If you’ve ever spent time hiking, camping, or backpacking with water bottles, you would understand just how annoying lugging around those heavy plastic or metal bottles can be.
Sometimes, the idea of taking off your entire backpack to take out a water bottle is so bothersome, you just forget about it altogether.
Cue water bladders, which have effectively saved everyone’s thirst since they were introduced as measly small plastic bags with thin tubes. They’ve come a long way since then, and almost everyone who participates in adventure activities will benefit from having one.
However, with the saturated water bladder market right now, it might be overwhelming for you to pick out a new one for your next big adventure.
Whether you’re hiking and need something light to top you up over a few hours or backpacking and need something more heavy-duty, there are a huge range of options out there.
Why Purchase A Water Bladder?
Water bladders are an efficient and simple way to stay hydrated on the go. Their basic system of being located within your back whilst connected to your mouth via a mouthpiece which can be accessed at any time is convenience at its finest.
Unlike water bottles, the actual bladder becomes smaller as you go drink, lightening your load whilst freeing up space in your backpack. But before that, they’re built quite flexibly, meaning they can fit into most bags – even in the most compact of spaces.
Let’s face it, carrying a water bottle that requires a lot of effort to access, drink from, and then replace is a thing of the past.
Let’s explore the 5 best water bladders to stay hydrated while hiking.
1. Platypus Big Zip EVO
For a reliable water bladder that’s durable, simple to use, and provides quick water flow, you can’t go wrong with the Platypus Big Zip EVO.
It features a big bite valve and wider tube, both of which contribute to excellent water flow when you need it. The big bite valve is a step up from their previous iterations; it’s reported to sit quite comfortably in the mouth.
The hose itself is long, meaning it’s accessible even from deep within your backpack. However, you can shorten the hose and attach the backpack closer to the side or top of the backpack with the clips.
The shape of the water bladder is unfortunately quite wide, meaning it doesn’t fit as nicely into narrow backpacks. However, its fairly rigid shape is fantastic for empty backpacks.
- Fast water flow
- Easy to fill
- Great valve locking mechanism
- Rigid shape
- Wider shape
- Zip closure requires maintenance
Buy It Now: Platypus Big Zip EVO
2. Camelbak Crux Reservoir
The CamelBak Crux had to be in our list of the best water bladders! It has gone through a few iterations to land at where it is now, and it’s touted as one of the premium water bladders in the market, incomparable in many ways.
The CamelBak Crux features a new and improved ergonomic handle that makes it easier to pour and hold alongside a quick-connect vertical hose. It’s designed to sit low in your backpack to maintain a low centre of gravity during activities.
The latest bite vale technology releases 20% more water with each sip. It’s also one of the best features about this water bladder – you can release it with just one hand, and it self-seals after each sip.
It boasts 100% BPA, BPS and BPF free plastic, Hydroguard technology which safeguards against bacteria, and a lifetime guarantee.
- Strong and durable
- Lifetime guarantee
- Improved water flow
- Efficient bite valve
- Decent affordable price
- Screw top not as easy to secure as previous models
- Cannot be flipped inside out
- Difficult to clean
Buy It Now: CamelBak Crux
3. Hydrapak Shape-Shift Water Bladder
The Hydrapak Shape-Shift reservoir is a slim, lightweight bladder option. It’s built for those looking to lighten their load as much as possible during activities through the backcountry.
It’s also a fantastic option for those looking for a hydration pack that will keep them topped up during short trails.
Out of the box, you might taste a plastic taste for a few weeks, but it will soon wear off with consistent use. Because it’s quite small and easy to clean, you can put flavoured or sugary substances in it if you’d like.
The latest version offers a new bite valve that releases more water, quicker. Much like its size, the bite valve is relatively smaller, but still fits comfortably in the mouth.
One of the best things about this is the ease of cleaning. It can be flipped inside out, is dishwater safe, can be scrubbed from the inside, the valve can be unplugged for easy air drying, and taken apart and soaked as well.
- Slim profile
- Simple to clean
- Not as durable as other options
Buy It Now: Hydrapak Shape-Shift
4. Gregory 3D Hydro
The Gregory 3D Hydro is a fantastic all-rounder water bladder that performs swimmingly across all areas.
It’s highly durable and long-lasting, featuring a narrow and rounded design, thick but malleable bladder walls, an innovative handle for ease of filling, and a fantastic water flow rate.
The regular-sized bite valve is protected by a push switch that is easy to lock. However, keep in mind that you need to regularly maintain the push switch otherwise it might be jammed after a few outings.
The slim profile of this water bladder is appreciated by many, as its versatility means that it can fit into even the narrowest hydration sleeves of most backpacks.
When cleaning, all parts can simply be taken apart, washed and dried, and placed back together.
- Thick and durable
- Easy handle for filling
- Great water flow
- Narrow shape
- Cannot be rolled up
Buy It Now: Gregory 3D Hydro
5. Osprey Hydraulics LT Water Bladder
The Osprey Hydraulics LT water bladder is full of features that most outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate.
From the built-in handle, extended quick release hose system, magnetic bite valve, and lightweight size and shape, the Osprey Hydraulics LT bladder pretty much ticks most of the boxes.
The valve is one of the most basic yet effective in the same. It’s simple to handle, doesn’t leak, and provides quick water flow. It comes with a twist lock; however, if that’s not your preference, simply switch it out, as it’s compatible with many other types of valves.
A fan-favourite feature is the magnet on the bite valve that you can connect to anywhere on your pack.
The bladder is fairly easy to clean, with a large opening that lets you get a brush in.
However, it’s difficult to flip inside out. The large opening also allows for efficient refilling of the bladder.
- Large handle
- Long collar for easy filling
- Large opening for cleaning
- Almost impossible to flip inside out
Buy It Now: Osprey Hydraulics LT
I hope you enjoyed our list of the best water bladders! Hydration bladders are simple but effective to have whilst on the road. They don’t take up too much space, are generally inexpensive, and can make a world of difference to your hydration levels.
Consider your personal needs when looking at purchasing your first/next water bladder, and we hope this guide has assisted you in finding the one!