What Should I Consider When Buying a Hydration System?

Shannon Kietzman

A hydration system is a piece of equipment used by athletes to keep the body hydrated while engaging in physical activity. The hydration system was originally designed for cyclists, though other athletes such as racecar drivers are increasingly using it as well. In addition, hikers are finding it advantageous to carry a hydration system with them. A basic hydration system contains a flexible bladder to hold the fluids, a hose to transport the fluid to the user, and a bite valve. The bite valve is held in the user’s mouth and used to control the flow of the fluid.

It's wise for hikers to have a hydration system with them.
It's wise for hikers to have a hydration system with them.

When purchasing a hydration system, it is important to purchase one with a bladder large enough to hold the amount of fluids necessary for the activity. The hose should be attached to the bladder near to the bottom in order to access the greatest amount of fluid. When purchasing a bare bladder, which is a hydration system with the bladder placed in a backpack, it is important to purchase a system with flaps covering the holes allowing the hose to exit the backpack. This prevents rain from getting into the pack.

Bottled water can act as a good substitute for hydration systems.
Bottled water can act as a good substitute for hydration systems.

A hydration system with a backpack containing pockets for storage can also be helpful. This makes it possible to carry other basic items that may be necessary, such as snacks, a lighter, a knife, and a flashlight if the hydration system is to be used while hiking. The backpack should also be made of a durable material in order to adequately protect the bladder of the hydration system.

There are also several accessories that can be purchased for a hydration system, including shut-off valves to prevent the hose from leaking when not in use. Elbows can also be purchased for the bite valve of the hydration system in order to create the proper angle to use the system comfortably. Hose anchors can be used to keep the hose in a specific position to avoid tangling. Insulation for the tubing may also be purchased in order to help keep the fluid at a pleasant temperature. These accessories are typically not included with a hydration system. Rather, they can be purchased separately.

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