Hydration systems like the ones we have read about the last month are still a very young product category, and I am certain we haven’t seen the end of the innovation cycle in this product niche. While Geigerrig has hands-down the most innovative system to date, it will be interesting to see if they manage to stay ahead of the curve and also, of course, what their competitors might come up with. An exploration of what might lay ahead of us in terms of features and functions that might define the next generation of systems.
While a Geigerrig reservoir is very easy to clean – just turn it inside out & give it a good scrub – I wonder if Nanotechnology will soon arrive in Hydration Systems, which keep our reservoirs longer clean from bacteria, dirt and odour. The biggest obstacle will be to make the nanotechnology safe for human consumption, and also money will play a roll – nanotechnology is not cheap, and given the relative small size of companies it is questionable if they have the money to fund R&D in this area. However, seeing how nanotech is increasingly being used in everyday items, it probably is just a question of time until we see some developments in this area. ¡Adiós, cleaning the reservoir after each trip!
Then there is the area of re-filling, particularly with contaminated water in mind, which might see some interesting developments. Will there be hydration systems with integrated UV gadgets to kill off bacteria, or smart & easy to use ways to enter Aquamira & Co. into your reservoir? How about nets at the opening of the reservoir which would filter out bigger stuff when you fill it in a stream or lake, hindering floating stuff from entering your reservoir? I hope that manufacturers are working on smart solutions to these questions, and especially the latter one could be an easy, yet very convenient add-on for reservoirs.
Technology is encroaching more and more into our lives and outdoor adventures – digital cameras, smartphones, e-readers, GPS, solar chargers and more are increasingly often found on the trail. Maybe it is thus a bit surprising that there’s not yet some hydration systems that has some kind of electronic system on board. But what could some gadget really add to a hydration system? Well, for starters your hydration system is likely in your backpack, hidden, so you don’t know how full/ empty it is. Imagine a smart meter which tells you how full it is, I could see a use for that.
This meter could become even more useful in conjunction with a connected GPS to it – hiking in an area with little surface water? It would be useful if then your meter would
- tell you how full/ empty your reservoir is and
- if this is a good place to refill it – maybe because it is the only water source for the next few kilometers and your best chance to refill
Spinning this further, I also can see some gadget being useful to remind you to drink – as funny as that might sound. Driving down a demanding singletrack, hiking and chatting with your friends or skiing over the fjells, you might feel thirsty but just ‘forget’ to stay hydrated. Some gadget which reminds you to take a sip each half hour (or more often/ less – depending on your activity) could be especially useful for beginners in the outdoors, which might not yet be aware of how important it is to stay properly hydrated. And if you use a watch with a heart rate monitor connected to it, it even could tell you when to drink to keep your optimal performance.
Ok, enough thoughts on what may lay ahead for hydration systems, lets look at the way we carry them. In my search for the one hydration backpack for all activities, I came to the conclusion that it is hard to find – mainly because different activities need different backpacks. And while it is super easy to throw my Geigerrig hydration system into my GORUCK GR1 when I’m in the city or into my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter when I’m out hiking and skiing, I wonder if a modular pack – which can be adapted to my needs – would not be a better, more sustainable solution. Wingnut Gear already offers such a pack with their MPS Alpha and it certainly looks interesting, and we can just hope that some major companies pick up this idea. This would allow one to really cut down on bags, and mod the pack for the current activity you’re going out for – small volume and tight for mountain biking, a bit more for day hikes, and the full monty for the city or overnighters.
The Bottomline? While Geigerrig currently leads the pack in terms of innovation in hydration systems, I don’t think that we have plateaued yet and have seen everything a hydration system and backpack can be. Whether it will be nano-treated reservoirs which keep them longer clean & less smelly, over nets & UV treatment of water to electronic gadgets which help you plan where to refill and remind you to drink, the future sure looks interesting.
But who knows, maybe I’m off and the future really will be tiny water tabs which give you a full pint of water, replicated to the size of a tablet?!
What do you think we might the future of hydration systems? Do you want gadgets which help you to plan when and where to refill, or can you do without? How about nano-treated reservoirs which keep them longer clean?