Hydration- Carrying water when you bike – what are your options?

Do I need to take water with me when I go for a ride ?

We need water everyday to survive and to allow us to function well. Keeping hydrated is one of the simplest ways to support well being yet most of us agree that we probably do not drink enough water daily. So.. the answer is YES you need to take water when you go for a ride.

Supporting you and your family to SMILE when you ride.

How much water should I carry

How much water do you need is a complex issue and is dependent on so many factors; your body weight, the duration of the ride; how fit and well you are (this can effect how much water your lose through perspiration and increased breathing rate), how hydrated were you before you set out for your ride; will you have access to water at any stage of the ride and so on…

So let us consider what we do know:

They suggest that we drink 33mls x our body weight of water per day. So for the 50kg person it is 50 x 0.033 = 1.65L per day or 80kg x0.033= 2.64L per day. This is based on an average day with no additional loss of water occurring through perspiration and increased breathing rate during exercise. Therefore  if you are riding you will need  additional amounts of water to compensate for the loss during exercise. Remember we receive water through many sources; eg. drinking and our food. Many foods are a great source of water especially plant foods. Some drinks like coffee and alcohol have a negative effect on your hydration and draw water out of you.

With the knowledge of;

  1. the duration and intensity of your ride
  2. your body weight,
  3. how fit, well and hydrated you are before you ride

Consider how much would be a sensible and safe amount for you to take with you when you go for a ride. It may be 600ml just over 2 cups for short duration rides through to 2 or 3 Litres for those longer rides. As you ride more you will start to recognise your level of fluid requirements for different duration and intensity of rides.  As a rule more is better than less. You do have to carry it though so a sensible quantity is best.

What are my options for carrying water

You basically have 2 option for carrying water. You are either carrying it on the bike or the rider will carry it. Lets looks at both of these options and understand what is the best option for you…or will you at times need to use a combination of teh two.

Carrying water on the bike using a drink bottle cage.

Kids endurance goUnders

Carrying water on the bike using a hydration bladder.

Carrying water on the bike using a drink bottle cage

The positives

  • Weight is on the bike and not on you
  • Because you are not carrying your water on your back this reduces the risk of a sore back and you are less likely to have a sweaty back.
  • Easier to clean so therefore it is likely that you will clean more regularly
  • A cheaper option (many of us have a drink bottle already)

The negatives

  • More limited in the quantity of water you will be able to carry
  • Generally you will need to stop for a drink. (though it is possible to learn to remove/drink and replace the water back into the drink bottle cage while still riding)
  • The drinking nozzle can get dirty (a cap will reduce this however but this makes to harder to drink while continuing to ride)
  • You may need to remember to take your bottle off your bike and carry it with you if you stop and leave your bike unattended.

Other things to consider…

  1. Drink bottle cages screw directly into the mount provided on your bike frame- therefore there is  limited flexibility of where it can be mounted on the bike. However there are water bottle cage mounts that attach to your bike eg. around your seat post that adds additional flexibility of where you can attach your water bottle on your bike.
  2. There are many different styles and sizes of drink bottles. What do you want the drink bottle to be made of?  Often there is limited space between the bike frame so you need to understand what sized drink bottle you can comfortable fit on your bike.
  3. There are many different styles and sizes of and drink bottle cages so it is important to understand will the model fit and hold my bottle stable. If my bottle is metal will it scratch my bottle.

Carrying water on the rider using a hydration backpack

The positives

  • Easier to drink from – so you drink more often in little sips
  • Can drink while you are riding
  • Less likely to pick up dirt
  • Ability to carry more capacity, more water.
  • The backpack allows you to carry additional items other than just water

The negatives

  • Harder to clean so less likely to clean as often.
  • It is a more expensive option.
  • Takes a little longer to get ready, filling your reservoir and placing in your backpack

Other things to consider…

  1. What is the reservoir made of
  2. Can I comfortable carry that weight on my back. Especially if I plan to carry additional items in my backpack.
  3. There are many different sizes (capacity) and designs to try and meet a variety of needs. Understand your needs so you make the ‘right’ decisions.


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