What’s a Water Pack?

Every hobby, profession, or interest has its own special jargon. Ask a rock climber and a milk enthusiast what a jug is, and you’ll get two different answers. Knowing the right lingo doesn’t come naturally. It takes time as well as interaction with people who know the terms. We’re going to clear up some confusion around hydration packs, aka “water packs”.

Water pack vs. hydration pack

If you’re looking for a hiking backpack that carries water, it makes sense to refer to it as a water pack. It is, after all, a pack designed with water in mind, and water pack isn’t all that far from what they’re actually called. The correct term, however, is “hydration pack”.

Honestly, if you walk into a camping shop or outdoor sporting goods store and ask for a water pack, we you know you’re looking for and will point you in the right direction. If you want to use the proper lingo, however, say, “hydration pack”.

Bladder vs. reservoir

There’s a little more confusion around hydration packs than just what to call them. The insert that actually holds water in a hiking pack has a couple of different names.

Companies that make hydration packs – such as Camelbak – used to call these inserts “bladders” or “water bladders”. For whatever reason – maybe people were grossed out – they started calling them “water reservoirs”.

Both water bladder and water reservoir are both commonly used today. Again, anyone working in a camping and outdoors store will know what you’re talking about and can help you.

Most packs are essentially “water packs”

Today, most hiking backpacks can accommodate water reservoirs. Most hiking packs that you find in outdoor shops these days have a hydration sleeve, or a pocket that’s intended to house a water reservoir.

You don’t necessarily have to buy a hydration pack if you want a backpack that can carry lots of water.


We carry a great selection of hydration packs and hiking backpacks from brands like Camelbak, Osprey, Kelty, and Deuter. We also carry water reservoirs! Stop by and see us in Northwest Arkansas!

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