Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

Hydration for day hiking

Pros and cons for hydration pack/sleeve compared to traditional water bottles?   

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.
12 Replies

@REI-PamelaH I started out hiking with just a water bottle; which I would just carry it or put it in my back pack, and that made it extra bulky.

I recently invested in a hydration pack and it is much more compact, can hold more water, and less things to carry!

Sometimes, I will still bring a water bottle just to have that extra water! But out of the two, I prefer the hydration reservioir.

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.

Hydration pack for me too. I hike every weekend and do backcountry canine search and rescue the rest of the week. I couldn't live without my hydration packs not only for me but for my canine partner as well. I used to be a die-hard Camelbak fan, but I recently switched to Osprey. I'm looking forward to seeing the differences.


Hydration pack hands down! I don’t like adding electrolytes or flavored supplements to the hydration bladder so when I do want to use those, I bring a small water bottle as well.


Agreed with above! I love my hydration pack since it leaves my hands free for pictures/hiking poles/etc. I use it for trail running too so it's been very handy and versatile


i'm really into hydration packs because it's a lot easier to take small sips as i go; not having to stop and mess with a water bottle makes me more likely to drink regularly. it's also a bonus that they take up less room as they deflate, and storing extra empty packs is easy.

the main downside is keeping it clean (the mouthpiece gets gross over time, and i've seen funk growing in the tubes), and it's more susceptible to freezing in the winter. also, since it's harder to clean, i won't use electrolyte tablets or other mix-ins with them.


rabbitfeet - REI has a great Expert Advice Article about cleaning your hydration pack including the mouth piece and tube.

Check it out if you get a chance! 


At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.

I always use a hydration sleeve in my pack when hiking or backpacking, but I also carry a collapsible bottle for any drink mixes or to share if someone runs out of water. I find that I am much better about staying hydrated if it is easy to drink while walking.

Usually when I am backpacking I also carry a full CNOC "dirty" water bag that is part of my filtration kit. I can share from this with other hikers as well.

I absolutely recommend most people go with hydration packs. As others have said, most people find it much easier to hydrate if they can sip from a tube at will.

That said, I always use cheap water bottles with pull-open lids. I very much love having ice water, and freezing water in a cheap bottle is much less fraught than in a hydration sac or even a nalgene.


I started by using a bottle but, I had to stop to get to it.  I didn't like this. Then, I made the switch to a hydration bladder and found it was easier to get to. By doing this I stayed more hydrated.  I still take a small (20 oz.) plastic bottle with water and add a flavor packet to drink with lunch. The packet can be either an electolyte or energy type.  I rather not put any flavoring in my hydration bladder because it can get a bit messy.