Ultimate Direction Teocalli
Teocalli Hydration Pack

Which hydration pack does double duty for hiking and biking?

My husband is interested in a hydration pack for dayhikes and bike rides. Which size will best suit his needs? Also, can you recommend one for kids (ages five and eight)? Melody Fircrest, Washington

Ultimate Direction Teocalli

Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.

One wag has noted that Camelbak represents one of the most successful marketing efforts in history, having convinced millions of people that a $75 “hydration pack” is superior to an $8 Nalgene bottle.

Ultimate Direction Teocalli

Ultimate Direction Teocalli Teocalli Hydration Pack

I’m pretty ambivalent about Camelbaks and other bladder-based watering systems (what a funny phrase: “bladder-based”). I use one occasionally on mountain-biking trips when a couple of water bottles on the bike frame aren’t enough (plus my dualie has practical space for only one bottle). That way I can carry fluids plus a jacket and lunch. Once in a while I’ll use a bladder with a backpack, but I’m usually happier with a water bottle. I just like the ritual of stopping, taking off the pack, flopping on the ground, and having a nice drink. Sipping through a tube while marching along makes it all seem too much like I’m racing in The Raid (www.theraid.org) or something.

That said, a pretty good hike/bike hydration pack is the Ultimate Direction Teocalli ($100; www.ultimatedirection.com), which can be configured to carry about 600 cubic inches of gear—barely enough for a minimalist day hike, but it’s something. Camelbak’s H.A.W.G. ($100; www.camelbak.com) has a little more capacity, although you risk too big a load to bicycle comfortably. But it’s the better choice for day-hiking. The North Face’s Megamouth ($95; www.thenorthface.com) is a little larger yet (1,100 cubic inches).

I simply wouldn’t recommend a hydration pack for youngsters. I think trying to manage a bike is challenging enough, without giving a child something else to do, like trying to get a drink while riding. In any event, I just can’t imagine a trip that’s arduous enough for an 8-year-old to require constant fluid replenishment. A water bottle in a small daypack—better yet, in dad’s pack!—should be fine for nearly any outing.

Get more advice from the Gear Guy as he picks this season’s top gifts in Away.com’s Holiday Gift Guide. You’ll probably find a few things to put on your own wish list, too.

promo logo