How to Choose a Hydration Pack That’s Right for Your Adventuring Needs

Are you a person who likes to exercise for an extended period of time? Here’s the complete guide on how to choose a hydration pack that meets your needs.

So you’re looking to buy a hydration pack. But you are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices. 

Hydration backpacks, hydration running bags, cycling packs, snowsport packs, waist packs – so on and so forth.

There’s just too many. Nonetheless, the type of pack you need you can determine by the type of adventure you will go on.

However, here are some key things to look out for to choose a perfect pack for you.

Accommodating Reservoir Capacity

Let’s start off with the basics. Reservoir capacity. The reservoir is the location within the pack that holds the water. 

Water isn’t air, it weighs quite a bit. Think about how much you need to carry, and if you will be able to get more water during the adventure. 

And surely, there isn’t a requirement to fill a reservoir all the way. As you can only fill up the exact amount that you need. Filling halfway for quick hikes or all the way for hot mountain adventures.

Waist packs are usually the smallest, and they can fit 2 bottles of water in weight. Totaling to about half a liter or 16 fluid ounces. Great for running and walking.

Then we have some larger packs, used for hiking, running and cycling. Starting at about one and a half liters or 50 fluid ounces. 

Shortly followed by two and a half liter or 84 fluid ounce hydration packs, which are reasonably well balanced in size and capacity. Requiring a refill very rarely during medium-length trips.

And then we have large hydration backpacks, starting at 3 liters or 100 fluid ounces. These don’t need refills and can last a long time in places where water is scarce.

Applicable Gear Capacity

Another thing to consider is the storage capacity of a pack. A hydration pack can serve many purposes. Most packs range from five to fifty liters of gear capacity.

Envision your gear, think about what’s necessary. Can you fit a jacket? Are you bringing snacks? Other gear?

The smallest packs start at about five liters of capacity. These are built for running, hiking and cycling. They can fit some essentials and thin jackets for the wind. Perhaps some food and phone.

The next category ranges from six to ten liters and is designed for mountain biking and trails. They fit multiple layers, food for the day and your photo equipment (camera).

Eleven to twenty liters can be used for lengthy adventures. Carry clothes, food, medical gear, and emergency supplies. Extras can be brought as well.

Twenty-one-liter hydration packs are full-on backpacks. They have so much room and weight-support. You might ask yourself why even have a regular backpack if you can have one that hydrates you as well.

Appropriate Fit

Now that you have a rough idea of the size and reservoir capacity – you can determine the fit.

There are two things to consider: the torso length and waist size. Sometimes only torso length if a pack doesn’t have a hip belt.

Hydration packs come in many sizes, varying by gender and provider. Check the specs for details. 

Some packs have adjustable suspensions, which allow you to have a one-size-fits-all solution. Or if you are stuck in between sizes.

And then if a bag has a hip belt, you have to consider that as well. A snug but stable fit is what you should go for.

For an in-depth guide on how to choose the right size, check out this article.

Extra Hydration Pack Features

Hydration packs should come with extra features, which can seem pointless or credibly important. Let’s take a look at some.


A shoulder strap can have a clip for the water tube, making water access very simple.

Quick-Release Tubing 

Some reservoirs have detachable tubes, making it easier for you to fill up the bag during an adventure. Disconnect the tube with the quick-release, take the reservoir and fill up. The tube will be in the clip or tube portal, ready for the next use.

Tube Portal

A small hole in your backpack, moving the tube from the inside to the outside. Sometimes two holes are provided for each shoulder, making it easier for left and right-handed people. Or a central portal, allowing you hand over the neck. 

Shutoff Switch

A hydration pack has a bite valve, they usually are twisted to open and close. However, some come with a switch, blocking water from leaking when you are not using it. Making any worry fade away.

Cold-Weather Materials

Going to the Himalayas? Snowboarding? Hydration packs can have winterized features, such as covers, insulation and sip tubes. These add some weight but will prevent water from going ice-block on you.

Water-Resistant Covers

Having a water-resistant cover seems odd for a hydration pack, but some packs can deteriorate from the outside due to bacteria development. Rain covers are good for preventing that.

Adjustable Mouth Openings

An adjustable opening allows you to reach the inside of a hydration pack. Making cleaning a simple task, which is very important if you want to support the longevity of your pack. However, a small opening means you have to use a cleaning kit with brushes.

Here’s a cool thing to have next time you go camping with a large group.

Choosing A Hydration Pack Ideal For You

Now that you know what to look out for, in terms of hydration pack features, reservoir capacity and gear capability – you are well on your way to starting your adventure in fully prepared mode. 

Get yourself a nice hydration pack, capable of accommodating your specific needs and get to exploring. 

Check out our website for some more interesting reviews and articles about outdoor recreation.

Good luck!

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