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Hydration Bladder Pockets in Backpacks


Hydration pockets are good for day hikers because they hold your Camelback or platypus hydration bladder in place. If you’re a day hiker, you don’t have a lot of gear in the pack to keep your bladder from shifting around. However if you’re doing a serious hike and you are carrying a decent amount of gear, it is near impossible to get a full water bladder back into the hydration pocket when you stop to filter and resupply your water: you basically need to unpack your bag and repack it from scratch. It’s not worth it and serious ultralight packs don’t have a hydration pocket for this reason.

My serious pack is a Six Moons Starlight (25 oz) and it doesn’t have an hydration pocket. When I pack it, I always place a full 3L platypus in the upper right side of the main compartment to counterbalance my tent or hammock and shelter accessories which all go in the left outer pocket. When I stop to filter water and refill the bladder, it is easy to to put a full bladder back into the pack and off I go. No need to repack.


  1. I prefer a hydration pocket with my Camelbak, because as I drink throughout the day, the bag slowly collapses, and will shift around, fold, reduce flow, etc. in my full pack that does not have a hydro pocket.

    The hydration pocket eliminates that, and the Camelbak connector (sold separately) allows me to attach my filter directly to hose, by removing the bite valve, and pumping filtered water into the bag. No need to unpack the whole thing just to refill. If you hike with other people, I can have them get the filter out, hook it up, filter water and fill up, and be on my way. Just keep the filter handy, and you are good to go.

  2. Whatever works for you. I've migrated to an inline system these days and keep a 2L platypus in a side pocket. Got sick of the periodic leak.

  3. I’ve been knocking around the idea of incorporating a hydration bladder pocket into the pack i’m designing. The problem that I have with it is that hydration bladder pockets are usually good in packs with defined frames. When a pack doesn’t have a frame, an internal pocket containing a bladder tends to sag and deform the pack and negatively impacting the ride of the pack. I’ll have to try tacking one on and not get too dogmatic about my attachment to it so that I can just rip it out if it doesn’t work out.

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