Best Hydration Bladders for the Outdoors
When hiking, running, or performing any activity this summer season you will want to make sure you are properly hydrated to keep you going and having fun. Now, many of us opt to bring a water bottle with us to ensure we have water close by in case we need to hydrate but that usually takes up a free hand and can become a pain if holding a water bottle for long periods of time.
Do not worry, as there is a solution that will keep you hydrated while your on the go this summer, and that solution is a hydration bladder. Theseproducts are bladders that you can fill with water and slip into a hiking backpack or dog bag to ensure that you will have full access to your hands and still be able to get hydrated while on the go.
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Cap provides different use options
Built to Last
Top Ten Outdoor Hydration Bladders
1. MSR DromeLite Bags
Cap provides different use options
Built to Last
Can be difficult to fit in a standard backpack
MSR DromeKute Bags are made to help you stay hydrated no matter what types of outdoor activities you prefer. Both lightweight and built to last, these hydration bladders are made by a company that has tested its product and revised it for years to make sure it can conquer a variety of outdoor sports in any terrain.Read more
MSR DromeLite Bags are tough products built to last through any outdoor activity and all outdoor conditions. It’s compact and collapsible, making it very easy to carry anywhere. MSR DromeLite bags are also very easy to fill and come with a wide-mouth opening.
Ease of use
The MSR DromeLite’s wide-mouth opening comes with an exclusive feature, a cap that allows you to use the water bladder in a few different ways. First, you can take the cap off to access the wide-mouth if you need a refill, to empty out your water, or dry out your pack. Second, you can opt to use the spout on the cap for a splash of water if you need to wash your hands or rinse something.
When unfilled this bladder weighs less than a pound so it will be convenient to carry around with you as you will not even know it is there.
MSR DromeLite Bags are rugged products, designed with a strong 200-denier Cordura material to keep the water inside the bag safe no matter what harsh conditions you encounter along your route. You’ll get a lot of use out of this hydration reservoir as well since it’s designed for a wide variety of outdoor activities.
2. Aquatic Way
Built to last
Made from BPA free material
Only holds 2 L of water
This best hydration bladder is built with quality and compactness in mind. It is an ideal bladder if you are performing any high endurance sports, as it is easy to transport and easy to use.Read more
This bladder will hold 2 L of water which is a good amount of water. It is recommended for use if you are going on a high endurance run or walk but will not be gone from a water source for a good amount of the day. When not full of water this bladder is easy to transport as it rolls up into a small compact size.
Ease of use
This bladder is quite easy to use as it has a large opening on the front of the bladder, and this opening is easy to fill with water and even big enough to add ice. Once you fill the bladder you simply need to turn the knob on the end of the hose and a stream of water will be accessible.
When not filled this bladder weighs not even a pound which makes it very portable. When filled with water it is still light but the weight will change depending on how much water is in the bladder at a given time.
This bladder is made from BPA free material. It is built with durability in mind and is pressure and wear resistant, which means with proper care you should have this water bladder bag for many years to come.
3. CamelBak Omega
Easy to fill
Holds 3 L of water
The hose could be more durable
A great company and a great water bladder. CamelBak is known for making hydration backpacks and bladders as that is what they do, so if this bladder is in your price range, take a closer look.Read more
This bladder will hold up to 3 L which is a great size for a hydration reservoir. Its overall size is quite compact and should fit in any backpack that you have, which is convenient as it will be versatile.
Ease of use
This bladder is easy to fill as it has a convenient filling hole on the front of the bladder. This filling hole is quite large and you should have no problem filling without spilling any water. Once your bladder is filled, you simply need to twist the knob at the bottom of your hose to let the water flow out. Simple as it gets!
This bladder when unfilled weighs half of a pound, so nothing at all. When filled it can range in weight depending on how much water you fill the bladder with, but as you use the water, your bladder will start to return to the half pound weight.
This bladder is made from high-quality material and you should not have to worry about the bladder ripping or tearing.
4. CamelBak Crux
Unique lumbar design to help with balance while outdoors
Hydro guard technology helps prevent bacteria
More difficult to clean than its competitors
The CamelBak Crux Reservoir is one of the most affordable and easiest-to-use water bladder packs available on the market today. While some outdoor enthusiasts may worry about long-term use when spending less on a water bladder bag, the CamelBak Crux Reservoir comes with a lifetime warranty, so you can rest easy after making this purchase. While it requires a bit more of a cleaning effort than some of the other bladders on this list because it does not come with a pressurized system, it’s certainly got many features that make it a worthwhile purchase.Read more
This water bladder will hold 2 L when full which is still great for day trips but not as much water as some of our other bladders will hold that is on our guide.
Ease of use
The CamelBak Crux Reservoir is simple to use for both drinking and filling. Even though this water bladder is not pressurized, it’s still easy to get a quick sip. The bladder comes with a unique lumbar design which helps to keep water weight against the lower back, making the system steady no matter what activities you perform outdoors. You also get a leak-proof cap and an on/off lever to seal the tube and prevent leaks.
This bladder when not full weights less than a pound, but it can not be rolled up as it is pretty stiff material.
This water bladder bag is made from tough and durable material, so it may feel stiff but that is the durability of the bladder you are feeling.
Microban anti-bacterial material and GlassAS technology create a germ-free, smooth interior
An effective opening system provided by the sliding opening and screw cap
Easy to refill
Bottom seal and hose can leak easily
The CHERAINTI is extremely affordable, and for its price, comes with many benefits for the avid outdoor enthusiast. It’s made to be used for a wide variety of outdoor adventures, including hiking, running, biking, camping, and just about anything you can think of. Currently, because of its price, features, and many uses, it’s one of the most popular water bladder on the market.Read more
This hydration reservoir can hold 2L of water when filled which is a great size for many summer activities.
Ease of use
The CHERAINTI brings you an easy-opening system with its efficient screw cap and slide opening capability. These two features make it very efficient for you to refill your bladder anywhere, no matter what terrain or weather you encounter. Even better, both the screw cap and slide opening make the unit easy to clean and dry.
This is another lightweight bladder as it comes in under a pound. It will be easy to transport with you and hydrate you without weighing you down.
The inside surface of the CHERAINTI is made with both Microban anti-bacterial material. This combination is an innovative approach to these reservoirs since it makes the hydration bladder’s inner design smooth. The even interior material keeps bacteria and germs from forming and infecting your water, protecting you from ingesting to bad materials.
6. Platypus Big Zip LP
Several size options to fit various reservoir sleeves
Good zip top closure
Great quick release system
No flip-top opening
The Platypus Big Zip LP is designed to be both strong and light. This hydration bladder is made to be easy to clean, and works well for most general outdoor usages, although it’s not quite as innovative as some of the other hydration reservoirs mentioned on this list. While it doesn’t come with as many extras as some other products, it is an efficient and affordable system made to last and adapt to all your outdoor activities.Read more
This bladder holds 3 L of water which is great for long summer adventures.
Ease of use
The Platypus Big Zip LP comes with a wide-mouth opening so that it can be refilled and emptied easily. The pack also sits flat in water reservoir sleeves and comes in several size options, so that it is easy to fit into any sleeve you own. The Big Zip also has an efficient zip top closure and effective quick release system.
This bladder is extremely light and weighs less than a pound which means it is easy to pack and carry with you.
A couple of things about the Platypus Big Zip LP’s benefits come to mind when reviewing quality. First, the Big Zip is taste-free, so there’s no plastic aftertaste to worry about. It is also designed with a silver-ion material to ward off bacteria and mold.
7. HydraPack Shape-Shift
Easy to clean and dry
Ziplock divider prevents sloshing
Fits easily into most packs and sleeves
The bite valve is difficult to lock
The HydraPack Shape-Shift Reservoir is designed to be lightweight, easy-to-use, and can be used with any running or hiking back. The hydration bladder is simple to operate and made with a slim fit so you can utilize it for a wide variety of outdoor adventures. The HydraPack Shape-Shift Reservoir comes with a valve that makes it easy to get water with a minimal amount of sucking, even though the system isn’t pressurized. It’s also built to last and can take both extreme heat and freezing temperatures. Designed to help you get through any outdoor activity, regardless of weather or terrain, the HydraPack Shape-Shift Reservoir is built to adapt to anything you need.Read more
This bladder holds 2 L of water when full of water which is a good amount to take with you on a day adventure. When not full this bladder is quite compact and can be transported easily.
Ease of use
The HydraPack Shape-Shift Reservoir comes with an innovative, wide slider opening. The wide slider opening is both leak-proof and easy to fill. Also, the HydraPack bladder can be turned inside out easily, making both cleaning and drying a simple process. The bite valve on the HydraPack bladder provides plenty of water with a light amount of sucking. The HydraPack also comes with a magnetic clip which helps control the hose. While the bite valve does provide you with easy access to water, it can be hard to lock.
This bladder when not filled is quite light and weighs under a pound. When not in use, you can compactly roll it up and store in your backpack.
The features on the HydraPack give it a nice overall design that makes it both easy to use and clean. This bladder is built to last and also made with simplicity in mind.
8. Geigerrig Hydration Engine
Made with strong material
Geiggerig’s Hydration Engine comes with a wide variety of features that make the bladder easy-to-use and efficient to maintain. Geiggerig’s design also makes this best hydration bladder made to last, since it’s integration of nylon protects the unit from tearing. This longer-lasting, dishwasher safe water bladder bag is an excellent choice for anybody that is active in a wide variety of outdoor activities.Read more
This bladder when full will hold up to 3 L of water, which is a great size if you find yourself taking a day adventure that you need to stay hydrated for. When not full it rolls up to be compact and will fit in your backpack without issue.
Ease of use
Geiggerig’s Hydration Engine comes with a wide mouth opening, making it an easy-to-clean and refill hydration reservoir. Cleaning is particularly easy with this product, in part because of its wide mouth opening, but also because it’s very easy to dry it out as well. For those outdoor enthusiasts that prefer sports drinks to water and worry about keeping their bladders clean and bacteria free, Geiggerig’s Hydration Engine’s benefit of an efficient cleaning and drying system makes this possible. Also, when using sports drinks in water bladders, many people worry about residue in the tubes. But again, Geiggerig’s Hydration Engine makes clean tubes possible since it utilizes a pressurized system to help clear out the tubes.
When unfull this bladder weighs a pound, which is heavier than some of the other bladders on our guide, but overall is still quite light.
Geiggerig’s Hydration Engine is made to last. Developed with strong nylon material, you’ll be able to pull it in and out easily without having to worry about it tearing or fraying, something you certainly don’t want to worry about if you find yourself outdoors for long periods of time.
9. Osprey Hydraulics LT
Innovative design on quick release hose
Magnetic attachment on bit valve for easy use and placement
Easy to access and fill
No pressurized system
The Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir is designed to be used for a wide variety of outdoor activities, and fits with several different types of backpacking and running hydration packs. Developed to make the water extremely easy to access while you are in the middle of your outdoor adventures, it comes with a large plastic handle to make it easy to fill, a long flip closure, an efficient bit valve, and a hose that quickly provides the sustenance you need to keep going.Read more
This bladder is one of the smaller options on our list as it only carries 1.5L of water. This bladder is good if you are going for a short run, hike, climb, or any activity.
Ease of use
The location of the quick release hose on this bladder is also a plus. Instead of being on the base like most bladders, the hose on the Osprey system is found about twelve inches from the base. Placing the hose away from the base makes it much easier to get the bladder out and to locate the release.
This bladder is quite light and weighs less than a pound when not filled with water.
Osprey’s Hydraulics LT Reservoir bladder comes with several features that make it an excellent companion for all your outdoor activities. One huge benefit of this bladder is its leak-proof bite valve, which lets you get all the water you need without feeling like you need to suck the system dry for a sip. The bit valve’s magnetic attachment is also a great feature since you can attach the bit valve anywhere on the tube.
10. Platypus Hoser
Comes in four different sizes
Silver-ion interior protects it from mold and bacteria
The tubes and bag are not easy to clean
The Platypus Hoser Hydration Reservoir offers avid outdoor lovers several size options and many easy-to-use benefits. Available in four different sizes, you can easily obtain the size you need to fit any sleeve or pack you already own. While the Platypus Hoser Hydration Reservoir is not as fancy as some of its competitor versions, it is affordable, efficient, and easy to use on the go.Read more
This bladder holds 2 L of water when full.
Ease of use
The Platypus Hoser’s hose is made with a lapel clip to keep it in place no matter what outdoor activities you decide to perform. The drink tube itself is easy to use and fits even small pack openings. Also, the Platypus Hoser comes with a Hyperflow bite valve, which makes it an effective option for hands-free water access while on-the-go.
This bladder weighs less than a pound is lightweight for easy portability.
The Platypus Hoser Hydration Reservoir’s materials make it a phthalate-free option designed with silver-ion on the interior of the bladder, keeping it safe from mold and bacteria, and making it taste-free. This hydration container is also made with a food-grade liner that strengthens the outside of the bag, making it tough and resilient. Overall, it’s a good, versatile bag you can use for a variety of outdoor activities.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When you’re preparing yourself for your next outdoor activity and know you will need to carry water, you’ll want to take a moment to consider just how much water you’ll really need to achieve your goals. Considering the amount of water you need to carry for your outdoor activities should also help you decide what size of a hydration bladder you require. If you do a wide variety of outdoor activities, and only want to purchase one versatile hydration pack for all that you do, then you’ll need to consider the maximum amount of water you’ll need to have for your most strenuous activities.
While you might feel like it’s better to be “safe than sorry” with water and overprepare rather than underprepared, remember that this is not always the best approach to planning your outdoor adventures, either. Water isn’t something that’s particularly light to carry if you are hauling around a large amount of it. One liter of water, for example, weighs around two pounds. So, another thing to think about is how much water you really can carry without slowing yourself down, and whether or not you’ll have options to refill your water bladder bag along the way.
Another concept to remember when considering what size of hydration reservoir to purchase is knowing you don’t need to totally fill your bladder to the top each time you use it. If you are planning an activity you know will be a shorter event requiring less water, then only bring what you know you will need.
So, for those of you wanting to get one pack for all of your outdoor needs, think of the longest trip you might take and the largest amount of water you might need before you purchase your product, and try to match what you anticipate. Then, when you go on your shorter trips, fill the hydration bladder with only the water you need, instead of to the very top.
Ease of Use
Another important factor to consider when purchasing your water bladder bag is its ease of use, especially while you are on-the-go. The best bladders for outdoor enthusiasts are easy to drink from and hands-free so that stopping to hydrate is not required.
The most important feature to analyze when looking for a hydration bladder that’s simple to drink from is the mouthpiece. You want to find a hydration bladder that gives you the amount of purified water you need whenever you need it with minimal sucking.
If you find you have to suck too much on the mouthpiece, you might find yourself having difficulty breathing during your activity, and then you’ll most likely despise any reservoir bladder that makes you feel like you are short of breath.
The weight of your hydration bladder is certainly something to think about since you’ll want to carry something that will be both convenient for you and that won’t obstruct your outdoor activities. Most companies offer lightweight options that are easy to lug around and don’t prevent movement. For smaller people, considering a lightweight hydration reservoir should be a necessity. There are many different options for our buying guide. Make sure the weight of the water reservoir matches your journey and fits you comfortably.
The materials that form your water bladder bag pack should also be a factor in your decision-making process. The quality of your hydration bladder pack will depend immensely on the materials that form the design. Several hydration packs are BPA-free, which helps prevent the water from tasting like plastic or chemicals.
Also, many water bladder use materials in the interior of the bladder, like silver-ion for example, that help destroy both bacteria and mold from building up and creating health issues.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
For the avid outdoor enthusiast, purchasing a reliable hydration bladder is a necessity. Water bladders are both affordable and comfortable ways to carry water efficiently and comfortably without restricting movement. Also, obtaining easy access to water without stopping, searching for a water bottle, or having to use one’s hands for an extended period of time is a true benefit of these products.
When looking for a hydration bladder make sure it will be versatile and fit in any backpack or bag that you intend to use it with. The last thing you want is to purchase one that does not fit or is incompatible with your backpack.
Other Factors to Consider
A hydration bladder’s capability to be easily cleaned is another important consideration. If the water reservoir is difficult to clean, then you might wind up with some mold and bacteria build-up which can cause problems with your water and eventually your health. This build-up issue is especially a problem for those outdoor enthusiasts who prefer sports drinks.
For health purposes, you’ll want one that is easy to clean, and many of these items on the market today are dishwasher safe, which is the most effective way to kill that bacteria and mold, and also the simplest way to clean it. How easy a water bladder is to refill is something else that will come into play with ease of use.
Many water bladder bags come with wide-mouth designs, which does allow for simple refilling just about everywhere. However, some of these wide-mouth openings can be hard to close, so make sure to consider how well you feel the mouth closes.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Why should I purchase a hydration bladder for my outdoor activities?
If you are an active outdoor enthusiast, then you already know you’re going to need to be able to consume water when you’re out and about. Most outdoor enthusiasts feel bladders are indispensable, and a necessary product to utilize. Water reservoirs offer outdoor enthusiasts several benefits, and they are all things you’ll want to capitalize on.
First, when you have a good model pack, you’ll find that it is easy to stay hydrated and get the water you need while you are on the go. They use drinking tubes that can be easily accessed while you are in the middle of an activity. So, instead of using a regular water bottle, which requires you to stop, look for the water, and then drink it, you won’t need to stop and can easily access your water.
It’s also very easy to carry water in hydration bladders, and they don’t require a lot of pack space usage, either. They are made to fit easily into a pack’s outside frame, so you won’t use any inside pack space. Your backpack, then, becomes much lighter to carry. Also, the action of carrying water in a bladder is much more comfortable than having to carry a water canteen, since a canteen can flop around the body and poke into the skin.
Canteens also leave you feeling lopsided, since all the water weight sets on one side of the body. Water bladders sit easily in backpacks without flopping around or poking into your body, and are designed to spread the water weight so you stay balanced.
The space-saving features are also a bonus and make them much more efficient than canteens. As you drink water, the reservoirs will shrink as they empty out, giving you more space in your backpack.
These water bag are also much lighter and carry more water than a plastic water bottle or canteen. Larger water bladders that hold up to three liters of water usually only weigh around six ounces. Most plastic water bottles weigh around four ounces and only hold about one liter of water.
q: What’s the best way to care for my hydration bladder?
Hydration bladders are made to carry both water and sports drinks, or really any other special type of drink you decide to make for yourself to help you replenish whatever you feel you need while you’re out doing your outdoor activities.
For people who prefer energy drinks and sports drinks, they’ll have to remember that many of these types of beverages contain additives not found in water. Many of these additives, if left to sit inside it, can form into bacteria, even in those that come with interior features that help cut down on bacterial growth. If you’re in a warm climate and using energy or sports drinks in your bladder, the bacteria can multiply very fast.
Of course, even if you prefer to just use water, mold and bacteria can build up through regular use and a lack of cleaning. So, no matter what you decide to put in your hydration bladder, you need to figure out an effective way to clean it regularly to prevent health issues.
There are a few different ways you can effectively clean it and keep it clear of bacteria and mold. One way to do this is to use hot water along with a couple of spoons of baking soda or bleach. Simply run your tap till the water is hot, and before placing the water in your water bag, first, add the bleach or baking soda. Then, add the water and fill your water pack about halfway.
Close the bladder and shake it for two to five minutes. Then, let the water drain out through the bite valve to clean and disinfect the tubes and mouthpiece areas. Rinse it out with water and make sure it is chemical-free.
Another way to clean it is to purchase cleaning tabs made for disinfecting these products. Fill your hydration reservoir with clean water, then drop one tab in and let it sit that way for about a half an hour. Then, rinse and drain the bladder.
Whenever you clean your water bag, you need to ensure you’ve effectively disinfected both the tube and mouthpiece. These reservoirs tubes usually need more than just a simple rinse, since mold tends to grow in the tubes quickly.
Mold can also stain in it's tubes, and even after you’ve cleaned out the tubes, you may still see the stains. To make sure you are able to get all of the mold and bacteria out of the tube and to keep the tube stain-free, you’ll want to purchase a tube brush to help clean the tube.
Last, make sure you air dry this product before you put it away. Keep it away from the sun, and hang it out to dry somewhere inside your house.
q: If i buy a more expensive hydration bladder pack, that means I will get the best quality product, right?
When looking at investing in a hydration bladder, do not think the more expensive product you get the more durable or better quality it will be as that just is not the case. The best thing to do when looking for a durable item to last you years to come is to look at the material and also the reviews to see how the water bladder has held up for other consumers that have put them to the test. Do not solely be swayed by price as you may end up with an expensive water pack that will not hold up, make an educated purchase and do the research before buying.
q: What sizes do hydration bladders come in?
Typical sizes of these products are:
5 liters or less. These bladders are very small and minimal and work only for short, light outdoor activities.
1-1.5 liters. This bladder size works well for people that do short-distance hikes, runs, and bike rides for the average workout of about thirty to ninety minutes per trip.
2-2.5 liters. The most popular water bladder size, this option gives you enough water to not require much refilling and isn’t too heavy or bulky.
3 liters or more. This size is really for the long-term adventurist who plans to keep going for several hours without wanting a refill. It can also be used by overnight outdoor enthusiasts.
q: How do I know which hydration bladder will last me years to come?
The hydration pack’s materials will determine how rugged and long-lasting the product will be. Most water packs are built to take some abuse, but there are also other water bladder packs found on the market that are built to last a lifetime. The more resilient types of hydration reservoirs that come with features like welded seems do typically cost more, but can also last for an incredible amount of time, and do tend to save you money in the long run.
Also, having it that you know can withstand just about anything means you won’t find yourself in the middle of outdoor activity with a bladder that breaks or malfunctions, leaving you with no water. So, reliability is a key factor, and something you’ll be grateful for later.