Without question, a hydration backpack is the most effective way to maintain healthy hydration levels while hiking. And while hiking at elevations hovering around 8,000 feet, your body’s going to dehydrate quickly, regardless of whether your home is at sea level or the Rockies.
Even if your travel plans are only hiking Glacier National Park’s most mild trails, I behoove you: come prepared with an effective hydration system.
Yes, you can clip your Nalgene to your pack or belt, or even lug around your grandfather’s canteen, but hydration technologies have improved, enabling hikers to:
- carry more water,
- with the weight distributed intelligently,
- and to drink it with greater ease.
At 8,000 feet, it’s foolish to risk dehydrating and ruining an afternoon in Glacier National Park.
What IS this “Hydration Backpack”?
Hydration Systems are basically a lightweight, abrasion-resistant sack that can hold anywhere from 1-3 liters (100-300 ounces of water). Technically, this ‘sack’ is called a hydration bladder.
So, you have a sturdy bladder you fill with water. Virtually impossible to puncture, this reservoir has a screw top approximately 4 inches by 4 inches, which you remove to fill with water. Additionally, the hydration bladder’s insulated, ensuring your water remains cold.
Attached to the hydration bladder’s a tube. Some, like Camelback brand hydration systems, come with insulated water tubes while others, like REI’s, are not. While an insulated water tube is convenient, I personally find it unnecessary (perhaps because I’ve never owned a hydration system with an insulated tube).
Attached to the end of the tube is a bite valve, which you bite, suck and wala! Water!! You stay hydrated!
The majority of daypacks and backpacks made within the last five years have sections of the bag designed to hold your hydration bladder. You put the reservoir in, pull the tube through a designated slit in the pack, and drink while you hike.
No more stopping to pull out the your unwieldy Nalgene, spilling half the water on your shirt. Just hike, drink, hike, drink. Your feet never need to stop moving.
You can easily purchase an individual reservoir to drop in a bookbag, cut a slit in the bag with a knife, and you have a homemade camelback hydration system (this is how I backpacked Europe and it worked wonderfully!
I still don’t get it. WHY should I buy a Hydration Backpack?
If you haven’t figured out the benefits of a hydration backpack from the above description, let me spell it out for you…
- Simplicity of Staying Hydrated
Unquestionably this is the single most obvious and greatest advantage for owning a hydration system. No longer must you yank out a water bottle (holding a minimal amount of water), stop, and chug. Just bite the tube and sip. Simple.
- How You Hydrate
The best way to maintain healthy hydration levels is continuous consumption of water in small doses. A hydration backpack is designed for this.
If you have a water bottle, you will be stopping, chugging and then continuing. This is not an effective way to maintain a healthy hydration level.
The hydration bladder’s material is abrasion-resistant and nearly puncture-proof. Many models are insulated, ensuring your water stays cold. Oh, and did I mention it can be frozen as well? Try freezing a full bottle of water and see what happens.
Yes. A hydration backpack is more expensive than your standard Nalgene or water bottle. However, you’ll carry more water and maintain a healthy hydration level.
Plus, why risk losing an afternoon to dehydration on your Glacier National Park vacation?
Go back to the
Glacier National Park Hiking Guide