Hydration in kayaks

What are most of you folks doing for hydration in your kayaks? I’d like to be able to drink while paddling, without having to pop the skirt. Ideally I’d like to keep my hands on my paddle as well.

Took my camel pack out this morning for the first time in the kayak (doing more distance today, it’s getting hot, etc.). Anyway, tried it on my back - no way, too uncomfortable on my shoulders, the straps dug in. So, I stuck in on the back deck. That worked okay, but I could just barely get the hose in my mouth. I ran it under my arm, and left it tucked into the side of my PFD. Can I get a longer hose? Anybody else got a good solution? What about mounting the pack to the back of my PFD somehow (not strapped to me, just somehow strapped to the PFD itself)? What’s the preferred solution these days?


Behind the seat
Did you try keeping the pack behind the seat and running the hose inside the skirt?

Bladder tubes…
Not sure when you say camelback, but you mean just the bladder or the whole camelback?

I’ve seen folks put bladders in the deck rigging and then run the lines, you can get any bladder, blackburn, camelback, platypus, etc. etc. so you should be able to find one with a long enough tube.

I’ve also seen some modified platypus bladders that will attach to one’s PFD through the shoulder straps… I think they’re faily small too.

You should be able to buy clear food-grade PVC piping and make your own cut to length tube too if you can’t find one premade or don’t want to buy another bladder…

I have a Kokatat PFD with the Kokatat Tributary hydration pack on the back of the PFD. I replaced the bladder with a much better Camelback bladder.

I like this alot. No water bottle to deal with and I think I drink way more water than if I had a water bottle. I can also easily keep paddling along while drinking. And I don’t notice the weight of 50 oz. of water on my back either…

longer tube
Cammelback used to sell a tube extension.

As pointed out, you can do the same thing with tygon or other potable-water rated tube and fittings from the hardware store.

between your legs
i find that works best. also keeps the weight on the floor, which in theory improves stability (i know this is silly). if you run it out between your skirt and your body, there is a theoretical risk of getting tangled in a wet exit, but that shouldn’t be a very big deal unless you have it tied down. behind the seat can get caught.

heading to atlanta any time soon?


Through the sprayskirt
That’s what I ended up doing when I got a hydration pack. Worked OK till the end, when I forgot I had an umbilical cord to a heavy object inside the cockpit. I popped the sprayskirt, got up, and felt something pulling unpleasantly. If you go this route, do it ALL the time so that you learn to push the tube back down before getting out.

I went back to drinking from bottles and keep the hydration pack for hiking with dogs…hands free to hold their leashes.

just hang a tube over the side…
I just drink what I’m paddling in. I have a 3’ tube w/ a bit valve that I clip to the front of my pfd. I hang the other end over the side w/ a fishing weight tied to the end to keep it immersed. If I’m paddling in salt water I keep a bottle of fresh on deck and alternate the two. That way I don’t need to worry about electrolyte loss! Yea, you get sick alot for the first few months, but after that you build up a resistance and you’re bullet-proof.

Drinking Systems
I’ve been using a Camelbak (Rogue?) that seems to fit perfectly on the back of my Lotus pfd. I doubled the Camelbak straps under and affixed them with velcro/zip ties to the straps on the pfd. I run the drinking hose under one shoulder strap. I also use a hose that has the bendable sheath to position it, along with a 90 degree bite valve. It works perfectly; I don’t really feel the extra weight in terms of tippiness or affecting torso rotation. As a mountain biker, I’m so used to the feel of a ‘monkey on my back’ I pay it no mind. There are drinking systems that come with extra length hoses and affix to rear decks, though, used for surf skis and the like. I believe some companies like Fastkayak.com, etc. may have systems marketed just for these purposes.

I use a Rogue as well
but with my boat I can strap it under the rear deck bungees and still reach it. Any kind of hydration pack seems so much better than a water bottle. You should be able to buy extra tube and unions for em .

Oceanpaddlesports.com has ‘the Tripper’ hydration system-looks like it holds quite a bit.

Thanks folks
Appreciate the input - you all have given me some good ideas. I’ll experiment a bit over the coming days. To answer a couple of questions above - I took the entire pack out today, not just the bladder. And, for Andrew, I might be able to get down that way sometime during the summer. I’d love to hook up for a paddle (still want to give that outrigger a shot if you still have it). Let me know if you’re headed this way as well - we can get together with Wayne & head out on the TN for a while.

What works for me - and more tube
Camelbak 100oz “Unbottle”. Behind seat on floor. Tube along hip and up to mouth (shortest distance). Tube lays around outside coaming recess or in lap (or on skirt deck) or in a clip (taken from shoulder strap on my other pack) wedged into the central lash tab on my PFD. That keeps the bit valve just a small head tilt from my mouth when using “hands free”.


100oz Unbottle: Simple and easier to slip in and out without all the straps (used to use a Camelbak Standard 70oz same location - and on read deck with SOT). I don’t wear it and don’t need them. Why carry gear when I have a boat for that? It also had D-rings along the sides if you wanted to strap it down somewhere or to another pack (maybe even PFD). Also I find it’s much better to have the insulation and abrasion protection of the Unbottle’s (or any pack’s) cover than just using a bladder. 100 oz vs 70oz because even that’s not enough in summer! Those tiny PFD packs would be useless down here.

I keep it on floor behind seat because I have ample room there - and it can’t get loose. Might flop around if I flip, but won’t come out unless I pull it out (have to pull backband forward/stretch bungees to get it in). Keeps it’s weight low too. Between legs it’s loose gear in the cockpit. No big deal maybe, but I prefer everything stowed even in calm waters.

It’s generally warm/hot here so my skirt is often open. When closed, I run the tube out over the coaming and under the skirt on the right side. Neoprene deck so it still seals pretty well - any leak in the skirt’s seal where the tube is minor - and worth it to be able to drink AND not get hung up getting in and out. It does take a little more tube length when skirt’s closed (has to go over to side, over and back under lip of coaming, and back to me) so length is more of an issue.

REALLY don’t like the idea of running it up through the skirt tunnel that I hear so many do. That tubing is pretty strong.

For more tube length - you can buy vinyl tubing that diameter at most home centers (clear - food grade PVC - but it’s not as flexible/supple as the Camelbak tubing so less comfortable to use and harder to get apart to clean. Camelbak also makes an extension kit:


Their packs are not cheap - but easy to care for and hold up very well if you do. Get the cleaning brush kit for the times you forget to rinse and dry!

I use one of those hats that hold two beers, you can get them at various sporting events!

Good idea!
Darn - I should have though of that. Have you found a model that holds the 24 oz cans though? I’m not sure a pair of 12s is enough for most days.

I have the same hat,
you just have to switch to “tallboys” though I hear Tilley"s is working a sixer pith helmet.

I second the "Unbottle"
I spend months looking for the best hydration system, and I broke two of the first three I bought.

At first, I did not want to buy the “unbottle” 100oz from CamelBack because it looks too long, so it was going to affect the trim of my boat.

Although CamelBack does not make any hydration system for kayak, their quality compare with other brands is outstanding.

Using a neoprene tube keeps the water/getorade cold for the 3/4 hours workout on the Florida sun.

It is easy to clean after using sticky products like accelerade, plus it is strong enough not to break.



Grayak, I sent you an e-mail, but I ask you again. Don’t you know any place around Ft. Lauderdale where to buy some CamelBack parts??? Thanks

I use a Platypus bladder…
…in a home made neoprene pouch that attaches to the back of my PFD. I don’t even feel it, but it makes a huge difference in being able to stay hydrated.

I have a friend who uses an
unbottle attached the the back of a pfd. My wife and I use a platypus pfd hudration bag and shoehorn a 2 liter bladder into it filling it to 1.75. the tall hoser two works for that. I just chuck a 2 liter platypus bladder into the water envelope of my lotus eft pack. I fill it to at least on liter and rarely more than 1,75. I run the tube throught the keeper strap that runs perpendicular to my pfd shoulder strap. Never had a problem.

This set up does not interfere with rolls, and means if I wash up on an island somewhere I have at least a pint of water with me as long as my pfd is with me.

iceman, where can I
find the neoprene tube you mentioned? I had a tube that held a six pack that was great and kept everything cold . but it became misplaced with whomever drank the last can on the trip.