What To Look For When Buying a Hydration Pack
If you have not yet used a hydration pack, then there are some important factors to consider before buying that you may not have thought of. I’ll elaborate on each point further down. When getting ready, here’s what to look for when buying a hydration pack:
- Make sure the bite valve isn’t small – it shouldn’t be difficult to suck water out of and you should never have to take it off to get a decent sip of water.
- The hose should be thick and not thin/flimsy
- Straps should have a decent amount of padding
- Water should not have a “plastic” after-taste
- The bladder opening should be wide enough for ice to fit.
Nothing is worse than being disappointed after purchasing something that you spent time researching and then can’t necessarily return after drinking form the mouthpiece. The following hydration pack tips will save you time and give you peace of mind before you decide on which hydration system to go with.
5 “Must-Have” Features to Look Out For When Choosing the Right Hydration Pack
There are 5 important features to make sure you have fulfilled when deciding on a hydration pack. These tips will help you avoid any all kinds of frustration and disappointment (no matter the sport or leisure activity).
- The bite valve and hose must be high quality.
Most bite valves barely let you get any water out. It shouldn’t be difficult to drink from nor should you ever have to resort to taking off the bite valve just to get a decent sip of water. This can be a pain when you are breathing heavily straining to suck out water. And you definitely never want a thin, flimsy hose.
Side Note: I always see people struggling, drinking straight from the plastic tube and having water leak everywhere. It should not be leaking in the closed position either. If you find yourself biting down hard and sucking really hard just to get a good drink, this is due to choosing the wrong hydration pack.
Let’s face it, not all hydration packs are created equal. This is one area that we should not be compromising quality for price. (check out the Camelbak ‘Big Bite’ valve if you want to see quality)
Follow these recommendations and you’ll avoid all pitfalls. Let’s move on…
- The straps should have some padding.
Some hydration packs will advertise that they’re super light-weight. If they are cutting out the padding to cut the weight, they are also sacrificing comfort because the straps will not have padding. This becomes even more important when wearing a tank top or thin t-shirt.
Running with a full bladder will feel like having two cords digging into your shoulders, which feels like crap.
- It should have multiple adjustments for a customized fit.
Chest and waist straps are preferable. Basically, you don’t want to be thinking there is something on your back or side pouch. It should be so snug and comfortable that you forget it’s event there, so that you can focus on your activity.
The best fitting hydration packs cut out the noise and feeling of water sloshing around. This way you are balanced and can focus on the task at hand.
- There shouldn’t be any discernible plastic taste to your water.
Cheaply made bladders will leave a plastic taste in your mouth and after you swallow the after-taste can be foul. And no matter what you do or how many juices you mix with, it never fades. That’s why I always make sure the bladders are made of high quality, food grade, odorless plastic. It’s not enough for it to be BPA-free. This will without a doubt be coupled with a leaking bladder, either along the seam with minute tears or near where the tube connects.
- The opening of the bladder should be wide enough to easily fill with ice.
This is self-explanatory. On hot days you want a refreshing sip and this feature is nice to have as it allows for quick filling and emptying. Almost all of the bladders that you see here have thicker plastic that is specially designed to retain cool temperatures longer. But I find nothing comes close to ice cold.
So now that you know what to look for when buying a hydration pack, you’re aware there’s a night and day difference when it comes to poorly constructed hydration packs and the quality ones that I’ve actually tried and am recommending. With the above mentioned hydration pack tips regarding the tubing system and bite valve, to the bladder, to the pack should have everything working seamlessly.
With this I urge you to save yourself the agony of getting infuriated over something that should be an enjoyable experience, and go with one of the products reviewed on this site.