It doesn’t matter if you are trail running or just taking a long, winding day hikes with your spouse and kids, keeping properly hydrated while outside is vitally important. A common problem while hiking is dehydration. People get to exploring or running around and enjoying the great outdoors, and they just plain forget to drink water! You are supposed to drink water every 15-30 minutes depending on conditions.
Since the human body can lose as much as 2-3 quarts water just by sweating during everyday activities (sitting at your desk), you can understand how any prolonged activity can increase that liquid loss. Lack of water and dehydration can quickly lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and maybe even a fatal bout of heat stroke.
Sure you can carry water bottles but imagine lugging a gallon-sized plastic jug or juggling several smaller ones down a trail. That’s why hydration packs have become so popular. Good hydration packs or water backpacks are an excellent way to keep your water supply accessible and easy to carry.
Choosing a Hydration Pack
Hydration packs are actually water supply and delivery systems designed to be carried inside a backpack. Worn by cyclists in the 1990s, water backpacks were made popular by such companies as Camelbak®, an outdoor gear company that specializes in hydration packs. However hydration packs made by other manufacturers are often called “Camelbacks” as well.
The overall structure of a hydration pack consists of a bladder, a hose, a “bite valve” and a backpack. Although water backpacks have several things in common, you should look first at the bladder design of the one you are considering using.
The bladder is the core of any hydration system. Bladders or reservoirs are made of a tough, durable plastic with a screw top. The bladders are made to hang down the back, so they are longer than they are wide, with drinking hose positioned at the bottom or bottom-corner of the bag.). Bladders can hold any where from 2 to 6 quarts.
Bladders can come in “bare bladder” designs meant to be added to a universal water backpack (a pack that has a pouch with a hole for letting the hose and bite valve through) and an integrated pack (a hydration system made to be part of a backpack.
Bare bladders are interchangeable and work well with any water backpack that it will fit into. Integrated hydration packs may be designed with a special function in mind like rock-climbing or jet skiing so may or may not have the features of a standard backpack.
The hose and especially the “bite valve” are the next important bits of hardware in a water backpack. Hoses can have elbows (for angling to the mouth for ease of use), shut-off valves (to prevent the bite valve from leaking) and insulation to keep water cool in hot weather and unfrozen in cold. The bite valve offers a method of hands-free sipping using the teeth to start and stop the water flow from the hose.
Hydration packs are becoming standard gear for anyone who ventures into the outdoors. Now you can have a reliable and safe method to carry your water supply using a good Camelback or water backpack.