The quickest way to spoil a great day out is to run out of water. I always make sure I carry plenty with me but I can’t be bothered with water bottles. Taking a bottle in and out of a pack each time I want a drink is annoying. I prefer using hydration bladders but I’ve had my fair share of wet backpacks from leaky bags or mouthpieces. I’ve taken a look at 5 of the best hydration bladders on the market at the moment.
- Best Overall Hydration Bladder: Platypus Big Zip LP Reservoir Hydration Bladder
- Best for Budget: Baen Sendi Hydration Bladder 3 Liter
What You'll Learn
- Best Hydration Bladders for Hiking: Reviewed
- Hydration Bladder Buying Guide
Best Hydration Bladders for Hiking: Reviewed
At a Glance:
- Large opening makes it easy to fill, clean and dry
- BPA free, FDA approved and no taste
- Insulated reservoir sleeve keeps water cool
- Seams are double reinforced giving great durability
- Lining the lid up and getting it to seal properly takes a little practice
Having water on a long hot hike is great, having cold water is even better. This great product combines a durable 3L bladder with an insulated sleeve that keeps the ice and water in the bladder cold for ages.
Additionally, if you are hiking in winter, or at altitude, the insulated bladder prevents water freezing.
The opening is large enough to get your hand in which makes filling, cleaning and drying an easy job. The mouthpiece works well and only requires a gentle bite to release the water. It seals well too with no leaking.
We really liked that the mouthpiece was removable. This allows you to attach an inline filter. The loops and eyes make the bladder and insulated sleeve easy to attach to a pack.
We were also impressed with the after sales service that Crystal Creek offers.
At a Glance:
- Excellent twist and bite mouthpiece offers easy drinking and zero leaks
- BPA free with smooth design and antimicrobial properties to keep bladder hygienic
- Full-width slide clip makes cleaning and filling easy and seals really well
- Quick disconnect hose makes refilling easy
- Mouthpiece had a slight rubber taste on initial use
If you’re tired of fiddling with screw tops then you’ll love the full-width slide clip that the Deuter Streamer uses.
It makes it extremely easy to fill, clean and dry and it seals tight enough to deal with a fair amount of movement. The 2L capacity is plenty enough for a day out and the quality valve ensures you don’t lose any water to leaks. The real standout feature of this hydration bladder is the quick connect system that allows you to disconnect the hose from the bladder without any leaks.
The mouthpiece has a dust cap to protect it from getting dirty when you set your pack down but it comes off quickly when you need a sip. There was a slight rubber taste from the mouthpiece but that should fade after the first few uses or a quick vinegar rinse.
At a Glance:
- Quick-snap screw cap seals easily with just a quarter turn
- Integrated dryer arm makes it easy to hang and dry
- Simple to fill, clean and dry
- BPA and BPS free
- Lifetime warranty
- Slight plastic taste the first few uses
Camelbak has a well-earned reputation in the outdoor hydration space. The biggest complaint when it comes to screw caps is how difficult it can be to get the threads lined up and screwed in all the way.
Camelbak have solved that issue with a simple to use, quick-snap cap that requires only a quarter turn to lock it in place. With the cap off the opening is one of the largest we’ve seen and makes it simple to fill or to get your hand in there to clean and dry it.
The bite valve works well and seals tight when you’re not using it. The quick link system makes it easy to disconnect the hose or to insert an inline water filter. We really like the welded center baffle that results in a low profile bladder that allows great packability even when full.
At a Glance:
- Wide-mouth opening makes refilling a breeze and slide clip locks securely
- Low profile design for good packability
- BPA, BPS and Phthalate free
- Bladder has embedded silver-ion that protects against bacteria and mold
- Made in USA
- Bite valve cover sold separately
This hydration bladder is made from top quality materials and they’ve put some serious engineering into the valve, hose, and layout of the reservoir.
If you have any health concerns about drinking water from a plastic container then you’ll like how this bladder is free of pretty much all the usual suspects.
The high flow bite valve works well and seals off tight after use. If you’re worried that it might get inadvertently squeezed you can rotate it to prevent any flow. The quick disconnect system makes refilling, or routing of your hose through your pack, a quick job and it doesn’t leak when disconnecting.
The material they’ve used for the reservoir has a tough feel about it and the construction seems really solid so it’ll hold up well even if you’re a little hard on your gear. The solid construction, wide mouth and no taste make this a great choice.
At a Glance:
- Food grade, BPA free materials with antibacterial properties
- Screw cap for convenient filling and slide opening for easy cleaning and drying
- Insulated tube prevents freezing
- Non-drip quick release makes detaching the hose a cinch
- Good quality materials and durable construction
- Fill cap is a little bulky
Can’t decide between a screw cap of slide clip? Why not get a hydration bladder that has both. This solidly built bladder from Baen Sendi has a screw cap for convenient filling and a slide clip across the wide mouth opening that you can get your hand into for simple cleaning and drying.
There’s a little tab under the fill hole which makes it easy to hold with one hand while refilling. We would have preferred a low profile cap though. The material is completely odorless and tasteless and is extremely smooth which makes it difficult for any nasties to get attached to the inside of the reservoir.
The antimicrobial mouthpiece delivers a high flow and the auto-lock feature prevents any leaks and we liked how easily the dust cap bites off.
We really like Platypus products in general but the Platypus Big Zip Hydration Bladder is easily our favorite. The large mouth opening makes it one of the easiest hydration bladders to fill, clean and dry.
I like that it has none of the usual plastic “nasties”, and the embedded silver-ion keeps it bacteria-free even when stored for extended periods.
Best For Budget
If you’re looking for quality but still want a cheap hydration bladder then the Baen Sendi hydration bladder is a great option. Despite the discounted price, you get a durable hydration bladder made from high-quality food grade material. We would have preferred a lower profile screw cap but it’s a small issue concerning the lower price point.
Hydration Bladder Buying Guide
The concept of a hydration bladder seems pretty simple, right? It’s a bag of water with a hose and a valve.
Not so fast. If you want to avoid leaks in your backpack or funky tasting water then it’s worth paying attention to some of the finer details. If you’re looking to buy the best hydration bladder then this is what to look out for:
Your top priority should probably be that your hydration bladder isn’t going to poison you. The cheapest and easiest way to make plastic soft and transparent is to use plasticizers but these chemicals are poisonous.
To make sure that your water isn’t going to be leeching any nasties from your hydration bladder make sure it’s made from FDA approved food grade material that is BPA free, BPS-free and Phthalate free. Some manufacturers will just mention that their product is BPA free as a catchall for any of these chemicals.
Keep water in plastic and then run it through a rubber hose and mouthpiece and you’re bound to affect the taste. While the best hydration bladders will all claim to be taste free, the reality is that if you’ve got sensitive taste buds you’re probably going to notice the taste a little.
At least at first. It’s always a good idea to rinse the bladder with some vinegar and baking soda and then rinse thoroughly with water before your first use.
Cleaning and Drying
Unless you like bacteria or mold in your water you’re going to need to clean and thoroughly dry your hydration bladder. Wide mouth, open top bags are the easiest to clean and dry because you can get your hand in there with a cloth.
Make sure that you hang your bag in such a way that you get every last drop out of it after use. The better products will have antibacterial properties in the reservoir, hose and mouthpiece material to help keep it clean.
If you’re going for a quick bike ride then a smaller capacity bag is fine but for a day-long hike you’re better off with a 100 oz (3L) hydration pack.
When these are completely filled they can take up quite a bit of space in your pack. Getting a low profile hydration pack will improve packability and weight distribution.
The mouthpiece should incorporate an easy to use bite valve that delivers a decent flow when you bite it and zero leaks when you’re not using it. Cheap hydration packs sometimes have bite valves that you have to bite just right to get anything out of them or end up leaking even when you’re not biting on them.
Opening – Screw Top vs Slide Clip (Ziplock)
Ziplock hydration bladders are simple to fill, clean and dry but you need to make sure that the ziplock is strong enough to stay in place under some pressure.
Screw tops will give you the best seal but they can be a little fiddly to line the thread up properly before tightening up. If you’re going to be climbing and there’s a chance that the hydration bladder could end up inverted then you’re better off going with the screw top.
Quick Release Hose
Once you’ve got your hose threaded through your pack you don’t want to have to remove it just so you can refill your hydration pack. A quick release mechanism allows you to disconnect the bag from the hose so that you can refill it and then reconnect it to the hose.
Make sure that the quick disconnect mechanism seals properly when doing this and bear in mind that even if the quick connect valve on the bag seals there’s bound to be some water in the hose.
What Else Do I Need?
If you are going to be treating water you collect on the trail, don’t forget to pack a water filter and/or sterilizer.
Staying hydrated while you’re hiking, climbing or trail running is vitally important. Having the best hydration bladder in your pack means you’ll have plenty of water on tap without the inconvenience of carrying a water bottle.
They can be tricky to clean and dry and the cheaper ones have a reputation of springing a leak when you least expect it. Make sure that you buy one made from good quality, BPA free materials and that the mouthpiece gives you plenty of water when you want it and none when you don’t.