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Water bottle or Hydration Pack?

Julia Mumford

Adventure Geek
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Camino Ingles (2018)
I am just curious if you guys prefer a water bottle or hydration pack?

I have always carried a hydration pack for my Camino's but I have just noticed that my current Osprey one looks a bit grubby, so I need a new one. Or should I swap to a water bottle?

Pro's and Cons?

Thank you.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
It's definitely a personal preference.
Last year, on my first Camino, I used a collapsible water bottle and a smart tube system. I originally carried the bottle in my backpack's outer side pocket to facilitate refilling. However, in August the water quickly warned up. So I started carrying the bottle inside my pack, thus creating a de facto hydration pack, albeit one that wasn't very easy to clean. This year I carried a standard hydration pack, with a wide opening for ease of cleaning.
The negative of the hydration pack is that you don't know exactly how much water you have left. I usually carry a small partially filled disposable bottle with my "emergency" water.
 

MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
This subject always boils down to what the individual is use to doing. Both work just fine, but I prefer the bottle for taste & ease of cleaning. I also use Osprey packs all 3 have hydration bags. But I use the area they get stored for items that are thin & used only for fixing my or others feet such as moleskin those type items. More the problem with my bottle is you have to usually modify/ add a bottle holder that is easy to access.
The bags are instant access while walking & you have to modify them if you want to fill them without taking off your pack. In any case both systems work fine. Have fun experimenting.
Keith
 

alaskadiver

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May 2017-Camino Primitivo
April 2019-Camino de Invierno
I am just curious if you guys prefer a water bottle or hydration pack?

I have always carried a hydration pack for my Camino's but I have just noticed that my current Osprey one looks a bit grubby, so I need a new one. Or should I swap to a water bottle?

Pro's and Cons?

Thank you.

For 20+ years I've used a hydration bladder. I hate bottles. They make my pack unbalanced and I have to stop to pull them out and drink. With my bladder I can just drink at will with no stopping. It's easier to stay hydrated for me this way. For many years I've used a Camelbac bladder but this year I bought the Osprey one. The open to makes it a lot easier to refill than the old style with the round hole. Keeping it clean is not an issue. You can rinse it out every day if you want or not. I've never had bacteria grow in one even on extended wilderness backpacking tips. That's my 2 cents :)
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I love using Smart Water bottles with the flip top lid. They hold quite a bit and are so easy to fill up and very sturdy. I buy two at only $1 each. That said, it is just my opinion and I have never used a bladder. Also, I have always walked with a family member, who very willingly would grab it for me whenever I needed a drink. The bladders of course allow you to drink at will while keeping your pack on which is very convenient, but I prefer not to mess with one.

I've heard it's a "no no" to ask other pilgrims to grab your water bottle for you. Not sure if this is true, however. Kind of sad though if it is as it's such a simple way to help your fellow man.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
For 20+ years I've used a hydration bladder. I hate bottles. They make my pack unbalanced and I have to stop to pull them out and drink. With my bladder I can just drink at will with no stopping. It's easier to stay hydrated for me this way. For many years I've used a Camelbac bladder but this year I bought the Osprey one. The open to makes it a lot easier to refill than the old style with the round hole. Keeping it clean is not an issue. You can rinse it out every day if you want or not. I've never had bacteria grow in one even on extended wilderness backpacking tips. That's my 2 cents :)

I know that I mentioned ease of cleaning, but to be honest, I didn't bother cleaning my water pack very often. I had read that if you are using it continuously it really doesn't need to be cleaned often.

I love using Smart Water bottles with the flip top lid. They hold quite a bit and are so easy to fill up and very sturdy. I buy two at only $1 each. That said, it is just my opinion and I have never used a bladder. Also, I have always walked with a family member, who very willingly would grab it for me whenever I needed a drink. The bladders of course allow you to drink at will while keeping your pack on which is very convenient, but I prefer not to mess with one.

I've heard it's a "no no" to ask other pilgrims to grab your water bottle for you. Not sure if this is true, however. Kind of sad though if it is as it's such a simple way to help your fellow man.

I would certainly grab someone's bottle for them if they asked, but I would not be comfortable constantly asking someone to do so for me. And I spend a lot of time walking alone, so for me the hydration bladder is a better option.
 

Gillyweb

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Villafranca - Santiago (2013)
SJPP - Santiago (2014)
Portugues (2017)
I carry a bladder for long stages but generally prefer to carry two 500ml bottles. One in my pack
and the other sits in my bum bag so is always easily accessible. I found I didn't like adding the extra weight to my rucksack when I filled the bladder, which is why I prefer bottles. Same weight I know but in a different place. Personal preference- totally unscientific!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2016
Portugues 2019
Ingles, Finisterre, Muxia 2021
I carried two bottles and used the Smartube by Bluedesert. I carried 2 bottles. One was only water, the other had electrolyte tablets.

My pack has a pocket for a hydration pack, but I didn't like the idea of trying to fish it out and the fight to put it back in when refilling. I purchased the Smartube which fit onto my bottles. I used my insulated cycling bottles, so my water was always at a comfortable temperature. Not cold, but definitely not hot from sitting in the sun.

For me, I thought it was the best of both worlds. Bottles that where easily accessible with the convenience of the drinking tube.
 

long trails

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2012
I carry two 600ml bottles of water, in my opinion people carry far too much water than needed on the camino, I use to myself and would often arrive at a town still carrying a litre or so. Personal choice though as some will need to drink more.

Advantages of water bottles....cheaper, easier to replace and they force you to stop and take a break more often.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2016
I started my Camino with a camelback but managed to lose the valve within 6 days and couldn't find a replacement. Ended up using 2 small bottles and had to purchase a small bag to put them in as I was travelling alone and I drink quite often. Didn't want to have to stop and take off my pack every time for a drink.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I am walking the LePuy route in June with two friends instead of family this time. Since we may walk at a different pace I've just purchased a new fanny pack (love them) with a water bottle holder attached next to it. Probably a bulkier set up than I'm used to, but at least I can grab the bottle myself this time and be an "independent woman". :D
 

onwayhome

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances Ponferrada-Santiago,(c1986)
Frances SJPP-Santiago (2011)
Portuguese Porto- Finisterre (2016)
St Michaels Way (2016)
I enjoy the nifty shoulder stretch needed to pull a bottle out of my Osprey side pouch while walking.

I found a camelback really good for hydration but was always checking it after unwittingly running out of water one hot afternoon.
 

Nicola Foster

Starting first Camino (Frances) end of August 2017
Year of past OR future Camino
No1 = 2017
I am a fan of a bottle. I like to the feeling of gulping when I'm thirsty. I carry one 500ml on a carabiner on my belt and a spare 500ml in my pack. I really enjoy filling up at the Fuentes : fountains in the villlages and having fresh cold water. It's been working perfectly - except once when i didn't close it tightly and spilled it!
 

GreatDane

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF to Burgos Sept/Oct 2014, Burgos to Astorga April 2016, Astorga to SdC 2017
First camino i used my Camelback. It was hot hiking even in late September and it was a pain to refill. Second camino I picked up 2 500ml water bottles (thin walled but looked like cut crystal) and carried them in the bottle holders on my front facing fanny pack. Much easier to refill at the fuente.
 
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Tazman

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino frances August-October 2016
I am just curious if you guys prefer a water bottle or hydration pack?

I have always carried a hydration pack for my Camino's but I have just noticed that my current Osprey one looks a bit grubby, so I need a new one. Or should I swap to a water bottle?

Pro's and Cons?

Thank you.
Personal preference like fleece vs down, boots vs trail shoes etc.
I did the C Frances this time last year using a 3L Osprey hydration bladder. I had previously used bottles in a variety of backpacks, but found them difficult to access. The bladder system works well for me, with the tube tip attaching via a small magnet to one of the straps in front of the shoulder. I find it best to take sips at regular intervals while walking. We walked through a heat wave for a couple of days, and this technique worked well.
 

Glenn Rowe

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
This seems a great opportunity to ask a long-pondered question to those who use hydration bladders carried in the backpack.

I notice they are nearly always carried next to the back. With all the insulation on the side away from the back (clothing, gear, etc.) doesn't the water quickly trap and retain body warmth ? Somehow near-body-heat water just isn't appealing to me.
 

Multipurpose

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
March/April (2018) maybe 2017
I am just curious if you guys prefer a water bottle or hydration pack?

I have always carried a hydration pack for my Camino's but I have just noticed that my current Osprey one looks a bit grubby, so I need a new one. Or should I swap to a water bottle?

Pro's and Cons?

Thank you.
I used hydration packs for a couple of years but went back to bottles because the water from
bladders tasted plasticky to me. I cleaned the bladders constantly but still got that taste and couldn't tolerate it any more. Water from bottles doesn't taste that way to me.
 

HuffyCane

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
July 2015
Purchased two 500ml bottles of water every other day and discarded them after 2 days. Strange that I was the only person in my group without a hydration pack and I was the only one who didn’t get trail belly. Hmmm ...

As for ease of access, I saw two girls from Italy arguing because one apparently asked the other to fish out her water bottle one too many times.

When I suggested that they each carry the others bottle in the outside mesh of the other’s pack, they smiled at me like I invented spaghetti sauce. Lol.

Hydration packs make sense for the back country only. There’s no reason to haul that much water. Drink a liter before you leave each day and at least a liter when you finish and you don’t need to carry so much water. 500mls to 1l tops and that is when we are talking July in the meseta.
 

HedaP

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
You can put a sprig of wild mint in a water bottle. ;)
 
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MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
Purchased two 500ml bottles of water every other day and discarded them after 2 days. Strange that I was the only person in my group without a hydration pack and I was the only one who didn’t get trail belly. Hmmm ...

As for ease of access, I saw two girls from Italy arguing because one apparently asked the other to fish out her water bottle one too many times.

When I suggested that they each carry the others bottle in the outside mesh of the other’s pack, they smiled at me like I invented spaghetti sauce. Lol.

Hydration packs make sense for the back country only. There’s no reason to haul that much water. Drink a liter before you leave each day and at least a liter when you finish and you don’t need to carry so much water. 500mls to 1l tops and that is when we are talking July in the meseta.
Even though I have the set up to fill my hydration pack with a water purifier I still don't use it in the backcountry because I don't like taking the bag out of the pack or walking my pack to the water source. I am starting to think I may be a bit stubborn or lazy. In the field in the Army I loved my hydration system because it was usually 120F . Never went down from heat. Yet I just realized my water bottles represent civilian freedom/vacation. Well isn't that just personally interesting. :D
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Purchased two 500ml bottles of water every other day and discarded them after 2 days. Strange that I was the only person in my group without a hydration pack and I was the only one who didn’t get trail belly. Hmmm ...

As for ease of access, I saw two girls from Italy arguing because one apparently asked the other to fish out her water bottle one too many times.

When I suggested that they each carry the others bottle in the outside mesh of the other’s pack, they smiled at me like I invented spaghetti sauce. Lol.

Hydration packs make sense for the back country only. There’s no reason to haul that much water. Drink a liter before you leave each day and at least a liter when you finish and you don’t need to carry so much water. 500mls to 1l tops and that is when we are talking July in the meseta.

It's not necessary to fill hydration packs. I usually carried less than a liter in mine.
 

Telelama

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (Sep - Oct'14)
Frances (May - Jun'15)
Portugues (May - Jun'16)
Primitivo (2020)
Hydration packs make sense for the back country only. There’s no reason to haul that much water.

Sorry, but that is just not a true enough statement to apply to all.

We only use water bladders on the last two caminos and on our day walks around home. They work great, and the Osprey branded bladders used with the Osprey backpacks work great and eliminate many of the complaints here (the exception being that the water tastes like plastic) in that they are easy to fill, are not buried in the main compartment, you don't have to unsnake the hose (there's a real nice quick disconnect) and I've not experienced the water getting to body temp.

After a round of blisters on my first Frances, I decided it was due to hydration. While I cannot claim firmly cause and effect, I've not had a single blister while using the water bladder.
 

Glenn Rowe

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
I restate my question in hopes that someone (or someones) will answer:

=====================

I notice that water bladders are nearly always carried next to the back. With all the insulation on the side away from the back (clothing, gear, etc.) doesn't the water in the bladder quickly warm up to near-body heat ?

====================

This Enquiring Mind wants to know. (Seriously, I do.)
 

Telelama

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (Sep - Oct'14)
Frances (May - Jun'15)
Portugues (May - Jun'16)
Primitivo (2020)
Hi Glenn, I did answer your question above. Here it is for you; I've not experienced the water getting to body temp.
 
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MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
I restate my question in hopes that someone (or someones) will answer:

=====================

I notice that water bladders are nearly always carried next to the back. With all the insulation on the side away from the back (clothing, gear, etc.) doesn't the water in the bladder quickly warm up to near-body heat ?

====================

This Enquiring Mind wants to know. (Seriously, I do.)
It depends on how warm it is & how many hours you are walking. For example it will stay cool longer the fuller it is so if you have 2 liters it will be fine for 2 hours in your pack at say 80F also as far as the heat coming off your body that will be determined by how the pack is designed. So if you really want to know these things go for a 4 hour walk with your pack fully loaded, test it in the rain,test it in the snow, test it in the sun. As reality will be found quickly from head to toe.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
My backpack has a "trampoline" back, so it doesn't really touch my back much.
 

Charles Zammit

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra 2017
GR70 France 2018
Via Francigena 2019
I have used bladders for years in the Australian bush , I took mine to Spain , used it once and posted it back as soon as I could .
Too fiddly , Spanish water seemed to react with it and make it even more ' plastic like ' in taste and frankly with the readily available water sources on the Camino there is no need to carry too much .
I ended up using two blue plastic bottles with wide mouths that came with a particular brand of slightly upmarket water available just about anywhere . The biggest advantage was that the larger cap allowed me to put ice blocks into it easily , a refreshing luxury during the 40+ C days along the Meseta .
 

long trails

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2012
So many seem to have had issues with Camelbaks (incl. me) that I question why people don't go with the cheaper option of water bottles.
 

Telelama

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (Sep - Oct'14)
Frances (May - Jun'15)
Portugues (May - Jun'16)
Primitivo (2020)
So many seem to have had issues with Camelbaks (incl. me) that I question why people don't go with the cheaper option of water bottles.

So many people have issues with bottles; they're difficult to reach and apparently people fight among themselves about getting the bottle for you, which means you don't drink enough water during the day, which leads to dehydration, which can lead to so many health issues (blisters anyone?), they're a nuisance on the trail with the litter, research shows that if the bottle has BPA it can raise your blood pressure after just two hours. Water bladders are so easy and convenient to use that I question why people don't go with a water bladder.

I'm making a point, but ultimately it is up to each person to decide what works best for them.
 
Last edited:
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Definitely a personal preference. I carried a water bottle (1.5 liters - 2 bottles on a few days when I was worried about long walks between fountains). My son carried a hydration pack.

He liked that it was easy for him to reach and sip on the water at all times. The weight was close to his back and centered.

I liked that my water didn't take space within my pack and that I could easily refill my water bottle without messing with the contents of my pack, so I could start out with less. I did have to have someone walking with me hand me the bottle if I wanetd a drink and put it back - or take off my backpack to get at it. The pocket where the water bottle was wasn't easily reachable while walking.

I would say that if you are the kind of person that likes to sip frequently, take a hydration pack. If you are someone that drinks less frequently but deeper each time, take the bottle(s).
 

Deputy Dan

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Logrono to Burgos in week of October (2017); SJPP - ?, three weeks in 2020!
I've never become comfortable with hydration packs - guess I'm just a gulper and not a sipper. Besides, I can put rehydration tablets or mixes in a bottle, something that I can't do with a bladder.

I "normally" carry a .5L bottle in a pant pocket (or both!) and keep a 1L bottle in a military canteen pouch that I hang on my hip belt. I get my 1L bottles at the grocery store - they're cheap and the store throws in a free serving of your favorite sports drink! These bottles are a lot lighter than carrying around a nalgene bottle - and can be easily replaced if they wear out. Or get left behind on the cafe table when you're trying to catch up with the rest of your group :) .

On my recent week-long CF I tried a hanging-bottle carrier that has a silicone part that goes over the neck of the bottle and then you hang the bottle off your belt/beltloop with the included carabiner. FAIL! The silicone actually broke on one (after swinging around for four days!), the carabiners were too small to actually fit over the belt so it didn't take long for the springs on the carabiners to break, and the webbing between the silicone and the carabiners started fraying after a day or two. I may continue to use these hangers (came in a bunch of 10 for $1 each!) close to home on day hikes but I'll go back to my canteen carrier for my next Camino.
 

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