Updated September 26, 2020
Outdoor activities with family are all fun and games until kids start complaining, for the hundredth time, about being too hot or too thirsty, making you stop whatever you’re doing, dig into your bag and start hunting down the water bottle. If that sounds familiar, or you’re just looking for a fun, easy way to get your kids into staying hydrated, then, without a doubt, a hydration pack is your way to go. A hydration pack basically lets kids carry around water and drink it swiftly, through a tube. This concept is so inviting that you’ll no longer have to keep reminding them to drink up. They’ll gladly do it on their own. So without further ado, here are the top hydration packs you can offer your kids today.
The DolfinPack is one that offers straight-to-the-point functionality with its light and minimalistic structure.
When we talk hydrations packs, we gotta talk CamelBak. Starting strong with the CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E, a highly durable compact pack that seems to fit toddlers all the way to 10-year olds. In addition to 1.5 liters of water storage, this hydration pack includes several zipped compartments for your kid’s essentials as well as a bike tool organizer pocket. One special thing about the CamelBak is that the valve can be easily used instead of the bite valve which is helpful if you got yourself some excited chewers. The chest strap on this pack is not all that suitable for really petite kids and the back ventilation could use some work.
With its outstanding backside ventilation that’s perfect for hot days and 1.5-liter reservoir, the Osprey Moki is truly a worthy opponent. The chest straps can be fastened tighter than other brands making it work for small framed kids as well as older ones. With its handy magnetic holder, the tube can be held upright taking it out of your child’s way and keeping it clean. The valve on this pack is not the smoothest ride and doesn’t work well with chewers. There’s also an impressive storage room to hold the essentials in zipper compartments along with the front shove-it pocket for more gear. The Osprey Moki comes with a blinker light useful for those night-outs.
Designed for older more independent kids, the
CamelBak Scout Hydration pack is a great companion on their adventures. With
comfortable straps and breathable mesh, the sizable pack easily accommodates
for extra tools, snacks, maps, headlamps or even trekking poles. It also includes side mesh pockets for bonus bottles or flip flops. The reservoir is much easier to remove than with the Mini M.U.L.E and the cap is relatively simpler to secure. The CamelBak Scout features a quick link system to serve its antidote reservoir and is backed up with a lifetime warranty.
On the hefty side of action, comes in the Osprey Hydrajet with its larger size and extra room. This hydration pack is what you need if you’re planning to pull an overnight trip. It allows a lot more space for carrying snacks and gadgets and also features a bungee cord for those extra shoes or jackets. It also has the magnetic holder on the shoulder strap that’s one my personal favorites. The Osprey Hydrajet is better suited for older kids who can handle the extra weight.
If you’re all about simplicity and budget-friendly gear, the Ledge Sports Gooseberry pack is an option you can definitely count on. Including a 1.5-liter bladder that’s adequate for kids and a single pocket for storage which is internally divided into two sections via a mesh, you’ll find the ledge pack just about right for keeping your kid hydrated while carrying a few essentials on him. The material on this one is well enough for its price but don’t expect it to last forever. Be sure to keep up with maintenance in order to delay leaks as much as possible.
If you’re in the market for the minimalistic approach, the CamelBak Skeeter has got you covered. While it lacks pockets, it packs a 1.5-liter capacity which makes it ideal for the youngsters who only need to carry water.
If you’re trying to find the ideal hydration pack for your kid, you should be aware of some features and how much they work for both of you.
Let’s just come out and say it, the way a hydration pack looks is the only thing that really matters to a kid. While us adults look beyond the appearance of our gadgets, kids are much more straightforward. If they like what they see, they’ll be way more cooperative and open to using them, pretty much like every other thing they choose.
So when shopping for a hydration pack, be sure to include them in the process and let your kid choose the color or design they prefer. Luckily, hydration packs come in all kinds of cool and cute styles to appeal to the taste of our young critiques.
Now we’re talking dimensions, or in other words, how much room a hydration pack occupies. A bigger size means more things you can stash but also more weight to carry. This is such a crucial factor to consider because you’re getting your kid a hydration pack to enhance their performance and outdoor experience, so you definitely don’t want to burden them with unnecessary extra weight or distract them with a pack that just gets in their way.
So does that mean a hydration pack is only good for water? Not at all. In fact, most hydration packs have pockets and partitions to cater for snacks or some extra gadgets. It’s just about knowing your child’s needs and limits and what’s more suitable for their age.
The main purpose of a hydration pack is to carry water, a generous amount that is. Hydrations packs usually offer up to 3 liters of capacity. However, I find 1.5 to 2 liters to be most suitable for kids as they provide enough water while being not too heavy to move around.
The shoulder and chest straps on a hydration pack are key to the best fit. They are quite adjustable depending on the frame size of your kid. Smaller frames will require shoulder straps closer to each other and chest straps to be tighter, while bigger builds will find standard sizing rather comfortable. Chest straps also provide the right amount of support to avoid shoulder or back aches.
I find this feature to be particularly useful on those hot days when you get all sweaty and you just can’t stand something else sticking to your skin. Well, kids won’t take that any lighter than we would so keep an eye out for hydration packs made with breathable materials.
Now this one is for us who actually do the filling and the cleaning. The reservoir is the designated space for the water, so it would only be logical to get one that’s easy and quick to fill up and empty. That way you can be ready in no time and you can even teach your kiddo to do it on his own later on. And let’s not forget, cleaning will be a ton simpler!
The part of the tube that‘s actually put into the mouth, that’s the valve. You’ll always find it to be made of medical grade silicone to ensure maximum safety.
A bite valve requires applying pressure by lips or teeth to get the water flowing. While that’s awesome for a hands-free experience, it can be a bit of a hassle if you got a “chewer” on your hands as they are most likely going to bite through the silicone and end up ruining them. Although you can replace them with newly bought ones, a better solution would be not using the bite valve and sticking to the plain on/off valves,
which are much smoother to use, till they are older or learn how to properly do it.
A cool thing about valves is that they come in many colors, which I think is ideal when you have more than one kid with the same brand pack. No more arguments on “who took whose!”
Hydration packs are already established as a must-have gadget to make yours and your kids trip more enjoyable. However, there are some features a hydration pack offers that really makes it worth the extra penny. So you’ll be doing yourself a favor to keep an eye out for them when choosing a certain hydration pack.
A hydration pack with a lock system is incredibly convenient. It guarantees no leaking or dripping which means not a single drop goes to waste. Intact valves usually don’t show such a problem but with kids who often bite down, damaged valves definitely do. So be sure to train your kid on how to lock the tube once they’re done.
The ability of a hydration pack to keep water cool is invaluable in hot weather. Simply chilling your pack and water beforehand, makes for refreshing sips that last way more than when you use a regular bottle. You can easily find additional insulators for your reservoir or bladder that you can apply on before putting it back into your hydration pack. It can do wonders to further extend the period for which water stays cool.
As crucial as staying hydrated is, be sure to coach kids on how much to drink. You don’t want them to be drinking constantly for you to go from the “I’m too thirsty!” to the “I need to pee!” situation every two seconds.
Choosing the right hydration pack for your little explorer comes down to their age, what they need and of course, your budget. I find the CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E to be all around fitting to most kids with enough storage space, water capacity, and manageable weight. Unless your outings usually take place on hot days or your kid is really small-framed, then I recommend the Osprey Moki with its tighter chest strap and
back ventilation. For the older kids, I’d go for the conveniently constructed Osprey Hydrajet Pack. Lastly, if you’re on a budget, the Ledge Sports Gooseberry will definitely give
your money’s worth.