Water Bottles, Hydration Packs or Both?

A quick rundown on staying juiced up

Hydration - Bottle, Packs or Both?

Bottle cages disappeared for a while as bike companies pursued optimising suspension layout. If a bike did have a cage, often times it wouldn’t accommodate a bottle big enough to warrant carrying. Some of us turned to hydration packs, others stuffed bottles into whatever pocket would fit one, and some would simply ride without water (not advised). Times have changed, and most bikes accommodate bottles now. That’s not to say there’s no need for hydration packs though! Let us tell you about some of the hydration options we have now.


Water bottles: we all use them, and we all love them. My first enduro bike way back when dropper posts were new and 26” was still a thing had a bottle cage that accommodated a 1000ml bottle which was a big deal back then. Downside was this bottle cage was mounted on the underside of the down tube, meaning my bottle would catch anything my tyre decided to kick up. This made for mouth fills of mud in the winter, and mouth fills of dust in the summer. Not ideal. Most full suspension bikes nowadays will accommodate at least a 500ml bottle inside the frame, and it’s no longer a selling point. More an expectation. Bottles are straight forward, but we’re big fans of the CamelBak Podium series, featuring a self-sealing cap that doesn’t require opening or closing to get a drink. Find them here.

Hydration Packs

Hydration packs come in a couple of flavours nowadays. There’s the classic backpack style we all know and love, and the hip back style that’s come into vogue over the past couple of years. Both have their merits and we’ll touch on each style below.

Backpacks are great. They have plenty of space for snacks, spare parts, water bladders, jackets, and whatever else you deem essential of a ride. Downside to backpacks is they take up more space on you, meaning they can interfere with movement a little and run a little hotter. The benefit to taking up more space is that they fit more securely than a hip pack and don’t move about as you ride.

Hip packs are on the rise. They come in a variety of sizes as per backpacks, and usually have room to stash a tool, tube, snacks and most essentials. Some feature bladders, some feature a pocket for a bottle, and some feature both. The big benefit to hip packs is they keep the weight lower on your body and don’t take up as much real estate, keeping you cooler in summer, as well as accessibility. It's much easier to undo the waist buckle and remove your hip pack, or simply rotate it around your body, than it is to take a backpack off. They can shift about a little, especially if you load them up, but if you stick to “true” essential, they’re generally pretty good.

Check out our range of hydration packs here.

What to Drink

Water keeps you hydrated, but if exercising for more than an hour it's important to make sure we replace electrolytes. Electrolytes essentially deliver deliver fluid from water to our cells, and we lose them as we sweat so it's important to replace them as we lose them. Replacing electrolytes prevents cramping and ensures our body functions at its peak. We're fans of the GU Drink Tablets. Simply drop them into 500ml of water, and know you'll have all the electrolytes you need during over your ride. Find them here.

Hope the above helps you make some informed purchasing decisions. For what it’s worth, my usual go-to is a bottle on bike, tools and tubes stashed on the bike, and food in my pockets. If I’m out all day, I’ll move my tools and snacks to a hip pack and carry an extra bottle.