While standing in — or floating through — bodies of water, fly fishers frequently fail to hydrate their own bodies. The bright sun and heat of summer can suck a body dry quickly, even when surrounded by water, but there are plenty of options available to help anglers consume adequate agua throughout the day.
We’ve explored a number of bottles, bladders, and drink systems to find a few that work best for anglers, whether boating or wading.
When fishing clean, clear rivers and lakes, one of the easiest means of staying hydrated is to consume the water in which we recreate. Of course, that water could be loaded with pathogens and other contaminants, so it’s not wise to simply go dipping handful out for a quick drink. Instead, employ the LifeStraw Steel filtration straw. This device allows anglers to just bend down and drink from their river. Built as a large, metal straw, the Steel contains a 2-stage filter to remove bacteria and protozoa while also stripping out most organic chemical matter. The LifeStraw Steel slips easily into a pocket for quick use while wading. Price: $55
Bending down to the surface of the river or lake for a quick drink isn’t always convenient, or comfortable. The Katadyn BeFree filter flask solves that problem. To use, simply fill the soft flask from the river or lake, and screw on the filter cap. A hard screw of the flask forces the water through the microfilter, removing everything bigger than 0.1 micron — bacteria, protozoa, giardia cysts, etc. It won’t prevent exposure to viruses, but in North American waters, catching a water-borne virus is not a great risk anyway. The 0.6-liter size is ideal for most anglers — big enough for a filling drink, but still small enough to stash in a vest or pack pocket. A larger, 1.0-liter version is also available. Price: $40
Of course, the easiest hydration solution is simply carrying water with you while fishing. We’ve found a few bottles that are especially well suited for the job. Because anglers tend be exposed to the sun most of the time, insulated bottles keep water cool even through the heat of the day. The Camelbak Podium Ice proved to be a favorite with our testers — both men and women. The plastic bottle features an aerogel insulation that can keep water cold for an entire day on the river. The Podium Ice sports a twist-lock drinking spout to prevent spillage should the bottle get squeezed in your pack. The flow rate through the unlocked spout is adequate but not overly generous. The 21-ounce volume is enough for a few hours of hard fishing at least. Price: $25
Polar Bottle’s Insulated Sport bottle offers higher flow rate and a little more volume than the Camelbak. The insulation found in the Polar Bottle isn’t as efficient, but their ZipStream spout provides a massive stream of water for thirsty anglers, and the 24-ounce volume provides a bit more total hydration. The Polar Bottle also features a handy handle loop. That means the bottle can be hung from a belt or pack strap instead of having to be stashed in a pocket or pack bag. And we found having the bottle easily accessible made it more likely that we would drink more frequently throughout the day. Price: $15
The Camelbak Chute insulated stainless steel bottles earned praise from our testers who preferred to avoid plastic. A textured coating on the bottle’s body meant it stays firm in hand, even when wet. Every tester loved the dual cap system. The big opening allows easy cleaning, and the ability to drop in ice cubes (which stuck around even when the bottle was left in a raft during a 7-hour float trip). But for drinking, the smaller cap opens with a quick half-twist to reveal a comfort spout from which to drink. A tether keeps the caps attached to the bottle when open. A loop on the large cap allows the bottle to be clipped onto a carabiner for easy hanging. Price: $28.