Hydration Packs

No matter where or how you stay active, your body needs regular hydration in order to perform well and maintain a constant temperature. Hydration packs offer a simple, effective alternative to always having to lug a water bottle around your waist or in a backpack.

BUYING

There are two kinds of hydration packs: removable packs, which can be inserted into any backpack, and integrated systems that form backpacks in themselves.

Removable packs are recommended for hikers who already own several backpacks in various sizes for different uses (for example, a 30-litre capacity pack for a few hours out on the trail, a 50-litre size for three-day treks and an 80-litre model for longer expeditions). In such a case, a single hydration pack will be more than adequate, as it can just be popped in whatever backpack is being used.

For its part, an integrated hydration pack is the better option for highly aerobic activities like biking, running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and so on. Lighter and less bulky, this type goes on the back so as not to impair freedom of movement while at the same time provide a way to carry energy bars, small tools and other gear.

Whether removable or integrated, all hydration packs come with a tube that is kept within reach of the mouth so that you can quench your thirst at any time. Both also offer a number of great advantages.

First of all, they allow you to take in small amounts of fluid while continuing to engage in your chosen activity, rather than waiting to take a break and gulping down a litre of water at one go following the exertion, once the first signs of dehydration appear. In contrast, using a hydration pack provides the body with the benefits of a continuous, regular supply of water.

Furthermore, hydration packs enable you to carry a large amount of water while at the same time keep it cool, since it is not exposed to the sun, but instead stored in an opaque, insulated container.

USE

Before embarking on a hike or any other type of sporting activity, fill the reservoir or bladder of the pack with water that is good and cold.

If extremely hot weather is in the forecast, fill the pack three quarters full of water and put it in the freezer the night before you are heading out. The water will expand as it freezes, so you will just have to top up the reservoir right before you leave. Doing this will ensure the water stays colder longer. Conversely, during the winter it is better to fill the pack’s reservoir with lukewarm water and provide the hydration tube with an insulated cover.

Preferably, a hydration pack should only be filled with water. Juices and energy drinks like Gatorade that are highly coloured can leave their taste in and stain the membrane of the reservoir holding the liquid.

Be careful not to put pointed objects (knives, scissors, tent pegs, etc.) in a hydration pack or in a pack in which it is placed: they could puncture the reservoir’s membrane.


MAINTENANCE

Regularly wash your pack’s reservoir, as well as the tube and mouthpiece, with hot, soapy water, making sure to rinse thoroughly.