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!.