The hydration bladder is an invention that’s been around since the 1990s. It was first conceived to be used by professional bike cyclists who wanted to have convenient and portable access to their water. However, it didn’t remain exclusive to the bicycling community and soon became popular among runners, backpackers, and hikers.
Nowadays, there are a variety of different models available – from the ones that fit inside of other backpacks to ones that can be strapped to your back by themselves. Some of them have complicated filtering and dispensing systems, while others are basically just a bag full of water and a tube to drink it through.
While all of the different varieties of bladders offer the consumer a lot of choices, it also means that it can be harder to determine which one is the best one available. Which is why you’ll find the ten best hydration bladder models available listed below.
Best Hydration Bladder – Reviews
10Aquatic Way 2-Liter Water Reservoir
This water reservoir is made from a food-grade and BPA-free material that not only prevents your water from getting a funny aftertaste but is resistant to a variety of microbes and mold spores. It has a large mouth opening in which water and ice can be fed into it and the whole unit is not only easy to use but also easy to clean. This model is compatible with a number of the more popular backpacks on the market including High Sierra, Teton, Osprey and Camelbak backpacks. This 2-liter model has an on and off valve which prevents the unit from leaking when not in use and has an extra-long tube that’s approximately 37-inches long. Other features of this model include tube insulation, a quick disconnect tube, and a soft but durable mouthpiece.
9Cherainti Water Storage Bag With Insulated Tube
Equipped with a wide mouth so that it’s easy to clean out and to fill, this water storage bag also has a number of other features which make it quite useful to hikers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. It’s made from a material that’s resistant to molds and bacteria and is BPA-free and nontoxic. This pressure-tolerant bag is designed to withstand a number of extreme conditions, include temperatures from -20 to 50 degrees Celsius. And since it has an insulated tube, it will keep the water a more stable temperature no matter what the temperature is outside.
8Crystal Creek Outdoor Gear Insulated Water Holder
Designed to be used by hikers, cyclists, hunters, campers and trail runners, this water container has a number of features which make it perfect for outdoor use. It’s made from a BPA-free material that’s FDA approved and doesn’t impart a funny taste or smell to the water it holds. It also has a large mouth opening which is not only easier to fill but is also quite a bit easier to clean. This container comes in either a 2-liter or 3-liter size that should hold enough water for most runs, hikes or rides. Other features of this bladder include a positive flow valve that allows for hands-free hydration, reinforced seams to prevent water leakage and a dishwasher-safe lid.
7Free Move 2-Liter Water Bladder & Cooler Bag
This 2-liter water bladder is capable of fitting into a number of different backpack brands and has many of the features that runners, hikers, and backpackers are looking in a hydration system. It’s manufactured using BPA-free materials that are not only tasteless but also have antibacterial properties. This model also has a large opening, a quick release tube, an easy-to-use on/off shutoff valve, a silicone mouthpiece and a protective cap. This bladder is leak-proof and will keep the water that’s contained in it cool for quite a long period of time. These features mean that this bladder is one that’s capable of keeping the user hydrated for quite awhile.
6Wacool 3-Liter BPA-Free Hydration Pack
This hydration pack has a number of features which will endear it to hikers and backpackers all over the globe. It comes in a large 3-liter capacity and is made from a BPA-free and EVA-free material that’s odorless and tasteless, so it won’t taint the purity of the water you put into it. This rigid bladder has a .6mm thick liner that makes it not only wear proof but also pressure tolerant as well and has double soldered sides that increase its durability. It’s insulated with military-grade insulation over the hose, so your water stays cooler longer. Another great feature of this model is that it has a large opening and a screw cap with a handle that keeps it completely leak proof.
5CamelBak Crux Hydration Reservoir
This hydration reservoir is made out of material that uses Hydroguard technology, a technology that ensures that bacteria, molds, and microbes don’t reproduce in the bladder’s reservoir or tube. It also features a leak-proof cap that’s easy to open and even easier to close and this model also has an on/off lever that allows the user to seal off the drinking tube using just one hand. It also has a “Big Bite” valve that seals itself after every drink you take. Other features of this unit include an ergonomic fill handle and a quick link system.
4U’Be 2-Liter Water Receptacle
This 2-liter water receptacle is manufactured using a material that’s BPA-free and imparts no taste or odor to the water which is contained within it. It’s made using rip-stop materials so that it’s durable and is also leak proof as well. This easy-to-use and an easy-to-clean unit is lightweight and is small enough to fit in just about any backpack. This makes this the perfect model for cyclists, runners, hikers, campers, and backpackers. Other features include a soft-bite mouthpiece and an auto on/off valve that turns off the water flow automatically.
3BONL Emerald Hydration Container
This hydration container comes in a 3-liter size and is made from a material that’s BPA-free and doesn’t impart a plastic taste to the water which is added to it. This model is certified by both the SGS and the FDA and has an extra-thick liner that makes is resistant to wear and also makes it tolerant of pressure changes. It has a smooth inner surface that prevents bacteria and lime deposits from clinging to the inside of the bottle. This unit has a specially designed mouthpiece and hose connector that creates a nice flow of water and auto-locks so the unit doesn’t leak.
2Platypus Big Zip LP Water Container
Made of materials that are BPA-free, BPS-free, and Phthalate-free, this water container is not only free of existing contaminants but has silver-ions embedded into it that prevents mold and bacteria from gaining a foothold in the system. This model comes in three distinct sizes – from 1.5 liters to 2 liter and 3-liter models – and will fit a wide variety of reservoir sleeves. It has a wide-mouth opening that’s very easy to refill and a cap that locks securely in place. Designed with a low-profile design that is designed to ride flatter in a backpack than convention models, this unit is the perfect one for hikers and campers.
1Camelbak Military Water Beast Omega Reservoir
While this brand of reservoir doesn’t look too impressive to the naked eye, it’s packed with features that make it quite useful to hikers, campers, and cyclists. It comes in a large 3-liter size and is designed to fit in all standard military tactical backpacks. This model is made using Hydroguard Technology, a technology designed to prevent the growth of bacteria and microbes in the water so that every drink of water is safe and reliably hydrating. It also has an insulated delivery tool that helps to keep the water cool and is equipped with a quick-disconnect hydrolink. Other features of this container include a Big Bite Valve and a hydrolink port plug.
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Purchasing the Best Hydration Bladder
There are a number of things that need to be considered before purchasing a bladder for holding water. There are the profile and the size of the bladder, its opening style, bite valve size and hose compatibility, among other things to consider. The following is an explanation of how these features impact the use and function of these water containers.
Size of the Bladder
One of the more important considerations to make when choosing one of these bladders is the size of the unit. You’ll want to choose a model that’s big enough for your personal hydration needs but not so big that it becomes a burden to carry. Below are some of the more common sizes available:
- 1-Liter: This is a good size for children or for people who plan on replenishing their water stores on the go. It’s also good for short hikes or trail runs.
- 2-Liter: This is a popular option because it should supply most of your water needs for most of the day, depending on your activity level, of course.
- 3-Liter: This option is good for those who need more water during the day and don’t intend on releasing their stores on the way. However, just because you have a 3-liter model, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be partially filled if the user’s water demands are not so great.
Profile of the Bladder & Compatibility
Another thing that should be considered is the profile of the bladder. Some bladders are designed to be flat and others have a “fuller” profile. If you are replacing the hydration pack in a current backpack, then compare the shape of the bladder you want to buy with the one that’s currently in it. This will give you an idea if the bladder is compatible with a particular backpack. You may also want to reconsider size and make sure that the size you chose will fit in your pack.
Bladder Opening Style
As far as bladder openings are concerned, there are really only three options: Screw Top models, Fold Top models and Zip Top models. Each of these has their own set of pros and cons and you should weight each of them carefully when looking for a container for holding water.
Screw Top Bladders: Screw top models have a number of advantages. They can usually be filled right to the top, lock tight and are easy-to-fill. However, they also have their disadvantages which include being hard to clean and being harder to open for water than other container types.
Fold Top Bladders: These containers are good for situations where you need to replenish your water supply using a creek or a stream. They are also easy to clean and don’t leak. The disadvantage of this model is that they often can’t be filled right up to the top because a “bubble” of air is required to remain at the top of the bag.
Zip Top Bladders: These bladders can be filled under the tap or using streams and creeks. They can be harder to clean than screw top models and can be harder to open as well.
Bite Valve Sizes & Mechanisms
Bite valves come in three different sizes and each of these different sizes has their own advantages and disadvantages. Small valves are easier to suck through but the volume of water that comes through it is much lower than medium or large size valves. Large valves are harder to suck but the water flow is generally greater and medium-sized valves are midway between these two extremes.
Bite valves also have one of two different mechanisms for locking. These are the switch and the turn valve. Generally speaking, switches are easier to use when you are busy working out or walking and are also easier to clean. Turn valves have the added disadvantage of getting stuck if they aren’t properly cleaned out.
Some models either have their main body insulated or have their hoses insulated. In either case, this additional insulation keeps the water cooler than models that don’t have this feature. It’s not a big difference but enough of one that it should be given some consideration.