When you’re high on a mountain or miles along a remote trail, there’s often nothing worse than reaching for your water bottle and finding it empty. Or realizing you forgot your jacket when the rain starts pelting. Savvy hikers know that one of the most important mantras for an enjoyable day out is “be prepared.” A proper hydration pack can help you carry all of the things you need for a long trek comfortably and securely. But how do you find the best pack? Here are some features to consider:
Best Features in Hydration Backpacks for Hiking
- Ability to carry more water for longer hikes, and less water for shorter hikes
- Extra space for gear that doesn’t add bulk
- Hydration packs that fit comfortably
Hydration backpacks feature a reservoir or bottle holders that can hold anywhere from one to three liters of water. The amount you can carry depends on the size of the pack. A single liter of water weighs 2.2 pounds, which can add up quickly. When choosing which pack is best for you, ask these questions:
- How long do you think the hike will take? On average, most people require 3-4 liters of water for a moderate day of hiking. However, if you only plan to be out for a half day or less, one to two liters should be sufficient.
- If you’re not sure about how long a hike might take, take into account that a typical beginner’s pace on moderate trails is about 2 to 2.5 mph. If the trail is 10 miles long, plan for four to five hours.
- Will you have the option to refill your reservoir or bottles along the route? Perhaps at a store or drinking fountain? Or, if you carry a small water filter or purification tablets, are there clear streams along the trail?
- Take the weather forecast into consideration, as you will need more water in hot or humid climates.
Most hydration packs feature extra space and pockets for gear. When looking at the size of the pack, consider what things you might typically want to take with you.
- Smaller packs (5 to 10 liters) can usually hold an extra layer such as a jacket, snacks, and a liter or two of water.
- Mid-sized packs (11 to 20 liters) are better for longer adventures that could potentially require a change of clothing, a larger coat, emergency equipment, and a day’s worth of food. This is useful when you plan to hike all day in environments prone to sudden weather changes. These higher-capacity packs also typically have more pockets to help keep you organized.
If you’re going to wear something on your back all day long, you want it to be comfortable. It helps to take measurements of your torso and waist to ensure the backpack will fit you properly. A pack that’s too large can flop around uncomfortably. A pack that’s too small will rub and cause chaffing. Specialty packs often come in varying sizes and include adjustable straps to help you find the best fit. In packs with larger capacities, a waist belt will help distribute the weight. Padding on shoulder straps also increases comfort.
Some features improve the functionality of backpacks, while others are included solely for convenience. Whether they’ll work for you depends on your style of hiking.
The best hydration backpacks include these features:
- Wide-mouth reservoirs that are easy to fill with water and clean.
- Quick-disconnect tubing, which again adds simplicity to cleaning.
- Antimicrobial coating.
- A bite valve shutoff switch to prevent leaking.
- Convenient tube portals.
- Insulated tubing for cold weather.
- Expandable storage.
- Breathable fabric.
- Extra pockets.
- An emergency whistle.
- Rain cover.
Stay Hydrated on the Trail with Fitletic Hydration Backpacks
Fitletic hydration packs are designed to meet your needs when you’re out on the trail. The HydRun Vest Trail and Hydration Pack is an ultralight, vest-style pack that will fit comfortably around your torso and offers enough carrying capacity (two soft-flask bottles and room for a 1.5 liter bladder) to accommodate a half-day hike. The Journey Backpack Hydration System is a stylish and robust option for longer adventures, with a two-liter reservoir, extra pockets, high-visibility reflectors, adjustable straps and 11 liters of capacity. Check out the Fitletic offerings for hiking here!.
Spring is here! With your hydration pack ready to go, and your belt to carry your phone and fuel, a season of hiking is just around the corner. To give you a head start, we selected some of our favorite national hiking spots to pick from. A tour around some of these breathtaking National Parks will leave you itching to start planning your next getaway!
Top 10 Hiking Trails in the US
- Highline Trail, Glacier National Park
- Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park
- Devils Bridge Trail, Coconino National Forest
- Ewoldsen Trail, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
- Ozette Triangle Loop Trail, Olympic National Park
- South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park
- Fallen Leaf Lake Hike, South Lake Tahoe
- Echo Lakes Trail, South Lake Tahoe
- Lake Solitude, Grand Teton National Park
- Dupont Waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest
1) Highline Trail, Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is a wilderness area in Montana’s Rocky Mountains with glacier-carved peaks and valleys running to the Canadian border. Ever wondered what it’s like to journey along the Continental Divide? On Glacier National Park’s Highline Trail in Montana, you can do just that. This hike is one of the park’s most celebrated trails taking visitors high up along the Garden Wall in addition to other points of interest.
2) Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and has hundreds of options for hiking, camping, and backpacking. The Mist Trail, as its name suggests, snakes alongside two waterfalls – Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall – spraying visitors with a fair amount of moisture depending on the time of year (perfect for a hot day!). The total hiking time for this trek varies. Ascending only Vernal Fall (the first waterfall on the trail) yields a 2.4-mile round-trip hike, while Nevada Fall is a 5.4-mile round-trip journey. If you’re visiting in spring or early summer when water flow is at its peak, exercise extreme caution as the trails become both crowded and slippery.
3) Devils Bridge Trail, Coconino National Forest
The Coconino National Forest is a 1.856-million-acre National Forest located in northern Arizona in the vicinity of Flagstaff. Devils Bridge is the largest natural sandstone arch located in the Sedona area of the Coconino National Forest and features a very popular hike that offers breathtaking views of Red Rock country. The hike is a moderate 4.2 miles out and back trail that features beautiful wild flowers in the spring. This trail can get very crowded so it’s best to arrive early and head out early.
PRO TIP: Hydration is always key on any hike, but especially important in hot, dry places like Arizona. Dry heat, plus little to no water during the hike, makes for important planning, especially if you are running or carrying littles ones. For the best lightweight hydration system around, try the Quench Hiking Belt to keep your water accessible and easy to carry while remaining out of the way. Pack some extra necessities for a longer hike with a Backpack Hydration System. You want to aim for 1 liter of water, per person.
4) Ewoldsen Trail, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a state park on California’s Pacific coast. McWay Falls – one of the park’s main features – drop over a cliff of 80 feet into the Pacific Ocean (WOW). The Ewoldsen Trail in Big Sur offers much of California’s diverse topography all in one hike. Check out some of California’s beautiful redwood groves and grassy valleys, as well as coastal mountaintops that offer views of the Pacific. This loop trail is a little more than a 5-mile round-trip with camping options available.
5) Ozette Triangle Loop Trail, Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park sprawls from dramatic peaks of the Olympic Mountains to old-growth forests. This loop takes you along the coast and the beautiful forest that borders it. This is a 9.5 mile loop trail so you will want to pack layers of clothing and plenty of snacks. With longer miles, hydration is vital, so make sure you’re carrying an adequate hydration pack. Some animals you might see along the way include blacktail deer, elk, mountain goats and black bears.
6) South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park
You can’t have a beautiful hiking list without the breathtaking Grand Canyon National Park! The South Kaibab Trail is the only trail in the Grand Canyon that, according to the National Park Service, “dramatically holds true to a ridgeline descent.” But the trail isn’t for the faint of heart: There is no shade on the trail and hiking during the summer is not recommended. Hitting the trail during the off-season means less crowds anyway! During the cooler months, the National Park Service advises travelers not to go past Skeleton Point for a day hike, which clocks in at a 6-mile round-trip journey.
7) Fallen Leaf Lake Hike, South Lake Tahoe
Need a family-friendly hike? Fallen Leaf has you covered. Fallen Leaf is a beautiful spot to visit, get out on the water, or enjoy excellent trails. In fact there are routes perfect for an easy walk, strenuous hike or trail run, all with the reward of incredible views! Numerous gentle trails connect around the lake, Taylor Creek, and the nearby campground with views of Mt. Tallac and the Desolation Wilderness. It’s a great hike to find wildflowers in the spring, and the aspens along Taylor Creek are beautiful in the fall. Approximately 1-3 miles round trip.
8) Echo Lakes Trail, South Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is big (122,200 acres, to be exact) so we just couldn’t include only one hike in this list! With so many trails to pick from, lake views are on the top of our list with mountain views falling a close second. This is a moderate 4.9 mile trafficked out and back trail perfect for a sunny afternoon. With incredible views of the lake the entire way you will want to keep your eyes open and hike slow to catch all the beauty.
9) Lake Solitude, Grand Teton National Park
How do you pass up a name like that? Pack the thermos of calming tea and maybe even a book and your hammock for a relaxing day in nature. This hike just about has it all: a beautiful subalpine lake, stunning mountain scenery, wildlife, wildflowers, and the largest waterfall in the park. This hike provides hikers with the opportunity to explore more of the stunning scenery in the Cascade Canyon area. The trail starts at the Jenny Lake Trailhead and gains 2,350 feet in elevation. Ready for the catch? This trail is a total of 15.3 miles in length. You can do it with the best hydration pack for hiking!
10) Dupont Waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest
Visit up to 5 of the 6 major waterfalls in Dupont State Forest in North Carolina. It starts as an easy path to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the area: Hooker, Triple, and High Falls. Covered picnic shelters with views of the falls make for excellent family outing possibilities. If you wish to continue to Grassy Creek and Bridal Veil Falls, this will become a moderate hike. You’ll cross the big covered bridge and pass a beautiful mountain lake on the way – well worth the extra effort!
So what are you waiting for?
Grab your hiking belt, your head lamp, and the best lightweight hydration system around to enjoy the freedom of the trail!