Backpack & hydration pack for sea kayaki

Hi all. Long time, no talk to.

I’ve read some back posts on hydration packs, most dating to 2006, but nothing on small backpacks for storing first aid kit, flares, etc.

Use is for day trips including rough water play and surf zone. Possible future occasional multi-day expeditions. I’m wearing a Stohlquist PFD and don’t want to change that right now, so integrated hydration pack or backpack is out for now.

Ideally I might like a combo backpack and hydration pack, where I could additionally store a small survival and first aid kit. Overkill maybe as I’m usually not too far from civilization, but for coastal I like the idea of having some water, food, first aid, and survival gear right on my person. Flares could go in the pack too.

Any recommended brands of sea kayaking backpacks that go over or on your PFD?

If just hydration pack, here’s my experience so far. Any recommendations in this regard appreciated, too.

I tried a friend’s Camelbak classic and it worked fine for rolling. I didn’t try it out while getting dragged upside down in the surf zone. I should have tried that :).

Only drawback I can think of with the Camelbak classic is it’s another layer to strap on after your pfd, rather than clipping to the pfd. It seemed pretty streamlined and I’m thinking it would hold up in tumbles in the surf. I’m usually in 4 ft or smaller variety.

From google “hydration pack pfd” the only model I found that is said to clip on to any PFD is the NRS hydration pack. It looks less streamlined than the Camelbak classic, but could stay on the PFD.

Thanks for any thoughts on both backpacks and hydration packs.

Northwater Guide Vest

This is a pretty good option, plus it is easy to take off when you don’t need it.

I made a modification by removing the tow belt. (It runs through the pockets which means the sides of the pockets aren’t sewn all the way shut.) And then sewing the pockets shut. If you don’t want to make that modification you can send it to NorthWater and they will make it for you.

Attach a regular Camelback
to your PFD’s shoulder straps with electrical tie wraps on both the bottom and top. Easy to remove with a knife, nail clipper, etc. Works fine for me in all conditions.

I ended up not using on my PFD
I tried a PFD mounted hydration pack (Extrasport brand one), and didn’t like the weight and bulk. Affected my rolls. Not sure if it was the weight, or the extra bulk sticking back and catching when I lid back.

I now use an old CamelBack competitor product which lives under the bungees on my front deck.

Oh, I think the PFD mount ones are also lower volume (like 1 liter). I guess I am self basting, so need more fluids than that.

Do you still fasten the chest strap
on the Camelpak when it is tie wrapped to your PFD shoulderstraps? I’m guessing so. If not, do you remove the chest strap, or?


– Last Updated: Aug-13-08 2:46 PM EST –

of the Camelpak Classic is 2 liters = 70 fluid ounces. I would fill it half full and refill during lunch if necessary from water bottles in the hatch.

not really a hydration pack but
this is a good way to carry water with you…

I have the NRS hydration pack
It works fine and has room for some extra stuff - but not TOO much room. I think I have some flares and a couple of Cliff bars in there. With the water, that’s about max capacity. As another poster suggested, it DOES have less capacity that many hydration packs, though not much. While I don’t recall the exact number, it’s at least 32 ounces. Attaches pretty easily and works well enough for me.

A little closer look at Camelbak models
I just happened to see a coworker in the break room with a Camelbak Mule. Looks like a short classic with a zip up storage compartment on the lower third.

So I took a closer look on the web site.

I see three possiblilities.

Rogue. 2 L water, 2L cargo. Looks like it has two compartments, one high, one low, both zipped I think. Still looks pretty streamlined. Ideally I’d take the pockets to the sides so it wouldn’t add thickness. Cargo pockets probably not water tight. I could vacuum pac or dry bag emergency supplies though.

Classic. Good possibility.

Hydrobak. looks like a short classic. 1.5 L vs 2 L. No cargo pockets. I think the weight would ride a little higher so probably not.

I have to decide how badly I want the cargo pockets.

The guide jacket mentioned above looks interesting too. I also caught the note about the NRS hydration pack having a small pocket. Thanks so far, everyone.

Camelback Un bottle
When I bought my first Kayak I also bought the ‘unbottle’ which is a 3 liter bladder with an insulated pouch to hold it. It has flat loops on it to use straps to attach it to whatever you want. I bought it at closeout, for less than the bladder alone costs.

I added short flat straps and length adjusters and plastic clips (all cheaply bought from Campmor) and use it on the front deck. It clips to the external lines and leave the bungies free (underneath) for other stuff. It’s easy to adjust it to the rigging on various boats.

I think the three liter bag is too long for PFD use, unless one wished to mount it sideways, which would negatively affect flow. However, it does fit into my Camelback Hawg pack when I need to carry 6 liters of water for a long mountain bike ride or hike, when there’s no water available for filtering. So it gets used in other ways beyond kayaking. They are available at places that stock a lot of Camelback stuff, or from your favorite on-line retailer.

I put my Un Bottle behind the seat
I put my Un Bottle behind the seat and route the tube along the right side of the cockpit with the tip held by my spray skirt.


Mt. Pleasant, SC

survival and first aid kit
Hey Aquaman! Long time no see. I was in your area last week, but just passing through. Everyone else has addressed the camel back bladder. Let’s look at the survival kit instead. You’ve got a drysuit. For a few extra bucks Kokatat will sew on pockets–a front pocket, one on either sleeve–you could use that for a mini first aid kit and flares. You say overkill. Maybe. My thought is just the opposite though: For the open coast, what kind of injuries are you or someone else going to sustain? I’m thinking probably the kinds that cannot be patched up by a simple band aid or mole skin. In other words, you’re going to need a full-on first aid kit, and that is not going to fit on your person. Plan B: Access all that unused space around your ankles through the pee zip! :wink: Qc7.

Bohemia, point well taken

– Last Updated: Aug-15-08 7:45 AM EST –

Maybe this weekend I'll start a topic, "wearing your ditch bag." That was my intent after all with the backpack idea, but I was jumping to solution.

I do have pockets on my dry suit sleeves, somewhat underutilized. Energy bar in one, ear plugs in the other. Forgot all about the big chest pocket! I had frowned on using it early on because it just pushes out my PFD. Maybe a good place to store a storm kag though (thin nylon, hooded raincoat that fits over spray skirt. Is that a kag? Which model do you have? I liked it. I remember it didn't cost to much, either.) Or a Thermo-Lite blanket or bivvy Sack, except the metallic coating would probably corrode right off if not dry bagged.

Hmm, store stuff inside my dry suit. Not so sure about that.

Anyway, I'll probably go with the Camelbak Classic as it's streamlined and I know it works. Possibly the Hydrobak though because I like the hi-vis lime green safety color, and it looks like a small Classic. Not sure if it has a chest strap though. I'm gonna probably pass on the one's with more pockets in favor of streamlining.


Ortlied Hip Pack

– Last Updated: Aug-15-08 8:42 AM EST –

Fanny pack - waterproof (Yeah, SURE)....

Then theres the SMALL flight pack:

Kokatat and Lotus
I’m surprised no one’s mentioned these yet. I use a Lotus Designs EFT pack. Good luck finding one as it was discontinued three years ago, but if you do, buy it.

It has a total of three compartments with one being reserved for a bladder. I don’t use mine for water, but do keep my flairs (aerial and hand-held), smoke, ink, glow sticks, signal mirror, large yellow trash bag, lighter and small knife in it.

Other packs on the market that also work with many lifejackets are made by Kokatat. They have one that is just a backpack and another larger one that includes hydration, although both of them are a large single pocket.

I just shorten all of the straps on the Camelback to be as short as possible and fold them between the pfd and the Camelbak.

Then I just put on the pfd.

I have a Kokatat
hydration pack on my PFD I use for touring kayak. Works quite well.

But for summertime paddling (canoe) I have beeen using my Stohlquist something-or-other PFD (the one with a mesh back and 4 front buckles) and to keep cool I have been using Nalgene Death Bottles snuggled into foam carriers clipped to my thwart. One for water has a drinking tube.

In many ways the Camelbak Uncanteen looks like a great solution for kayaking though.


how bout a small loose cheap simple
fanny pack under your spray skirt (assuming you have a tow line on the outside)? May interfere with your front deck rolls, but you’re resourceful. The storm cag packs rather large. I keep it in my day hatch.


hey Paul-what did you get?
I had a Lotus EFT pack on the back of my Stohlquist pfd for a long time…loved it…good space to carry and water…nice…

then i got a new kokatat pfd and the tributary system with it…pack is smaller but nice…

Need a Lotus EFT pack? in great shape…the orangey/salsa color…not used in over a year now…


is that paul’s
day-glow lime green Tempest in the background?