How do you hydrate while paddling?

I’m tired of the nalgene under the bungies. It’s always slipping and I don’t like having to stop and put my paddle down just to take a swig. I end up not drinking enough. I’ve read of people using hydration bladders and snaking them through the spray skirt. I’m wondering how this works and how you deal with the potential of getting tangled in the hose. Do you clip the nozzle to the PFD? I guess placing it on the rear deck is a solution, but putting a bag of sloshing water on the deck isn’t the best thing stability wise. I’m curious what you all do and how it works for you.

lotus PFD hydration pack
While I typically do not drink much water during paddles, when I go on longer trips, I wear the Lotus EFT pack which clips to my PFD. The mouthpiece clips to the PFD so that the bite valve is right by my face. I can drink without having to stop paddling.

I use a bladder inside the boat
I use a bladder, with the hose going inside of my skirt and up through my vest. I have a right angle bite valve which allows easy access to a drink w/o stopping paddling.

This sytem works well for me. I haven’t flipped with this sytem so I cannot comment on whether the bladder would be in the way.

H2O bladder PFDs
I haven’t yet personally tried this, but one of the PFDs that I was quoted this weekend features a bladder pocket in the back for 1/2 or whole bladders. It’s made by Astral, and I think the model is Tempo or Tempest. It might’ve been a Tempo 200. It was in the $140 range. I can check on specific model and capacity if you like. For my humble needs, I’m still in the mode of open topped canoes and such where simply reaching down into a cavernous cooler to extract another beverage is no problem.

attached to the back of my pfd with plastic electrical tie wraps.

johnhens, not to be a wise guy but
shoudn’t you try tipping and seeing if it is in your way before you really have to do it and find out that it is in your way and causes you a problem?

drink up
I strap a big gulp to the deck with a long straw

Camelbak in Front Deck Rigging
Requires that I grab the hose and lean forward to drink from it but it is quick and easy. Much better than my other alternative of drinking out of the nalgene strapped to the front deck.

You might want to look into …

– Last Updated: May-16-06 6:33 AM EST –

what many of the canoe and kayak racers do:
A camel back or equal (just the bladder) between your legs. The tube comes up under your skirt and through the pfd.
There is a small strap with a stiffiner that goes around your neck. It is held together with velcro, so if you dump it will come unfastend. You can get them at J & J up in NY. This in turn has a small velcro that holds the drinking tube mouthpiece to it by a piece of velcro attached to it.
There is no need of a bite valve since the tube and mouth piece are above the bladder.
The mouth piece tube can be formed in a curve, so you can have the set up positioned so that it is hands free and you just put your mouth on it.
You also have a small valve clip that is some place farther down the tube so you can shut it off when you are carrying it to and from the boat if the tube is hanging down.
I just used mine the other day in a six mile race, and never missed a paddle stroke.
I don't know how it would work out if you are a roller, since I am not, but the set up is made to come apart just for a dump or emergency
With all that said, when I am out for a nature paddle or training, I just use a water bottle under one of the front bungees and keep a spare behind the seat back, but for racing I don't leave home without it.


A six pac of Bud in a collapsible

Not using a skirt right now…it’s hot here and I’ve mostly been doing the St Johns lately. But you can use it in a number of different configurations, all allowing you to drink while still paddling. Camelbak now sells an insulating sleeve for the bladders that you can clip on to things (rigging, pfds, etc) if you don’t want the weight of a whole pak. However, I have both the Lobo and the RimRunner (more for hiking) and the Lobo is light and great for snacks for day paddles or cycles. Good luck! Stay hydrated!

QUOTE “…but putting a bag of sloshing water on the deck isn’t the best thing stability wise.”

How would stability be any different from your current configuration of the Naglene bottle on deck?

J and J in NY?
Jack, do you have a website address or a phone number for them?



Extrasport Retropack

– Last Updated: May-16-06 11:27 AM EST –

Holds one litre. Less bulky and less weight on your back than the Kokatat.

I've tried on front deck, behind seat with tube running under spray skirt, and find attached to the back of my pfd is the most convenient with least chance of snag, entanglement, etc...

Test this.

Camelbak “Unbottle” 100
My favored carry position in just behind me in the cockpit. Keeps the weight low and centered. In my QCC the pack can’t really go anywhere from there (same in my SOF when I have the float bags in). Tube is just long enough (and if not, they make tube extenders).

Between the legs on the hull can be OK too in my QCC (same tube distance), but in my SOF there is no “between” space. In the QCC I can also fit a bladder in my under deck bag. In the SOF - there is also no “under deck” space.

On the REAR deck is another good option on most kayaks. That’s where I kept it on my SOT (and my white balded spare paddle helped keep it cool). A lot of surf ski paddlers duct tape theirs there if they have no hatch setup for this.

I don’t like anything up on the front deck except Greenland spare, and maybe compass/GPS/chart on some paddles. Putting a big hydrations pack there sort of defeats the purpose - making it nearly as bad as bottles.

When using a skirt I don’t run the tube up the tunnel. Instead I run it out the side over the coaming/under the skirt. It compromises seal slightly, but not enough to be of concern so far. It stays with the boat when I get in and out (on or off water).

The tube is strong enough to be a serious entanglement hazard, so run it up inside with caution.

I’m not hardcore enough to bother clipping the end near my mouth. Still WAY better than bottles.

Tube is usually laying across my lap/spray deck, or around coaming, or tucked under a deck line/bungee. All in easy reach without really missing a stroke.

I don’t like the idea of attaching these packs to the PFD. My standard question: Why carry water on you back when you have a boat to carry it for you? I should add that it’s typically hot and humid here and we need a decent volume of liquid - so boat carry makes more sense. In Summer I’ll often take a 3 liter pack, and a couple extra bottles or another pack for just few hours. I tend to take the 3 liter pack all year. Only exception being purely practice sessions where the drinks are nearby on shore, or short paddles after work where I don’t take anything.

Whatever you do - test with wet exits and your preferred recovery methods as with any gear, even if it’s just clipped on deck. It should be able to stay put through waves/capsizes - and should not hinder your self or assisted rescues.

thru-deck port
Search “thru-hull port”

Dec 6, 2005

Good discussion re running tube thru the deck to a hydration pack under deck.

I use this system and it’s great!

Thanks for reminding me
I still want to do that on at least one kayak.

I always thought
I was supposed to use one of those baseball hats with the two cans of Budweiser with straws to my mouth while paddling? Helps assure your head stays in the water longer during a roll too. (heavy weight assistance)


Really though, I always have a problem with carrying water, especially with a SOF. I have seen guys who did the rear/day hatch storage of the camelbak with the tube coming through a hole in the deck, but never could find the right spot to make that hole so it didn’t interfere with laybacks or rescues.

In the meantime, I just carry a small camelbak strapped to the front deck. I hate front deck finishing rolls anyway and as long as I keep it on the right side, it doesn’t interfere with T rescues either.


Jim and June Genkos

(315) 253-3880

Good people.

They have come to the rescue of many paddlers with their traveling paddling goodie trailer at the big races up in that neck of the woods.