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Picture this: You’re out on your motorcycle, either tearing up the dirt, weaving through the twisties, or cruising along on a scenic road. Doesn’t matter as long as you’re on two wheels.
Sun is shining, wind is blowing across your face. Life is good.
But you feel lightheaded. A bit confused. The path ahead starts to splinter. Your mouth’s as dry as the Mojave Desert. You’re about to pass out.
I’ve been there before, and I’ll bet you have too.
The truth is, when you’re on a motorcycle, you’re losing water way faster than you realize, thanks to all that wind evaporating your sweat. In fact, you lose water 2-3 times faster on a motorcycle than you do just walking around, and that’s not even taking into account hot or dry weather!
Water bottles are all fine and dandy, but sipping from one requires a stop or a risky maneuver. Stopping every 15 minutes to quench your thirst on a hot day just isn’t gonna cut it.
And sometimes stopping is a frustrating option – like when you just overtook three trucks on a narrow mountain road, and stopping means letting them go by again.
This is where hydration packs shine. They don’t have to be tiring, irritating bags that mold after the first use. You just need the right one for you, and that’s what I’m here to give you based on my own search for the ideal hydration pack for motorcycling.
PRO TIP: Pick up some electrolyte powder – I swear by Pedialyte for riding-related dehydration (and hangovers). Built to save baby’s lives, it’ll save your butt next time you’re out riding.
- My Search for a Motorcycle Hydration System
- The Best Motorcycle Hydration System for 99% of Riders
- Three More Great Hydration Packs for Motorcycling
- Motorcycle Jackets with Hydration Systems
My Search for a Motorcycle Hydration System
What am I looking for in a motorcycle hydration system?
I want something that holds a lot of water (at least 2 liters), keeps that water cool, and most importantly doesn’t tug on me or create a hot spot on my back – it should feel like I’m wearing nothing at all while I ride. One bonus is easy tube management, so I can snap down the tube to my shoulder when I don’t want a bite valve hanging out of my mouth.
Trust me, you don’t want to be fumbling around trying to find your water at 80 mph.
Some hydration systems come integrated into motorcycle jackets. This option is pretty slick, I’ll admit.
It’s simpler than dealing with an additional piece of gear, but there’s a catch: a lot of jackets with integrated hydration systems will pull down on the front of your neck due to the weight of the water in the back. That’s no fun; you’ve traded dehydration for a scratched-up neck.
In my opinion, there are only two jackets with integrated hydration systems worth considering:
I’ll explain why these two are perfect hydration bladder jackets in a moment. But first, I’ll give you my personal favorite hydration system. I think it’s suitable for 99% of riders, including you.
The Best Motorcycle Hydration System for 99% of Riders
The best motorcycle hydration system is the USWE Raw 8L Backpack with 3L Hydration Bladder. Why am I so confident?
Whether you’re tearing it up in a hard enduro race, embarking on an epic motorcycle camping adventure, or just commuting to work, the USWE Raw 8 will keep you hydrated without adding any bulk.
The USWE Raw Backpacks
- Like wearing nothing at all: This pack stays put even through the hardest rides thanks to the stretchy straps in its harness system. USWE even 100% guarantees the pack won’t bounce around, while still allowing you to move and breathe. Many riders comment that they forget it’s even there.
- Cool on the Hottest Days: No extra heat on your back, thanks to the ribbed, semi-rigid back pad design that holds the pack off your back and lets the wind flow right through. Goodbye, sweaty back!
- Water is Always Where You Expect: Your water will never abandon you, because the tube snaps down on either shoulder.
- Holds Enough Water for a Day: With 3 liters of water storage, you have the biggest pack money can buy. It’s always better to have more space than less in a hydration bladder.
- Space for Extras Too: You’ve got enough room for lunch, a backup battery, and a change of clothes in this 8 liter pack, all while keeping the weight around 500g. Want sometimes bigger or smaller? There are 3L, 4L, 8L and 12L options on Amazon at the link below.
All of the USWE Raw Backpacks are Staff Picks at Revzilla, and they know their stuff. Are you smarter than the Gear Geeks at Revzilla, or are you going to go with our recommendation?
Okay, you want to look around?
Three More Great Hydration Packs for Motorcycling
Alright, folks! I hear you. One size doesn’t always fit all. If the USWE isn’t your cup of tea (or bladder of water, as the case may be), then here are three more motorcycle hydration systems that each cater to a different need.
First is a hot weather choice that will keep your water cool and refreshing, then a commuting option that’ll keep your tech dry, and finally a pack that takes the weight off your shoulders.
For Hot Weather: CamelBak WaterMaster 85oz
For you Dakar rally riders carving triple digit sand under blazing sun, or just anyone in the Midwest in July, you know heat is a problem.
Nothing like a cold sip of water every 60 seconds to keep you cool. But most hydration packs warm up in under an hour even when filled with ice.
Not the CamelBak WaterMaster. This baby holds in the cold tighter than a MotoGP rider hugs their tank.
The insulated bag and tube in this hydration pack work together to keep every drop of water you drink cool and refreshing, even through soaring temperatures and baking sunlight.
You can dunk your shirt in ice water all day, but nothing is going to protect you from dehydration and heatstroke like a constant supply of cool water.
The CamelBak WaterMaster might be more important than a good summer motorcycle jacket when it comes to keeping you focused and cool in the heat.
For Commuters: CamelBak MULE Commute
I commute on a motorcycle now, so I know the struggle – weaving through rush hour traffic, baking in the sun at red lights, and contending with unpredictable weather.
If my commute was longer than fifteen minutes, I’d pick up a CamelBak MULE Commute.
Why is the CamelBak MULE Commute great for commuters? For one, this pack offers 22 liters of storage (like a normal backpack) and room for a 3L bladder (which is unfortunately sold separately). While the bag itself isn’t waterproof, it does come with a waterproof laptop sleeve to keep your computer dry in case of an unexpected downpour.
It’s also comfortable, with a waist and chest strap allowing the weight of the water and your computer to sit on your hips instead of your shoulders. Clip the chest strap as well and you’re locked in.
My other big concern with wearing a backpack on my commute is sweating up my back. I don’t want to take another shower once I get to the office, and neither do you. Problem solved with this pack thanks to three mesh blocks that hold the backpack away from your back, circulating plenty of air.
With quick-access pockets at the top and a tall sleeve for a water bottle, this pack is truly a commuter’s dream. Stay refreshed on your commute and rock up to work ready to grind with the CamelBak MULE Commute.
For Backpack-Haters: Fox Racing Utility 5L Lumbar Hydration Pack (Amazon)
If you’re one of those “I can’t stand backpacks” people, know that you have allies in motorcycle gear companies! The Fox Racing Utility 5L Lumbar Hydration Pack is your solution; since it’s not a backpack at all.
This pack holds 2 liters of water right around your waist, taking all that weight off your back. With every twist and turn of the road, you’re free to move without feeling weighed down by your hydration pack. Remember, 1 liter of water equals 1 kilogram of weight (2.2 lbs!), so that’s a lot of weight off your shoulders.
Plus, you have an extra 3 liters of space in this pack for snacks and tools.
And now we finish off with the only two motorcycle jackets with hydration packs worth buying.
Motorcycle Jackets with Hydration Systems
As I said earlier, most motorcycle jackets with integrated hydration systems suffer from one MAJOR problem.
All the weight of that water on your back tends to pull the jacket down your back, which ends up pulling the collar up your throat in the front. So you choose: get dehydrated or get choked?
Thankfully there are two options that buck this trend. Both of these rate well among my network and the internet as incredibly comfortable and functional jackets to boot.
Klim Badlands Jacket
This jacket is the creme-de-la-creme of adventure touring jackets, so it had to get the hydration pack right too.
Everyone I know (and their riding buddies) raves about how this is the only jacket they’ve ever worn that doesn’t pull on your neck when the hydration bladder is full. How? Magic?
Nah, it’s all thanks to the ingenious kidney belt system that takes the weight of the hydration bladder AND jacket off your shoulders.
That’s not even a snowflake on the tip of the iceberg that is this incredible jacket, however. You get a Gore-Tex outer shell that’s breathable yet waterproof, D3O CE Level 2 armor (the best money can buy) at elbows shoulders and back, SuperFabric and Cordura for unparalleled abrasion resistance, more vents than a next-gen BMW grill, and more pockets than you have things to tuck away.
Don’t trust me on how safe and well-built this jacket is? It’s CE AAA rated according to the latest EN 17092 standard. That’s the same safety rating given to the race suits worn by MotoGP riders.
One tiny catch, though: you have to buy a Hydrapack separately (buy one here) to slot into the compartment in the back. But trust me, it’s a small price to pay for the comfort, convenience, and hydration the Klim Badlands delivers.
If you already own a big adventure bike and like to get lost in the outback, you owe it to yourself to pick up a Klim Badlands.
Leatt Moto 5.5 Enduro Jacket
This jacket was made for the hardcore enduro rider who wants comfort and protection in a lightweight package.
Leatt didn’t just toss a hydration pack in a new jacket design to tick a box. They designed this garment around the hydration pack, ensuring the weight is kept off your shoulders and neck.
This jacket won’t just keep you sipping, though. It’s all-weather ready with a water-resistant shell, multiple zippered vents and removable arms. Plus, it has a whopping nine pockets for all your snacks and tools.
Ever dreamed of being Batman, taking a steel beam to the chest just to get right back up and get the job done? Well, integrate this jacket with an armor suit and neck brace, and you’ll be pretty darn close to the Caped Crusader.
That’s some off road kit I would take into battle.
What are motorcycle hydration tank bags?
Motorcycle hydration tank bags sit over your fuel tank, right in front of you as you ride. This transfers all the weight of the water in your hydration bladder from your back to your bike, but it also means your hydration tube is likely to flap around.
Thirsty Rock practically invented this, and their insulated bag with retractable drinking tube makes it super easy to use. Pick one up here.
How do you hydrate while riding a motorcycle?
Staying hydrated while riding a motorcycle requires sipping water constantly – chugging at infrequent stops doesn’t work, as your body cannot process and retain the water effectively. Dehydration occurs quickly, often without you even realizing it. A hydration pack allows you to sip constantly so you never go near dehydration. In extreme riding conditions like high heat or off road riding, electrolyte-rich drinks like Pedialyte are recommended. Pick up some powder packets and pop a few in your hydration bladder before you go out.
What is the best motorcycle hydration system?
The best motorcycle hydration systems are the USWE Raw Backpacks, which come in 3L, 8L, and 12L sizes. These hydration packs are the most comfortable, functional, and “invisible” options for all kinds of motorcyclists. Trust me, your back will thank you.
Is a bottle better than a hydration pack for motorcycling?
Hydration packs are generally better than bottles for motorcycling because they allow you to consistently sip water without waiting for breaks every hour or so. Stopping infrequently to down a whole bottle might not even prevent dehydration, since the body can’t process large amounts of water at once. The one challenge with a hydration pack is knowing how much water you have left: to be on the safe side, refill your pack whenever you have a chance.
How long can you keep water in a hydration pack?
Water can be stored in a hydration pack for 3-5 days. Want a pro tip? Freeze it to prolong that to basically forever! Or, if you’re done using it, rinse it out and let it dry. Use a curled-up wire hanger to hold it open and prevent mold growth.