touring hydration options

Hey fellow paddlers,

Novice rec kayaker here (some lake, slow river and ocean experience)seeking some advice.

What’s the best way to keep drinking water at hand while paddling? The easiest thing, it seems, is to just slip a Nalgene under bow bungie cords. But Nalgenes are heavy, slippery, round, and therefore likely to dislodge. Plus they get in the way of my map case.

My PFD isn’t fitted for a hydration pack (my prefered method when cycling or skiing).

Some rec/sit-on-tops sport a between-the-legs floor mounted console that holds a water bottle, and I’m tempted to retro-fit one but can’t find an after-market source. Which perhaps suggests that most people don’t find such an obvious idea to be useful. And of course, a spray skirt makes this option more diffcult to get to.

In the meantime, my Nalgene just rolls around annoyingly in the bottom of my cockpit. Any suggestions? Where do you keep your water?


– Last Updated: Jun-04-07 1:50 PM EST –

Unless racing I shy away from the bags. Usually carry bike bottles, the kind with the grove that will stay put under bungees. When no skirt I usually keep it in my under deck bag. With a skirt either under the bungees or under the safety off strap of my skirt.

These are one hand open and close..

Man I can’t believe you just posted …

Just returned from Wally World where we picked up two 2 liter Hydration Packs.

They are the back pack type with a drinking tube and bite valve and have plenty of strap length to go over your PFD.

They are made by “Outdoor Products” and we have had good luck with their back packs for many years.

Up until now we just layed a bladder on the floor, but we have some races coming up, requiring portaging, and thes look just like the ticket.

Will be trying them out Saturday in a ten mile race, so they better work good.

They were in the camping section, and we got a great deal on them which I don’t think you will.

We paid 9.68 for each, but they were in the wrong place and are supposed to be 19.84.

They gave them to us for the lower price, although we still would have paid the higher since they are what we wanted.



I like the hydration systems
better than the bottles. I drink a lot of water and I can keep paddling while drinking from them. I use the MSR Dromedary bags with the cord around them.

Then I put mini-carabiners through the cord and attach it to bungies and/or eye straps on the deck behind the cockpit.

So what will be your "secret elixir"
Saturday in that bladder?

We don’t want to see you zigging and zagging down the river.



hydration pack-some might work
the Lotus designs EFT pack (sometimes findable-but out of production right now-heard that Body boat blade might have some) has two straps that double as shoulder straps for land use that hang the bag ont he back of ANY pfd…yes it is supposed to work on Lotus but i kow that it walso works on Kokatats too…

NRS makes one that has long straps too…

i have the Lotus EFT and also the Kokatat Tributary (only works on SOME of Kokatat’s pfds) and will always carry water on me…but the bladders are smaller than hiking ones…so i might have to refill from a nalgene more often but that takes a bit of weight off of me…

msr has the dromedary bag which are great…Sealine (same company as msr-Cascade Designs) had the kayak hydrator as well…

really thou any hydration bladder works well sitting there under some bungees…some people go so far as to drill a hole in their boat to reroute the drinking tube so the bladder is not on the deck…have to search for more info…


Hard To Find
I have 3 Nalgene bottles which have large tops that stay attached once unscrewed and have hand grips on each side to make gripping them easier. I prefer cold and freeze water the night before. I keep two behind the seat and one under the front bungies.

Racing is another story. I loose half a minute each time I take a sip of water. Backpacks are the way to go when you are in a hurry.


usually use a bladder layed flat on the bottom for that little extra ballast. On a couple of my boats I have a small hole in the front of the seat to run a bungie cord thru attached to the packs top, this in case I go for the unplanned swim or a portage.


Red Bull
and No Doz!!! I’ll be so wound up, you won’t even see those kayak blades flippin’! Um, do they do blood tests at these races??? 8>)

Better Way to Attach Nalgene
I like the Nalgene bottles. I take short lenghts of bungee cord and make loops attached to the deck bungees. If you can do it, 2 loops spaced to fit on one bottle works very well. Your maps can then go under the same bungee your bottle rides on top of in its loops. Using 2 barrel knots to make the loop allows you to adjust the size of the loop. Nice, but making a loop with just a square knot works ok. Wrap the “loop” bungee around the deck bungee a couple of times before tieing the loop so it will not slide easily.

NRS (Northwest River supplies) makes a hydration pack designed to be clipped to different PFD’s. It also has removable shoulder straps so you can use it as a regular hydration system when hiking or biking. Never used one, but saw it in catalog.

Best luck.


drill a hole
I’ve drilled a hole just behind the cockpit.

A 3 liter Hydration Pack (Camelbak) is strapped on the floor behind the seat and the hose is going tru the hole.

So my gravety point is lowered and my water is staying cool and my shoulders don’t have to carry the weight.

makes a 70oz or 100oz water bladder with four attachement points that can easily be rigged in a variety of ways to a PFD. It’s called the “Unbottle”. This might work well for you…especially if you put water in it! :wink:

On second thought…
after just trying one on my back I’ll stay with my tried and true method in the race Saturday of just laying a camelback bladder on the floor.

I’ll wait until my next training paddle to try the back pack one.



I’ve been using a hydration pack for a few years and noticed that I felt better after a long paddle. With a bottle, I’d stop a couple of times and drink a lot each time. With the pack, I drink more often and stay hydrated better. Since it’s easier, you’ll use it more often.

I have the old Lotus pack (not sure if they still make it) and it holds (I think) 1L. It’s not much so I refill it if we stop for a break.

New Camelback Bottles
Just got one of these in the 3/4 liter size at Paddlefest. It’s still pretty round, but has a nice valve and a good strong loop on the top for a secure attachment to backup the bungies.


camelbak under bungues
I just stick my camelback under the bungees on my front deck.

For what it is worth:
What I normally do weather in the kayak or canoe, (when racing)

The bladder lies on the floor.

Take a small piece of styrefoam, (about 1-1/2" x 1-1/2") drill a hole just slightly narrower than the drinking tube and slide it on the tube, about four or five inches blow the mouthpiece. Glue a piece of velcro to the styrefoam. After some experimentation where you want the styrefom, put a wrap of duct tape under it around the tube so that it won’t slide down.

Get a stiff neck piece from J & J canoes up in NY that has the matching velcro.( you can also get the styrefoam with velcro from them)

The neck piece is a fabric that is also closed by velcro, and has a stiffiner inside it so you can bend it as requied to keep the tube right in front of your mouth. The velcro is so that in a capsize, everything will come apart.

With this set-up, you never have to miss a stroke.



Anchoring points
I keep spare water in in the day hatch in case I kill my supply in the one on my PFD while still out, but on the water I prefer to drink from a PFD-mounted bladder with tube and a bite valve. I loop the tube under/thru the top of a front pocket on my PFD to keep it contained.

One big note about the camel-back ones that are often used, originally for biking - they are often not rigged to be able to anchor at four points, bottom corners as well as top two corners. That is a problem if/when you end up upside down with a full load of water. You’ll find that they can hang down droppinbg weight into the water which does not exactly reduce the anxiety of dealing with a wet exit. I found this out early in my rolling when I found myself trying to bring up this weight around my neck - didn’t help my calmness or success. Went and got a proper unit designed to work on a PFD after that.