Where do you prefer to carry your water? I find when I am mountain biking I prefer to carry my water in a hydration pack on my back (easier to rock the bike). When road biking on flat ground I prefer to have it on the bike.

Where do you keep your water to optimize speed/agility/enjoyment?

Edit: It seems to me that road bikers never use camelbacks. Is there a reason for this?

  • 3
    Pros don't use camelbacks for road races because they go through more fluid than can reasonable be carried, topping up from their support car as they go. Some do, however, use them for time trials (there is occaisionally some discussion about whether this is legal for aerodynamic reasons). Road riders copy the pros... Oh one more thing, as phrased this is somewhat subjective - the "valid" question would be along the lines of "what are the pros and cons of carrying water on a bike or in a hydration pack.
    – Murph
    Sep 16, 2010 at 7:32
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    Hydration packs are good when filled with ice, but once they warm up its pretty foul. Trick is to leave the hose full of water after drinking and have 1.5-2 swallows at a time.
    – Criggie
    Feb 27, 2016 at 8:01

7 Answers 7


Best? Doesn't seem like there's any one right answer.

Pros for carrying on bike:

  • Weight is on the bike, not you
  • Doesn't make your back all sweaty
  • No adjustments necessary
  • Generally easier to clean
  • Easier to choose alternate beverage options (with the right bottle)
  • Easier to just always have a water bottle on the bike (one less thing to worry about remembering to bring)

Pros for carrying in a hydration pack:

  • Easier to drink from (so you drink more often in little sips)
  • Can drink without waiting for smooth riding (don't necessarily need to remove a hand from the handlebars)
  • Less likely to pick up dirt (cleaner; but see comment about flip-top for bottles)

Seems like the kind of cycling you're doing makes a big difference. Mountain biking has more dirt and more rough terrain where your water bottle nozzle could pick up trail dirt and be hard to reach down and grab to drink from. Road biking tends to have plenty of smooth pavement allowing for drinking from a bottle and not as much dirt to worry about.

I mostly ride on the road and generally use a water bottle (or two or three; or a water bottle and a coffee travel mug), but if I'm going for a long ride (especially in hot weather), I'll use the hydration pack (and probably have a bottle in all 3 cages, maybe with juice or something like that in one) just to be sure I keep well-hydrated.

  • This answer just about covers it. I use a hydration pack on any ride longer than 1hr simply because I drink more. No need to worry about stability (or dropping a bottle!) on a bad stretch of road/trail, in traffic or riding in a paceline.
    – darkcanuck
    Aug 30, 2010 at 1:47
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    If you're worried about getting dirt on the mouth piece of your bottle, you could get a bottle with a cap. Mine has a flip-open cap that covers the mouth piece, and it's easy to open one handed.
    – Wilka
    Aug 30, 2010 at 21:36
  • @Wilka: good point about the cap
    – freiheit
    Aug 31, 2010 at 16:13
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    My preference is to use the hydration pack on the bike - but this only really works because the bike in question is a recumbent and I can fit the pack behind the seat (-: If doing distance on an upright I have a rucksack that I carry the hydration pack in - because it makes "little and often" easier, even when the bike has a panier rack too (and I will by choice put anything else heavy in a panier!)
    – Murph
    Sep 16, 2010 at 8:05

The core of this question seems to be the following:

Where do you keep your water to optimize speed/agility/enjoyment?

Disclaimer: I've never had a Camelbak, but I do drink water!

Speed: If you mean speed of access, keeping water in a bladder is obviously the winner. If you're concerned with aerodynamics, I'd think the answer is a toss-up.

Agility: Water higher up on your back will make the bike a little more top-heavy. I know that carrying a half-gallon of milk in a backpack throws me off, particularly on a road bike.

Enjoyment: It depends what you mean by enjoyment. For a short ride, having something on my back isn't a big deal, unless the day is very hot indeed.

  • 4
    A Camelbak type hydration bladder backpack isn't as bad as carrying something like a half-gallon of milk, even if it's the same capacity. The bladder is flatter against your back and has very little slosh factor.
    – freiheit
    Aug 30, 2010 at 16:56
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    I've had at least one ride where for whatever reason, I could feel the cold water/ice mixture in my Camelbak as it was resting on my back, and that made a hot ride much more tolerable. Jun 9, 2011 at 20:20

Judging by the price, this water bottle holder must be the best option.


I prefer it on my back in a hydration bladder, that way, it is easily accessible and out of my way. Regardless of the type of biking I am doing...



The camelbak is very nice, since it is cleaner, and easier to drink. But I prefer to fill it with only water because it is harder to clean. So I take a bottle with sportdrink to get some sugar on longer trips.

For the road

Bottles are good, but on longer trips I like to have some extra water with me. So I also take my Camelbak with me.


On longer trips (3 hours or more) I take bottles of sportdrink and a Camelbak with water, both on my MTB and on my road bike.


I have a Camelbak Razor which I do use for road cycling. However, I am selective about when I use it. In general, it does not have detrimental effects on agility, but no doubt somewhat on aerodynamics.

For rides less than 4 hours, I go with water bottles in the bottle cages.

For longer rides, especially in remote areas where I won't have easy access for refilling water bottles, I've found the Razor to be quite useful. If riding in generally "civilized" areas, I tend to just go with the water bottles.


I decided on a compromise I was looking for water after the ride that wasn't warm and had a powder or energy thing in it to replenish so I put a bottle in the camelpak so it was kept cold by the condensating ice and the energy supplements in another pocket

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