With summer just around the corner, it becomes increasingly important to drink while you ride.  But which to use – water bottles or a hydration pack?  My personal preference is the hydration pack, but plenty of folks swear by their water bottles.  Consider the pros and cons below, and then choose what works best for you.

Water bottles have been with us for years.  Their versatility is unrivaled:  you can use them to drink from, pour water over yourself on those scorching, hot days and defend yourself from dogs.  Their biggest weakness for me appears in the height of summer – when I am forcing down HOT water on my 60 mile days.  Ugh!  I can never force myself to drink as much as I need.

Recent improvements in water bottle design have satisfied many biking enthusiasts.  A wide-mouth bottle opening is a must, allowing for the easy addition of ice cubes.  And the insulated water bottles, like the CamelBak Podium ChillJacket Bottle now keep your drink cold for 1-2 hours! A great improvement over the plain old plastic bottles. 

Before the insulated bottle design came out, I switched over to the CamelBak hydration pack, and was sold instantly.  I loaded the bag up with ice, topped it off with water, and for HOURS sipped on ICE COLD WATER.  Yum!!!  I have never had problems with sufficient hydration since.  The other feature I like is how hydration packs allow you to stay more “hands-on”.  No more fumbling to return it to the cage or the infamous dropped bottle in a pack of riders. 

Another feature I am sold on are the various sizes for children up to adults.  When our kids were young, we worried about them drinking enough on those hot rides.  It was a challenge with water bottles.  But as soon as we switched to the hydration pack, with it’s ice cold water, the problem disappeared.  In fact, our kids liked it so much that they tended to drink too much, sometimes downing the entire CamelBak in the time it took my husband and I to unload the bikes and trailers and get ready to hit the road!  So our fears of our little children becoming dehydrated were replaced with fears of not finding enough bathrooms!

CamelBak RaceBak at Bicycle Garage IndyFor the truly high tech bikie, the CamelBak RaceBak offers a hydration pack built into a base layer to be worn under a jersey.  I have never tried this, but would love to hear from those who have. 

My personal favorite combination is a CamelBak Classic on my back with a traditional bottle and cage on my bike.  The CamelBak provides ice cold refreshment for 2-3 hours, while the bottle provides defense against dogs.  It also feels great poured over me on those particularly warm days. 

Which system do you prefer?  Let us know along with your reasons. 

CamelBak Hydration products are among the hundreds of bike accessories which are in-stock now at Bicycle Garage Indy North in Indianapolis and Bicycle Garage Indy South in Greenwood.