How to Choose a Hydration Backpack

A hydration backpack is just that; it is a backpack which contains a water reservoir with a drinking tube and is ideal for walkers, runners and cyclists.

The benefits are obvious:

You don’t have to carry a bottle of water
You can carry more water than you normally would in a bottle
You can have a sip of water without stopping
Because it’s convenient you’re more likely to drink often and stay hydrated.
The pack will probably have a pocket for wallet, keys and phone

Which size?

  • 2 or 3 litres – suitable for any sport which involves performing for long periods of time e.g. hiking, backpacking, climbing, mountain biking, touring on a bike.
  • 1 or 2 litres – cycling for fun, winter sports (make sure the tube is insulated)
  • 1 litre waistpack – fitness walking or running.


If you already have a compatible backpack with an interior sleeve and a suitable exit for the sip tube then you may want to add a reservoir however, a specialist hydration backpack with a custom fitted reservoir will overall be easier to use and keep clean.

Reservoir volume

If you are racing either on foot or on a bike, then there will be a trade-off between quantity of water and weight to carry. Only you will know how much you’ll need to drink during a given time or distance and of course that will be dependent on weather conditions. The recommended amount is a litre of water per hour of activity but that will depend on intensity and other conditions.

Bear in mind that a litre of water weighs two pounds or nearly a kilo.

Reservoir opening size

Choose a reservoir with a decent size opening, preferably one that you can get your hand in for cleaning purposes. It’s handy to be able to add ice too.

Backpack size

The overall size and volume of the backpack will depend on what you’re going to use it for. Trekkers and travelers will need more space to accommodate equipment and clothing. If you go out for day-long bike rides you may want space to take a bite of lunch and some wet-weather gear.

Make sure the pack fits

Whatever else you do, choose a hydration backpack size which is suitable for your frame size, the load you are able to carry and make sure that the straps are comfortably padded and fully adjustable with to make sure that the pack is anchored properly.

Selections of Hydration Backpacks
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