I need your help!  I am working through design de...

I need your help!  I am working through design details on the packs and need input on where, how and what size for hydration storage?

Center back as we did with the Sitka packs?  Detachable?  Do you like a right or left port? Or both?  What brand and size of hydration bag do you use?  How do you like to route your drink tube?  over the shoulder?  Underneath your arm?

Areas of input:


Size & brand of bag do you use?

Port(s) (L) (R) (BOTH)

Drinking Tube Routing

Sewn in or removable?

Other ideas?

I have a few extra hats and will give away the new KUIU hat for the most creative idea for the hydration set up.

Tom Foss and Daughter in KUIU Hats

Thank you in advance for your help.


This article has 36 comment(s)

  1. Ryan

    I might be the only one here, but I don’t use hydration bags anymore. I’ve just had bad luck with them. One of them punctured. On another trip my mouth peice popped out, draining a bunch of water. I don’t ration my water well with a hydration bags. There were also countless times when I dropped my pack to stalk and my mouth peice ended up in a cow pie or dirt/mud. My vote would be for a detachable one. I would like to see an optional detachable insert that would seperate water bottles, then you have the option of water bottles or a water bag.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Ryan,

      Your comments are well noted. I like a flexible design and being able to remove the hydration insert fits for the KUIU packs.

      Thank you,


  2. Jon

    If you were able to make a horizontal-style hydration pocket, as a second (or lower) pocket in a pack lid, and build a port on either side of the lid, that might work well. It wouldn’t be squished in the middle of your back when humping a big load and it would be easily accessible for refills. Good luck.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Jon,

      Access for refills and not taking up so much space in your main compartment is well noted. I will take a look at you idea a pocket in the lid.

      Best regards,


  3. Alec

    First off, a bigger pouch would be nice, I have a two liter bag, and it does not fit in my Sitka 45 pouch. I would have access so the hose come directly out of the pack on either side, right over the straps, and a clip that is clips into.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Alec,

      I agree, the hydration pouch needs to have the ability to hold from 2 to 4 liter hydration bags. Your over the shoulder routing is well noted.



  4. G. Todd Brooks

    I am an Archer, so I like the right side over the shoulder. wide mouth opening, antimicrobial bladder with 100oz. minimum capacity. I have not yet found a tube retainer/ holder that works well or keeps the tube from getting caught on branches or brush. I would like to see something on either shoulder strap that you could run the tube through under a 6-8″ piece of material that you could run the tube through, and have a slot for say three different lengths so you could custom fit it to your desired length? this would keep the drink tube secured and out of the way as well as give you a perfect length when your ready to hydrate? Middle back seems to be a good location for me, thanks for asking for input!

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Todd,

      Thanks for the input, your comments are well noted.


  5. G. Todd Brooks

    Blackhawk Hydrastorm!

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Todd,

      I will take a look at this today.


  6. Tye Abell

    First I’ll hit on what I use currently. I’ve got a platypus 2 liter hydration bag and use a sawyer inline filter with it. I fill the bag with dirty water attach my hose with the filter inline and start drinking. The flow rate isn’t compromised and I’ve never had an isse. Both packs I currently use have sleeves for the bladder and the ports are at the top of the bag.

    Now, for what I would like to see. First, I really think the port should be at the bottom side of the bag, either side is fine. My reasoning here is simple. It would take less hose to get the tube to drinking level, there’s less chance of a kink accuring, less hose means lighter weight (every gram counts) and if you have some type of leak occur, the water will have an area to escape rather than pooling in the bottom of your bag and potentially getting your sleeping bag/clothing wet.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Tye,

      I appreciate your help, I am adding a sawyer inline filter to my hydration for my sheep hunt. Thanks for this input. I get the kink issue and I will see what we can come up with to solve the problem.


  7. Tye Abell

    Comment got cut short. Not real easy using a phone.

    With the setup I described, a removeable bladder is needed, and a sewn in pouch for the bladder is great. An option of putting the bladder between the airspace and your back is great for cool weather (as on the osprey exos), a frozen drinking tube or bladder isn’t much fun.

    Incorporating a quick detach system could also be helpful, as long as weight wasn’t compromised. An attachment between the portion of hose that is just on the outside of the pack and the portion on the inside would make routing more simple. Detach the hose and remove the bladder for filling.Reinsert the bladder and reconnect the hose without the hassel of rerouting the entire hose through the pack again. The attachment could also be used with some filters currently available to allow refilling the bladder without removing it from the pack.

    Last suggestion would be to figure out a way to desing a piece that could have two functions. one in load transfer and the other in keeping the bladder pouch from getting closed by all the gear in your bag when you remove it for refilling. It’s always a pain to try and reinsert the bladder when youLve got a full pack and every inch of space is needed.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Tye,

      Got it, thanks for the detailed write up. Well noted.


  8. Kit Baughman

    Hi Jason,

    I might be the odd man out – I shoot rifles left handed and bows right handed, so I like center pouch with center port. When rifle hunting I put the tube on my right shoulder strap, and when bow hunting I put it on my left shoulder strap. Both are routed over the shoulder. If the pack is designed to pack out meat, then having an alternate place to put the hydration bladder is necessary – I’ve either not been able to get water out, or had the hose pop off at the bladder when packing meat… I started carrying a large extra pocket that I can take out of the pack when packing meat and attach it to the side of the pack, or to the front on one of the shoulder straps. Size-wise bigger is better; I can always put less water in the bladder when I don’t need it. Definitely wide mouth.

    One trick that I use is I cut a piece of closed cell foam that fits inside the water bladder pocket. If it’s a hot day the foam goes between my back and the bladder so the water stays cooler. On a cold day the foam goes between the inside of the pack and the bladder, which keeps the water warmer. And if I forget my sitting pad, I always have the bladder pad as a back up.

    I like Tye’s suggestion about being able to get the bladder in with a full pack. How about a removable HDPE hard shell that the bladder fits in that goes inside the bladder pocket? Ridged to keep it from collapsing, and shaped like a flattened oval in cross section (looking into it), so no sharp corners. Taper the end so that it goes into the pocket easily. Heck, I have trouble getting a bladder in an empty pack; this would help that too…

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Kit,

      Thank you very much for all the input. I am on the same page with you regarding the challenges we all have with current hydration set ups. The closed cell foam is an interesting idea as well as the HDPE insert. I will dig into this concept.



  9. Mark Zarro

    Location: I personally like ones that sit higher up, but I know that isn’t always the case.

    Size & brand of bag do you use? – I actually have several different packs, but recently I’ve mostly been using an Osprey Raptor as I really like the stability that the pack provides.

    Port(s) (L) (R) (BOTH) – Mine is on the left

    Drinking Tube Routing – Over the shoulder. I know a lot of people prefer the under the shoulder routing, but it can lead to problems – especially off road – which is why most packs are designed for over the shoulder.

    Sewn in or removable? – Removable for sure.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Mark,

      Your comments are well noted. Thank you for your input.

      Kindest regards,


  10. Antonio Lara

    I personally would go for a centre port as it will give the most versatility and people can make the hose go either way to suit their dexterity.

    I would go for a 3 litre hydration. I currently have a Camelbak 3 litre that I have had for 6 years with no drama.

    If you make the pack so it can convert into a daypack, like the Sitka 45 that I currently use, then the three litre would be great in that sense. When fully loaded you can always just stick a litre or two in and save space, but at least you have the capacity there for more when the pack is being used in a different form.

    When climbing ountians with my bow in daypack mode, I know a day in the hills with 3 litres works well for me. When I pack in or out with a full pack, space and weight becomes the premium driver then, enough water for the walk to base camp in this case and no more.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Antonio,

      Thanks for your comments they are well noted. I agree we need to hold a 3 liter bag as the bench mark with the flexibility of going up to 4 liter and down to a 2 liter.



  11. Matt


    I’ve used a lot of camebak bladders in the past and for the past several years I have almost exclusively used the 3 liter Source brand of bladder provided by Eberlestock.

    I really like the dual fill option on these bladders and have never had a leak from the fold over opening. The fold over opening provides easy cleaning. I also like the the dust cover; as I hate a mouth full of dirt and crap. Anti-microbial bladder and tube are great too. I also like a “insulation” on the tube as it stops reflections, even though they really do not keep the water from freezing. In freezing weather I usually blow air in the tube to keep water from freezing solid in the tube.

    As for packs, I think the bladder should be able to be removed and installed with a loaded pack. Hydration pocket openings need to be sized appropriately too. As for placement I like how Eberlestock balances the rifle scabbard with the hydration pocket, on the Just One series of packs.

    In light, out heavy,

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Matt,

      Thank you for your input and your ideas are well noted. I will revisit the Eberlestock set up.



  12. Ray

    Location: Center back for the bulk of it and some in the lid when I’m purifying. Water is usually one of the heaviest items in my pack so I want it balanced.

    Size & brand of bag do you use? I like to use purification tablets like Aquamira and Microput so I use a two bag system. A Platypus Big Zip 3L (0.3 oz heavier then the 2L bag) and a 1L Platypus. I typically fill my 3 liter bag with 2 liters of water. When it starts to get low I use the 1L bag to purify some water. I typically put the 1L bag in the lid for easy access. If I want to purify more then 1L at one time I fill the 1L from my 3L bag and then us the 3L bag to purify more water. I can have 4L on hand then. It’s heavy but when it’s several miles and a lot of elevation change to get more water it’s often the best option.

    Port(s) Both. I want it on different sides depending on if I’m using a bow or rifle. I like bags with both a left and right port instead of one port center in the pack. The hose routs better that way.

    Drinking Tube Routing: Over the shoulder.

    Sewn in or removable? Sewn in. If someone doesn’t use it for hydration they can use it for organizing. I don’t think the added complexity and cost would be worth being able to remove it.

    Other ideas? Getting a bladder in and out of the pack is always a pain and to rid a pack of that totally would require a lot of added weight I think. I look for a pack with a good compression system that I can relax which gives me easy access to the bladder. As long as I don’t over stuff the bag it isn’t usually an issue. If I have to really stuff the bag then I know it’ll be harder to get to the bladder. That’s just how it is. The only thing I’d try to avoid is a hydration pouch that drops down into the sleeping bag compartment.

    I have an Osprey Aether 70 and really like how well their system works overall. When you combine where they have the hose exit the bag and the two elastic stays on the shoulder straps it works very well. The hose stays put and doesn’t flop around. It never get in the way either.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hey Ray,

      I am headed to OR tomorrow and will take a good look at the Osprey Aether 70. I am a huge fan of Osprey, they make some great products.


  13. Matt


    I like the MSR Dromlite set up. It’s light and if I use the Camelbak cleaning tabs the water usually tastes good.

    I like tubes as they are handy, but I have had problems with them, especially in cold weather. (freezing up)

    I purchase the 4L Dromlite, then purchased the MSR Hydration kit. I then purchased the Camelbak insulated tube kit. Popped the tube off of the MSR kit, switched in the Camelbak insulated hose and bite valve. Best of all I stash the MSR trickle valve so that if my tube does freeze up I can simply take the tube off, stash it in my coat and still be able to drink from the bladder or fill a bottle or something..

    I get the best of both worlds. As for where I keep the bladder. I simply just use the top pocket of my pack and keep it up there. I have an older external frame pack (prior) to Camelbak’s invention so no spot specifically designed.

    I’d like to be high on the pack, separated from the main compartment so I can get to it easily.

    Look forward to what you come up with. Maybe one of these years I might just have to buy a new pack…. 🙂

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for your input, your comments are noted. I hope the KUIU pack is so dialed you buy one.


  14. Mike R.

    I like the bladder located in the center of my back up high because it is usually one of the heaviest items in my pack. I currently use the Source 3 liter. I would put the port in the center, top portion of the pack with some way of clipping the hose to whichever shoulder you want. That way right handed and left handed shooters are covered. Besides when I shoot a rifle I like the hose on my left shoulder but when I shoot my bow I put it on the right so it doesn’t catch the string on its way by.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your input, I agree we need the flexibility to bring the tube over either shoulder. I will make sure this is in the design.


  15. Joaquin d’A.


    I’ve been lately using a Camelbak Striker hydration pack, and it has some features I would really appreciate on any other, but some facts I would change as well.

    As positive points I must remark the neoprene cover of the external tube. It prevents water from freezing on really cold weather, as also does the zippered pocket on the shoulder strap. This is also quite valuable when walking through bush areas or low branches, as you can keep it stored without getting tangled every now and then.

    I suppose the systems that travel under the arm hangs free from the back and that may be a tangling source, so my vote to the shoulder strap method.

    As to right or left I would prefer to have the two options, or a central one that allows the user to adapt it to his own requirements. As a right handed rifle hunter, I usually carry the sling on my right shoulder, so I would like the hydration tube on the left one. This is something the Camelbak doesn’t allow, one of the small drawbacks of this tiny bag.

    But one of the nice ideas I found on it was the non slipping material on the top of the shoulder strap. This simple fact is great as it doesn’t let the rifle sling slip over your shoulder and find it hanging from your forearm every time.

    The water bladder is of course detachable and it can carry 2,1 liters. I find it enough for a single day in the mountain.

    One thing I miss is a rifle-bow holder. And some more compression straps will be well received. But it is plenty of pockets of different sizes. And there also is a wide space between the two main storage pockets that can be used as a quick storing place for a telescope or even as a packing place for the head of your well deserved trophy.

    Hope this helps.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Joaquin,

      I will take a look at the Camelback Striker pack. Thanks for the input, I appreciate the help and insight.



  16. Mike Borel

    I like center for hydration, I use a 2Q one and like to have the mouthpiece on the left. Being detachable is not of interest to me.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Mike,

      I apologize for the delayed reply, I was at Outdoor Retailer last week and away from the computer. Your comments are well noted and thanks for the help. Good luck this season.


  17. Eric



    I have been in the military quit awhile now and have went throught numerous hydration systems. As an avid hunter, backcountry traveler, and at a time infantryman, I don’t believe there is one hydration system that fits everyone.

    I have Nalgene bottles, collapsabile playtpus and nalgene bags, MSR bags, and CamelBak bladders.

    When I am hiking I like the tube from a bladder, fast hydration on the move.

    In camp I enjoy the Nalgene collapisable or hard Nalgene bottle.

    On a short SPOT and STALK, I cache my pack, as even with good wind, I don’t want to be busted due to the sloshing water in my bladder.

    I think easy access is key, so something detachable or easy to fill at a water crossing point or a glacier stream would be good.

    My favorite system is the collapisable Nalgene, I carry two, one with a tube, but once I establish my spike/strike camp, I transfer it to a smaller very light weight day pack, and leave one in camp.

    And thanks for the sticker, love the Logo.


    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Eric,

      Thanks for the input on the collapsable Nalgene. I picked one up today for my sheep hunt. I agree there is not a perfect solution for everyone. Creating a system that is as flexible as possible is my goal. Thank you for taking the time to share your insight.


  18. Pedro Ampuero

    Not a fan of hidratation bags. I broke one once, and never again.

    How many days left for leaving to your hunt Jason? Good luck mate, can wait to hear from it!


    • Jason Hairston

      Hey Pedro,

      I leave Friday, hard to get much done right now other than shoot my bow and go through gear. Thanks for the wish of luck. Take care and talk to you when I get back.