Best Hydration Bladder for Outdoor Enthusiasts – 2021 Top PicksAndrew Alfred
If you’ve ever spent time hiking with only bottles to drink your water from then you will know how annoying it can get stopping every mile or so to have a sip or two. Sometimes to the point where taking off your heavy pack to get to your water becomes so tiresome that you end up foregoing drinking altogether. The invention of the hydration bladder has made drinking on the go so much easier, and dehydration brought on by laziness is very much a thing of the past!
Since the early days of a simple plastic pouch with a hose attached to it, hydration bladder technology has come a long way. From quick-connect valves to antibacterial plastic, the bladders of the last couple of years are really giving more than just a means to carry and drink water easily. They are becoming easier and easier to use, clean, and maintain, with improved water flow and even compatibility with filters. So if you’ve never used one before then you’re in for a treat. And if you’ve had your existing one so long that the mold inside it has finally started to grow arms and legs then you too are going to love what’s new in the water bladder world.
We own and use all the hydration bladders we recommend.
Check out this quick list of our favorites if you’re in a hurry, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.
STORAGE CAPACITY：2L / 3L
- BPA-free, no peculiar smell, safer more reliable
- Cold and heat resistant
- Patented quick-release fastener, disassemble tube easily and quickly
- Full opening and quick-release design, easy to clean
- 360° adjustable nozzle
- Rotating water inlet, easy water injection
- High Flow Mouthpiece
- Suitable for multiple scenes
- Trustworthy brand
- Money-back guarantee
- It may taste a bit at first, but it dissipates after using it once or twice
- Sometimes out of stock
MATERIAL： Coextruded polyethylene
STORAGE CAPACITY：1.5L / 2L / 3L
- Free from BPA, BPS, and phthalates
- A glass-like liner keeps your water sterile and safe for drinking
- Tightly water-tight and leakage-free
- No odors or tastes were added to the water
- Easy maintenance
- The suction valve is a bit too huge in size
- We tend to think that the hanging point on the top slide bar was wrongly placed
STORAGE CAPACITY： 2L / 3L
- BPA-, BPS- and Phthalate-free
- Feature silver-ion that protects it from bacteria and molds
- Taste-free; no funny flavors added to water
- Durable and extremely reliable
- Easy to use, clean and dry
- The hose is not insulated
- The flimsy handle on the clip slide closure
- Limited to only one color choice
STORAGE CAPACITY： 1.5L / 2L
- Easy to fill and to refill
- Large screw-top opening
- Medium-sized bite valve which is perfect for most users
- The narrow profile makes it compatible with different backpacks and hydration packs
- Midline zipping that prevents sloshing of water in it
- It is difficult to clean and may need using of specialized hydration bladder cleaning kits
- Water attains a plastic taste. This however dissipates with time
STORAGE CAPACITY： 1.5L
- Easy to clean and dry
- Durable due to the quality material used in its construction
- Has enhanced flexibility
- The limited capacity of only 1.5 liters
- Limited to one color only
Why Is the DECENTRAVELER™ Hydration Bladder Rated #1 of 2021?
- High-quality food-grade material, BPA-free, no peculiar smell, safer more reliable.
- Cold and heat resistant.
- Patented quick-release fastener, disassemble tube easily and quickly.
- Full opening and quick-release design, easy to clean.
- 360° adjustable nozzle.
- Rotating water inlet, easy water injection.
- High Flow Mouthpiece
- Suitable for multiple scenes
- Accurate Leakproof
- Trusted by 11,000+ cycling enthusiasts
- Best value for your money
- Money-back guarantee
How To Choose The Best Hydration Bladder?
Your hydration needs are essential to consider when planning a backpacking or hiking adventure, and as you might know, a water hydration bladder is probably the best hydration tool.
Most backpacks come with a pocket to hold them, so you can sip water, hands-free or with just one hand while you’re on the go.
Before making a purchase, you will need to keep a few things in mind. If you are looking to invest in the best hydration bladders, here is what you need to pay attention to:
The material used in the construction of a hydration bladder determines its durability, how you should clean it and whether your water will have a plastic taste or not. TPU and Polyethylene are the most common material used in the construction of hydration bladders.
As a general rule, those bladders made of TPU will have an initial plastic taste. You should however note that this plastic taste dissipates with time.
Hydration reservoirs made of polyethylene, on the other hand, do not add the plastic taste to water. They are sufficiently durable.
Size and Compatibility
It is imperative that you choose a hydration bladder that will snugly fit in the bladder compartment of your backpack. Readily available hydration bladders are commonly designed in the same shape, but with slight variations. Hydration bladders come in different capacities ranging from one-liter to three-liter capacities.
- 1 – 1.5 liters are best suited to shorter trips, trail runners, or those adventuring in places where there are lots of opportunities to refill. Doing this means you don’t need to carry so much weight but also can be a bit of a pain to keep refilling if you are out all day.
- 2-liter hydration bladders are a safe bet if you’re not sure what to go for. They will fit inside most daypacks for hiking and biking and will hold enough water for a day of activity (providing you can get more water on board at the end of your day out).
- 3-liter hydration bladders are ideal for long-distance trekkers and backpackers or in situations where refilling may not be possible. If you know that your bag can accommodate the larger dimensions of a 3-liter bladder then it’s worth getting the bigger capacity. You don’t have to fill it up the whole way on shorter adventures, but the option is there if you need it making 3 liters bladders much more versatile (and better value for money!).
The size of the opening in hydration bladders will determine how easy it is to clean and fill.There are two typical openings:
- The screw-top will have a wide opening on the front of the hydration bladder with a cap that screws on.
- A slide lock will have the entire top of the hydration bladder open and closes with a ziplock type feature.
Bite Valve Size and Locking
The size of the valve affects how easy or hard it is to suck water from the tube. Some bite valves are larger while others are smaller. In general, we found that bite valves that were larger were harder to suck water through when using non-pressurized bladders. Small valves were sufficient but didn’t offer sufficient water flow to make you feel satisfied. Therefore, medium-sized mouthpieces were the best bet.
Ease of Cleaning
Your water reservoir can be as sleek as it wants, but if it is not easy to clean and maintain, it will bring you more frustration than joy. You need to thoroughly clean your bladder if you want to avoid the buildup of mold and bacteria, which can be a health hazard. Look for a hose that allows for easy cleaning.
When looking for the best hydration bladder, you will want to consider how much it weighs with and without water. Most hydration bladders are under half of a pound, so you don’t need to worry about the base weight. 2 liters of water is about 4.5 pounds, and 3 liters of water is about 6.6 pounds. This weight is essential to consider because you will be carrying that extra water weight in your backpack. The size of your hiking backpack will also determine how much weight it can hold.
Ease of Use
A hydration bladder is essential outdoor equipment but it becomes useless when you cannot easily drink from it. Ease of use is largely dependent on the type and size of the mouthpiece and the type of drinking mechanism. A suitable mouthpiece should neither be too large nor too small. Larger mouthpieces are harder to control while smaller mouthpieces are difficult to use.
Locking and drinking mechanism is another aspect that determines how easy to use your bladder is likely to be. In many cases, the mechanism involves slightly biting the valve and sucking. It is worth noting that biting and sucking should not take a lot of energy. This is why we strongly recommend medium-sized valves as they guarantee an easy and consistent flow of water when you suck. However, sucking is not the universal technology in all valves as some valves only require biting to allow out water.
Why Trust Us?
We fully understand how tough it is to find trustworthy gear advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we build this blog section. We live for outdoor adventure, and we take these guides very seriously. Here are some of the reasons you can trust us:
- Our choices are completely independent and based on personal experience.
- We’ve logged over 10,000 trail miles and test outdoor gear for a living.
- We own and field test every product we recommend, which is sadly not the norm.
- We travel to industry trade shows to learn about upcoming product innovations.
- We constantly update our guides when new products launch.
- We treat our recommendations as if they were for our family and friends.
- We’re lifelong learners and we’re always open to constructive criticism. If you think we’ve missed a product or got something wrong, we’d love to hear your feedback.