Hydration equipment for epic rides

I got in Dirty Kanza 200 this year. I’ve done plenty of centuries but the time has never gone beyond 6 hours. I know hydration and fueling is huge part of success (I.e. @Nate_Pearson at Leadville). I’m trying to figure out the bottle/hydration pack equipment. So my questions are

  1. should I use a hydration backpack? If so recommendations? I’ve never used one
  2. should I add a tri rig to my seat for two extra bottles and strap them down so they don’t eject?
  3. 3 big bottles…my gravel bike has a place for a third bottle holder but it’s low and will likely get covered in mud and dust before I get to it
  4. other options?

I think that’s it for now. Thanks in advance for the help!

Yes, Camelbak Chase or Uswe Airborn. Best way to go, I’ve used it for a MTB 100 with 10,000 ft climbing (9 hours)


It’s gonna get gross

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You can cover the lowest bottle with some plastic and a rubber band. Leave it there until you empty one of the upper ones. Then swap, likely during an aid station stop, and reattach the cover… rinse & repeat.


Just a note, Elite has a 950ml bottle now which might help.

I’ve ridden a 6 hr mtb race with one bottle because the aid stations allowed it. If I had a choice, I’d use bottles instead of camelback. But if the distance between aid station is long enough, and you don’t have capacity to carry bottles, you need a camelback. So I’ll be using a camelback for LT100 this year. If you have capacity for three bottle cages, go with that. Bottles are easier to refill, and you can drink a whole lot quicker from them, which means you drink more.

Zefal sells 1L bottles as well. The Magnum.

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I used to use mine on long rides, but I stopped because I realized that plain water is a problem for me and I refuse to put anything else in a hydration pack. Then I talked to someone whose daughter is a world-class triathlete, and she just throws the liner away after a single use. When you are paying $1000 for a ride, $20 is nothing. But it did make me think about when I would do that. I do like having a hydration pack if it’s really hot. I have been carrying 4 water bottles instead and haven’t had any problems with it so far.

I have put electrolyte mix in my bladder plenty of times, as does everyone I know who uses hydration packs. You just need to clean them out immediately after use with either the Camelbak bladder tablets or denture cleaner (Polident) tabs and warm water. Let it soak for 20 mins and wash out with water. Really not a big deal.

For epic races I use a hydration pack (2 liter) for hydration and a 1 liter bottle of concentrated fuel (4 hour bottle) that goes in my bottle cage. So I only “need” to stop once per 4 hours. Then just keep extra hydration tabs and baggies of dry fuel mix to refuel every aid station. It’s about a 2 min stop with this method. I used this strategy for a MTB 100 that took me just over 9 hours by only making two stops.

I’ve done 9+ hour rides with bottles and with packs. I seldom ride with a pack because of heat and comfort. I have found that I drink more regularly with the pack, which in turn, has increased my performance. The two big mtb races I have planned for this year will both be completed with a pack. Gravel races depend on aid station frequency and type of roads. Rough roads where bottles are likely to auto-eject? Use a pack.

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Thabks for all the replies. My A race is Dirty Kanza 200 so it’s 3/4 hours between the 3 aid stations. I’m leaning towards a pack and two large bottles. My thought right now is mostly liquid fueling so the pack and bottles will have a carb heavy drink (Maurten, Tailwind, Hammer, Beta Fuel, or the like). Maybe have one bottle just water or electrolytes. Then using the third bottle cage for tool storage and a top tube pack for additonal tools tubes and a few back up gels.