Hydration Packs

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How to choose a mountain bike hydration pack: Half man, half oasis, the hydration pack equipped mountain biker is a self-sufficient adventure machine. Having the ability to transport not only water, but tools, food and possibly some rain gear is a huge asset to any rider looking to enjoy a prolonged venture into the wilderness. Riding specific hydration packs come in different shapes, sizes and styles to best suit their intended riding discipline. Every mountain biker should own one of these fantastic bags, as they are a worthy investment.

Hydration Packs

Types

Hydration packs vary in type according to the riding style they were built for. Small, lightweight models are best suited to bike parks and short trail loops where extra supplies aren't required. Freeriders and all-mountain enthusiasts require more reservoir capacity and extra cargo space for their outings. Packs for this application are built in consequence, without being too large and cumbersome. Finally, for riders looking to go on full day ventures into the unknown there are packs designed for maximum capacity of both water and cargo. These packs also have well padded shoulder straps and back panels to help accommodate the extra weight.

Sizes

Hydration packs can be classified according to the size of their water reservoirs. The three common sizes are 1, 2 and 3 liters.

Things To Look For

Shopping for a hydration pack is a fairly simple process based on choosing a model with all of the features you want. First on the list of things to look for is the bladder or reservoir capacity. Depending on the length of the ride, you may require more water. A taste-free bladder (one that stays neutral in taste) is something many people prefer, especially if the pack gets used often. Additionally, a wide bladder opening for easy filling and emptying can be a big plus. Most riders prefer a bite-valve for biking (meaning you simply apply pressure with teeth or lips to open the valve), but some brands offer also interchangeable push-pull valves that can be great in other situations. To keep your valve 100% leak-proof it's advised to have a valve with a lock-mechanism.

Next up is the amount of additional cargo space the pack has for tools, food, etc. Riders looking to go on all day rides will want a larger one, whereas shorter outings may only require hydration and some emergency tools. There are also features like an integrated rain cover, waist straps, shoulder straps and vented back panels to consider. After looking into all of the possibilities, a model that works for you should stand out.

If a certain pack appeals to you but the hydration system inside isn’t adequate, hydration packs can be equipped with (almost) any bladder. Standalone hydration systems don't cost much and a better bladder makes a world of a difference in hydration.

How Much To Spend

Mountain bike hydration packs range in price from $35 to $225.

In the $35 to $75 range, models tend to be small and simple. They usually have 1 or 2 liter reservoirs and offer limited cargo space, as they are designed to offer affordable hydration in a compact package.

Moving up to the $75-$150 range, packs become available with larger reservoirs, much more room for cargo, rain covers, fleece lined pockets and comfortable ventilated back panels.

Finally, hydration packs in the $150-$225 price range are generally larger models designed for extended ventures into the unknown. By combining all of the available features into a roomy yet efficient package they are well worth the investment. Some models are designed for aggressive riders and incorporate spinal protection into their design.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, our mountain bike forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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