When you're trekking through the woods, carrying a water bladder is a hassle-free way to stay hydrated. The best water bladders for hiking will feature high-quality materials and a leak-proof, easy-to-use bite valve. On top of that, they'll be big enough to hydrate you throughout your entire excursion. Here's a breakdown of what to look for:
- Materials: The most durable, high-quality water bladders are made of strong yet flexible plastics, like TPU (which is a type of polyurethane) or PEVA (which is a non-chlorinated vinyl). Be sure whatever you pick is BPA-free and stretchy enough to mold comfortably to the contours of your back.
- Bite Valve: This is perhaps the most important feature, as it prevents water from trickling down your shirt or coat. It also determines how easy it is to take sips — lesser bladders can make it feel like you're sucking down air. Nearly all manufacturers will say their bite valves are leakproof and easy to use, so the most helpful metric is to read the reviews.
- Capacity: The amount of water you need varies, depending on how far you're going, how hard you'll be working, and what the weather will be. As a general rule, you should carry half a liter (aka 17 ounces) of water for every hour you'll be hiking. So if you're on a four-hour hike, for instance, you'll need 2 liters of water. Choose your bladder capacity accordingly.
To help you get a head start, I've scoured Amazon and made a list of the best water bladders for hiking, so your next adventure will be stress-free.
1. The Overall Best: A Lightweight Water Bladder That Comes In Two Sizes
HydraPak Shape-Shift Reversible Water Reservoir
Capacity: 2 or 3 liters
What's great about it: The best part of this durable TPU water bladder is the leak-proof, self-sealing bite valve that automatically closes after each sip. On top of that, the lightweight, BPA-free bladder is reversible. This means you can turn it inside out to clean it and let it fully dry to minimize the risk of bacteria growth and odor. Best of all, it come in your choice of 2- or 3-liter sizes.
What fans say: "The bottom line with HydraPak is that the closure is completely dependable. It's essentially impossible to assemble the bladder and fail to seal it correctly. There are no threads to get crossed, no O-ring to wear out. If your HydraPak hasn't been punctured, you can rely on it to hold water and not leak, and that's really the only thing that matters."
2. Runner-Up: Another Great Bladder With An Ergonomic Mouth Piece
SEAL3 Hydration Water Bladder
Capacity: 2.5 liters
What's great about it: Made with durable, 0.4-millimeter TPU, this tough water bladder features an ergonomic, 90-degree mouthpiece that fits seamlessly into your mouth without you having to twist the tube. The extra-wide mouth opening is equipped with a dust cover to keep dirt and other elements out while you hike. Plus, the bladder's BPA-free material is bacteria-resistant, odorless, and free of any plastic taste.
What fans say: "I primarily use the hydration packs for when I go on bike rides, hiking, or running. I really like this bladders hose. It’s a 360 degree hose so you don’t have to force any plastic around ... Great product."
3. The Most Budget-Friendly
WACOOL BPA Free Leakproof Water Bladder
Capacity: 2 or 3 liters
What's great about it: If you're on a budget, this BPA-free water bladder, which is made from strong PEVA material, is an excellent option. With more than 700 reviews, the popular hydration bladder boasts a leak-free silicone bite valve and a removable, self-locking hose connector. The BPA-free material is tasteless and odorless, not to mention tough and durable. Like the previous selection, it has a wide opening that fits ice cubes and is easy to fill.
What fans say: "This water bladder is fantastic! I can carry enough water in my backpack for my whole family with this. This thing holds over 3 Nalgene bottles of water! We took it on a day hike and the water stayed good and cool all day."
4. The Best For Keeping Water Cold
Unigear Tactical Hydration Pack
Capacity: 2.5 liter
What's great about it: Rather than shopping around for a separate hydration sleeve or fitting it into an existing bag, this all-in-one water bladder comes with its own lightweight backpack. What's more, the pack features thermal insulation to keep your water cold for an impressive four hours, and it's made with rugged 1050-denier nylon and abrasion-resistant ripstop. The bladder itself boasts high-quality TPU that's both flexible and durable; it also has a wide, easy-to-clean opening and a leak-proof O-ring gasket. The coolest feature, however, is the external fill port, which lets you refill the reservoir without having to remove it from the bag.
What fans say: "Great quality for the price! I have taken this to the desert twice for a week both times and to Montana on backpacking trips and it still works great!"
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