Hydrate or die – about hydration systems

Proper hydration should be one the first things we think about when planning different outdoor activities. Well, airsoft falls under that category so we should definitely remember about hydration. So today we’ll talk about different hydration systems – common ones and those rarely encountered, efficient and lame. Enjoy!


Pure classics! In the ancient times of Poor Minimalsm (check my entry on Gear Evolution) things like camelbag were not as popular as now and many considered them to be triumph of form over content (at least in my environment). A lot of them, myself included, decided to buy the simplest canteen instead of bag with pipe.

What kind of gear can we use canteen with? Mostly all kinds of beltkits, from good old Alice, PLCE or BW suspenters, up to modern modulat belts cut with cosmic laser. In case of army contract gear (like PLCE) there are often dedicated pouches for canteens, market is also full of various MOLLE / PALS pouches for canteens. A well-adjusted beltkit should allow us to carry two big canteens (like Alice) which equalis average camelbag. And I know folks who simplu don’t like to use the tube and prefer to have a classic drink 😉 Another advantage – it is very easy to refill a canteen in the field or hand it over to your companion from the next foxhole – something you can’t do with camelbag.



Outdoor „fashion” is getting more and more popular in our airsoft/military/tactical world – another example it quite frequent use of „civilian” bottles like Naglene. Naglene bottles are kind of modern canteens. Budget versions can be found in the nearest Decathlon, more expensive ones are offered for example by Camelbak. Pros of such bottles are quite similar to those of (what’s more, Naglene company even offers bottle of the same shape and size as classic US canteen!), but secret technologies and modern materials make those outdoor flasks lighter and more durable than our old faithful canteens. Plus the closing is more functional, they don’t absorb smell or taste and it is much easier to clean them.

Manufacturers of tactical gear adjusted their offer quite quickly and we can easily find vast selection of dedicated pouched for Naglene bottles. I currently use such pouch made by Polish brand Survivaltech and it is perfect as a part of my beltking or attached to Wisport Sparrow backpack. Similar pouches can be found in the catalogue of Maxpedition, Condor, 5.11, Polish MIWO, Baribal and others.

Source: 1, 2, 3


Yes, that was a true revolution and today it is hard to imagine how athletes, soldiers or enthusiasts of outdoor and airsoft managed to survive without them. The main advantage is amazing comfort – we can carry a lot of water (or different liquids) on our back so we don’t waste precious space, plus the weight is equally distributed. And of course – we can now take a sip without any unnecessary actions, we can just use the tube located near to our mouth. We don’t have to look for canteed or remove our backpack to access the bottle of water.

Of course there are some cons. First of all – refill. If we don’t have support from teammate, in order to refill our camelbag we will have to take it our. During summer water inside can get really warm, but on the other side we can use various covers to prevent it from happening.

We can drink from camelbag while running, laying low under hurricane fire from enemy, inside the vehicle, on our back – basically in every situation. Depending on the configuration of our gear we can distinguish different types of camelbags:

– MOLLE / PALS camelbag

Perfect solution when we use tactical vest with modular system on the back. All kinds of plate carriers are just made to be used with camelbags. The same goes for some models of chest rigs, where we can attach additional back panel for camelbag.

Source: 1, 2

– standalone

The one with suspenders. It is basically kind of small backpack with water inside and drinking tube. We can use it with light chest rigs or beltkits, co in every configuration with empty back. Some standalone camelbags have additional pouches for extra equipment, so we can easily convert them into assault/patrol backpack.

Źródło: 1, 2

– camelbag inside backpack

Solution similar to the one above, but in this case we don’t use dedicated hydration pack, but simply put hydration bladder inside bigger, regular backpack we carry – for example 20L Sparrow or 3-Day Patrol Pack where we keep extra BBs and sandwich.

Source: 1, 2, 3

– mini-camel

That’s how I call Kangaroo bladder by Source (although we can find similar ones made by different manufacturers) – a one litre, MOLLE bag. It’s got a classic tube that we can remove and dring staight from the bag. It is quite interesting thanks to a very compact size, we don’t have to put it on our back but we can attach it directly to our beltkit instead. This way we’re still free to use it comfrtably, but our back is free. The con here is quite small capacity – only 1L.

Source: 1, 2

– integrated camelbag

Not a very popular solution, but I decided to mention it anyway. What is it exactly? Well, it is a hydration system inside the vest. For example Camelbak Delta 5 or Hydro Harness made by Condor. It is a hydration system that serves as a back and has suspenders that can be attached to dedicated chest rig. So it’s just tactical vest with integrated camelbag.

Source: 1, 2, 3

What else can we do, when we have belt kit or chest rig and we want to use hydration system, but at the same time we’d like to have our back free for the sake of comfort and ventilation? I had a solution once, but never actually managed to test it. I was thinking about horizontal camelbag like Camelbak Charge. This way we can carry 2-3L on our belt in comfortable manner and at the same time our back is completely free. Well, maybe some day.

Source: 1, 2

And one last thing – three patents that are commonly encountered on the airsoft battlefields, but their efficiency… Well, it is up to you 😉

  1. 1.5L bottle inside the backpack.
  2. 2x 0.5L bottle in STANAG magazine pouches.
  3. No water at all. Hallucinations from dehydration and slow death.


I would really like to convince you not to save money on hydration systems. Some of you have probably tried cheap Chinese camelbags of bottles. They will leak, but it doesn’t matter. Much worse is the smell and test that our water can get from being stored inside such „inventions”. Not to mention some chemical shit from cheap rubber an plastic. Really – don’t but cheap hydration systems.

I can vouch for products from Source and Camelbak, but there’s plenty of other trustworthy manufacturers like Hydrapak or Platypus. Let’s just say that products from Camelbak and Source can often be seen on the real battlefields – do I need to convince you more?

If there’s any other tactical hydration system you’d like to talk about or if you’d like to share some of your own patents – just write us a comment!

1 Comment

  1. qaaz says:

    Ponieważ mam bukłak w plecaku to gdy jest lato warto kupić sobie wkłady do lodówki turystycznej. Minus:
    – dodatkowy ciężar
    – kolejka do “węża”
    – dobre wstawienie chłodzi plecy
    – zimna woda nawet na koniec imprezy
    – te podziękowania że “uratowało się komuś życie”

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