What Is A Hydration Pack? (Common Uses For Them)

In this article we answer the common question, what is a hydration pack? Above all, a hydration pack is a hands-free system designed to carry water. Hydration packs are most commonly used during physical activities, or when your hands are preoccupied. The system typically includes three items:

  1. a backpack
  2. a water bladder
  3. a hose with bite valve


Similar to a regular backpack, a hydration pack is built for you to wear. As a result, they are built with adjustable shoulder straps and several pockets.

One compartment in the backpack is designed specifically to hold and insulate the water bladder.

Water Bladder

Inside the backpack is a water bladder (also known as a reservoir).

The bladder can vary in size depending on the application and volume requirement. Standard sizes have a carrying capacity that ranges from one to three liters (0.26 to 0.79 gallons).

Hose With Bite Valve

A plastic hose, which is connected to the water bladder, extends out the top of the backpack. At the end of the hose is a bite valve

The bite valve usually attaches to one of the backpack shoulder straps with either a clip or a magnet. Water flow is controlled through the bite valve to minimize spills and unwanted drips.

Common Uses

Hydration packs are more commonly used for the following activities:

  • Running extended distances
    • While running and training for extended distances, such as a half or full marathon, you don’t want to be carrying a water bottle. You want your hands to be free, allowing you to focus on efficient running techniques.
  • Cycling or mountain biking
    • A typical way to carry water while cycling or mountain biking is with an insulated water bottle in a water bottle holder. However, you can usually only hold up to 24 oz or 710ml. For all-day rides, you are going to want to use a hydration pack that can hold up to 4 times the amount of a standard water bottle.
  • Hiking
    • Similar to cycling or mountain biking, a typical way to carry water while hiking is with a daily use water bottle. Instead of filling up one water bottle multiple times, a hydration pack can hold significantly more volume, ideal for longer hikes.

In addition to the above-mentioned activities, hydration packs are commonly used because of their multi-purpose design.

Usually, you will bring a backpack hiking and cycling, so you can carry extra clothing, snacks, and other accessories. The multi-purpose design of a hydration pack allows you to bring these accessories as well as a water reservoir.

Recommended Products

Check-out the list of the products we recommend to help keep you hydrated throughout your day.

Design Types

The design of a hydration pack can vary greatly from one activity to the next. Minimalistic and lightweight designs are typical for when you are cycling and running.

However, larger designs are more commonly used when you are backpacking and hiking.

Best Hydration Pack For Road Cycling

You can read about our top 5 picks for Best Hydration Pack For Road Cycling in a previous article we wrote. It included hydration packs from KUYOU, TETON Sports, REINOS, Vibrelli, and Mubasel Gear. Our top pick was:

Our Top Pick

What is a hydration pack? KUYOU hydration pack with 2L water bladder, red color.

KUYOU Hydration Pack with 2L Water Bladder

Adjustable Straps, Breathable Mesh Back Panel, Light Weight, 5 Colors Available. Find it on Amazon here.


In this article, we answered the question, what is a hydration pack?

For any comments, questions or feedback you might have, please send us a message through our contact form.

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