Best CamelBaks: Stay Hydrated on the Trail
Our top picks for proper hydration when running, cycling, backpacking, hiking, or skiing
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Carrying around a water bottle on your backpacking trip can make your hands sweaty and tired. It’s also a pain to continuously pull out and put back your water bottle during a hike. A CamelBak hydration backpack keeps your hands free and allows you to enjoy a drink without having to stop. Here are some of the best hydration bags from the well-known company.
A 100-ounce hydration pack that delivers 20 percent more water per sip than other backpacks.
- Equipped to carry skis. Leak protected. Easy to refill
- The back panel repels snow
- Features internal storage pockets for your gear
- Has external attachment points for extra gear
- Features adjustable straps for a comfortable fit
- Reservoir is protected from freezing and contamination by outdoor elements
- Limited color options
- External straps may get caught up on trees
An affordable 100-ounce hydration pack that’s easy to refill and is designed to keep water cool for a long time.
- Fully insulated and weather protected
- Features strong zipper closures
- Slim, compact, and a comfortable fit on the back
- Offers enough room for your essential items
- Allows for hands-free drinking
- Features in-house storage for the shoulder straps
- Doesn’t have small pockets for your keys or phone
- May not hold up well to frequent or long hiking trips
An 85-ounce hydration pack that’s lightweight, breathable, and has a stretchable gear compartment.
- Allows for hands-free hydration
- Offers hydration for about two hours
- Offers a comfortable fit
- Comes in multiple color options
- Has external hooks for attaching your helmet
- Organizer pockets help keep your items in order
- Subtle reflective strips help keep you visible on the road
- Water may have a plastic taste
- Complicated design makes it a bit challenging to refill the reservoir
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Why Buy a CamelBak?
- Maintain proper hydration. Getting proper hydration helps you stay alert and active on the trail. It also improves blood circulation and helps your body release toxins.
- Carry more water. CamelBak hydration packs can carry up to 100 ounces of water. That’s much more than you can carry with a standard water bottle and will help keep you hydrated for longer.
- Sip warm drinks. Most CamelBak hydration packs are thermally insulated and capable of keeping your drink warm for a long time. You can expect to enjoy the warm beverage for at least an hour.
- Sip cold drinks. It’s equally possible to fill the hydration bladder with a chilled drink that will help cool your core when hiking in warm weather. It’s easier to cool your body from the inside out than to pour water on your head.
- Enjoy hands-free drinking. The hydration packs come with drinking tubes that can be fixed on the shoulder strap. If you don’t want to reach out with your hands, all you have to do is lean over your shoulder and take a sip.
- Separate your beverages. The CamelBak helps you separate your clean water from your energy drinks. You can store the clean water in the hydration pack and carry a separate bottle for energy drinks.
Types of CamelBaks
CamelBak backpacks, or hydration packs, are quite popular since they feature one bag that has different storage compartments for your gear and the hydration bladder. They typically have a drinking hose coming out of the reservoir and they come in different sizes and designs.
CamelBak reusable water bottles come in a range of small 21-ounce bottles to large 60-ounce bottles. They are reusable, easy to clean, easy to refill and come in different designs that appeal to any outdoor or sports enthusiast.
The CamelBak waist packs feature a hip belt with pouches for the water reservoir and personal items such as keys, money, and a wallet. Just like the backpacks, they also have drinking tubes coming out of the water reservoir.
The Hydration vests have a similar design to the backpacks, only they have larger shoulder straps to accommodate water bottles. They offer minimal storage and fit like a vest jacket on the body.
CamelBak is a California-based equipment manufacturing company that was founded in 1988 by Michael Eidson. The company designs outdoor and sports equipment. It’s famously known for its hydration packs and water bottles that are commonly used by outdoor enthusiasts and the U.S. military. The company makes some of the best hydration packs for hikers and mountain biking, including the CamelBak Powderhound Hydration Pack and CamelBak Repack Hydration Pack.
- Under $50: CamelBak products within this price range are mostly water bottles and waist packs. You can also find a decent backpack within this price range, but it may not be as long-lasting or well-designed as the more expensive versions.
- $50 and up: Most CamelBak products within this price range are running vests and backpacks with up to 100-ounce reservoirs. The products here are of good quality and will keep you well-hydrated if you are planning to go to places without a water source.
Select a backpack that allows you to fit most of your gear and helps you stay hydrated for most of your hike. Note that a backpack with a capacity of 100 ounces or more will keep you hydrated for a long time, but it may also feel too heavy for a long hike.
The best Camelbaks are designed with breathable mesh fabric at the back panel to keep your back from sweating excessively. Look for a model with adjustable straps and adequate padding on the shoulders and back panel for a comfortable fit. The backpack should also be waterproof or at least come with a water-resistant rain cover.
- Removable Water Bladder. Prioritize hydration backpacks that have a removable water bladder since this makes it easy to clean and refill the bladder. Also, the feature comes in handy when you want to remove the water reservoir and store your extra gear in the compartment.
- Thermal Insulation. This is a useful feature if you would like to maintain the temperature of your beverage throughout the hike. It keeps your drink from freezing in cold temperatures or heating up in the summer.
- Quick Release Tube. This allows for quick and easy disconnection of the drinking tube when you want to refill the tank. It can be accompanied by tube clips and magnets that keep the water tube secured on the shoulder strap for easy access.
- Extra Pockets/Compartments. You want something that can also effortlessly store your gear and valuables. Also, pockets with zippers are the best for keeping your personal items safe.
Best CamelBak Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Clean the water reservoir after using it with a sugary liquid. Sugar creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and you may notice a foul smell coming from the backpack if you don’t clean it.
- The best way to clean the water reservoir is to take it out of the backpack and wash it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. That’s why you need a backpack with zippers that open all the way to reveal the water reservoir for ease of cleaning.
- If you don’t want your back to be excessively sweaty when carrying the CamelBak backpack, look for one with a mesh design, breathable fabric, and light foam padding on the back panel to keep your back cool and comfortable.
- If you intend to hike in freezing temperatures, ensure that your backpack is thermally insulated to keep the water from freezing. Also, fill it with warm water before your trip, and your body heat will help keep the water warm.
Q: What’s the maximum capacity of a backpack water bladder?
They vary in sizes depending on the model, but they typically range from 30 to 100 ounces. A 30-ounce hydration pack is enough to last you for at least an hour before you get to the next refilling point.
Q: How do I refill the hydration bladder?
If you are refilling it at a large sink, connect the hose to the tap for a refill. However, if you are filling it from a shallow sink or a lake, you have to remove the hydration bladder from the bag and disconnect the drinking tube for an easier time refilling it. Consider wiping it with a paper towel before stashing it in the backpack.
Q: Are hydration backpacks hygienic?
Yes. It’s similar to carrying water in a water bottle. You just need to remember to clean it regularly and keep the drinking tube free of contamination. The water bladder can get pretty funky if not cleaned for weeks. Also, make sure the bladder is BPA-free before you use it.
Our top pick is the CamelBak Powderhound Hydration Pack. It has a large water carrying capacity and will keep your water warm when hiking in cold temperatures. It’s also large enough to fit your hiking gear and skis.
A more affordable option is the CamelBak ThermoBak Hydration Pack. It can carry up to 100 ounces of water, and its compact profile adds minimal strain to your back.