How to Choose the Best Hydration Pack for Plate Carrier – Sports Hydro Pack (2023)

Let’s talk about the best Hydration Pack for Plate Carrier.

Ever since Michael Eidson innovated the first hydration bladder with an IV bag, a tube sock, and a clothes pin, subsequently founding the pioneering and still leading sports hydration brand CamelBak, hydration bladders have been the most convenient and efficient way to hydrate while on the go.

Hydration packs, which are mainly composed of the hydration bladder system and a form of storage pack (most commonly a backpack, a waist pack, or a vest), soon became a staple in the world of sports and outdoor recreation.

They’ve actually gone beyond catering to athletes and outdoor enthusiasts and have found themselves a solid market among festival goers and military operatives as well.

Here are some information you will need if you are a plate carrier looking for the best hydration packs.

In this Article

(Video) The Ultimate Hydration Pack Guide!

  • Hydration Packs for Military Missions
  • Hydration Packs with Plate Carriers
  • Choosing the Best Hydration Pack for Plate Carrier
    • Integration
    • Quality
    • Utility
    • Bladder
  • Recommended Hydration Packs for Plate Carriers
    • Source Tactical Gear Rider 3L Hydration System
    • Excellent Elite Spanker Tactical MOLLE Hydration Pack 3L
    • CamelBak ArmorBak Hydration Pack
  • Final Thoughts

Hydration Packs for Military Missions

How to Choose the Best Hydration Pack for Plate Carrier – Sports Hydro Pack (1)

Hydration packs are crucially beneficial to the military. When we think of soldiers hydrating during combat or some other kind of military exercise, we tend to imagine them drinking from small water canteens that couldn’t possibly be big enough to hold a liter of water.

They probably wouldn’t be able to sustain thirsty soldiers for more than an hour. Their use would also require several steps (fishing them out, uncovering them, swigging from them, replacing their cover, and stashing them away).

With a hydration pack, a soldier gets access to more liters of water in the easiest way possible: through a drinking hose. Because of the bladder design, the weight of the water is also spread out across the back (in the case of a backpack or a vest) instead of concentrated wherever the flask is kept.

This has a very positive impact on balance, stability, and endurance.

Hydration Packs with Plate Carriers

The thing about members of the armed forces is that they often have to don a plate carrier during their mission so that’s something that has to be taken into account in their choice of the right hydration pack for them.

What’s a plate carrier? It is essentially a body armor primarily used as load-bearing equipment with the added function of being a bulletproof vest when combined with ballistic plates.

It is mainly used by the military and the police as tactical gear, but it has also recently become popular among fitness enthusiasts as a weighted vest.

(Video) Basics of "Tactical" Hydration (IcePlate, MSR, Camelbak, Source)

Understandably, using a hydration backpack or vest on top of a plate carrier can be unwieldy. That’s why it’s important that you choose one that is compatible with the accompanying gear.

Choosing the Best Hydration Pack for Plate Carrier

What are some of the things you need to consider when deciding on the right hydration pack to use with your plate carrier?


Tactical hydration packs may come with or without shoulder straps. If you’re using a plate carrier, it’s best to get a pack that doesn’t have the straps or instead have provisions for tucking the straps away or removing them altogether.

Most plate carriers have a pack portion, so pick something that is compact enough to be stored inside it.

Alternatively, pick something with a MOLLE system that can attach to that of your plate carrier. Compatibility is obviously key.


When it comes to military-type activities, durability of equipment is clearly a priority. The materials used should be robust, and the construction should be excellent – reinforced, preferably.

It should be clear that the hydration pack was built for tactical settings.


Hydration packs designed for tactical use are often designed with the MOLLE system.

It stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, a system which is featured in the current generation of backpacks and load-bearing equipment used by the armed forces of the US, the UK, and other NATO countries.

(Video) How Do You Choose A Running Vest? | Hydration Packs For Runners

If the pack is MOLLE-equipped, you can pretty much expect compatibility with other MOLLE gear as well as a variety of tactically useful functions.


For tactical activities, it’s best to have sufficient water supply, so bladder size is an important factor to consider. Three liters is often best. Of course, you also need to check out the bladder’s other features and components to ensure truly convenient hydration.

Make sure to get something with safe materials, leak-free connection points, an efficient mouthpiece, as well as a wide mouth to allow ease of cleaning or adding of ice cubes. It’s also a good idea to look for insulation features to ensure satisfying hydration.

Recommended Hydration Packs for Plate Carriers

Taking into account the above considerations, the following are some of the tactical hydration packs that easily meet these criteria.

Source Tactical Gear Rider 3L Hydration System

[lasso ref=”source-tactical-gear-rider-low-profile-hydration-system-coyote-3-litres” id=”62128″ link_id=”6002″]

Currently retailing at about $122, the Source Hydration Rider 3L is one of the excellent offerings of Source Tactical Gear, an Israeli company known to be a global leader in tactical gear design and technology as well as a supplier for the Israeli Defense Forces, arguably the most impressive armed forces in the world.

This pack has multiple-function and can be used as a backpack, a direct plate carrier attachment, or as a pack insertion. Its shoulder straps can be folded into a back pocket when not used. There are also elastic strap retainers for securing dangling strap ends. It comes with a patented high flow “no-bite” Storm Valve with a Dirt Shield cover.

The Rider is very practical, ensuring usefulness even in non-tactical activities. You can easily use it for athletic or recreational endeavors. For tactical missions, you can be certain that it will work with whatever load-bearing vest or body armor you have to put on.

It is well-built and made with 500D Cordura with a nylon liner, heavy-duty YKK zippers, and acetal thermoplastic MOLLE-attachment hardware.

(Video) RUNNING PACK/VEST BUYING GUIDE | How To Choose Hydration Vest | Run4Adventure

Excellent Elite Spanker Tactical MOLLE Hydration Pack 3L

[lasso ref=”excellent-elite-spanker-tactical-molle-hydration-pack-for-3l-hydration-water-bladder-molle-vest-accessorymulticam” id=”61453″ link_id=”5998″]

This pack is made of durable, water- and wear-resistant 500D Cordura Nylon with 210D polyester lining and YKK zippers. The MOLLE system allows it to be attached to a plate carrier. It also has a main pocket and two other front pockets for carrying essentials.

The bladder pocket can insulate your drink for a long time, although please note that it doesn’t actually come with a bladder. You have to purchase that separately. That’s why this product is so much cheaper, retailing at only about $47.

Like most tactical hydration packs, the Excellent Elite Spanker Tactical MOLLE Hydration Pack comes in colors and patterns suitable for tactical exercises, such as neutral black and gray as well as the military coyote brown, ranger green, and multicam.

CamelBak ArmorBak Hydration Pack

[lasso ref=”camelbak-armorbak-100oz-mil-spec-crux-coyote-1862201000-tan” id=”61623″ link_id=”6003″]

The ArmorBak is designed to directly attach to the back of a plate carrier through the CamelBak Direct Armor Attachment System, which eliminates the need for shoulder straps as well as enables you to pressurize the excellent 3L Mil Spec Crux Reservoir for rinsing articles like glasses and goggles while on the field. There are dual zippers for the speedy removal and refill of the bladder.

Made with infrared compliant fabric (500D double-rip Cordura), buckles, and webbing, the ArmorBak boasts 5mm closed-cell foam on the front as well as on the back panels for insulation. It currently retails at about $85.

Final Thoughts

If you’re shopping for a hydration pack for use with a plate carrier, the different factors cited above will guide you toward a good buy.

We recommend the products we mentioned with the Source Rider and CamelBak ArmorBak trumping the Excellent Elite Spanker Hydration Pack for obvious reasons, although if you already have a 3L bladder in your possession, the latter could end up being the smarter and more practical choice.

(Video) How To Choose A Hydration Pack For Mountain Biking | GMBN's Ultimate Guide To MTB Bags

Among the three, however, we’re inclined to push you toward the Source Rider if only for its backpack form capability, which makes it just as relevant in non-tactical activities.


1. Airsoft Manuals - How to assemble a hydration pack to the tactical vest
2. How to Choose Your Hydration Pack
(NATHAN Sports)
3. Top 5 Low Profile Hydration Packs for Dirt Bike Races & Rides
(Rocky Mountain ATV MC)
4. How to Add Hydration to a Ferro Slickster
5. 👉 TOP 10 Best Hydration Packs In 2022 - Hydration Backpack for Camping, Hiking, Running & Outdoor
(Gadget Buy Gear)
(EVOC Sports)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Otha Schamberger

Last Updated: 03/06/2023

Views: 6479

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Otha Schamberger

Birthday: 1999-08-15

Address: Suite 490 606 Hammes Ferry, Carterhaven, IL 62290

Phone: +8557035444877

Job: Forward IT Agent

Hobby: Fishing, Flying, Jewelry making, Digital arts, Sand art, Parkour, tabletop games

Introduction: My name is Otha Schamberger, I am a vast, good, healthy, cheerful, energetic, gorgeous, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.