Table of Contents
Can you retrofit any backpack with a hydration bladder? The answer is more often than not, yes! You can turn any old pack into a water hydration pack; you just need to know how to do it. Thankfully, it isn’t that difficult to do.
How does hydration bladder work?
The first thing you need to know if you are going to be successful in the venture of running hydration is knowing how a hydration bladder works. The idea behind most water bladders is that they should be able to hold your chosen liquid: water, juice, energy drink-you name it, without spilling it or getting everything else in your hiking bag wet.
That is why you will find that most water hydration bladders are made out of some form of plastic or polythene with a rubber tube or hose attached to them. The tube exit end of the hydration bladder is often at the bottom because the mechanism depends on gravity to force your liquid out and into the tube as it makes its journey towards your mouth.
If you have a pack that can hold the hydration pack in place without it moving too much while you walk or run on the trail, as well as a way to ensure that the tube exit end is at the bottom, then you can retrofit your pack with a hydration pack.
Here is what you need to do:
- Find the right location for your hydration bladder on your backpack (you can either use one of the side-pockets or any other ideally situated pocket big and snug enough to hold the bladder).
- Make sure that the hose exit end of the bladder is at the bottom.
- Run the bladder along with the idea harness (you can use your chest harness) and clip it in place.
- Try it out and see that there are no twists or knots that can prevent the refreshing liquid from getting to your mouth.
That’s it. That is all you have to do. As long as the hydration bladder is oriented in such a way that the tube exit end of it is facing down so gravity can do its thing, then your bag has been successfully retrofitted with a hydration bladder.
Do you need to put a hydration pack in a backpack?
While there is no denying the fact that DIY gadgets tend to give the owners an enhanced sense of accomplishment as well as satisfaction, the truth is that sometimes, we don’t have to retrofit everything. Yes, retrofitting your pack with a hydration pack is absolutely possible and easy to do as we have just illustrated. However, there are many other options that you can consider while you are at it.
That being said, here are the three main options available to you when it comes to packs for your hydration bladder:
- A typical hydration backpack. The market is choke-full of lightweight gear specifically designed to hold your water bladder. Many of these hydration packs are easy to use and are very comfortable. You do not need to worry about your hydration bladder or hose coming undone when you are out on the trail.
- A hydration vest. Also known as “marathon vests” because they are commonly used by marathoners, hydration vests are the lighter alternative to water hydration packs. They are perfect for those who want to travel light and don’t intend to go on exceedingly long trails.
- A typical backpack with a hydration pocket. Specifically designed for people who love hiking instead of running, hydration bladders pockets are perfect for both worlds. These provide you with a pocket that can snuggly hold your hydration bladder in place while leaving you with enough room for anything else that you might need to carry.
Depending on which one you choose, these options are often affordable, very lightweight and convenient to use.
What to look for when choosing a hydration bladder
If you are intent on retrofitting your pack with a hydration bladder anyway, then you need to find the right kind of bladder for the job. Pick one that is relatively easy to drink from. Here are some qualities that you should be on the lookout for when shopping for a hydration bladder:
- Pick the right hydration pocket size. While this might sound obvious to many, you will be surprised how often such a crucial detail is overlooked. Your typical hydration packs come already fitted with a water bladder, so you only have to buy the right hiking water bag. When retrofitting your backpack with a hydration bladder, you will need to choose the right size water bladder.
One that is not only big enough to carry enough liquid for you but also sized just right to fit into your bag. The 3L option is often best. You would rather go too big than too small.
- Check the position of the water bladder and tube. Gravity will do the job for you, and as such, you need to find a bladder that has the tube fitted properly so it can easily orient downwards when retrofitted to your pack.
- Buy a water bladder that is of high enough quality. You might think that your hydration bladder is just a fancy plastic bag attached to a tube for holding your water while you hike, but the truth is that it’s much more than that! This hydration bladder needs to be good enough, so it doesn’t contaminate your liquid no matter how much sunlight it comes into contact with. Otherwise, get yourself a big water bottle.
The hydration bladder needs to be sturdy enough to withstand the elements while you are out on the trail as well as be hardy enough to take a few scratches or a few drops without bursting open. The quality of your gear matters a great deal. Buy one that can hold its own.
It will take some level of ingenuity and care to properly retrofit your hiking gear with a water hydration bladder. Remember to collect all the necessary parts, even small ones like the bite valve. You might need a few tries before you find the right position that will not only hold in place as you hike or run but will do so while remaining comfortable and functional.