Which one is better to use while you’re mountain biking a hydration pack or water bottle?
I shared a few thoughts on that question just for you. Check out the video below, or if you can’t see the video click this link to watch Bottles vs. Bladders.
Hydration Pack or Water Bottle
How do you get a drink of water while on the bike?
Choosing which of these hydration options you use if a choice that only you can decide. Each one has it’s own pros and cons and it’s a personal preference of which one you choose to use.
A water bottle is the simplest way to carry water with you on the trail. They are very easy to carry, quick to prepare and cheap to use. Simply stash a bottle in your bottle cage on the bike and if you need an additional bottle you can easily carry that in the back pocket of your cycling jersey. There are lots of different types of water bottles, but I prefer the Polar Insulated water bottles. These water bottles have a special lining that helps to keep your water cold, a huge perk when riding in Texas’s 100+ degree weather. Water bottles also have the benefit of being very lightweight, which can be helpful in a race. You can carry one bottle and then get handed a new one as you pass through the water handup on the way to lap number 2.
Polar Insulated Water Bottle – $9.95
Retail Price: $19.95
You Save: $10.00
from: Jenson USA
My preference is to use water bottles on short rides and I always use them on road rides where rough terrain won’t keep me from taking a drink. I will usually keep at least 2 bottles with me, 1 in my bottle cage on the bike and a second in the rear pocket of my jersey.
A Camelbak or hydration pack is terrific, mine are probably among the top 5 purchases I have made for mountain biking. It’s basically a backpack that has a special enclosure for a rubber bladder that holds water. I use the Camelbak Lobo and it has plenty of room to keep a spare tube, CO2 cartridges and lots of mid-ride snacks. It has a 100 oz bladder that is easy to open and quick to fill. The hose for drinking stays right over the top of my shoulder at about chest height where I can easily grab it mid ride. The bite valve on the end is really reliable and it has an extremely helpful cut off that prevents it from leaking while in the car or when accidentally pressed on.
Camelbak Lobo Hydration Pack 2012 – $105.00
Retail Price: $115.00
You Save: $10.00
from: Jenson USA
My personal preference is to use my camelbak on 90% of my rides. I am able to keep my hands on the handlebars and to focus on the trail instead of juggling a bottle in my hands. It also allows me to keep extra gear or repair supplies without feeling like my jersey pockets are about to explode. On more challenging terrain or tight and twisty sections of trail it takes maybe 5 seconds to put the bite valve to your mouth and bite down. Once you’re done just drop the hose out of your mouth and your on your way.
What About Racing?
When I’m racing my mountain bike it really depends on the trail as to which one I use. If the trail is fairly smooth and flat like Rowlett Creek Preserve (RCP) then I will take water bottles because they are lighter to carry and easy to switch off for fresh bottles. But on more challenging terrain like Big Cedar, Isle Du Bois and others I greatly prefer to use my Camelbak.
When I’m racing my first priority is to keep my rhythm and speed, I don’t want any distractions. Having to take my hand off of the bars for 15 to 30 seconds presents a risk that I would rather not take in a race. I have less control of my bike and an will likely be slowed down while fumbling with a bottle. I honestly do prefer the Camelbak in just about every mountain biking situation, but occasionally I will use bottles even while racing if I think the trail is easy enough. It would be possible for me to learn how to use a bottle just as effectively through practice and developing more stability through core strength. But, at this stage in my racing life I just really prefer the ease of use that comes with my Camelbak.
So what do you think? Is your preference for the tried and true classic water bottle or for a more streamlined hydration pack like my Camelbak Lobo? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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