A number of people have been asking me for more details about how I attach my water bottles to my backpack’s shoulder straps. I typically referred those people back to a previous video/blog post that I did entitled “I Put Kool-Aid In That!” in which I talk a little about this very thing, however, to be fair, that post talks about a number of things. So, today, I figured that I would just do a dedicated video & blog post in which I discuss this topic in particular. Also, I would like to mention that I started carrying my water bottles on my shoulder straps when I received my ULA Circuit, but after watching a YouTube video by Torben Bo Hansen, I changed it up just a bit…
I would like to also add that this has been my personal preference for carrying my water, and for my own particular reasons. Before this, I used a (heavy) Camelbak water bladder, but for me it was a pain to refill while on the trail, and well, it was just heavy. Once I got my Circuit though, I was given a reason, and a way, to leave my heavy bladder behind.
Using the water bottle holders that came stock on my ULA Circuit was my first dealing’s with storing my water on my shoulder straps. The system worked fine, although, in hindsight, I think I was using the top water bottle holder different than intended, which resulted in a few dropped water bottles while hiking. All-in-all though, I really came to like the way everything seemed to work out with my water bottle on my shoulder straps.
When I first changed over, I carried a single 32 oz Gatorade bottle on one shoulder strap, however, as my pack weight decreased, the weight of the single bottle really offset my packs balance. It was at this time that I noticed that Gizmo Joe was carrying 2 smaller bottles, one on each strap. Sometimes the simple things escape me, and when I saw this, I slapped my head, threw away my 32 oz Gatorade bottle and picked up two 20 oz Gatorade bottles.
Using 2 bottles did in fact balance the weight back out on my backpack when on lightweight trips, and again, I was a happy camper…er… hiker. As a bonus, this also allowed me to have a 40 oz water capacity on hand instead of 32 oz. The downside is that now I was carrying the weight of 2 empty bottles as opposed to just 1 (and for the record, if I remember correctly, one empty 20 oz Gatorade bottle weigh the same as one empty 32 oz Gatorade bottle).
Due to my happiness with this system, once I got my ZPacks Blast 30 backpack, I knew that I wanted to carry the same water carrying capabilities over to it, so I decided to make my own. But, in the spirit of lightweight backpacking, I did not want to use thick shock cord and beefy cord locks like the ULA Circuit used. Instead, I decided to replicate the Circuit’s top water bottle holder using thinner, lighter cord and a smaller cord lock, and on the bottom I used smaller diameter shock cord and a cord lock, which proved to work quite well.
Then, just a couple of months later, I also got my ZPack’s Zero backpack, and again, I wanted to transfer this same water carrying capabilities over to it. It was around this time that I came across the above mentioned YouTube video, and at this point I made the top water bottle holder as it is in the above picture. At the same time, I also decided to leave off the cord lock on the bottom water bottle holder and just thread the shock cord through the daisy chain on the shoulder strap, and then tie the ends together.
After a good deal of use, I found that this last change proved to not only work well, but also weighs almost nothing. When I put the 2 top water bottle holders (as seen in the above picture) and 2 short pieces of shock cord on my scales, the grand total is a whopping 0.1 oz! After realizing this, I decided to change out the water bottle holders on my Blast pack as well, which was quite simple. All I did was tie the shock cord for the bottom water bottle holders on each shoulder strap, and then I use the top water bottle holders with whichever pack I am using at the moment. Light, easy, inexpensive, durable & effective. What more do I need?
Making these are quite easy. All one needs is a short length of shock cord, a short length of some sort of light weight, small diameter cord and 2 mitten hooks. Simply tie the shock cord through a daisy chain, loop, d-ring, or something similar towards the bottom of the shoulder strap. Then tie a loop in one end of each piece of regular cord, and tie the mitten hook to the other end. Just be sure that the loop is big enough for the mitten hook to thread through. If making 2 set’s (one for each shoulder strap) I would suggest to be sure and make the overall length of the top water bottle holders to be as close to the same length as possible. This will allow each of the bottles to hang in the same spot on each shoulder strap.
Here is a short (for me) video that I did that may explain all of this better:
Also, just to note, here are a few reasons that I like carrying my water on my shoulder straps:
- Easy access. With this system, I can remove, drink and replace the water bottle while on the go.
- With the water on my straps, I can always be aware of how much water I have on hand.
- The Gatorade bottles are lightweight, durable and inexpensive. Plus they come prefilled!
- The wider mouth on the Gatorade bottles make it easy to filter water into, or treat with chemicals (depends on trip), as well as makes it easy to pour drink mixture into the bottle for a flavored drink. It also makes dipping water easier from poor water sources.
- The 20 oz bottles fit comfortably in my hands and feels more natural, rather than a compromise.
So, for me, this system has worked, and I am happy with it. Does that mean that I will use it forever? I don’t know. I will admit, after my last hike, I am tempted to try using the hose for my Platy with my Platy soft bottles. This seems like a good idea, but I am not sure if it is for me. Who knows…
Anyway, thanks for reading and watching!
Disclaimer: As mentioned in the writing, this idea is not my own, however, it is one that I have used for over the past year, and it works for me. I wrote this blog post to share this information with others that are interested in the same method.