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Failure to hydrate sufficiently during strenuous outdoor activities, especially during hot weather, can do much more damage than simply not allowing you to enjoy yourself as much. When working out, the body loses water much faster than when you are sedentary. Consequently, you must replace fluids quickly and frequently for your body to perform its best. If not, symptoms like reduced energy, muscle cramps, and dizziness are likely to follow. Whether mountain biking, running, hiking, backpacking, or camping, a good hydration pack can help you stay hydrated and have more fun in the great outdoors.

Practical and Functional

This model is lightweight but still allows mountain bikers to pack three liters of water and a day’s worth of snacks and gear. CamelBak

While many road cyclists prefer to carry their drinks in water bottles on the bike’s frame, serious mountain bikers know it’s not always possible to reach down and get a drink while on the trail. Consequently, many mountain bikers prefer hydration packs made specifically for drinking without having to use their hands. One important feature when choosing a hydration pack for mountain biking is capacity. Most come in 1.5-liter, 2-liter, and 2.5-liter sizes. For those who ride for long periods of time during hot weather, a large capacity is the best choice. But if you seldom ride for more than an hour, a smaller one will allow you to carry less weight and still have sufficient water. Other factors to consider are fit, waterproofness, and the availability of spare parts like bite valves.

Trusted Brand

This two-liter option features a durable, kink-free sip tube and push-lock cushioned bite valve. TETON Sports

Hiking and running are two other outdoor sports that participants often prefer hydration packs over water bottles or other means of carrying water. Since both are weight-bearing activities, large hydration packs that add more weight can be tough on the knees. Consequently, a lighter hydration pack is likely to put less strain on your knees and other joints than a heavy one. Hikers and runners also have to consider capacity since they might be exploring remote places where fresh water for refilling a hydration pack isn’t readily available. A good hiking and running backpack will have enough room to carry not only all the water you need but should have space for some snacks and an extra shirt or jacket without becoming too stuffed. Comfort and adjustability are also important, since running with an ill-fitting hydration pack can lead to chafing.

Great Value

An insulated compartment keeps drinks cool up to four hours. Mubasel Gear

Camping and backpacking are other outdoor activities where you can work up a big thirst and a hydration pack comes in handy. For camping and backpacking, breathability is an important factor. Many packs use mesh materials for the shoulder straps and back panel, helping alleviate trapped heat and subsequent sweating. Other models use a “micro monofilament” material as an ultra-breathable mesh for straps on sides and shoulders. The downside of breathability, of course, is water can penetrate from the outside if it is raining. A hydration pack that has a heavy-duty, leak-proof cap will serve you better than a poorly built one, and full adjustability is also important since it will often be worn during hot weather. Additional pockets for storage of food, extra clothing and other essentials while on the trail make a hydration pack that much more useful.