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The Best Hydration Bladders And Backpacks – Our Guide

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 19, 2022

What could go wrong if you didn’t have enough water? A lot. For starters, dehydration will inhibit your thinking. In addition, your moods will fluctuate, your body will overheat, and constipation won’t spare you. You may develop kidney stones. No one wants to be in such a situation.

Whether you are running, hiking, or cycling, it is essential to ensure sufficient fluid intake to keep your body at optimum performance. If running is your main workout, you must figure out the best running packs or best hydration bladder for running that would work for you. Moreover, if you choose to run to work, you need to figure out the best backpack for running to work.

While learning all about hydration packs, hydration bladders, and daypacks can be overwhelming, we’ve done that work for you. Here, we provide you with accurate and evidence-based reviews of the best hydration bladders, no matter the kind of activity you undertake.

In this article, you’ll learn the following:

Difference Between Hydration Packs and Hydration Reservoirs and Hydration Compatible Backpack

When thinking about outdoor hydration while undertaking intense physical activity, one of the three options may come to mind. But what are they?best hydration bladders

Hydration Pack

A hydration pack is a bag combining a day pack and a hydration reservoir. With a hydration pack, you only add water, and off you go into your adventure.

Hydration Bladder

A hydration bladder is a rubber and plastic water reservoir that can easily be compatible with a day pack. They come with rubber tubing and a valve to enable the user to drink hands-free. Also, they are airtight, sealed at the top when filled with water.

Hydration Compatible Backpack

A hydration-compatible backpack is capable of holding a hydration bladder. Although it is a regular day pack, you can combine it with a hydration reservoir.

However, you can use any daypack with a hydration bladder, but it might need a lot of work to make it feel as comfortable as a hydration pack.

What to Look For in a Hydration Bladder

A few things should influence your purchase decision when getting your hydration bladder.


The capacity of the bladder is the amount it can hold. They usually range from 1.5 liters to 3 liters. However, there are provisions for 2 liters and 2.5 liters. The weight difference between the 1.5 and the 3 liter bladders is negligible, so it is best to go for the one with more capacity.

Opening Handles

There are two designs of opening handles. One is the one that opens at the top and is sealed with a slider, and the second one is the one with a circular screw top on the front. Both are good, but they differ in functionality. For instance, it is easier to refill the screw top while the one open on top is easier to clean.

Quick Disconnect Tubing

A quick-disconnect tubing allows you to connect to your drinking tube easily. Then, with the push of a toggle, you can disconnect to refill or clean the bladder and connect it back.

Bite Valves

A bite valve is where you drink water from. These valves are easy to use as you only need to apply pressure slightly, and water comes out. They also ensure that there is no leak.

Best Hydration Bladders

We will look at the best hydration bladders considering the price, nature of adventure, backpacking, insulation, and best overall.

1. Best for the Pocket – Platypus Hoser

The Platypus is probably the most pocket-friendly bladder, which also performs considerably well. Some of its great attributes include:

  • Three liters
  • Great flow
  • Excellent durability
  • Lightweight

But the bladder misses out on having a lock on the bite valve, which might prove a nuisance when the back is full, since it tends to drip. It also lacks a quick connection.

2. Best Lightweight for Adventure – Hydrapak ShapeShift Reservoir

One of the qualities of the best hydration bladder for running is that it is lightweight. Therefore, they need to be easy to carry around, fit into slim bags, and hydration sleeves. In addition, they should be of high quality to accommodate the intense activity. Hydrapak ShapeShift Reservoir stands out because of the following features:

  • Three liters
  • Lightweight
  • Slim profile
  • Internal zipper
  • Quick-release hose

Some of its challenges include sloshing, which you can reduce by zipping the internal zipper. The disadvantage of doing that is you lose half a liter of capacity.

3. Best for Backpacking – MSR DromLite Bags

While backpacking, you need a stellar hydration bladder to store your water. MSR DromLite Bag stands out because of its durability and ability to take rough handling without breaking. Although it is wide and might not fit in the slim hydration sleeves, it makes quite a statement in the following areas:

  • Four liters
  • Packable
  • Durable exterior
  • Incredibly versatile

4. Best Insulated – HydraPak HydraSleeve

Whether you’re going for your adventure during the hot or cold season, an insulated bladder will maintain the temperature of your water so that every sip you take is refreshing. That’s why you need such a hydrating sleeve that keeps your water at the temperature up to three times longer than an insulated bladder. These are some of its remarkable qualities.

  • Three liters
  • Outstanding insulation
  • Works all seasons
  • High flow bite valve
  • Durable and versatile

Your hydration bladder should be cleaned after every use and left to dry before the next use. When constantly used, you must wash it thoroughly once or twice a month. You can clean it using dish soap or natural cleaners such as baking soda, lemon, or vinegar.

5. Bonus – CamelBak Ultra Pro Quick Stow Hydration Vest

The CamelBak Ultra Pro hydration vest comes with two stow flasks of half a liter each. They are very lightweight and have a bite valve for fast hydration. In addition, it has a phone pocket for convenience while running. This is the best CamelBak for running. There is also a woman-made version of the same.


Here are some questions people often ask about hydration bladders and backpacks.

How long are hydration bladders good for?

The longevity of a bladder is dependent on its use and maintenance. Ideally, the mid-range bladder can last between 6 months and a year, but the high-end ones can last much longer.

After how long should you clean your hydration bladder?

It should be cleaned after every use and left to dry before the next use. When constantly used, you must wash it thoroughly once or twice a month. You can clean it using dish soap or natural cleaners such as baking soda, lemon, or vinegar.

Do hydration bags expire?

Hydration bags do not have an expiry date. They can only spoil when not well maintained. If it starts to leak, you might need a replacement, but it can serve you even more than ten years if it is intact.

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