2 Litre Hydration Pack
A vital area that trail riders often overlook is proper hydration.
I'm not talking about the cold ones at the end of the day, but
actually while we are out on a ride. We all know the feeling of
a throat full of dust, miles from base camp and feeling like
you're dying of thirst. It gets even worse when a breakdown or
some other problem delays us on the way back to camp.
Aside from the comfort issue though, dirt biking is an
extremely physically demanding activity and proper
hydration is very important for a rider's health and performance.
With this in mind, we secured ourselves a wearable hydration pack and set off into the harsh Aussie
summer to test it out.
We opted for one of the cheaper 'no-name' brands, figuring that once we worked out the shortcomings
of a cheap unit, we'd be able to select the features we needed in a more expensive unit.
We selected a 2 litre version (approx. 2 quarts), which seems to be about right for rides under 2 hours or
so. If you regularly go on longer rides you may want to consider a larger capacity, but obviously it'll be
heavier on your back.
Although you can get hydration packs that are purely hydration packs, we opted for a backpack style unit
that has some storage space as well. Even though it's quite compact, it's packed full of pockets and
compartments, many of which have elasticized openings or drawstrings to keep your precious items
secure in rough terrain. Our model even has a lanyard connection inside one of the pockets, to keep
your iPod or MP3 player secure, with a little rubberized opening for the earphones to poke through.
There's also a clip-on mobile phone holder which attaches to either of the shoulder straps.
We don't even go close to filling all the available space, but it certainly comes in handy to carry a few
essential items like a spare plug and spanner, a couple of screwdrivers, first-aid kit and maybe a
sandwich or snack as well, just in case.
The backpack itself has the normal 2 padded and adjustable shoulder straps, which are quite
comfortable when properly adjusted. In addition, there is also a belly strap and sternum strap, both fully
adjustable as well, which really ensure the pack stays stable and securely attached to your back. While
riding, you don't even notice it's there and it's easy to forget you're wearing it until you stop and realise
Now for the really important stuff, the hydration part. The bladder is
a flexible plastic of some sort, which inserts into the back of the
unit (up against your own back) in a padded pouch. It has a large
filler with a threaded lid, which means you can easily put ice in as
well as your drink. Our unit is rated from -20 C to +60 C, so the
night before a ride I half fill it with water and lay it in the freezer,
making sure that the filler hole and drinking outlet aren't covered.
Then I can fill it with water in the morning and the ice keeps it cold
all day, I just top up the water as necessary. I did have concerns
about carrying around a large chunk of ice on my back, so close to
my spine, but it is well padded. On one the first rides I wore it on, I
ended up hitting the deck, back first, onto a large flat rock and I
didn't sustain any back injuries. I won't say it can't hurt, but so far it
The drinking tube comes out of either shoulder strap (your choice) just forward of the top of the shoulder,
and runs to a clip on the strap to secure it in place. It has ample length to reach up under your helmet.
The nozzle is a softish silicone, which on our model needs to be pulled to switch it on before you can
drink. You then need to bite gently on the nozzle and suck to drink. This double system is supposed to
prevent leakage and so far ours hasn't leaked at all. I recommend that after each drink you blow back
through the nozzle to return the liquid to the bladder, keeping the drinking tube empty. While this means
you need to suck a bit longer before you get a drink each time, it stops the liquid in the tube from getting
warm between drinks. While it's not an issue for us in our climate, in icy conditions the liquid in the tube
could freeze up if left exposed to the cold as well.
As of yet I haven't tried the unit while wearing body armour or a neck brace, but there is plenty of
adjustment in the straps and I can't see there being any problems.
I rarely have a drink while I'm actually moving, I just can't spare the concentration needed to co-ordinate
it, unless we're on a long, smooth section of track. However, everytime we stop for a breather or to work
out where we are, it's the first thing I reach for. I can see every member of the crew having one of these in
the very near future, given the evil looks they give me as I slurp cool, refreshing water and they try to
The one downside of this unit is a slight taste of plastic in the water. A dash of cordial or lemon juice
would hide it, but I'm still hopeful it'll go away once I use it more. Perhaps a more expensive brand might
not have a taste, but I can't guarantee it.
Overall, I'm very happy with my cheapie hydration pack, and I wouldn't be without it except on the shortest
of rides. Once you get one, I'm sure you'll feel the same.
By the way, for those who are wondering, we paid a whole $19.99 Aussie dollars for ours so you don't
have to spend a fortune to get a good product.
If you know something about this product that we haven't
mentioned and you think we should, email us at