Ron Moak, founder of Six Moon Designs is not only a legend in gear design he is also an avid long-distance hiker with over 40 years of long-distance hiking under his belt. Recently Ron shared with us why he doesn’t like a hydration sleeve in a pack to hang a water bladder, and why you shouldn’t use one either.
The issue with a hydration sleeve is that it when rides in the middle of your pack it has three major downfalls:
- A full bladder will push against your spine affecting the way your pack was designed to carry loads.
- The bladder is extremely hard to remove when it needs to be filled, and even harder to get back in without unpacking the entire pack to do so.
- Hoses get kinked. When the hose runs all the way down your back it’s easier to get kinked and make you think you are out of water, when really you have plenty left.
Ron’s preference for using a hydration bladder is to lay it in your pack horizontally on top of your gear and underneath your puffy jacket and other items you keep at the top of your pack. There are a few reasons for this:
- Your water will stay nice and cool packed under a down jacket.
- Your water will be centered in your pack helping to distribute the load more evenly
- Your hoses will have extra length and less chance of getting kinked.
- You’ll be able to sip water easier as the water will not have to travel as afar vertically.
- You can easily access your bladder for refilling without unpacking the entire contents.
Not convinced yet? Neither was I at first but last fall I set off to thru-hike the 750 mile Oregon Desert Trail. We had scorching temps, days without shade and scant water. On one stretch I was cramming seven days of food and three gallons of water into my pack, because there was no way my hydration bladder would work down my back as I typically carried it, I decided to try Ron’s technique. After a few hot uphill miles I was a convert, despite 90-plus degree temps, my water stayed cool all day wrapped in my puffy jackets, and for once I didn’t have to strain to get a gulp down. Give it a try next time you’re on trail.