What is a Hydration Pack? How it Saved my Team on a Mud Run!

Until I did the Spartan Race (a mud run), I had no idea what a hydration pack was or how important it was to carry one of these things. 

But one of my 3 teammates who brought it to the event explained how he uses it for long distance runs and how comfortable it is. This ended up being a lifesaver for us. I ended up buying one after the race to carry with me on hikes and future mud runs.

What are hydration packs?

They are just small-large backpacks which carry a thick plastic bag inside which you can fill with water. This bag is connected to a bendable straw which extends through a hole outside the pack which is also connected to the harness that it can stick to so it won’t flap around when you run. 

There is an opening on the straw which you can use to drink. Usually these things can carry about 2 liters of water and for my team, that was perfect because it didn’t weight too much and we were able to re-fill on more water every mile. 

Hydration packs are perfect for:

  • Runners including those who run trails off road.
  • Hikers, skiers, snowboarders, mountain/long distance cycling.
  • And those who do mud runs like me especially for the last Spartan Race I did. My team and I were glad we took it with us!

The very comfortable backpack we used:

The one we used is called a CamelBak Hydration Pack. It’s about 16 inches in length, weights under a 100 ounces and with a full 2 liter water supply and some other light foods made up about 12 pounds in weight.

On the type of races we did, when you have less to carry, you’ll have more energy so if you have any kinds of personal things (car keys, wallet, phone, ect…) you may want to leave it with someone that isn’t participating with you or in mud runs, they usually have bag checks where you can leave your things, although I never leave any cash or credit cards if I do that. Those places are very safe though so you can leave your things there:

There’s surprisingly a lot of space in these bags:

It’s small, but if you have to take your personal things with you, there is plenty of space for this in these things, including the CamelBak . In fact, there’s plenty of space in just one back pack for multiple people to leave their things but extra weight is never a good thing for long races or events. Only take them with you if you can’t leave them in a safe place. 

These packs are also very waterproof.

During the race we did, not only did we go through a ton of muddy areas where it would get dirty, but we had to swim. To avoid any risk of water getting in, I didn’t have it on my back and instead held it with one hand above the water while I used my other hand to swim. 

Even though it is waterproof, if there is ANY food or personal equipment (electrical) that you’re carrying, make sure to put it all in another plastic bag inside this thing, so if you forgot to completely zip it up, at least the bag will keep the water away.

Also don’t worry about the actual 2 liter bag filling up, it is completely sealed from anything outside so you won’t get any dirt or bacteria into your clean water supply. 

7 reasons hydration packs are perfect for mud runs:

  • They are very light on the back so you won’t notice them as you run or go through obstacles.
  • Sticks to the back very well so it doesn’t hang and cause discomfort.
  • These bags are also hard to damage and is very resilient to throws, if you drop it, if it gets damaged or wet (still waterproof on the inside). You can keep using this pack many times. 
  • My team and I will be using it again and again. 
  • Even though it is very small compared to a regular back pack, they can fit a lot of supplies. 
  • Whether you’re alone or with several people, one of these is enough to supply your team with everything they need to get through the race/course.
  • Lots of people who do mud runs use this exact bag so if you are taking it with you, use a permanent marker or a sticker to indicate it’s yours. We did have an issue with mixing up bags with other people because they looked the same. This is a very popular back pack for mud runs.

Get the best hydration pack and make mud runs a lot easier!

Planning on doing other outdoor stuff?

For longer events that aren’t mud runs, maybe overnight hikes or extremely long distances, you may want to load up on a heavier and bigger back pack that can carry more supplies when you’re going to be in an area where there’s nothing but wilderness and no civilization to re-supply you.

While you may have a regular back pack with you for these trips, hydration packs are going to be more convenient to carry more water. The only trouble you’ll have is refilling it if you find a lake or river in which case you may want to have a small bottle handy to fill up and then put into the pack itself.

Hydration packs make for perfect survival tools for arid/dessert environments:

Since you will get more dehydrated in a very hot environment with very little areas with water, forget having just a bottle, and get yourself a that same hydration pack and fill it up with all 2 liters when you do it (also have a bottle!). These packs will save your life when you’re on a dry terrain racing or just traveling. 

The more water you can hold comfortably without ruining your fun while racing or adventuring, the better and nothing holds more water and makes a trip more comfortable than a hydration pack. 

For short trips that are under 15 miles, a regular 2 liter one like the CamelBack Rogue will be perfect. Or for mud races, it’ll make the adventure a lot easier!

4 thoughts on “What is a Hydration Pack? How it Saved my Team on a Mud Run!”

  1. Hi, this backpack sounds fantastic I do a lot of mountainous hill runs and usually carry a utility belt with a 200ml water bottle built into it and can be quite uncomfortable after 10 miles or so. Do you find less movement with the backpack? I also carry my Ipod and car keys does the CamelBak Rogue have any special compartments for ease of placing your Ipod?

    • There are a few compartments in this backpack Peter that are away from the water bag so you can keep your most important belongings there.

      There is also very little movement on the back and after awhile, you don’t even know it’s on you. We even had moments where people who were carrying the bag were asking where it was because they didn’t feel it.

  2. Hi, I was thinking to use a hydration pack by myself. It seems to be very convenient for running but also for hiking. It makes more sense to just keep hiking and not always taking of the backpack to drink. And I think it is much better to drink a little bit every 15 min than only once per hour and then too much at once.

    The only thing the made me not buy it so far is that I am not sure how to clean it properly, especially when you are hiking in remote areas. Can you open it somehow to wash it from inside? Do you know more about that? And how you can prevent the liquid or water inside getting stale?

    • Yes cleaning it is easy, read about the pack I used here, I explain how to clean it there. The water you initially put in there will take some time to become stale, but if it does, you would just have to replace it with new, fresh water. If you are going on some kind of trip where you don’t expect to drink for a long time, you’re going to need to carry a lot more water than this pack can carry.

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