January 2, 2017

The Best Hydration Bladder for 2017

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Find the best hydration bladder for any activity. We reviewed the top hydration reservoirs and water bladders.

Water bladders are offered in a variety of sizes and features, and it’s important to find the right one for the activities that fit you. That’s because some of the best hiking, biking and overnight day packs don’t come with water bladders, and you need the most efficient way to stay hydrated for a full day of adventure.

Why You Need a Hydration Bladder

Hydration reservoirs separate themselves from water bottles for the obvious reason: so that your hands will be free. This is best if you’re on a technically challenging hike and need them for balance. It can also be because you’re using hiking poles, don’t have room for a water bottle, or all that sloshing around is throwing you off balance.

The best hydration bladders can fit the backpack you love while conforming to your body on a trail. They keep water colder for longer than the average water bottle, plus they have large openings for ice if you’ll be hiking in especially hot terrain. Choosing the right water bladder is a matter of size, activity, valve preference, feature and cost.

Some hydration bladders can now be pressurized, which allows for easier access to your water along with the ability to use it as a lightweight hose while backpacking. Others have rugged, military-grade material that can withstand extreme temperatures. Some can be purchased in a variety of shapes to fit your favorite activity and the bag you have, making them great for mountain biking.

You also need to consider if a 1.5-liter bladder will do the trick for shorter hikes or if you will need 3 liters that are compatible with your water filter for an overnight backpacking trip. We broke down the best hydration reservoirs on the market by activity and feature so that you’ll have plenty of water, no matter where you go.

Running

Salomon Soft Reservoir:
Offered in both 1.5- and 2-liter sizes, what makes the Salomon Soft Reservoir great for running is how well it collapses as you drink in order to cut down on slosh. Salomon makes all their products keeping in mind how difficult it is to run with a backpack, and sets out to make their gear as unnoticeable as possible.

The Salomon Soft Reservoir is easily compatible with all Salomon hydration packs and will fit within most other brands as well. For longer runs, it pairs best with their S-Lab Advanced Skin Racing Vests and soft flasks. Salomon provides the potential to run with several liters of water strapped to your back and vest while evenly dispersing the additional weight. This means you can take it for a trail run, sprint around the neighborhood, or even use their gear for ultramarathons with a minimal need to refill.

The Salomon bladder is easy to refill through the large opening at the top of the reservoir. This also makes it easy to clean when you’re done with your run. And the plug 'n play hose with an accessible bite valve couldn’t make it easier to fill and go.

Biking

CamelBak Antiodote Reservoir:
What makes CamelBak’s hydration bladders great for biking is how they have been redesigned to fit a variety of packs and sizes, depending on the activity. Whether you have a lumbar pack, hydration bag, or full-on day hiking and biking backpack, the Antiodote offers the size and shape you need for the most comfort possible.

In addition to the variety of shapes, CamelBak’s large opening makes it easy to fill and to clean. The Quick-Link system makes it easy to hook in the hose without spilling a drop, and the cap allows for easy access while you’re on any kind of mountain biking trail. The Antiodote comes in six different varieties between 1.5 liters and 2 liters, as either vertical or horizontal shapes and with or without the Quick-Link system.

If you are looking for a water bladder that you can take on the bumpiest of mountain biking trails that will conform to any bag you have, you can’t beat the Antiodote. It’s sold at a competitive price, fits whatever size you need and won’t leak no matter how rough the ride gets.

Day Hikes

Platypus Big Zip LP Hydration Bladder:
This is my go-to bag for long day hikes because of how well it holds three liters of water while keeping it cold and fresh without leaking. When the Platypus Big Zip is full, the bladder, which is designed with two large vertical cylinders, conforms against my back while I hike. The bite valve is simple, leak-free and easily accessible. As I drink, the hydration bladder collapses against the remaining water, reducing slosh to a minimum.

This bladder is easy to fill and clean thanks to the large opening at the top. It stays shut like a Ziploc bag, and the handle fits on top of the opening for a second layer of security. It hooks easily inside my day pack so that I can bring everything needed for a long hike.

The drinking hose snaps into place without ever leaking out of a full bladder, which keeps everything dry if I need to switch it out on a long hike. The bite valve has a simple locking mechanism by twisting to the side and the BPA-free bag keeps water tasting fresh during full days on a long hike.

Backpacking

MSR Dromedary Bags:
These will make it seem more like hiking with a reservoir than having a hydration pack on your back, but when it comes to water storage for a large adventure, you can’t beat MSR’s Dromedary Bags. Offered in two, four, six and all the way up to ten liters of water storage, after filling up and filtering, you will have more than enough water to last you all day.

These bags can do everything on your long backpacking trip. They can be hooked up to double as a shower; they can be used for drinking, cleaning and cooking water. They can store water in case of an emergency, and their toughness will last during the hottest days and coldest nights.

The downside with the MSR Dromedary Bags is that you need a separate hose in order to make it a hydration bladder you can drink on the go. Otherwise, you need to take it out and drink from the tap every time you get thirsty. The webbing straps along the side allow you to hang it from a tree when you get to camp, and the hook on the top helps for easy carrying if you want to use it as a water bottle.

When it comes to toughness, versatility and ease-of-use, you can’t find a bag that’s higher-end than MSR’s offerings. The ruggedness easily makes up for the fact that you have to purchase the hose separately, but there’s no better way to transport water on an adventure.

Under $20

Platypus Hoser Hydration Bladder:
Simple, effortless, clean and affordable, the Platypus Hoser is the best bang for the buck when it comes to an excellent water bladder that will keep you hydrated for a day of hiking. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the larger openings, pressurized systems or locking valves. Instead, it’s just a great, two-liter water reservoir.

What makes it better than any water bottle is that its lightweight and puncture-resistant design conforms to your body while you hike so that you barely notice the added weight on your back. The bladder shrinks as you sip, which cuts down on slosh. And the leak-resistant bite valve will ensure that you have plenty of water nearby when you need it most.

When it comes to the simple task of hiking with lots of water on your back, you can’t do any better for the price than the Platypus Hoser. You can boil and freeze the water and the bag will still hold strong, making sure that you can take this on ultra-lightweight adventures where every ounce counts.

Best Pressurized Hydration Bladder

Geigerrig Hydration Engine Reservoir:
If you’re looking for the most innovative hydration bladder on the market, you can’t get any more advanced than the Geigerrig Hydration Engine. What separates it is the compartment for air which serves to pressurize the water bladder. When you have that ability, it opens up possibilities that no other water reservoir can match.

Not only is it the easiest way to drink water (since it barely takes any work to get a sip of water), but you have what amounts to a portable garden hose on any adventure you want to take. If you need to clean dishes or rinse down yourself or a pet, there is no water bladder on the market that can match this versatility.

It features a sliding top, water tube, air tube, reservoir, and power bulb that features a depressurization button depending on how you want to put the bladder to use. Most of the competition can only muster a large bag for water and a tube that requires a bit of work to draw out the water when you’re already short on breath.

It is compatible with nearly any backpack and hydration pack, so you don’t need to ditch your favorite bag for your new favorite water reservoir. It is also ready to go with any water filter. It is dishwasher safe, easy to clean and has an additional layer of nylon to protect it from anything else in your bag. This is one of the highest-end water reservoirs on the market and makes all the difference on an extended backpacking trip.

Best Cold Weather Hydration Bladder

HydraPak First Wave Reservoir:
Available in one, two and three liters, the HydraPak is built with military-grade thermopolyurethane (TPU), which makes this reservoir thicker and tougher than the competition. This water bladder was constructed for the most extreme of weather conditions and promises to stand up to the test (proven by the no-leak lifetime guarantee).

In addition to an excellent water reservoir, the HydraPak features an insulated tube that makes for easy access to the water. At the end of that tube is a bite valve that features a cap and locking mechanism that ensure no water will escape when you don’t want it to. It easily fits inside most hydration packs and will shine its strongest on ski slopes and alpine climbs.

Kids

Osprey Packs Hydraulics LT Hydration Reservoir:
Even though this water reservoir was decidedly built for hikers and mountain bikers in mind, the 1.5-liter size is the perfect fit for a smaller bag that’s going to spend a day on the trails. Constructed with BPA-free, lead-free and phthalate-free materials, it will keep water clean, crisp and accessible for anyone’s adventure.

The reservoir has a large slider opening, making it easy to empty and refill while fitting nicely into Osprey’s huge line of backpacks. It fits comfortably in the internal hydration sleeves while maintaining a comfortable profile for any hiker. One of the other advantages of the Osprey Hydraulics LT is that it is dishwasher safe and can be easily cleaned thanks to the easy-to-open fountain. Even though it wasn’t built with kids as the primary target, the 1.5-liter size is the perfect entry point for younger adventurers to have one of the highest-end reservoirs on the market.

Dogs

Ruffwear Singletrak with Platypus Bottles:
Even though this is more of a hydration pack than a reservoir, it still receives an honorary mention thanks to the two collapsible platypus water bottles included with the pack. What makes this great is the amount of comfort combined with the ample water that your furry friend can carry up the trail with you.

Thanks to the five adjustable comfort points, sizing guide and two saddlebags that hold close to your dog’s body, your best friend will barely notice the extra weight while having plenty of water for the hike. You never have to worry about bringing along extra water in your own bag because now your pet will have plenty as soon as he or she gets thirsty.

The hydration pack comes in a lighter color in order to keep your dog cooler from the sun. There are also low-light reflectors in case you are out in the neighborhood and need to be easily seen by cars. The foam-padded chest and belly straps ensure that your dog won’t feel choked, and it comes in multiple sizes for all sorts of dogs. It’s the best way to bring water along on a hike when you and your buddy travel together.

Where to Buy Hydration Bladder

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