Paddle Boarding with a Companion: 6 Hydration Packs to Know
In our last article about hydration packs, we discussed packs that are perfect for hunting, and we suggested some criteria you need to look for in a pack if you’re a hunter (large enough for one day in the wilderness at least, preferably camouflaged, and still lightweight.) When it comes to paddle boarding, you’ll need something a bit different; it is less limiting in ways and more limiting in others.
Even though hydration may not be the first concern on your mind when you think of practicing a sport on a body of water, believe us, you’ll need it sorely: Paddle boarding is considered one of the toughest full body workouts.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Hydration pack for Paddleboarding
Here’s what you need to know when buying a hydration pack for your water adventure, as well as a few options we’ve picked for you that you need to check out.
Where finding a pack for hunting was all about finding that resourceful pack no matter the size, paddle boarding requires a bit more agility and less weight. We highly do not recommend weighing yourself down with a lot of gear or extra clothes or food while on the water, and therefore, we do not recommend anything larger than what it takes to carry your bare essentials and the water bladder. We do not recommend anything heavier than 1.2 lb.
Another thing is to remember that paddle boarding is usually not that long an adventure. Water is the heaviest thing you’re going to carry with you on it, so don’t overweigh yourself with too much liquid. A couple of liters or slightly less will do, don’t go for more than that.
Obviously, there is very little room for movement when you’re on a paddle board. Which is why it is very discouraged that you buy a pack that doesn’t have enough security or doesn’t fit you perfectly. We want to avoid that pack falling into the water at all costs, so we recommend that you buy a pack which fits on your chest/waist perfectly so that you won’t have to move around to readjust it. Remember to take your measurements and check what you buy. Many packs will offer the ability to readjust, but some won’t.
Waist vs. Back
There are multiple methods of paddle boarding. There is stand up paddle boarding (which, as the name clarifies, you practice while standing up on the board) and there is paddle boarding while lying down or sitting. If you’re going to lie down (on your stomach) or sit, the backpack is the way to go. If you’re going to stand up, you can use the backpack or its much lighter cousin, the waist pack. It carries considerably less water but makes up for it in being lightweight and saving your back some pain.
Bladder and Hose
We’ve previously talked about the bladder size preferred for this sport (nothing more than 2 liters.) We recommend you also look for a wide enough mouth for the bladder to clean it with ease and to be able to put ice in it. If the perfect pack for you doesn’t have that feature, however, you can forego it by buying a cleaning kit and using smaller ice cubes.
As for the hose, because of the fact that paddle boarding is a full body workout, you might want one with a higher stream of water otherwise you’ll struggle to drink, and having a clip that fixes the hose to your shoulder is important for your hands to remain free.
Waterproof or No?
Well, it depends. To be completely honest, we do not recommend packing anything with you that would cost you a lot of heartache if it got wet, such as a phone or a book or any non-waterproof device. However, if you choose to, you will want a waterproof pack. We know you’re thinking, “I’m planning to buy a secure pack that won’t fall, and I’m not going to fall myself!” but we take it upon ourselves to plan for the worst case scenario for you. Hey, we have complete confidence in your skills; we just don’t have as much trust in your environment… how do you know it won’t rain? So, in some cases, you might want to find a waterproof pack, and some of the choices on this upcoming list are just that.
Our Favorite Hydration Packs for Paddleboarding
This option has some really cool overall features: Waist support, neoprene wrapping on the straps to minimize chafing, a 1.5-liter reservoir, high flow on the bite valve, a cool, minimalistic design (multiple colors available) and the neoprene material also provides insulation for cold climates, and all this is going to cost you about 1 lb on your back (without water.) The thing that we like about this one is that the manufacturer, DolfinPack, made it especially for the purpose of water sports. Now, look, all the ones on this list will be handpicked by us to be good for paddle boarding, but it’s pretty rare in this industry that a manufacturer makes packs designated for a specific type of sports; after all, you sell more if you appeal to more audience. This one is waterproof, so it’s God-sent to you daredevils who are planning to check in to your Instagram story while paddling or something…
This one has some particular care put into its bladder and hose, with a 5-cm wide mouth for the bladder for easy cleaning and addition of ice and a pretty cool push lock to secure the bite valve which has a good, high flow. It sports a 2-liter bladder and weighs 0.9 lbs. The only thing that makes us slightly nervous is the fact that it doesn’t have chest or waist support, however, we think its light weight will make up for that by keeping it secure on you and not weighed-down. Different colors also available for this one. It is perfectly vulnerable to water, so leave that phone at home. It is overall a good one to take a look at when you’re buying; especially that it is one of the cheapest options on this list.
Some time back (around 2014) CamelBak launched a line of hydration packs made especially for water sports. It was called Molokai and it was highly reviewed as far as we saw. That line is sadly discontinued now and is nowhere to be found (we told you about the whole “Hard to Market for One Sport” thing) we strongly suspect that someone here or there is probably selling it for hundreds if not thousands. So, we had to include this one, which is just from their generic line, but it is also the waist pack option on this list. And yes, Camelbak is always the most expensive option on the list, but it’s for a good reason most of the time.
This one has 1.5 liters water capacity, is as small as you would expect, but still sports a few pockets separate from the bladder for your essentials, it weighs 10 oz without water, so it’s for your shorter rides. If you’re looking for a waist pack, this is the one we recommend: It is light, resourceful, small, secure, and backed by a fearsome manufacturer. Just be aware that it is not waterproof and not insulated.
This is a pretty good option that comes with a lot of support and water. Built with 2 straps on the waist and chest that are adjustable to your size, a 2-liters bladder and an easily disconnected hose, it weighs 14 oz and is made of pretty good mesh for a good air flow and comfort. Its bite valve is a twist-type, which can be a bit difficult to deal with on the water as it needs two hands; still it manages to be a solid option because of its extra support and 2 liters tank for a really light weight. It is not waterproof and it is the second most expensive on this list, but we think it’s worth pulling the price that it does.
Being by far the least expensive pick on this list, this isn’t one to skip checking out. It has a 2-liters bladder with a pretty wide mouth, a hose with a convenient bite valve, a chest and a waist strap that are adjustable, is waterproof and weighs 0.79 lbs. What more could you want for such a low price? Oh, maybe a nice nylon and mesh material for durability and air flow? A couple extra pockets for essentials? Congratulations, you’re in luck. This is probably one of the lightest packs you can find with a 2-liters bladder, however because the material is so light it provides no insulation.
One thing we didn’t like is that the material of the straps feels slightly cheap, but look, the pack is cheap. Buying something for that price we wouldn’t expect it to be made of gold, and even though it feels and looks cheap, it’s still pretty secure. If we were you, we’d still give it a go especially if you’re a beginning and not willing to invest in an expensive pack yet.
This one manages to pull a lot of stunts: Be lightweight (only 1 lb) and yet insulated, durable and big; have a 2-liters bladder with an extra wide mouth; have pretty secure waist support with pockets on the strap; be made of breathable material… and be the second cheapest option on this list. It has multiple color options. We think that, even though it is pretty big in size and not waterproof, it’s still tough to beat. Two things that we found a bit of a let-down; one is that the stream of water is frustratingly slow, the other is that the closeness of the insulated material to your back can cause a lot of heat on your skin. You may be able to forego these two turn-offs if you think its other features are attractive enough to encourage you.
Finding a hydration pack for paddle boarding is all about finding the most comforting, lightest and most secure option. Where a big amount of water was necessary for the wilderness, paddle boarding is mostly practiced in populated areas where refilling throughout the day will not be a problem so a large reservoir need not be a huge concern either. As for whether or not you want a waterproof or non-waterproof pack, insulated or not, waist or back… those are all questions the answer for which depends on your preference and what features you’re willing to sacrifice for others. We have purposefully featured expensive and cheap options, a waist option among back options, waterproof options… and in the end, you’re free to make a choice.
Our no.1 pick would be the DolfinPack Extreme Sports Hydration Pack. Because it is made especially with water sports in mind, it manages to be 99% of what you want, all wrapped in an elegant design and a waterproof material. DolfinPack have been flying under the radar in comparison to Camelbak, but their specialty packs are really noteworthy.