When to Use Hydration Packs vs. Water Bottles?

Regardless of where you are or where you’re going, staying hydrated should always be a top priority. We all know the benefits to our minds and bodies when we drink plenty of water each day. For those who travel, like to explore, or even just get together with friends often, finding the ideal way to quench your thirst on the go is key to maintaining the proper level of hydration. Two great options for having water when you need it are hydration packs and reusable water bottles.

Both can come in handy, but it will depend on where you’re using them. To find out when to use hydration packs versus water bottles, you can read more to learn some of the pros and cons of using each in various locations.

Hydration Packs vs. Water Bottles On a Hike, Walk, or Run

As full-time travelers, we’re very active. From hiking in national parks to taking walks in random neighborhoods all over the country, we love to explore on foot and sometimes even by bike. When our kids were younger, we could easily get by with just one or two disposable plastic water bottles when on a walk or a hike, but now that our kids are bigger, we need a lot more water to stay hydrated, not to mention that we hate to see all the waste from using so many plastic water bottles. So, early on in our travels, we purchased hydration packs for everyone in the family.

Just last year, we received some really awesome reusable water bottles from Super Sparrow that we love. Between the two, staying hydrated is so easy. No matter where we go, we always have enough water. Of course, we rarely need both hydration packs and water bottles. So, here are some of the pros and cons of using hydration packs and water bottles when hiking, biking, walking, or running:

Water Bottle Pros:

Unless you have your water bottle stowed in a backpack, it’s usually quick and easy to take off the lid and hydrate. Our Super Sparrow water bottles have lids that screw on as well as sports tops with straws. This makes it convenient to choose the right lid for the occasion. When we’re out hiking or walking around, the screw tops allow us to take larger drinks to quench our thirst. So, easy access and the ability to take big drinks is definitely a pro to taking a reusable water bottle on a hike, walk, or run.

Water Bottle Cons:

Having to carry around a water bottle can be a nuisance. If you set it down to get a photo or when you stop for a snack, there’s a chance you might forget to pick it back up when you get back to the trail. Most reusable water bottles, especially the types you actually want to carry around, don’t hold a lot of water. This means you might run out before the end of your adventure or that you don’t drink as much as you should. These are both drawbacks to using water bottles when hiking, walking, or running.

Hydration Pack Pros:

Most water bladders for hydration packs can hold between 2 and 3 liters of water, which means you should have plenty to get you through your hike. Even if it’s not quite enough, you won’t have to refill very often. Carrying all your water in a pack on your back is also very convenient because it leaves your hands free for other things, like climbing or taking photos. It’s a great way for kids to be able to carry their own water as well because they don’t have to ask the adults to carry it for them.

Having hydration packs while hiking is so handy.

Another pro is that hydration packs often have multiple pockets, so you can also carry snacks and other gear along with your water. Keeping the water tube up near your mouth makes it quick to get a drink too.

Hydration Pack Cons:

Because the water bladders for hydration packs are tucked away inside the pack, they can be difficult to refill. It’s also hard to know how much water you have left when you can’t see it. However, you can feel the weight of the water and it gets lighter as you drink. If the water bladder or tube leaks at all, it can make your back wet, which is uncomfortable when hiking or running.

In the Car or Other Mode of Transportation

We spend a lot of time in the car, but we’ve also traveled by bus, subway, ferry, and train. Staying hydrated is just as important when you’re active as it is when you’re sitting in the car or on a boat. However, the convenience of hydration packs versus water bottles varies in these situations. These are some of the pros and cons of using hydration packs versus water bottles when you’re traveling by car or another mode of transportation:

Water Bottle Pros:

Most reusable water bottles fit nicely into the cup holder of your vehicle, making them easy to access when you’re on the road. You can usually find a water bottle filling station at national and state parks, plus they can be filled readily at any water spigot. This means getting more water before you head out on the road is simple. In addition, having a sports top lid for your water bottle means fewer spills, especially on bumpy roads or over rough waters.

Water Bottle Cons:

I can’t tell you the number of times we (meaning the kids) have left our water bottles in the car. This means we (meaning the parents) never know if they have water in them or not. So it can be inconvenient when you think you have water left in them from a previous trip, only to find out 10 minutes down the road that someone just finished off the last drop. For those who don’t have the sport top option for their water bottles, they can be tricky to drink from when driving down less-than-ideal roads.

Hydration Pack Pros:

It can be beneficial to use a hydration pack in the car because the tube makes it easy to pass water around. You don’t have to worry about spilling or dropping the water bottle when you hit a speed bump. Hydration packs also keep water pretty cool, so you might come back to water that’s not 100 degrees after it sits in the car for hours on a summer day.

Hydration Pack Cons:

Obviously, you can’t carry a hydration pack on your back while riding in the car or sitting on a train. So it’s not as convenient to grab a pack to drink water when you’re riding in a vehicle. You also have to keep an eye on the mouthpiece because no wants to drink from something that’s been sitting on the floor of the car or a subway train.

Hydration Packs vs. Water Bottles Around the City or Neighborhood

While our family loves hiking in nature, we also enjoy exploring cities and neighborhoods, especially historic ones. We’ve brought both our hydration packs and our water bottles with us when checking out these locations. It mainly depends on how long we’re walking around which mode of hydration we prefer. However, we always have some way to stay hydrated.

Water Bottle Pros:

When walking around a city, it’s likely that you’ll stop in places like gift shops or other local businesses. Taking breaks in air-conditioned spots usually means drinking less water. So having just a reusable water bottle can be enough to keep you hydrated. You might also eat at a local restaurant, where you can get an ice-cold beverage, saving your water for later.

Water Bottle Cons:

As with hiking, carrying a water bottle around can get annoying. Additionally, you have a good chance of setting it down and leaving it behind. It can also be a challenge to find somewhere to refill your water bottle in a city or neighborhood. This means you might have to buy a plastic bottle of water, which defeats the purpose of having a reusable one.

Hydration Pack Pros:

Because the bladders in hydration packs can hold more water, it’s unlikely that you’ll run out when walking around the city. This means you don’t have to find somewhere to refill, which is good since filing a hydration pack at a drinking fountain can be inconvenient. It’s also great to be able to bring a picnic lunch with you to save money by not eating out.

Hydration Pack Cons:

If you’re carrying your hydration pack when you go into a small souvenir shop or bakery, it can be hard not to bump into something or maneuver through the store. You do risk knocking things off shelves because you can’t really feel what’s behind you. Other people may also find it irritating to get around you in the narrows isles found in these types of shops. Sometimes, smaller stores may not want you carrying your pack around due to theft, so you have to leave it with them at the counter.

At Home, a Restaurant, or Hanging Out With Friends

Even when you’re at home or just hanging out with your friends, you need to stay hydrated. At home, we like to keep our Super Sparrow water bottles full. This encourages all of us to drink more water throughout the day and also lets us keep track of how much we consume each day. If we recently filled our packs and didn’t drink all the water, we might leave them and drink from them the next day. We also like to bring our water bottles with us when we visit our friends.

Because we mainly drink water, we find that it’s a good idea to always have our own. Some people prefer sugary beverages, and we like to make sure we have our own way to stay hydrated in case they forget to offer us something to drink.

Water Bottle Pros:

It can definitely be more convenient to have a reusable water bottle when at home or with friends. You don’t usually need to drink as much water when you’re not active, so a water bottle can be plenty. It’s easy to refill a water bottle when you’re at your own house or even at a friend’s place. If you forget your water bottle at your friend’s house, you can just get it when you see them again.

Water Bottle Cons:

While it might be easy to get your reusable water bottle back if you leave it at a friend’s house, being without it can be inconvenient. Another con of using a water bottle at home is that you might not clean it as often as you should because you use so often.

Hydration Pack Pros:

Honestly, there’s no real reason to use a hydration pack at home, although if you were doing yard work it might be handy. Otherwise, the main benefit is to finish off the water you have from a recent hike or another trip.

Hydration Pack Cons:

Hydration packs are difficult to clean, so using one at home or when you’re just hanging out with friends can ultimately make your life harder than it needs to be. It’s so easy to refill a water bottle at home or at a friend’s house. So you don’t need to have as much water on hand, plus you don’t need the convenience of having your hands free.

I highly recommend having both a hydration pack and a Super Sparrow reusable water bottle. However, when you use a hydration pack versus a water bottle will definitely depend on the situation. Both hydration methods can be good in any situation, but sometimes it’s better to have one than another. Use this guide to help you determine the pros and cons of using a hydration pack versus a water bottle.

Tips for cleaning your hydration pack:

  • Hand wash with warm soapy water
  • Use clean wash cloths or towels inside the bladders to absorb moisture after washing
  • Keep the tube in the freezer to prevent bacteria, as they’re hard to dry
  • Never leave water in the bladder for more than a few days
  • Ensure that the bladder is completely dry before storing
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#ad Disclaimer – We did receive the water bottles from Super Sparrow for free to check out. After two years of rigorous testing and without any monetary compensation we decided to talk about their products. The Teton products we purchased and like, so we talked about them. We may get compensation as an affiliate if you click on Amazon links and make purchases, but it doesn’t cost you anything. I can’t believe I am required to write this legal mumbo-jumbo. Even more surprising is that you took the time to read it too!

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