Skiing is like any other sport.
Once you get your heart pumping and muscles working, you’ll start to sweat and lose the precious water that keeps your muscles, organs, skin and bones in prime working condition.
The fact that it’s cold and you don’t notice the loss as much (or feel as much desire to drink) doesn’t mean you don’t need to hydrate.
It’s just as vital to stay hydrated in ass-deep snow as it is on a sunny beach.
But when it comes to hydration, skiing is also a special case.
Whether you’re on or off-piste, making downhill runs or gliding over wide open landscapes, you need use of your hands the vast majority of the time.
This makes a hydration pack an ideal solution for staying hydrated.
Top Reasons to Have a Hydration Pack for Skiing
Before we get to the best hydration packs for skiing, let’s talk about the main reasons staying hydrated while you ski is so essential.
1 – To prevent dehydration.
I know it’s pretty “duh,” but the most obvious reason you need to keep hydrating while you ski is also the most important.
You need water to live. It’s as simple as that.
When we get dehydrated, our body suffers.
On a hot day, this is something you feel pretty quickly, but in colder weather it’s easy to miss.
Just because you don’t feel dehydrated, though, doesn’t mean you are not dehydrated.
In fact, it can be easier to dehydrate in cold weather because you don’t always notice how much you’re sweating or feel as much urge to drink.
This can create a dangerous situation that leaves you fatigued, confused, and prone to cramping, three things you definitely do not want to be on a slope or in the backcountry. (For even more ways dehydration can affect you in cold weather, see Does Eating Snow Dehydrate You?)
The best way to avoid dehydration when you’re out skiing?
Simple: keep hydrating.
2 – Because you may be dehydrating faster.
High altitude increases your rate of respiration, which increases the amount of water your body loses through respiration.
Because of this, doctors recommend drinking twice as much water at high altitudes as you do at sea level.
If you’re skiing at elevation, you’ll dehydrate more quickly and should actually be hydrating more, not less.
3 – So you don’t have to keep stopping by the lodge.
If you prefer resort skiing, you might think you don’t need to carry water on the mountain or trails.
And if you don’t mind scooting back to the lodge every 10 minutes, you don’t.
Every 10 minutes? That can’t be right, can it?
According to the University of Michigan, you should drink 7-10 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes while exercising.
So, if you don’t want to head back to the lodge between each run, you should keep water with you.
4 – Because conditions can change.
When backcountry skiing or skiing cross-country on longer trails, you should always keep in mind the potential for weather and trail conditions to change.
Check the weather forecast, absolutely, but don’t expect it to be completely accurate. (I mean, how often are they?)
If conditions change while you’re out skiing, you may have to hunker down for a while, and, if that happens, you don’t want to be without water.
In fact, you should never travel far from amenities without sufficient water, regardless of the activity or season.
5 – To keep skiing at your best.
When you get dehydrated, your performance will suffer.
This is true across all sports, no matter what time of year they are done.
If you want to stay sharp on your skis for several hours, you’ll stay hydrated.
Simple as that.
Why a Hydration Pack?
Okay. So, now you might be thinking, “Great. You’ve just listed a bunch of reasons to stay hydrated, but not a single reason why I should choose a hydration pack for skiing.”
So, here’s one last reason for you:
6 – Because your water is always at the ready.
While it doesn’t really matter what you use to carry water while you ski (as long as its well-insulated to keep your water from freezing), a hydration pack is wonderfully convenient.
There is no fumbling with a bag or sling to get a drink.
Simply sip from the easily accessible attached straw.
It’s this convenience that makes a hydration pack such a worthwhile investment for skiers.
Best Hydration Packs for Skiing
Now that we’ve covered the whys of hydration packs, let’s talk the whiches.
The best ski hydration packs are those that have enough room to wear over heavy jackets, are comfortable, and are well-insulated.
With those things in mind, here are a few hydration packs we really like for skiers:
When it comes to hydration packs, it’s hard to beat a Camelbak.
And it’s not just because of the rockin’ name.
Our favorite insulated Camelbak for skiiers is the Camelbak Zoid.
It’s super slim design keeps it lightweight and unobtrusive, while still providing space for 2 liters of water and storage for smaller items, like keys, phones, and snacks.
It’s also one of the cheapest insulated Camelbaks.
If you need a little more space (and a little extra water), you might want to upgrade to the CamelBak Powder Hound, which gives you an extra liter of water capacity and loads more storage space.
The Powder Hound also adds ski straps, making it an all-in-one hydration and ski transport system.
Skiing Osprey Hydration Pack
Next up on our list, the Osprey Glade 12 is also fairly slimline, especially considering its ample storage capacity.
This one falls right between the Camelback Zoid and CamelBack Powder Hound in its liquid capacity at 2.5 liters.
Like the Powder Hound, the Glade 12 also has built-in ski straps, allowing you to easily transport your skis from place to place.
USWE Nordic 10
Closest in design to the Camelback Zoid, the USWE Nordic 10 is slim, has great storage capacity, and features a 2-liter water reservoir.
It’s also warm and sturdy.
The insulated shoulder straps help lock in body heat, while the heavy-duty No Dancing Monkey (NDM) harness provides a super-stable fit.
If you like the idea of a hydration pack, but worry about too much movement while you ski, this is the pack for you.
Whatever Hydration Pack Works for You
While we think the above hydration packs are some great options for skiers, the best hydration pack for skiing is the one that feels right for you. (As long as it’s insulated!)
Hydration packs come in a variety of styles, sizes, and price points.
Some are lighter weight, some are heavier.
Some have ski storage included, others don’t.
When it comes to choosing a pack, it’s always a trade-off between capacity/amenities and price.
But, with the extensive range of insulated hydration packs available (from multiple brands), you should be able to find a pack with features you like somewhere within your budget.