Updated: April 24th, 2022

Like little Dora the explorer, we runners don’t go far without our backpacks eh? From the ADV 8 skin hydration vests to the Camelbak hydration packs. They come along with us on the greatest of adventures and hold as much sentiment as they do in sweat, dirt and leftover food. Getting the perfect, snug, effortless fit backpack for running is like finding the perfect pair of running shoes. Once you’ve got it, there’s no letting go any time soon! And just like running shoes, they can be a bit pricey (but worth it) if you can prolong their ability to run with you for as many adventures as possible, and here’s how:

    Woman wearing a hydration backpack on a run

  • How to Clean your kit:
  • The vest/backpack:

    A quality backpack will come with breathable mesh, and be made of the best material for wicking away sweat from your body. But after time, it is sure to whiff a bit. To get rid of the odours, leftover foot crumbs, puddle splash, dirt or those stubborn muddy paw stains (from that dog that chased you down last week) try this:

  • Check out the washing instructions pack to pack, because they differ manufacturer to manufacturer, brand to brand.
  • Remove all bottles, extra elastic, empty all of the pockets – give it a good shake out.
  • Get a bowl of warm water and non-detergent soaps and let your backpack soak in it for a few minutes.
  • Hand wash the piece of kit gently.
  • Scrub with a SOFT brush if there are some stubborn stains (did I mention the muddy paws?) small circular movements work best.
  • Remember to pay attention to each part of your pack: straps, pockets, mesh, not just the visibly muddy parts.
  • To protect the technical sporting fabrics, use Nikwax for extra cleaning care (it’s cheaper than buying new packs!)
  • Air dry away from direct sunlight.
  • Hand washing in a bowl of water

    Can I Machine wash my hydration pack?

    Honestly, hand washing is preferable, it’s gentle and protects the materials, elastics etc better (plus you hand wash your running shoes too, it doesn’t hurt does it?) but check the washing instructions on the label of your pack. It might be possible to machine wash your pack at a low temperature.

    The bottles:

    There are a lot of elements to cleaning your water bottles, bladders and flask caps. Your best bet is to hand wash these too, even if they have started to produce a smell:

  • De-assemble your bottles, straws/tubes, bite valves, flask lids…the lot.
  • Regular cleaning with a sponge and water will keep most of the issues at bay, each time you use your bottles/hydration packs.
  • If they need a stronger clean, try baking soda or white vinegar overnight.
  • Get a wired brush and clean each aspect of your bottle or bladder with the brush and warm soapy water
  • Rinse everything and leave to air dry upside down, or inside-out for the bladders.
  • Ow to clean the tubing of the hydration bladder

Please note:

You may need to be more thorough on cleaning your water bottles out to protect you from the lingering bacteria, from your mouth and the previous run – it really can take out the best of us.

  • Let it breathe:
  • We know the risk of bacteria growth lies in dark moist places so be sure to air out your hydration pack, be it a backpack or waist belt to prevent you from having to deal with offensive odours. Every every run, the best thing to do is empty all the pockets, keep the zips open, and air dry them. Completely out of the way of direct sunlight – you wouldn’t want the UV rays to ruin the color of your kit now, would you?

  • Storage:
  • How to store your backpack:

    When your hydration pack isn’t in use, and it’s completely dry, then store it in a well ventilated and dry room that is kept away from UV rays and heat like a boiler, radiator or fireplace.

    How to store the bottles:

    Did you know that you can store flasks and water bladders in the freezer once they’re completely dry to prevent the growth of bacteria?! Safe and chilled for your next sunny run.

    Store the water bottles in the freezer

  • How to protect your backpack:
  • You might need to re-waterproof your hydration pack, over time its membrane will break down (especially if you wash it in the washing machine) so to protect your phones, keys and anything else in there, use a waterproof to water-resistant soap/spray to resurface it. Make sure you clean it thoroughly first! It will give your pack a new lease of life, ready for the next adventure. Ps. You can also use it on your clothes, re-waterproof your running jacket whilst you’re at it!

    Nikwax for re-waterproofing your backpack

  • Pockets pockets pockets:
  • Think about how you use your pockets. Sounds daft, but my Solomon ADV 8 Skin hydration vest has about 12 pockets – and as creatures of habit, we tend to use the same pockets each time – but that can wear out the elastic on some and not others. Eeesh. So, be sure to move your stuff around utilise all the pockets and access your hydration pack has to offer. It might be as simple as moving your flapjack from the front right pocket to the front left once in a while.

    Lots of pockets for the hydration packs great whilst on the run

    Plus, it makes long-distance runs more entertaining when you reach for your sweets and pull out a car key.

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