Best Hydration Bladders – Avoid Dehydration On The Trail


Staying hydrated throughout the day whilst you are exploring the outdoors is crucial for both your safety and performance. Having the best hydration bladder will ensure that freshwater is always easily accessible when you need it. 

Hiking, trail running, backpacking, cycling, camping, mountaineering and hunting are just but a few of the many outdoor activities people engage in. Whether it’s winter, or summer, hydration during outdoor adventures is important in order to get the most out of your trip. 

Hence, hydration bladders have become the go-to option for outdoor enthusiasts over a standard drinking bottle. 

Whilst you are backpacking and trying to reduce the weight of your overall pack, large water bottles can be cumbersome and take up a lot of storage space. 

Hydration bladders are a clever way to ensure water is stored flat, inside (or outside) your backpack, and that it’s easily accessible whilst you are hiking via a tube and valve. 

Best Hydration Bladders at a Glance

Best hydration bladders

The Benefits of Using a Hydration Pack

  1. They make drinking on the go much easier, especially when your hands aren’t free whilst hiking, running, and cycling. 
  2. They are lightweight and pack away small in your backpack. 
  3. Unlike a solid water bottle, the size of the hydration bladder becomes smaller the more you drink – saving valuable space. 
  4. Most hydration bladders will be carried close to your body/against your back. This makes carrying the weight of the water much easier. 
  5. Most are compatible with water filters and can be filled up from streams and rivers. 

7 Hydration Bladder Reviews

Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir

Durability

4.8/5

Easy to Clean

5/5

Cost

4.2/5

Product Summary

The best hydration bladder on our list is produced by reputable outdoors brand, Osprey. The Osprey Hydraulics reservoirs build upon previous models to improve handling, reduce weight and simplify the operation. 

This hydration bladder has a folding top that folds closed and is secured via a patented slider that creates a leak-proof seal. The folding top opens wide and makes refilling and cleaning this reservoir much easier. 

This bladder features a hydrostatic backer plate which gives it some ‘structure’ and allows it to comfortably rest upon the inside of your pack without moving during activity. 

All parts of the bladder are BPA-free, phthalate-free, and lead-free. And, there is a 2L and 3L option to choose from.

Key Features

  • Dishwasher safe
  • Blaster bite valve with a twist on/off
  • Ergonomic drinking angle and great flow
  • Flexible TPU hose resists kinks 
  • Highly durable TPU film is flexible, resilient and BPA/PVC-free
  • Seams are bonded at the molecular level, ensuring reliable performance and durability 

Platypus Big Zip Water Reservoir for Hydration Backpacks

Durability

4.4/5

Easy to Clean

4.4/5

Cost

4.5/5

Product Summary

Key Features

  • Leak-proof reservoir with a fast flow rate
  • Secure SlideLock slides both ways to open the reservoir
  • The high mount quick-disconnect offers fast, easy access
  • HyFLO self-sealing bite valve 
  • 2.0-Liter measures 8.7 x 15 inches and weighs 6 ounces
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Made in the USA

HydraPak Shape-Shift Low-Profile Water Bladder

Durability

4.2/5

Easy to Clean

5/5

Cost

4.7/5

Product Summary

The next best hydration bladder on our list is the HydraPak Shape-shift which has a low profile and increased stability for outdoor sports such as running, mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking, and more. 

It is fully reversible and dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning the hydration pack much easier. 

The shape-shift is made of premium, abrasion-resistant TPU and RF welded seams for superior durability and elasticity. All materials are also 100% BPA and PVC free. 

The valve is a Blaster bite valve, with high flow rate and a simple twist on/off valve to prevent any leaks whilst not in use. 

Key Features

  • 100% BPA & PVC Free
  • Quick-connect tube valves
  • Reversible design for easy cleaning
  • Low-profile design
  • 2 & 3 Liter options
  • 36″ Hydraflex tube
  • Blaster Bite Valve with a twist on/off valve

Cherainti Hydration Bladder 2 Liter

Durability

4.3/5

Easy to Clean

4.3/5

Cost

5/5

Product Summary

This particular hydration bladder comes at a very affordable price – It’s the cheapest hydration bladder on our list. It is filled via a large screw opening. The big opening makes for easy pouring of water, filling and it’s big enough for a small hand/brush to clean the inside of the bladder – although it’s not as good as a fold or zip-top opening. 

Made from food-grade PEVA material and certified by FDA and SGS, this water bladder is BPA-free, with no chemical taste or weird flavors, just provide you with a pure and clean drinking experience. 

The mouthpiece features a bite valve, with a removable protection cap and an on/off push valve to prevent any leaks.

You can easily remove the drinking hose thanks to a pushing and release hose mechanism, this will prevent the water reservoir from leaking with the hose attached or disconnected. 

Key Features

  • Leak-proof mouthpiece 
  • Quick-connect detachable hose 
  • Dust cover for the mouthpiece
  • Push on/off valve
  • Food-grade material
  • 2 Carry handles
  • Large screw top openings 

Osprey Packs Hydraulics Lumbar Reservoir

Durability

4.6/5

Easy to Clean

4/5

Cost

4.5/5

Product Summary

This hydration bladder pack is different in shape from the others on our list. Instead of having a longer, more vertical shape, it is wide at the base to sit at the bottom of your back. Depending on what you are packing in your backpack, a lumbar hydration bladder might take up less space when placed at the bottom of your pack. 

The easy-slide top opening is wide and makes filling the bladder and cleaning easier, even though the shape of the bladder is wider at the base. 

Twin-welded chevron baffles help to stabilize the water (great for high-intensity activities), and helps the bladder to maintain a flat profile inside of your backpack. 

There is a magnetic clip included which attaches to the hose, and allows for easy hose management on the outside of your backpack. 

As you would expect from a brand like Osprey, all materials used are high-quality, durable, BPA-free, Phthalate-free, lead-free and certified food safe. 

Key Features

  • Dishwasher safe 
  • Blaster bite valve with a twist on/off 
  • Flexible TPU hose 
  • All seams are weld-bonded for better durability 

CamelBak Crux Water Reservoir

Durability

4.3/5

Easy to Clean

4.1/5

Cost

4.5/5

Product Summary

CamelBak continues to be a global leader in outdoor hydration, their goal is to reinvent hydration and carry solutions that empower an active lifestyle through award-winning products. 

After carrying out research and diving into customer feedback, Camelbak realized that one aspect of hydration bladders that needs improving is the amount of water per sip. The brand new Crux delivers 20% more water per sip, compared to previous Camelbak models. 

After using the bite valve you can seal your drinking tube completely shut using the on/off lever valve. So you don’t have to worry about any leaks within your pack. 

It also features an ergonomic handle for easier refilling and a quick-link system that allows you to press a button and disconnect the drinking tube from the pack. This feature lets you remove and refill your Crux without unthreading the tube from your pack harness.

As with all of Camelbak’s gear, the Crux has been put through exhaustive stress tests to make sure that it won’t fail you on the trail.

Key Features

  • Offers 20% more water per sip
  • A leak-proof cap
  • On/off lever lets you seal your drinking tube 
  • Hydroguard technology inhibits the growth of bacteria in the reservoir tube
  • Big Bite valve self-seals after each drink
  • Available in 3, 2, 1.5L options

Source Outdoor 2L Widepac Bladder for Hydration Packs

Durability

4.2/5

Easy to Clean

4.3/5

Cost

3.7/5

Product Summary

This hydration bladder pack from source is popular amongst hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. The bladder itself is made from durable 3-layer Polyethylene which has been treated with an anti-microbe agent to prevent any growth of bacteria (super important when it’s in your pack on a hot day).

In addition to the ant-microbe properties, Polyethylene has ‘glass-like’ technology which makes the bladder easier to clean. 

During storage you can completely shut off the helix bite valve, with a turn-to-lock safety feature. Some customers report that the drinking tube is slightly shorter than other models, but this is compensated for by the angled 90° design and 360° flexibility. The bite valve also comes with a cover that protects it against dirt, sand, etc.

The bladder is filled and cleaned via a wide slide closure at the top, which also features two holes that act as a handle. 

The tube can be easily disconnected from the reservoir by pushing the button on the joint (you can disconnect even when the bladder is full). 

Key Features

  • Widepac Closure
  • Taste-free (anti-plastic taste)
  • Angled 90° mouthpiece design and 360° flexibility hose
  • Mouthpiece dust-cap
  • Anti-mold protection

Best Hydration Bladder Buyer's Guide

best hydration pack for mountain biking

Water Flow

This is a difficult feature to get an understanding of without getting your hands on the product and testing it first hand. For online purchases, read through the customer reviews and get a feel for the performance and water flow.

Quick Connect Valves:
Being able to disconnect your bladder hose without water going everywhere is important. You probably don’t want the hose connected whilst it is stored away in your bag or whilst you are refilling. Quick connect valves allow you to remove the hose whilst the bladded is full and no water will escape. Upon hose removal, the valve is automatically shut off. 

Valve On/Off

Most hydration bladders will utilize a bite valve to allow water to flow through the tube. Whilst you are hiking or running, it’s possible that water might still seep through the bite valve. Ideally, you want a bladder that has the option to completely shut off the water flow manually. The shut-off is usually either a twist valve or push valve. 

Choosing a valve that is easy to control with one hand is important. 

Bladder Opening

Screw Opening
Best Hydration Packs

Some bladders have screw-top openings. These are quick and easy to use, and can easily refill your bladder from a sink. The downside is that they are harder to fill up from a flowing stream and more difficult to clean the inside of the bladder.

Zip/Slide Top
Hydration Bladder Zip Top Opening

These openings are similar to a ziplock bag, but much more secure. They are great for creating a large opening that makes filling and cleaning the bladder simple. 

Fold Top
Hiking water pack fold top

Very similar to the zip-top, the folded top uses a fastener to seal the bladder once it has folded over on itself. With a folding top, the bladder can completely open up, making it easy to fill and clean. 

How to clean a hydration bladder

Cleaning your hydration bladder after every trip, or even sometimes during your trip if you are camping/hiking for days, is crucial for preventing bacterial and microbe growth inside of the bladder. 

Even though some bladders made from anti-bacterial materials, which usually are formulated so bacteria, mold, and microbes won’t grow, you should still clean your bladder properly. Thankfully the steps are fairly straight forward:

  1. Fill the hydration bladder with warm water, half a teaspoon of bleach, and two tablespoons of baking soda. Shake, close, then let it sit for 30 minutes or so.
  2. Dump out the cleaning solution, rinse well, flush the hose, prop the water reservoir open and hang it to dry.

If your bladder is dishwasher friendly (always double-check!) then you might be able to skip all steps and clean in the dishwasher. Just make sure to keep the bladder open, or turn it inside-out as cleaning the inside is the most important.

Final Words

Choosing the best hydration bladder for your next outdoor adventure isn’t always as straightforward as you’d hope. There are hundreds of options to choose from online, and making sure you get the right features, size, and materials for your particular activity is important.

It’s always best to ensure that your hydration bladder is made from durable, easy-to-clean, BPA, PVC & lead-free materials, and if possible, that it has a coating to prevent the growth of microbes. Your drinking hose should be long enough to reach from your backpack, to your mouth, and an included clip or magnetic latch will make hose management easier.

If you are mountain biking, trail running, or partaking in any outdoor activity that has the potential to kick up dust, then a valve cover or dust cap is a good option to prevent the bite valve from getting dirty. 

The top opening comes down to personal preference. Zip top and fold top openings are the easiest to clean and refill at a stream. But, manufacturers understand that this is the main limitation of a screw top, and usually make them big enough to accommodate easy filling and cleaning as well. 

The best hydration bladder will keep you hydrated throughout the day, and the hose on your pack serves as a handy reminder to keep taking on fluid small amounts at a time, which can be more beneficial than stopping every few hours for a large drink. 

 

Ned

Growing up in the Lake District, UK I've always been surrounded by nature, whether it's snowy mountains, lakes, or the sea. Throughout school, I gained qualifications in Outdoor Education, and mainly focus my time camping, hiking & kayaking.

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