Water on your back?

A search didn’t turn up what I was looking for, but I find it hard to believe this hasn’t been discussed in the recent past.

Anybody our there carry a Camelback-type hydration system on his/her back or attached to his/her PFD?

If you do, does this setup hinder your rolling ability or flotation?

Any experiences pro or con would be appreciated.


A couple of versions
I am wearing one again now, which works fine, after trying another which had issues once I was upside down.

The one that didn’t work for me was one that only had anchor points at the top, on each shoulder of the PFD. Fine until you are upside down with the thing fully loaded hanging upside down from behind your neck and weighing you down, at which point it really gets in the way of rolling or sculling. I might be able to get up with that kind of handicap now, but at the time there was no way.

The kind that I wear now, which I don’t even notice when rolling or sculling, is a smaller unit that has four anchor points to the back of the PFD - both shoulders and both sides at the bottom. I forget what brand it is, but it is made so that it is quite easy to leave the outer case on the PFD long term and just pull the plastic bladder in and out to refill and clean it.

I use a GAIA, www.gaia.com
and it’s not what messes up my roll. It has four straps that wrap around the PFD and I usually route two of them thru the PFDs strap keepers and I had my wife sew velcro at the top. It came with a Y-harness for hiking and can carry 2 - 40 oz bladders for water/sports drink, freeze one, or just carry one.



My two standard comments
1. Why carry something when you have a boat to carry it?

2. 1 liter PFD size is useless in S Florida.

These factors rule them out for me.

For some reason…
I’m with the Grey-ster. (Hopefully, he senses my kiddingness.) Something on my back in the form of a liter and a half compromises my buoyancy. Don’t want it. If you do, try it out-in all kinds of water, air temps and so forth. It’s not the Devil’s anchor for many, but for some, maybe. Experiment, try it out, if you don’t like it, turn it into an under deck hydration thing by glassing or gluing in loops under the front deck and running the tube under your skirt and cockpit rim. Otherwise, keep a pint and a half in the bladder and put a 20 ounce bottle of water behind your zipper of the PFD, in front of your chest, and drink from that while you can, the other, while you can’t.

Augustus Dogmaticus


I use one all of the time.
I carry a 50 oz Camelbaka that has shoulder straps. I used electrical tie wraps to aattach the straps to my PFD.

This way it doesn’t move when I’m upside down. No difference in buoyancy or rolling.

I drink a lot more by wearing this than I did when I carried water bottles.

I use a Lotus EFT pack
mounted on a Kokatat MsTour - 4 point mount system.

Ditched the supplied bag/tube and installed a 70oz Camelback bladder. Fits nicely when filled with 64 ounces. Still room in the pack for spare items and emergency gear.

No issues with rescue/rolling/balance.

Secondary water is from a 100oz bladder mounted on my rear bulkhead behind the seat. Open the skirt, cool off a bit, stretch a leg, and have a drink.

Also carry an MSR filter as many of my paddles are in remote areas where rescue is not easily available and radio contact is spotty.

Pleasant waters to ya.


I have a Lotus EFT
on one PFD and a Camelback on the other.The Camelback is less bulky and more streamlined but neither interfere with rolling or skulling.

It may even help lower the CG when doing laybacks.

Any engineers have thoughts on this?

To me that’s the only way to carry drinking water in rough seas,a bottle on the deck bungies won’t last long and sometimes you just can’t take your hands off the paddle long enough to drink from a bottle.


I use the Camelback Unbottle and stick it on the rear deck just behind me. The tube comes around the side of me and sits in my lap.

Before I used the rear deck, I had the thing stuffed behind my seat inside the cockpit and had the tube running up through the tunnel of my sprayskirt…which was fine until I tried to hop out of the boat quickly while landing in the surf. I forgot about getting the tube out of the tunnel and got caught. I got bashed by 3 or 4 good waves before I could get free. Note to Self:…In the future.

Water accessibility
Some water on my back works the same in a a kayak as does the Camelback for biking - I sip water more reliably when I don’t have to retrieve and open a bottle, and/or get into the day hatch to boot. I tend to run a smidge dry on the paddle anyway - will tend to load up like crazy on water up to an hour before and then again after a paddle (or bike ride) rather than rely on having to do a lot of intake during. (I have a practical reason for that.)

All these posts deal with hydration pack

– Last Updated: Jan-25-06 7:43 AM EST –

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You are welcome for doing your leg work. Go back to the search and type in camelbacks or hydrationpacks...

Paddle easy,


70 ounce Un-Bottle
i find 70 ounces ample for an average day trip. the un-bottle has four anchor points (two per side) and fastens securely to any PFD. i like having the hose easily accessible (i attach it to one of the pfd shoulder straps) and can be easily employed with one hand or even no hands if you set up the drinking end carefully.

this, mounted on my PFD, has absolutely no effect on rolling or any other maneuver in my kayak. i carry an extra litre bottle of fluid in a hatch for refilling the un-bottle should 70 ounces prove insufficient.

having the hose right near your mouth, and the ability to access it easily without having to reach for or find the hose or water kept in some other bottle, makes for more fluid intake.

Did a search for Camelback…
…for the last year in this forum and this is what resulted:

Message Board Search Results

Search results from: “Advice, Suggestions and General Help”

No matches found!

Try another search

If you would have read my post, you would have seen that I explained this. But maybe you have some power search ability that is unknown to me.

Thanks to everyone else who chose to respond with helpful information.


lotus eft pack
I also use the lotus eft when i’m doing longer distance paddles. However, it isn’t my preference because I don’t like the extra weight on my back and contrary to what other people have said, it does make rolling a bit more difficult. Granted for standard paddle rolls it makes no difference but if I’m practicing hand rolls, it gets in the way a little. I do admit that I do drink more water with the pack on but because I have a smaller bladder, I prefer just to be sufficiently hydrated before the paddle and then maybe sip on a small waterbottle during the paddle.

No worries…
he may be a bit more familiar with the search engine for this site. I also often get dismal results when looking for something that was discussed previously.

Besides, folks like us give the P.net police something to bitch about!


I know what you mean

– Last Updated: Jan-25-06 2:50 PM EST –

I do have a camelback system, but I don't wear it, I put it in my tank well on my SOT. If you get the hose meant for the fannypack ones, it is just long enough. I have the MULE with the 100 oz resevoir. 100 oz is just enough water for a day of paddling in Texas in August.

practical reasons …

– Last Updated: Jan-25-06 2:25 PM EST –

i'd think that would lead to the same "practical" reason as drinking during a paddle? ;-)

ever see that commercial .. "gotta go gotta go gotta go right now" ?

Try this…
Key word: Camelback

Board: Search all forums

When: All Messages

By: Message

That is how I got it… Did the same thing with “hydration pack”

Good luck!

Paddle easy,


I’ve been using one for years
I carry 48-64 ounces of fluid on my back when paddling. I don’t even notice that it’s there, except for the convenience it provides. It does not affect on my ability to roll the boat.

It does NOT compromise buoyancy
The fluid in a hydration pack is NEUTRALLY buoyant. It has no effect on your bouyancy when you’re in the water.

Underdeck hydration systems are more of a hassle to set up and use, and if run up the tube up through a spray skirt, they can impede the ability to wet exit your boat.