If you’ve ever gone hiking, then you know how annoying it’s to stop and whip out your water bottles to have a sip every now and then. So much so, that sometimes you tend to forget or even avoid the activity altogether since it’s so tiresome. This, even after knowing how important it is to stay hydrated. However, the invention of hydration bladders has made on-the-go hydration a much easier task and laziness a thing of the past. The best hydration bladders for hiking and backpacking come with easy access mouthpieces and are the best way to avoid dehydration.
It’ll not only make you a happier camper, but it’ll help you and your fellow hikers remember to stay hydrated and avoid falling ill. To that end, here are the 13 best hydration bladders for backpacking and hiking.
How To Choose Hydration Bladders For Backpacking?
What’s the need for a hydration bladder when we can simply pop in Camping Water Bottles into our backpacks? Well, the reason is obvious – we forget! Chances are more that you’ll drink water out of a dedicated hydration bladder with easy access rather than stopping and pulling one out from your backpack. So, what should you look for in a hydration bladder? Read on.
Undoubtedly, hydration bladders are usually slightly heavier than your usual water bottles, even the disposable ones. That’s because they’re made of more durable and robust materials, which is generally either plastic or polyethylene. But, hydration bladders are supposed to be like all other hiking gear – lightweight. Good hydration bladders should weigh no more than 250g (8.8oz).
Water bladder capacity and size
Choosing the capacities of hiking hydration bladders largely depends on how and where you’re using it, whether it fits into the daypack you’re carrying, etc. Since these are all very specific and personal aspects, here’s a general guide:
- 3-liter hydration bladders – These are ideal if you’re a long-distance backpacker or trekker or for situations where refilling isn’t a solution. If your bag can accommodate the larger size of the 3-liter bladder, then it’s worth getting it. On shorter adventures, you don’t have to fill it up to maximum capacity.
- 2-liter hydration bladders – These are the safest bets if you aren’t sure about what to go for. Not only do they hold enough water for a day’s activity, but also they fit inside most hiking daypacks.
- 1/1.5 liter hydration bladders – These hydration bladders for backpacking are best suited for trails with refilling opportunities, trail runners, and shorter trips. While refilling is a pain to reckon with, you aren’t carrying a lot of weight either.
Most good hydration systems use bite valves that are the least hassle when it comes to accessing water. All you need to do is apply pressure to the mouthpiece to open the valve, and the water’s ready to be drunk. There’s also another popular type of mouthpiece that’s the push/pull valve, but it’s slightly more tedious to use. It requires you to close the valve with your teeth or hands after drinking, which sort of negates the point of the bladder.
Generally, hydration bladders either have a wide slide top closure or a snap cap closure. While both of them allow easy refilling, you need to remember that the opening should be relatively wider so that it’s easy to clean.
Hydration bladders go through a lot of wear and tear in the outdoors. While the reservoirs rarely leak, it’s the joints at the tube or the mouthpiece that are more likely to leak. Thus, the durability of a hydration system depends a lot on the quality. So, we’d recommend that you get a hydration system that has a detachable mouthpiece and a tube. That’s because it allows for changing the damaged or worn-out part instead of replacing the entire thing.
Finally, we come to the extra accessories offered along with the hydration bladders. These include flow meters, cleaning kits, tube insulators, magnetic mouthpiece clips, tubes with water filters, and the likes. So, make sure you’re getting a good deal and have all these extras along with the product.
Source Widepac Hydration Bladder
One of the most balanced and best hydration bladders for backpacking is the Source Widepac Hydration Bladder. Available in three different sizes of 3L, 2L, and 1.5L, the hydration bladder scores with backpackers and hikers due to its durability and simplicity. It’s constructed from a three-layer polyethylene material that’s been treated with an antimicrobial agent for preventing bacteria growth. It also features the signature Glass-Like technology from Source that renders it super smooth and makes it very easy to clean. The bladder’s also equipped with a top wide slide closure for easy cleaning, draining, and refilling. Plus, the tube can easily be disconnected from the reservoir with the mere push of a button.
The bladder features the silicone-made Helix bite valve that can be locked with a simple twist for preventing leaks. It also comes with a cover that ensures that sand, dirt, and dust don’t get in. What’s more, the bladder does very well on the accessories too. It features a universal tube adaptor for refilling from the reservoir directly. Moreover, it also has a tube insulator for the cold, a mouthpiece shoulder-strap attachment, a magnetic clip, a cleaning skit, and a tube with a water filter.
- Easy to maintain.
- No taste or odor added to the water.
- Leak-free and watertight.
- The water is sterile and drinking-safe.
- Free from phthalates, BPS, and BPA.
- No tie to attach the bladder to the slide top.
Platypus Big Zip Water Reservoir LP
The Platypus Big Zip Water Reservoir has been a long-standing popular choice for hydration bladders for hiking. Available in three different sizes, the reservoir is one of the few low-profile bladders that can be stashed literally into any backpack. It’s constructed from a two-layer polyethylene material. Of them, the outer, robust layer ensures durability and the inner one ensures that the water is taste-free. Not only is it BPS, BPA, and phthalate-free, but it’s treated with silver-ion and hence protects the reservoir from mold and bacteria. The hydration bladder even has a wide slide closure at the top allowing for easy draining, cleaning, and refilling. The handy side pincher makes for easy handling while doing the refilling.
The drinking tube easily disconnects from the reservoir by pressing the release button on the reservoir/tube joint. What’s more, the bite valve has a nifty twist locking mechanism for improved safety and security of your water. Since it boasts a very slim shape, it’ll fit in very nicely in most hydration bladder-compatible daypacks and backpacks. Finally, the reservoir comes with a host of useful accessories including a Hyperflow bite valve, a mouthpiece clip, and a tube insulator.
- Easy to dry, clean, and use.
- Extremely reliable and durable.
- Taste and odor-free.
- Silver-ion protection from mold and bacteria.
- BPS, BPA, and Phthalate-free.
- The valve protection cover is sold separately.
The new and improved Camelback Crux is one of the newest best hydration bladders for backpacking. Available in 3L, 2L, and 1.5L capacities, there’s also a square-shaped Crux Lumbar 3L Reservoir. It’s designed for being stored low in your daypack during high-energy activities for maintaining a lower center of gravity. The Crux features a huge snap-cap closure allowing you to reach easily within the bladder for thorough cleaning. Moreover, the snap cap closes/opens with just a quarter of a turn, making refilling one super easy task.
Made from elastic and extremely durable polyurethane, the hydration bladder offers great durability. Furthermore, it even features the Hydroguard technology for preventing the growth of bacteria and mold. It also has a large, newly-designed ergonomic handle for easier holding and pouring, along with a quick-connect vertical hose attachment. The best part? The bite valve has an improved water flow rate of almost 20% more water out of each sip. If that wasn’t enough, the reservoir offers accessories like a cleaning kit and an insulated tube as well.
- Inhibits bacteria growth.
- Good lever on the bite valve.
- Excellent water flow.
- Very durable and robust.
- Doesn’t have a Quick Link system like older CamelBak models.
HydraPak Shape-Shift Reservoir
Another excellent hydration bladder for hiking is the Hydrapak Shape-Shift Reservoir 3L. On the face of it, it looks like any other hydration bladder. However, if you look closely, you’ll see that it has an innovative design. The reservoir features a center baffle holding the bladder together that prevents the liquid from sloshing around. Since it’s very slim, the reservoir fits nicely within most hydration bladder-compatible daypacks and backpacks. Furthermore, the Hydrapak reservoir is even reversible and can be turned around for easy drying and cleaning. In fact, the brand claims that the reservoir can even go into the dishwasher!
Besides being 100 percent PVC and BPA free, the reservoir features a high-flow bite valve with a twist locking mechanism and a detachable tube for portability. Aside from being treated with an antimicrobial agent for preventing mold, it features a magnetic Quantum Clip for attaching the tube to the pack. When it comes to accessories, the hydration bladder features a variety of bite valves, extended tubes, a tube insulator, a tube cleaning brush, and a mouthpiece cover.
- One of the lightest reservoirs on the list.
- The removable internal baffle is great for stability and easy cleaning.
- When the baffle is in place, the capacity isn’t at 3L.
Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir
The Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir 3L features on almost all lists of best hydration bladders for backpacking. The brand seems to have adopted a slightly different design approach from its peers with this one. It boasts a rigid yet anatomically-shaped backplate that allows you to easily place this within the external/internal hydration sleeve. This, even when the backpack is completely loaded, ensuring that it doesn’t bend when forced into the sleeve. Even though it adds weight, it lends a whole lot of stability as well. The hose connects system is different as well and is placed halfway along with the hose rather than the bottom. This actually makes access easier, especially when you have a full pack and don’t need to reach all the way down.
The reservoir is constructed from durable thermoplastic polyurethane and even features a carrying handle for easy transportation. The bite valve features a nifty twist lock and a handy magnetic closure, as well as a detachable hose. Rounding it off are the many accessories that Osprey offers like a cleaning kit, a magnetic clip, and an insulated tube.
- A great carry handle.
- The Quick Connect valve in the middle rather than the bottom.
- The rigid, yet anatomically good backplate adds structure.
- Heavier than other hydration bladders.
Geigerrig Hydration Engine
The Geigerrig Hydration Engine might be one of the most expensive products on this list, but it’s also one of the best hydration bladders for hiking. Furthermore, it offers a feature that none of the others do – pressurized water flow! It has two chambers, one for air and one for water, complete with a power bulb and a Plug-and-Play connection. This is what helps maintain high water pressure which is useful during high energy activities and in case you’re sharing your water with others (for squirting). What’s more, the pressurized system even keeps the tube clean, since there’s no backwash at all.
Coming to the other features, the reservoir has a folding top with a slide top and mouthpiece both, protecting the liquid within completely. Moreover, it’s fully reversible which is very helpful for cleaning and can even be thrown into the dishwasher for a good and thorough clean-up.
- Durable with nylon backing for additional protection.
- Reversible and dishwasher-safe.
- Very lightweight when not used with the pressurization system.
- Water flow can be fully pressurized.
- Some users have reported that the slide top is a bit clunky to get on and off.
Hydrapak Velocity 1.5L Hydration Reservoir
The incredibly innovative Hydrapak Velocity Hydration Reservoir 1.5L is one of the best hydration bladders for backpacking. A notch above its Shape-Shift brethren, this reservoir is made to last with silicone, HDPE, and TPU in its construction. Thus, it’s not just elastic but also effectively resistant to abrasion, oil, and grease. What’s more, the reservoir’s zip-top bladder not only opens fully but even flips inside out for easy cleaning. Furthermore, it’s even dishwasher safe and can simply be flipped inside out to dry too. The HydraFlex drinking hose offers a stew water flow, complete with a unique bite-valve that auto seals post every sip. Thus, it prevents any leaks when you disconnect the hose from the reservoir.
There are a lot of other things to love about this hydration bladder. Since it has a mere 1.5L capacity, this reservoir is ideal for shorter day trips, treks, and hikes. It’s not only affordable but even comes with Hydrapak’s ‘Beyond Lifetime’ warranty. It also has no sharp edges that could cause discomfort or rips. Finally, at a weight of a mere 4.2 ounces (0.1kg), it’s one of the most lightweight hydration bladders in the market.
- Relatively more affordable than others.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Enhanced flexibility.
- Easy to dry and clean.
- Available in one color only, it that is a disadvantage!
MSR Dromedary Water Bag
If you’re more of a camper, then the MSR Dromedary Water Bag is one of your best choices for a hiking hydration bladder. Camping requires more than simply quenching your thirst, and this is where this water bag shines. Available in 10L, 6L, 4L, and 2L, the Dromedary bags are on the larger end of the spectrum when it comes to capacity. So, it will save you the hassle of finding a water source every time you need to camp. If you’re worried about space, then this water bag is even collapsible. So, it can be squished into a backpack or a travel bag and filled with water whenever necessary.
The bag also has a wide opening for easy pouring and refilling of water, along with a lid to prevent any spillage. Furthermore, it even comes with a detachable mouthpiece that makes it easy for sipping water whenever you need it. Finally, the collapsible water bag also comes with straps and webbings for easy suspendable storage whenever necessary.
- Comfy, ergonomic handle.
- Comes in five different capacities.
- Highly convenient and versatile.
- Easy to carry and store.
- Durable and strong.
Badlands Hydration Reservoir
Besides being one of the best hydration bladders for backpacking, the Badlands Hydration Reservoir is also an exceptional option when you go hunting. Designed particularly for hunters, the water reservoir is both reliable and convenient, and is successful collusion between big outdoor brands Badlands and Hydrapak. It’s not just leak-proof and durable, but also quieter and more practical than any other in its category. The hydration bladder is available in three different sizes of 3L, 2L, and 1L and two shapes (square and rectangular), and is constructed with thick TPU. That, combined with the brand’s ‘Unconditional Lifetime Warranty’ enhances both its life and value.
This reservoir is also easy to dry and clean since it can be flipped inside-out, which also makes it dishwasher-safe. Moreover, the full-width slide-top opening allows for easy, wide access and easy refills. Plus, the Plug-N-Play tube connector allows easy attaching and detaching from the hydration bladder. Moreover, the hose even has an in-built foam insulation mechanism that keeps the water colder for a longer time. To wrap it up, the bite-valve even has an attached freely-dangling dust cover.
- Incredibly lifetime warranty.
- Flips inside-out and dishwasher-safe.
- Available in two different shapes and three sizes.
- The hose is opaque and not see-through.
Source Tactical WXP Hydration Reservoir
The Source tactical WXP Hydration Reservoir is hands-down one of the most versatile hydration bladders for hiking. Firstly, it comes in two sizes, 3L and 2L, and each features both a fold-top and screw-cap for open/close. The combination of these features makes the reservoir leak-proof and watertight, as well as allows for easy ice insertion, refilling, and cleaning. This hydration bladder is made from low-maintenance and chemical-free coextruded polyethylene. At the same time, the interiors boast a glass-like liner that prevents the build-up of bacteria as well as the development of plastic flavor. It’s also enhanced with Grunge-Guard antimicrobial technology that prevents micro-organisms from thriving within.
The reservoir also does a great job of insulating its tube, which has a UV-resistant fabric webbing that keeps the water cool. The storm valve’s patented push-and-pull storm technology ensures 25% more water flow as compared to other products. For closing it, all you need to do is push it back. Why this technology is useful is that you never lose it and it remains uncontaminated and sterile when not in use.
- Keeps water cool for a long time.
- Self-cleaning mechanism.
- Features antimicrobial technology.
- Completely leak-proof.
- A bit too tall as comapred to other packs.
CamelBak Antidote Reservoir
The CamelBak Antidote Reservoir is one of the best hydration bladders for backpacking. Made from robust polyurethane, this is one workhorse of a hydration bladder that has stood the test of time. It’s not just BPS and BPA-free but even comes with a limited lifetime warranty, enhancing its long-term value. It features a large grab handle and a wide mouth opening, allowing easy cleaning and refilling both. Moreover, there are two water chambers that not only reduce water sloshing within but also create a slim profile together. Other extra features include a Quick Link system, integrated fold-out dryer arms, and removable hose set it apart from others.
The bite-valve is also medium in size, firmer, and not easily detachable, thus making it leak-proof. Since it has a slim profile, the Antidote can turn any backpack into a hydration pack. So, you will neither have to worry about your backpack getting wet or about lack of space in the backpack. Moreover, it’s overall lightweight as well.
- Midline zipping prevents water sloshing.
- Narrow, slim profile.
- Medium-sized valve ideal for most users.
- A bit plasticky taste, which goes away with time, though.
Gregory Mountain Hydration Bladder
The Gregory mountain Hydration Bladder is one of the best hydration bladders for hiking. Available in 3L and 2L sizes, the hydration reservoir is made from high-quality BPA-free metallocene polyethylene, thus ensuring durability. Moreover, it boasts an elastic non-rupturing tube, soft but non-abrasive surfaces, and robust unrelenting seams. Just like other high-end reservoirs, this one’s inner surface is treated with an antimicrobial agent to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. What’s more, the design of the bladder is rather unique, since the apposite surfaces don’t touch each other. So, it doesn’t cause water pockets and helps fight against bacteria and mold build-up.
The reservoir sits comfortably against your back, lending you agility during that hike. The full-length baffle reduces water sloshing, while the integrated QuickDry hanger hook allows for easy, quick storage. Its standout feature is the switch type valve, which only needs a button push to release a strong flow of water. Rounding it up is the DryLock, which is leak proof.
- SpeedClip mounting system eliminates hassle.
- Easy Grip opening allows for easy and quick refilling.
- Full-length baffle avoids sloshing.
- PVC and BPA-free construction, so water is odorless and tasteless.
- Mouthpiece doesn’t have a dust cover.
Deuter Streamer 2.0 Hydration Bladder
The Deuter Streamer 2.0 Hydration Bladder is on many lists of best hydration bladders for backpacking. Available in 3L and 2L sizes, the reservoir is made of thick polyethylene material and offers an odorless and strong water flow to keep you hydrated. The quick-connect hose sits at the base, enabling extended flow until the reservoir is almost empty. The bite valve has a fitting removable cap that deters dust and other contaminants that keep the water sterile. Moreover, the twist-to-lock valve ensures an absolute leak-proof setup.
The fold-top closure mechanism ensures hassle-free refilling and ease of cleaning since it opens for the entire width. So, it can be dried and cleaned with ease. Moreover, the fold-top closure further features a sliding plastic clip, offering a tight, leak-proof mechanism.
- Completely leak-proof.
- The hose is connected at the base.
- Odorless, tasteless water storage.
- Easy to use.
- Some might find it cumbersome to open the bite valve cap every time for sipping water.