Best Hydration Bladders for Hiking in 2023: Top 5 Picks & Buying Advice

Staying hydrated while you’re out on the trail is crucial, especially for hikers and trail runners. The solution? A hydration bladder. This hiking gear is a reservoir, usually made of a durable material, designed to carry water inside your backpack for easy hydration on the go. With a selection of hydration bladders available in different sizes, such as 2l and 3l, it can be tough to choose the best one. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best hydration bladders for hiking in 2023.

hydration bladders for hiking

What is a Hydration Bladder?

A hydration bladder, also known as a water bladder or hydration reservoir, is a water storage solution designed to fit inside a backpack or running vest. Most bladders come equipped with a drink tube and a high-flow bite valve, making it easy to sip water without removing the reservoir from your pack. Since hydration bladders were introduced, they’ve become a staple piece of gear for hikers, backpackers, and trail runners, who appreciate the convenience of sipping water from the bladder without stopping or slowing down.

The 5 Best Hydration Bladders of 2023

As outdoor enthusiasts gear up for their adventures in 2023, the demand for reliable and efficient hydration solutions continues to rise. In response to this need, manufacturers have developed hydration bladders that offer an exceptional combination of durability, ease of use, and value. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a long-distance runner, or a dedicated cyclist, these top-of-the-line hydration bladders are designed to keep you hydrated throughout your journey.

1. CamelBak Crux 3L Hydration Bladder

The CamelBak Crux is a great hydration bladder for those seeking a larger, 3L hydration bladder. This bladder offers one of the easiest bladders to fill with a handle for easy refilling. It also has a high-flow bite valve that allows a 20% increase in the flow rate over previous models. The Crux is compatible with most backpacks and has a quick-release tube that makes it easy to remove the bladder from your pack for refilling. CamelBak Crux is an excellent choice if you’re searching for the best 3l hydration bladder of 2023.

camelbak

Pros:

  • A leak-proof cap is easier to open and close.
  • The on/off lever lets you seal your drinking tube shut with one hand
  • Hydroguard technology inhibits the growth of bacteria in the reservoir and tube.
  • 100% free of BPA, BPS, and BPF Easy-to-clean hose comes off and drains well

Cons:

  • Slightly unpleasant taste initially, but it goes away after a few uses
  • Straw is long and may need cutting down for some applications
  • The screw cap must be square on to avoid cross-threading and leaking.

2. Platypus Big Zip Evo 2L Hydration System

The Platypus Big Zip Evo is a durable bladder that’s perfect for shorter backpacking trips. This 2l bladder is easy to clean and refill, with a wide mouth that opens completely to turn the bladder inside out. The bite valve also locks to prevent leaks and has an excellent flow rate. The Platypus Big Zip Evo is worth considering if you want a good-quality bladder at the best prices.

platypus

Pros:

  • Higher flow rate for easy sipping on-the-go
  • The leak-proof design ensures water stays where it belongs.
  • Lightweight and durable silicone material

Cons:

  • It may be overly complicated compared to previous models.
  • It can be difficult to dry after use.

3. HydraPak Shape-Shift Reservoir

The HydraPak Shape-Shift Reservoir stands out as one of the best hydration reservoirs on the market in 2023, thanks to its innovative design. This reservoir features a unique shape-shift design that reduces sloshing and makes the bladder easier to handle. It also has an easy-to-use slide-seal top that opens wide for easy filling and cleaning. Plus, the bladder is made of durable, abrasion-resistant material, and a lifetime warranty backs it.

hydrapak

Pros:

  • Durable TPU material
  • Convenient and easy-to-use Slide-Seal top and Blaster bite valve
  • Shape-Shift baffle locks for a slim profile and increased stabilization
  • Plug-N-Play connect system for easy refilling.
  • Fully reversible design for easy cleaning

Cons:

  • Higher price point compared to some other hydration bladders
  • No insulation for hot or cold liquids
  • The bite valve can be difficult to clean thoroughly

4. Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir

Osprey’s Hydraulics LT Reservoir is a top hydration choice for those seeking a lightweight and robust bladder. This bladder has a magnetic bite valve that attaches to the backpack’s sternum strap, making hydration even more effortless. Furthermore, a handle holds the bladder flat, ensuring an even water distribution inside the bladder. The Osprey Hydraulics LT is a durable hydration bladder for backpacking and hiking that doesn’t compromise comfort or convenience.

osprey

Pros:

  • Welded chevron baffles prevent sloshing and maintain shape
  • Bite Valve offers fast, smooth water delivery.
  • Slide-seal top opening for easy filling and cleaning
  • Comfy to wear in an Osprey rucksack
  • Quick connect system allows you to disconnect only the hose.

Cons:

  • Plastic aftertaste may occur for some users
  • Discolouration of the bladder may require investigation and return.
  • The pack feels like it’s going to rip upon first opening.

5. Source Outdoor Widepac Hydration System

For those who want a bladder that’s easy to clean and refill, the Source Outdoor Widepac Hydration System is the perfect match. The bladder features a wide opening for easy filling and a convenient carry handle. The high-quality hydration bladder is taste-free and has a GrungeGuard technology that inhibits bacteria growth, keeping your hydration bladder clean and your water tasting fresh.

source outdoor

Pros:

  • Widepac Closure for easy filling, cleaning, draining, and ice insertion
  • Glass-Like Technology for a taste-free system
  • Helix Bite Valve for easy drinking
  • Leakproof design
  • Low maintenance and easy to care for

Cons:

  • It may be too large for some backpacks or hydration packs
  • Some users may prefer a different bite valve design.
  • It may be slightly heavier than other hydration bladders of similar capacity

Hydration Bladder Buying Advice

Purchasing a hydration bladder involves considering several factors, like the type of hiking or backpacking you’re planning, the duration of your trip, and the amount of water you’ll need.

A larger bladder, like a 3l hydration bladder, is best for longer trips, while a 2l bladder might be sufficient for shorter hikes. Remember that a larger bladder will add weight to your pack but provide extra water.

The ease of cleaning is another factor to consider when choosing a hydration bladder. You’ll want a bladder that’s easy to turn inside for thorough cleaning, preventing bacteria and mould buildup.

Finally, ensure your chosen bladder fits well into your backpack or hydration sleeve and is compatible with your hiking or backpacking gear.

Compare the 5 Models Above:

Hydration BladderMaterialVolume CapacityWeightClosure TypeUnique Features
CamelBak Crux 3LPolyurethane3L240gScrew CapHydroguard technology, leak-proof cap, on/off lever
Platypus Big Zip Evo 2LSilicone2L272gZip-topHigher flow rate, leak-proof design
HydraPak Shape-Shift ReservoirTPU2L113gSlide-Seal topShape-Shift baffle locks, Blaster bite valve
Osprey Hydraulics LT ReservoirPlastic1.5LPolyetheneSlide-Seal topWelded chevron baffles, quick connect system, bite valve
Source Outdoor Widepac Hydration SystemPolyurethane3L227gWidepac ClosureGlass-Like technology, helix bite valve
Hydration Bladders For Hiking Comparison Table

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hydration bladder for hiking?

A hydration bladder is a water reservoir that you carry on your back to stay hydrated during hiking or backpacking trips. Hydration bladders come in different sizes, such as 2L and 3L.

What are the benefits of using a hydration bladder over a water bottle?

Using a hydration bladder is a more convenient and hands-free way of staying hydrated during your hikes. It allows for easy to fill water source and stays in place, so you don’t have to take off your backpack to take a sip.

What factors should I consider when choosing a hydration bladder for hiking?

The factors to consider are the hydration bladder’s size, weight, quality, and durability. The bladder must also be compatible with your backpack and be easy to fill, clean, and maintain.

What is the best size of hydration reservoir for hiking?

The best size of the hydration reservoir for hiking depends on the length and intensity of your hikes. A 2L reservoir is sufficient for shorter hikes, while for longer and more intense hikes, a 3L hydration bladder is recommended.

What is the difference between a hydration bladder and a hydration system?

A hydration bladder refers to the water reservoir. In contrast, a hydration system comprises the bladder, tube, and valve that allows you to drink the water from the reservoir without removing your backpack.

What is the best-insulated hydration bladder for hiking?

The best-insulated hydration bladder for hiking is one that keeps the water cool for long periods. Look for bladders with insulated tubes and hydration reservoirs to ensure that your water stays cold throughout your hike.

What is the best ultralight hydration bladder for hiking?

The best ultralight hydration bladder for hiking is one that is lightweight and packs down small. Look for packable hydration bladders that take up minimal space in your backpack while still holding enough water for your needs.

What is the best value hydration bladder for hiking?

The best value hydration bladder for hiking is one that offers high quality at an affordable price. Look for brands that provide good-quality hydration bladders at a reasonable cost.

What is the best type of hydration bladder for hiking and backpacking?

The best value hydration bladder for hiking is one that offers high quality at an affordable price. Look for brands that provide good-quality hydration bladders at a reasonable cost.

Do I need a hydration bladder or a water bottle for hiking?

While you don’t necessarily need a hydration bladder or water bottle for hiking, a hydration bladder is a more convenient and hands-free way of staying hydrated during your hikes.

How do I choose a hydration bladder that is perfect for me?

To choose a hydration bladder that is perfect for you, consider the length and intensity of your hikes. Then, choose a hydration bladder that fits your backpack, is easy to fill and maintain, and is durable and high-quality.

To learn more about hydration packs v water bottles, see this article

The Final Word

Whether you’re hiking, backpacking, or trail running a quality hydration bladder can be an absolute game-changer. Not only do these reservoirs allow you to carry much water, but they also offer an easy and convenient way to stay hydrated on the move. Always keep your bladder clean to maintain the best water taste and overall hygiene.

While there are many hydration bladders to choose from, the CamelBak Crux, Platypus Big Zip Evo, HydraPak Shape-Shift Reservoir, Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir, and Source Outdoor Widepac are some of the best hydration bladders for hiking in 2023.

We hope this guide has helped you find the perfect hydration bladder for your needs. Now, it’s time to hit the trail and stay hydrated!