing that sets this backpack apart from much of the competition. It gives you the ability to keep your water cool, or from freezing for up to four hours. This makes it a great option for those who want to hike the desert, or for cross country skiers who want a reliable source of water for a long day excursion.


If you are going to take a day trip in extreme heat or persistent cold this is a great pack, that needs to be near the top of your list. Just bear in mind that it is a little bit on the small side for an overnight excursion.

The 60-day satisfaction guarantee is a nice touch, but it would be an even bigger feather in Mubasel Gear’s cap if they upgraded it to a 1-year limited warranty.

Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Backpack Pack

  • Insulated hydration compartment
  • 2-liter hydration bladder with leak-resistant click-in connection
  • Convenient waist pocket

Unigear Tactical Hydration Pack Backpack

Unigear Tactical Hydration Pack Backpack


  • 2.5 liter upgraded hydration bladder
  • Wide mouth filler port
  • 900 denier polyester fabric
  • PVC lining
  • Superior tear and abrasion resistance
  • MOLLE compatible webbing
  • 60-day satisfaction guarantee

Unigear Tactical Hydration Pack Backpack was designed to appeal to people who need the versatility and durability of a MOLLE compatible backpack. It’s made from 900 denier polyester fabric, with a water-resistant PVC lining.

Unigear Tactical Hydration Pack Backpack

This hydration backpack comes with an upgraded, extra-large 2.5-liter bladder. The bladder itself has an extra-large screw cap mouth, which can accommodate most standard ice cubes.

Unigear Tactical Hydration Pack Backpack

This is nice for times when you need to keep your water cool during a hot day’s hike or bike ride.

What We Liked

The tactical design and layout of the internal compartments and the MOLLE-compatible exterior webbing are very appealing for people who need a versatile pack with tactical functionality.

The extra-large mouth on the bladder to accommodate ice cubes is also a nice touch that you’re sure to appreciate on a hot day. After all when you’re really thirsty, a tepid sip of lukewarm water isn’t really all that refreshing.


This is a nice lightweight, well-designed hydration pack with MOLLE compatible webbing, to maximize its functionality. The 2.5-liter hydration bladder with wide mouth lets you keep a significant volume of cold water with you. It’s probably best as a cyclist’s hydration pack or for individuals who are hiking in the heat.

The internal storage capacity measures in at 9-liters which is a little on the small side if you need a pack to support you for an overnight trip. Still, you could use the MOLLE webbing to add on a small accessory support pouch.

The 60-day satisfaction guarantee lets you get a taste of it to make sure you like it. A longer warranty would be nice, but if you’re really concerned about longevity, there are some online retailers who offer a very affordable extended protection plan.

Unigear Tactical Hydration Pack Backpack

  • Tactical design with MOLLE compatible webbing
  • 2.5-liter wide-mouth hydration bladder
  • Superior tear and abrasion resistance

G4Free Military Hydration Pack

G4Free Military Hydration Pack


  • 3-liter upgraded hydration bladder
  • Insulated hydration tubes
  • Buckle system to fix bladder in place
  • Hands-free bite lock mouthpiece
  • High density of 600 denier polyester fabric
  • Tactical compartment layout
  • MOLLE compatible exterior

The G4Free Military Hydration Pack is was designed to appeal to people who appreciate tactical functionality. It’s made from high density 600 denier polyester fabric for superior abrasion and water resistance. There is also external MOLLE webbing, with two large front pockets for quick-grab items.

G4Free Military Hydration Pack

It hosts an impressive 3-liter hydration bladder, with a filler mouth large enough to accommodate most standard ice cubes.

G4Free Military Hydration Pack

The hydration hoses are also insulated to keep the water it delivers cool in hot conditions, or to prevent transition phase freezing in temperatures under 32-degrees Fahrenheit. The tubes also have a bite-lock hands-free mouthpiece.

G4Free Military Hydration Pack without backpack

The shoulder straps are cushioned and breathable. There are also chest and waist straps designed to help balance the load comfortably on your back. The hydration bladder is also secured in place with a special buckle system, which prevents it from sloshing or moving around as you walk.

What We Liked

The tactical design of the compartments with the MOLLE compatible webbing certainly maximizes the overall functionality and versatility. It also makes the inside easy to pack for longer day trips.

The large 3-liter hydration bladder is perhaps best in class for volume in a pack this small. The large filler mouth for ice cubes and the insulated hydration hoses mean you are more likely to get a truly refreshing cold drink on a hot day.


This is a great tactical backpack for hiking in the heat, yet it’s also small and light enough to serve you on a mountain bike adventure, or perhaps even a cross-country run. The large 3-liter hydration bladder’s buckle system helps secure it in place, which certainly improves comfort as well as overall balance.

Just bear in mind that this hydration pack is meant to support you on a long day trip. It doesn’t necessarily have the internal storage volume to support enough gear for a solo overnight trip. Still, for the friendly price point, it’s hard to complain.

G4Free Military Hydration Pack

  • Tactical hydration pack with MOLLE webbing
  • 3-liter hydration bladder with insulated hydration tubes
  • Straps and internal buckles for comfort

CamelBak ThermoBak 3.0 Liter Hydration System

CamelBak ThermoBak 3.0 Liter Hydration System


  • 3-liter hydration bladder
  • The reservoir has 7mm closed cell insulation
  • 100% nylon fabric
  • Shoulder straps with quick release
  • Sternum strap for comfort
  • MOLLE compatible exterior
  • External fill and refill port

CamelBak has spent the last few years building a name for themselves in the hydration pack industry. This includes units like the ThermoBak 3.0 which is almost entirely a portable insulated bladder without a lot of other traditional backpack functionality.

Still, the 100% nylon fabric body has a MOLLE compatible exterior, which makes it easy to add your own customized accessory compartments. The large 3-liter hydration bladder is also insulated with an upgraded 7mm closed cell insulation. It also has a large mouth, external fill and refills port. This allows you to keep water at a pleasant temperature even in extremely hot or cold conditions.

The shoulder straps are designed for comfort and balance the weight of the water. They include a quick release system. There’s also a convenient sternum strap to help keep the pack stable as you walk, while also reducing shoulder strain.

What We Liked

The 7 mm closed cell insulation layer is a nice feature that ensures the large 3-liter volume stays cool in the heat or doesn’t start to slush up in a “Transition Phase” freezing in the cold. The MOLLE compatibility is also a nice touch for people who need a little bit of extra storage.


If you simply need a pack that you can take with you when you need a high volume of water at a stable temperature than the CamelBak ThermoBak should be near the top of your list. Just bear in mind that it doesn’t provide any traditional backpack storage without adding MOLLE components as an additional accessory purchase.

CamelBak ThermoBak 3.0 Liter Hydration System

  • 3-liter hydration bladder
  • 100% nylon exterior with MOLLE compatibility
  • 7 mm upgraded closed cell insulation

BLACKHAWK! Titan Hydration Pack

BLACKHAWK! Titan Hydration Pack


  • 100 fluid ounce (2.9 liters) hydration bladder
  • Blackhawk hydration system
  • Microban antimicrobial treatment
  • 1,000 denier water-resistant nylon
  • Removable waistband with S.T.R.I.K.E attachment points

The BLACKHAWK! Titan Hydration Pack is designed to be a versatile, high capacity water transportation system that is also capable of supporting you for more than one night. It has nearly 40-liters of storage space, yet with careful packing, you can just get it to fit into the average airline overhead storage compartment.

BLACKHAWK! Titan Hydration Pack

The 100-ounce Black Hawk Hydration system can hold nearly 2.9 liters of water. The hydration bladder itself comes with a special Microban anti-microbial treatment, which is a nice touch for transporting such a high volume of water. Especially if you intend to use it for multiple days at a time or for frequent camping trips.

It’s made from 1,000 denier nylon which has superior water resistance. The shoulder straps are comfortable, and it includes a removable waistband with Blackhawk’s S.T.R.I.K.E attachment points.

What We Liked

This is a hydration backpack that can truly support you for multiple days off the grid, while also being able to transport nearly 3-liters of water with you. The Microban anti-microbial treatment in the hydration bladder is also nice, as multi-day camping trips increase the chances of microbes reproducing in your critical hydration source.


If you are looking for a simple hydration pack to use for a morning run or a long afternoon bike ride, then the Blackhawk Titan is probably a little too much for your purposes. If you need a pack that can carry a high volume of water and supports you through a multi-day hiking trip, then the Blackhawk Titan definitely deserves a good hard look.

Even at a 40-liter maximum capacity, a thoughtful packer could try to use this as an airline carryon bag. Just keep in mind that there isn’t enough storage space for a traditional sleeping bag, but the attachment points certainly make it easy to bring one with you.

BLACKHAWK! Titan Hydration Pack

  • 40-liter maximum storage capacity
  • 2.9-liter hydration system
  • Microban anti-microbial treatment in the hydration bladder lining

TRIWONDER Hydration Vest Trail Running Hydration Pack

TRIWONDER Hydration Vest Trail Running Hydration Pack and two bottles


  • Includes a pair of 250 ml water bottles
  • Breathable, waterproof nylon fabric
  • Reflector strips
  • Multiple reflector strips for maximum comfort
  • 18-month warranty
  • Special vest pockets for convenience items

The Triwonder hydration vest was designed to appeal to trail runners who need versatility in the capacity of water they carry with them. It’s a vest with a small 8-liter storage compartment in the back.

TRIWONDER Hydration Vest Trail Running Hydration Pack

It comes with a pair of 250 ml water bottles, which fit snugly in the vest compartments. There are also accessory pouches high up on the breathable vest straps. This is a great place to keep your phone or personal music device.

Right out of the box this hydration vest only comes with the water bottles, which is usually enough for the average trail runner. If you want to carry more water with you, then you will need to invest in a separate hydration bladder.

The storage compartment in the back was designed to hold up to a 2-liter hydration bladder. Though a 1.5 liter hydration bladder might be more preferable when it comes to saving weight. There are several high-quality affordable options that are available as a secondary purchase.

It’s made from waterproof nylon fabric and includes reflective safety striping. There’s also an adjustable waist strap that lets you dial it into your comfort level.

What We Liked

The vest feature with the waterproof, breathable nylon fabric and reflective striping makes it convenient for trail runners and bicyclists. The convenience pouches are also a thoughtful touch that makes it easy for you to comfortably take your phone with you.

The 18-month warranty protection also makes a statement about this hydration vest’s overall quality.


The fact that this vest comes with two 250 ML water bottles without a hydration bladder included in the purchase feels like a glaring omission. Still, if you aren’t going to be going for a long-distance run, you likely won’t notice the lack of a bladder, and might even enjoy the weight savings.

Beyond that, the material construction and special features certainly fit nicely in its intended niche.

TRIWONDER Hydration Vest Trail Running Hydration Pack

  • Specifically designed for trail runners and cyclists
  • Multiple adjustable straps for maximum comfort
  • 18-month warranty protection

IBTXO 12L Hydration Vest

IBTXO Hydration Vest and accessories


  • 2-liter hydration bladder
  • FDA approved with antimicrobial treatment
  • No leak system
  • Insulated bladder pouch and hydration tubes
  • Reflective tape and printing for safety
  • 12-liter storage capacity
  • Breathable shoulder straps
  • Multiple straps for custom comfort

The IBTXO Hydration Vest and backpack was designed with long-distance runners in mind. It is designed primarily as a vest, yet it also has a rear 12-liter storage capacity.

The hydration bladder compartment is insulated and comes with a no-leak system. The internal lining has an FDA approved anti-microbial treatment, which is nice for runners who need a daily hydration system but don’t want to perform a thorough cleaning after every single run. The hydration tubes are also insulated. They have a soft bite mouthpiece for easy drinking.

The IBTXO Hydration Vest is made from water-resistant fabric and adorned with reflective tape and printing for safety in lowlight conditions. The shoulder straps are breathable and come with convenient storage pockets, including one that’s specifically designed to hold a smartphone or an MP3 player. There are also multiple adjustable straps to give you a custom, comfort fit.

What We Liked

The insulated hydration bladder compartment and insulated tubes ensure that you can get cool refreshing water, even on a long run or hike. The antimicrobial FDA approved treatment and safety reflective tape is also a nice touch.


While this hydration vest/pack was designed to cater to the needs of runners and hikers, it can easily support the comfort and hydration needs on just about any type of day trip. It’s a great all-rounder with quality where you want and needs it. The only trade-off, is it isn’t large enough to support gear for an overnight trip.

IBTXO Hydration Pack Backpack 12L Outdoors Marathoner Running Race Hydration Vest

  • Insulated hydration bladder and hydration tubes
  • Caters to runners but appeals to many other interests
  • Design for comfort

Buyers Guide

The modern-day hydration pack evolved from military uses to answer the consumer need for transporting water. Hiking enthusiasts were the first to fully embrace hydration packs as they provided them with an ability to transport a large amount of water with them on extended trips.

Most of the early models included drinking ports and tubes that also allowed hikers to sip water as they go without having to stop or take their eyes off the terrain. Not only did it help quench thirst, but it also reduced the chances of mechanical injuries that can occur when you take your eyes off your footing.

Once hydration packs gained traction in the hiking niche, manufacturers were quick to look for other opportunities. This includes runners, bicyclists, backwoods campers, climbers, and even long-distance cross- country skiers.

Volume Capacity

The first place to start when considering a hydration pack is the overall volume. Water weighs 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds per liter. This means that a gallon of water weighs 8.3-pounds.

If you are looking for a small hydration pack for running or cycling, you don’t need a high-volume unit that could weigh you down or be uncomfortable. On the other end of the spectrum, a hiker who’s taking a multi-day walk through a hot dry environment may need to bring two or more gallons with them and would prioritize a high-volume hydration pack.

Type Of Hydration Pack

When they first emerged onto the marketplace, hydration packs were little more than backpack units or pouches that could fit into a backpack. They allowed you to carry them around like a camel with a hump. As time has gone on and the niche demand has grown, which led to innovation in how the water containment pouch can be worn.

Vest hydration packs tend to be popular with runners. Many feel that this type of configuration better distributes the weight and impact on the joints. With many of these dividing, the water volume also allows for better balance.

Waist hydration packs are very similar to vest units. They tend to be a smaller capacity and you wear them like a belt. Some people love these units and other people feel they are a water fanny pack. With some of these, it’s little more than a robust water bottle holder.

Hydration backpacks are the original and remain perhaps the most popular option. While there are some smaller volume hydration packs, most are meant to carry a significant volume. Some as much as three liters.

With many of these units, you’re also getting a fully functional backpack to go along with the bladders system.


Some hydration packs include an insulative layer that you can install or remove as needed. This is particularly handy if you need to take water with you in extreme cold or heat. Filling the pack with cold water keeps it from warming during the course of a long hike. Preventing freezing during winter activities like cross country skiing also reduces the chances of suffering a partially frozen water line.

Backpack Features

When you buy a hydration backpack, you also need to think about how you’ll use the pack itself. With many of these the storage, size is measured in liters, and the hydration bladder is measured in liters. Take a moment to make sure you aren’t accidentally mistaking one number for the other.

For example: if you see an 18-liter backpack, you should assume that’s the carrying capacity of the pack itself. It might then have a 2-liter hydration bladder, meaning there would be room for 16 liters of space remaining for other items you might carry with you.

Strap Characteristics

Shoulder straps are a necessity of course, but there are ways to maximize comfort. This includes things like padding or compression features to keep the pack from digging into your shoulders. A chest or sternum strap also helps keep the load in the pack, as well as the hydration bladder balanced.

One of the more hydration ports is also very appealing with hydration backpacks. In some cases, it’s little more than an extra-large grommet. Once the internal bladder has been filled, you feed the tube through the port and position the end near your mouth.

Port location might also be a factor. Side ports mean that the tube coming up the side of your body. This often creates a loop near the elbow. Most of the time this isn’t an issue. However, brush and stray branches can sometimes catch the line unexpectedly. If you are going to be using the hydration backpack in a thick forest, you might want to prioritize a pack with a top-mounted hydration port.

Special Features

Other features that you might want to prioritize in a backpack includes things like:

  • Waterproofing to make sure the interior materials stay dry in a rainstorm.
  • UV protection might be a priority if you are going to frequently hike in sunny conditions.
  • Reflectors for safety in low light conditions
  • Insulation on hydration bladder compartments and tubes

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How Do I Prepare The Hydration Bladder The First Time?

A: The first thing you will need to do when you get your hydration pack is clean the bladder. It’s not that there are germs in it, but a good washing will remove any plastic flavor from lingering surface residue leftover from the manufacturing process. This is as simple as rinsing it with warm water and lemon juice with perhaps a little bit of mild dish soap.

At that point, you need to let the hydration bladder dry completely. If the bladder keeps collapsing or lying flat, you might want to roll up two or three stiff paper towels and insert it into the port.

You can then reassemble and install it back into the bladder pouch of the backpack. Make sure that the hydration tube is firmly connected. This often involves seating an O-ring into the port on the bladder. When in doubt, you should check the owner’s manual.

Q: Why Do I Need To Keep The Hydration Bladder Out Of UV Light?

A: You see this warning on a lot of food or beverage grade plastics. The polymer nature of many plastics used in hydration bladders is vulnerable to a process known as “Photodegradation.” While a little bit of sunlight while you’re out on a hike won’t be a problem, long-term exposure can gradually break down the microscopic integrity of the plastic.

Q: How Is Volume Measured In Hydration Packs?

A. At first glance, you might notice a particular hydration pack with two “Liter” ratings. This is because most backpacks rank their storage space in liters, and hydration bladders also rank their volume in liters. If the manufacturer’s description doesn’t clearly state which is which, you should assume the smaller number is the hydration bladder’s capacity.

Q: What Is MOLLE?

A: MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment. It is a technical acronym used by the military. A MOLLE compatible backpack is designed to be “Tactical” and includes webbing loops on the outside. This allows you to attach accessory packs, compartments, or tools with a MOLLE compatible sheath.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that most tactical backpacks with MOLLE webbing are thoughtfully designed to be compact. This makes it easier to carry a significant volume of gear in what would otherwise seem to be a smaller pack.

Q: How Often Do I Need To Clean The Hydration Bladder?

A: Even if you are filling it with distilled water with every use, it should still be cleaned regularly. In the case of a daily running vest, a thorough rinsing after each run and a proper sanitizing wash once a week will likely suffice. In the case of a larger hydration bladder on a camping pack, it’s a good idea to clean it before and after every use.

The manufacturer typically includes everything you need to give the hydration bladder a thorough cleaning. Though there are a few kits worthy of considering at a very reasonable price. Check these ZXUY Hydration Bladder Cleaning Kit, InnerFit Hydration Bladder Cleaning Kit, MIRACOL Hydration Bladder Cleaning Kit.

Q: Do Antimicrobial Treatments Matter?

A: There are some hydration bladders that have a special antimicrobial treatment. While it’s certainly nice this doesn’t matter much for hydration pack that are meant for single “Day Trips.” With these, the standard practice is to properly clean and sanitize the hydration bladder before or after every use. Doing this diligently and making sure to dry it thoroughly usually eliminates any microbial concerns.

Where a microbial treatment tends to matter the most is in large hydration bladders that need to support you for multiple days between refilling. It can also be a factor for daily-use runners and cyclists, who might just want to do a quick rinse after every use and give it a thorough clean once a week.


Just how you will use your new hydration pack will factor into the characteristics and features you will prioritize. Try to take a moment to sit down and think about how often you’ll be using it for single-day hikes, daily cycle rides, or overnight trips deep into the bush.

The longer you need to go without replenishing your supplies the larger the hydration bladder you will need as well as backpack storage space. As your volumetric needs increase, your need for things like strap configuration and other comfort features will also increase.

If you are going to frequently use the hydration pack in overly hot or cold conditions, you will likely assign a higher priority to things like insulation. A hydration bladder that advertises a large mouth opening will also be able to hold ice cubes. It also makes cleaning a little easier.

With all these factors in mind, you should be able to efficiently sort through the high-quality options in this field to find the hydration pack that is just right for you.

Product Boxes: Last updated on 2021-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API