Best Hydration Bladder: The Top Hydration Solutions in the Market

Best Hydration Bladder
Sean Nelson
Written by Sean Nelson

No one would ever try to argue that water isn’t important, and it is important to remember that without water sources, life as we know it would simply cease to exist at all. When you are out hiking, or backpacking, you simply can’t go without water. One of the reasons for this is exertion, and it doesn’t matter if the weather is ‘cool’ outside either.

In fact, you need to be consuming more water the colder the temperature gets. But let’s face it, carrying around a bottle can be tiring, we know. Constantly stopping and starting to have a drink, or refill your bottle. That is one of the reasons why hydration bladders have become so popular during recent years.

But, how do you know which product is the best hydration bladder, and which is only going to cause you issue after issue? The truth is that hydration bladders aren’t exactly a new invention, although the technology surrounding their design has improved. They have been around since back in the early 1990s.

Best Hydration Bladder

Originally they were designed with cyclists in mind, as before hydration bladders there was no such thing as drinking ‘hands-free’. It didn’t take long for manufacturers to realize just how convenient hydration bladders actually were, and they built a huge marketing base around that fact.

In fact, the majority of the backpacks on the market are all hydration bladder compatible, although the sizes can vary.

Why is hydration important?

Hydration is one of the key things for any backpacker or hiker to consider, and you also have to consider whether or not you will have access to safe drinking water while you hike. If you will have plenty of access to safe drinking water, then you could get away with using a small water bladder.

But if you won’t have access to safe drinking water, then you might want to aim for one that can carry up to 3L of water. Hydration is what keeps us going while we hike, and the risks of dehydration mean that you need to make sure that you are well hydrated the whole time.

Water Bottle

Don’t go out on a long hike with just a single bottle of water that you might not be able to refill, as water almost never lasts as long as you expect it to. You should also be aware that hydration is actually more important during the colder months of the year than it is during the warmer months.

This is because the cold, dry air manages to strip the water directly from our bodies a lot quicker than hot, humid air does. In the colder months you should always take a large hydration bladder hiking with you. Good hydration is one of the most, if not the most, important thing to consider whilst hiking.

What are the risks of dehydration?

The real reason that hydration is so important is to avoid the risks that are associated with dehydration. Dehydration can be both crippling and dangerous, especially if it isn’t treated quickly enough. But, dehydration can be hard to spot.

Dehydrated Woman

The vast majority of people use thirst as an indicator of needing a drink, but most people will actually only start to feel thirsty once their body is already feeling the effects of dehydration. Usually the earliest on-set symptom of dehydration is a simple and yet easy to miss headache.

It normally starts in an area just above one eye, although this can vary person to person. If you realize that you may be starting to feel the effects of dehydration, then you can easily treat it with both water and rest. A lot of hikers also find that by laying down in a shady spot with their feet elevated they start to feel hydrated quite quickly.

When you are out hiking, another way to check your hydration levels are fine is by checking your urine. If your urine is clear then chances are you are well-hydrated, if it is dark then your hydration levels are low. When caught quickly enough, dehydration is usually a simple problem to solve.

Thirsty Hiker

If dehydration isn’t caught quickly then people will begin to feel other symptoms. If you are hiking with children then you should look out for them developing a dry mouth and tongue, as well as a lack of tears when they cry. Children do also experience a lot of the symptoms that adults do, but those two key symptoms are often the easiest to spot.

Adults on the other hand will notice extreme thirst, as well as less frequent urination. If the dehydration isn’t dealt with then they could also develop fatigue, dizziness and confusion. If you do ever suffer any of those three symptoms while you are out hiking, then you should consult a medical professional as soon as possible.

If a medical professional isn’t directly available then you should try to rest, and drink water (but don’t drink it all at once). Given that the risks associated with dehydration can be so severe, it’s easy to see why hikers use their hydration bladders to ensure that their hike is dehydration-free.

What should you consider when buying a hydration bladder?

But, what do you have to consider when you are looking to purchase a hydration bladder? There are three key factors that you should always try to take into consideration, and how important each factor is will vary on a person by person basis.

What sort of opening does the hydration bladder have?

The opening that a hydration bladder has is one of the most important things about the hydration bladder, and the ‘right’ option will be different depending on the hiker that you ask. Everyone has their own favorites.

Water Bladder Opening

You have to consider whether the bladder will be relatively easy to fill in whatever environment you are in, so versatility is key here. There are three main options when it comes to the opening of a hydration bladder, and they are:

Fold Top

The fold top hydration bladders are usually seen more frequently on the market than other options. This is because the idea of flipping up and folding over the top means that they can be quickly refilled from a number of outdoor environments, making them quite versatile.

To clean a hydration bladder that is topped with a fold top you simply have to turn the product inside out.

Screw Cap

Screw cap options are our personal favorites, but not standard screw top options. You can get ‘wide’ screw tops, these are held either horizontally or vertically while you fill them, and they are excellent for use with shallow water sources.

Screw Cap Hydration Bladder

You will usually need a small brush to clean a hydration bladder that is topped with a screw cap, although they do dry out almost effortlessly after. Standard screw cap options will take longer to open and close than both the fold top, and the zip top hydration bladders. But, ‘wide’ screw tops will be just as quick to open and close.

Zip Top

A hydration bladder that is topped with a zip top probably looks exactly the way that you think it does, it resembles a simple zip lock bag. Zip topped options are great for people who are new to hydration bladders. Their simplistic design is easy to use, and easy to clean.

Zip Top Hydration Bladder

While they do take slightly longer to open and close than a fold top, you can use them with a variety of water sources. One of the best ways to help you decide which of the three is right for you is to decide what method you want to use to clean the hydration bladder.

How easy is the hydration bladder to clean?

Cleaning is another key thing to consider when purchasing a hydration bladder, especially if you don’t particularly like cleaning. Hydration bladders can appear to be easy to clean, but a lot of them have a sneaky area that makes the whole job a lot more difficult than it should be.

Most hikers prefer screw capped, and zip topped hydration bladders to fold topped hydration bladders. This is because the two often seem more secure. If you do go for one of the two, then you will usually need a brush to clean the hydration bladder.

Cleaning Water Bladder

Another thing to remember is that if you are only using water you will not need to clean the hydration bladder constantly. If you are using a sugary sports drink, you should clean it every time you use it.

What size is the hydration bladder?

When purchasing a hydration bladder, first make sure that it will fit in the compartment of your backpack (or buy a backpack with the right size compartment). Hydration bladders have all been designed to have similar shapes, but they do come in different sizes. You should always consider versatility when picking the size that you think is right for you.

1 Liter hydration bladders are usually only suitable for minimal use, or children. They can be a good option for quick hikes, but on a longer hike you would need to refill a 1L bladder a lot. On the other hand, a 2 Liter hydration bladder is one of the most popular options, and on a day hike you would rarely have to refill it more than 1 – 3 times.

Water Bladder Sizes

But for versatility, a 3 Liter option will always be something that is worth considering. If you can’t imagine yourself filling your hydration bladder up a lot then with this, you won’t have to. Remember that water does have some weight to it, and a 2L option could be a better choice for some people.

The thing that makes a 3 Liter bladder so versatile is that you don’t actually have to fill it up entirely, the amount of water that you put in is up to your discretion and you can tailor it to your hike.

Our Hydration Bladder Reviews

WACOOL Hydration Bladder

Weight: 8 ouncesWACOOL Hydration Bladder

Dimensions: 16.2 x 7 x 1.3 inches

Features: 3 liter hydration bladder, FDA-approved material, as well as a hybrid screw capped or zip topped closure

Best Uses: Long hikes, or hikes where water sources will be minimal

If you are thinking about getting a 3 Liter hydration bladder, then the WACOOL Hydration Bladder could be the right option for you.

It is made of a BPA free material that is FDA-approved, this means that the hydration bladder is completely non-toxic and safe for use. Most of the hikers that use this bladder say that it is successful because of the rigidity of the bladder itself, it has a 0.6mm extra thick liner that is both tolerant to pressure and wear proof.

This particular hydration bladder also has two separate closure options, a screw cap and a zip top. This means that you can refill the hydration bladder in almost any conditions, making the bladder incredibly versatile. It also means that it is easy to clean, as you can approach it from two different angles.

The actual hydration bladder is double soldered, so there is next to no risk of accidental leakage. There is even a self-locking socket hose, so there won’t be any leaking even when the hose isn’t connected to the hydration bladder.

Check the price on Amazon

OutGear Hydration Bladder

Weight: 7 ouncesOutgear Hydration Bladder

Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.9 x 16.2 inches

Features: 2 liter hydration bladder, FDA-approved material, as well as a screw cap opening

Best Uses: Day hikes, or longer hikes with plenty of spots for refilling your water

When it comes to good hydration bladders that feature screw caps, your best option will always be to get one with an ultra-wide screw cap.

The OutGear Hydration Bladder features a screw cap that is just over 2” in diameter, and that means that the product is easy to clean.

Keeping everything as clean as possible has been one of the key design processes of this product, and even the mouth piece has a handy protective cover that keeps the bladder free of pollutants. All of the materials that have been used in this hydration bladder are both BPA-free, and FDA-approved.

The bladder also has a smooth interior, which prevents the build-up of both lime and bacteria. Our favorite feature of this product is something that makes it even easier to use, a high-flow bite valve at the end of the detachable drinking tube. Just lightly bite the tube and your water will flow.

Check the price on Amazon

JUSTKIT Hydration Bladder

Weight: 7 ouncesJUSTKIT Hydration Bladder

Dimensions: 16 x 1.4 x 6.6 inches

Features: 2 liter hydration bladder, FDA-approved material, as well as an ultra-wide screw cap opening

Best Uses: This hydration bladder is fantastic for hiking, but it was designed for tougher purposes

The JUSTKIT Hydration Bladder is quite unique, and that is because it wasn’t initially designed for hiking. It was designed for military use, and outdoor sports professional use.

This means that it has been built to be durable, and it could be considered to be one of the most durable hydration bladders that you can currently purchase.

All of the materials that have been used in tthis bladder are FDA-approved, and BPA free. This means that you won’t end up with a ‘chemical-like’ taste in your mouth that you could experience with hydration bladders that aren’t BPA free.

This durable product features a screw cap that is 4” in diameter, add that to the see through material and you have one of the easiest to clean hydration bladders on the market. If you want to venture into tough climates, take this hydration bladder with its insulated neoprene tube with you!

Check the price on Amazon

Outfitter Hydration Bladder

Weight: 4 ouncesOutfitter Water Bladder

Dimensions: 11.3 x 9.2 x 1.4 inches

Features: 2 Liter hydration bladder, FDA-approved material, as well as an ultra-wide screw cap opening

Best Uses: Day hikes, or overnight hikes

This simple Outfitter Hydration Bladder is one of the easiest hydration bladders to use, and it is a good option for people who are new to hydration bladders.

It also features materials that are both FDA-approved and BPA free.

It also features an ultra-wide screw cap opening, having an ultra-wide opening isn’t just good for cleaning, it also makes it easier to fill the product up from a variety of water sources. This water bladder is easy to use because it has a soft bite mouthpiece, all you have to do is bite gently to allow water to flow.

It also features an on/off valve that gives you added leak protection, and an insulated neoprene tube that will keep your water cool even on a hot day. (Tip: If you are wanting to keep your water cool you can also use your ultra-wide screw cap opening to add ice cubes to your hydration bladder).

Check the price on Amazon

Aquatic Way Hydration Bladder

Weight: 0.55 poundsAquatic Way Hidration Bladder

Dimensions: 1.18 x 6.46 x 17 inches

Features: 2 Liter hydration bladder, FDA-approved material, as well as an ultra-wide screw cap opening

Best Uses: Hikes where temperatures may vary dramatically

The Aquatic Way Hydration Bladder is one of the best products on the market, but it has also been created by a customer-friendly company.

One or two people have had issues with this product leaking, and the company have immediately provided them with replacements that work perfectly.

They believe that no matter what, their customers should be their number one priority. This hydration bladder is made from materials that are both BPA free and FDA-approved, they are also antibacterial.

It has been manufactured with leak-proof sealing technology, and it has the ability to withstand both hot and cold climates with the insulated neoprene tube that it features. Our favorite thing about this product would have to be the bite valve, it offers a 90 degree turn, this means that you can easily bite down on it even while you’re active.

Check the price on Amazon

BONL Emerald Hydration Bladder

Weight: 0.6 poundsBONL Emerald Hydration Bladder

Dimensions: 1.5 x 8.03 x 9.06 inches

Features: 3 Liter hydration bladder, FDA-approved material, as well as a hybrid opening system that is both zip and screw cap.

Best Uses: Long hikes

The BONL Emerald Hydration Bladder is another fantastic option for anyone who thinks that they would prefer a 3L hydration bladder to a 2L hydration bladder. It consists of materials that are both FDA-approved and BPA free, as well as anti-bacterial.

To add to the anti-bacterial nature of the product GlassAS technology has been used to ensure that the interior of the product is smooth, to prevent a build-up of lime and bacteria. This product is versatile, and easy to fill from a variety of water sources.

This is because it features two different opening systems, one is an ultra-wide screw cap, and the other is a zip lock. Just like the WACOOL hydration bladder, this BONL hydration bladder also features 0.6mm extra thick liner that protects the product from both pressure and wear.

Check the price on Amazon

RANIACO Hydration Bladder

Weight: 8 ouncesRainaco Hidration Bladder

Dimensions: 8.2 x 7 x 2.2 inches

Features: 2 Liter hydration bladder, FDA-approved material, as well as an extra-wide screw cap opening

Best Uses: Day hikes, and a lot of parents have said that their children like using this product

Most of the hydration bladders that you can find on the market are made out of a few different BPA-free materials. The RANIACO Hydration Bladder is simply made out of durable polyurethane, a material that is both FDA-approved and BPA free.

You won’t have to worry about any type of toxicity with this product, or any chemical tastes. A lot of screw caps will take a while to open and close, whereas this one features a four-turn design. It has made it a fantastic option for parents with children who hike, as it is easy to open, refill quickly, and close.

You can also fit ice directly into the extra-wide screw cap opening. (Tip: Remember that if it is a child using this hydration bladder you don’t need to fill it entirely, otherwise it might weigh a little bit too much for some children to carry).

Check the price on Amazon

SportsTrail Hydration Bladder

Weight: 9.6 ouncesSportsTrail Hydration Bladder

Dimensions: 16.8 x 5.9 x 1.8 inches

Features: 2 Liter hydration bladder, FDA-approved material, as well as an extra-wide screw cap opening

Best Uses: Due to rigorous testing, this hydration bladder can handle almost anything you want it to

Have you been reading through this list and thinking to yourself, I don’t think that hydration bladder will handle what I need it to? If you have, then the SportsTrail Hydration Bladder might just change your mind.

SportsTrail are fans of rigorous testing, and every single hydration bladder that they produce is subject to a pneumatic pressure test, and a 24-hour swing test. If that wasn’t enough, they also put them through a 24-hour vibration test.

This results in a pressure-tolerant, leak proof product that can handle almost anything. This product also features a 90 degree, soft bite mouth piece – making it easy to drink water while you are on the go.

FDA-approved material that is BPA free adds the cherry to the top of this hydration bladder, you simply can’t go wrong with it. It can handle mountain biking, long distance hiking, and a number of extreme sports.

Check the price on Amazon

Staying Hydrated

Remember that when you pick your hydration bladder, you have to make sure that it is the right size to fit directly into the compartment of your backpack. Most backpacks are designed to hold a 2L hydration bladder, although some can be different.

The three most important features will always be the same, they are:

  • Sizing: How large do you need the product to be?
  • Closure: What sort of closure do you think you would prefer?
  • Cleaning: How easy is the product to clean?

Hydration Pack

As long as you ask yourself those three, key questions, you will be able to choose your ideal water bladder, and take it on your adventures with you. Long gone are the days of carrying a water bottle, now it’s time for hydration bladders to take their platform.

So, what sort of hydration bladder do you think would be best for you? Or, do you already have a hydration bladder that you simply love to use? Let us know in the comments below!

Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson

Sean was backpacking since he was 7. He was born close to the RMNP and his father was a ranger, so life surrounded by mountains and wildlife is a norm for Colorado. He likes to explore, but prefers to stay in USA. In his opinion, there are too many trails and options in US to go abroad.

  • Kyle Short

    You get a lot for the price of the Outgear Hydration Bladder. I have used it on longer hikes without encountering any problems at all, and it is reasonably priced, which is great. It’s a really great option for those short- to medium-length hikes that you have planned, which is what I mostly use it for.

  • Sean Nelson

    A Hydration Bladder is better than bringing a huge container, right? Hydration is important and the Outgear will ensure you get your share of this much-needed water.

  • Michelle Decker

    Totally agree that the Sportstrail Hydration Bladder is durable. We have really put it through its paces and it has held up so well! There were plenty of times when it would get skooshed against us that I thought it might bust, and it didn’t. You’ll be using this bladder for a long time if you buy it!

  • Sean Nelson

    I used to think hydration bladders were a waste of money. But then, my best buddy introduced me to these babies when we ran our first marathon! Now I know why everyone is crazy about them. They’re very practical and easy to carry.