Scott gives several excellent reasons to consider a hydration pack:
Kids are *always* thirsty. While spill-proof sippy cups are great, ours frequently disappear whenever they venture out of the house. To quench their (and my) thirst, I carry a hydration pack. Long favored by hikers, cyclists, and climbers, hydration packs consist of a water bladder and a flexible, valved tube, integrated into a backpack.
- Self service: Most packs have long enough tubes for 2+ year olds to reach on their own. Skip rummaging though your diaper bag.
- Anti-backwash: The bite valve prevents most backflow, and the siphon effect kicks in for the short ones, helping out with positive pressure.
- Multipurpose: Many hydration day-packs are roomy enough to be used as a full-fledged diaper bag; smaller ones can function for errands.
- Comfort: Hiking packs are designed for extended wear. Many special-purpose diaper backpacks are quite uncomfortable in comparison.
If you already have a comfortable pack, you can modify it to support a hydration system. Platypus makes complete systems suitable for integration. You may need to create a small opening in the top of the pack for the tube to emerge; a large grommet or the button-hole setting on your sewing machine are recommended.
Personally, I carry a CamelBak MotherLoad (*not* in camouflage, thank you). It’s large enough to double as a laptop bag, or to carry a full day’s supplies for a large family. It’s well padded, and the waist belt is removable for lighter loads.
One feature to look for: a manual shutoff valve in addition to the bite valve, which can easily be squeezed without noticing while looking for something in the pack.
Once my kids are a little older, I might get each of them their own CamelBak Scout.