Camelbaks and other hydration packs have long been a great upgrade for outdoor athletes, allowing them to drop the bottle and carry water in a multi-functional backpack. They also carry more water than most water bottles, providing a portable hydration solution for lengthier treks. Besides being a little more streamlined and convenient, hydration packs also keep the drinking tube right where you need it so you have access to water without stopping to rummage through your bag.
If there’s one complaint about hydration packs it’s that they can be a bit clunky and uncomfortable, particularly if you’re sitting down with your back against a chair or bench. This is why Camelbak has introduced the next level of hydration convenience-- garments that have integrated hydration bladder sleeves. Rather than a separate pack, you simply put on the garment and your bladder is stored on your back. This drops unnecessary bulk and keeps the water a little more secure against your body to prevent bouncing and shifting. The fact that the hydration bladder is essentially in your shirt also makes it more aerodynamic, in case your looking to shave the milliseconds off your finish time.
The Racebak was introduced last fall and is aimed primarily at runners and cyclists. It’s a thin, tight undergarment with integrated 72 oz. water bladder. The Racebak retails around $100 and is widely available at outdoor retail shops and at Amazon.
Next up is the Shredbak, a vest designed as a functional mid-layer for skiers and snowboarders. Like the Racebak, the Shredbak holds a 72-oz. integrated bladder. The bladder is in a zippable insert that can be zipped up for a tighter, more secure fit. The vest keeps the bladder high on your back so that it’s more comfortable when sitting on the ski lift and the securable liner reduces movement. The Shredbak will be available in fall 2009 and is expected to retail at $250. (Update: now available here.)
While the prices might be a bit steep for some, the wearable hydration garments are a pretty useful development for athletes.