The Top 5 Best Hydration Bladders Reviewed and Tested

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Searching for Hydration Bladders? Take a look at the best Bladders of 2017, Pros & Cons and what to be aware of before buying them online or in a store.

Hydration is serious business when it comes to running. The average American is often said to drink far less water than is optimum for their bodies. You can typically get away with this if you’re just going through the motions of daily life, but when it comes to running it tends to catch up with you much more quickly.

Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir
  • Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir
  • 5 out of 5
  • Anti-microbial bacteria prevention
  • Price: See Here
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Aquatic Way Reservoir
  • Aquatic Way Reservoir
  • 4 out of 5
  • BPA-FREE anti-bacteria materials
  • Price: See Here
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Platypus Big Zip LP Reservoir
  • Platypus Big Zip LP Reservoir
  • 4 out of 5
  • Quick-release hose and shutoff valve
  • Price: See Here
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Below you’ll find a curated list of the best hydration bladders currently available. Through research, testing, and meticulous review we’ve distilled a list of the five best options currently available. At the end there is some additional information on how to care for a bladder, frequently asked questions, etc.

Camelbak Antidote 70oz Reservoir

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Camelbacks are such a well known and loved product that they have almost become synonymous with hydration bladder themselves. Is your Camelback full? So we are starting was the most logical. Camelbacks are smartly designed, have a good track record of durability, and can easily be matched with a line of backpacks/bags also produced by Camelbak. The Antidote is the flagship product of Camelbak and it has a BPA-free reservoir that comes in three different sizes to match just about any need. The valve is user friendly, effective, and won’t cause you any aggravation. Moderately priced, the Camelbak Antidote offers excellent value and is a simple and highly dependable hydration solution.
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About the Product:

- CamelBak Antidote reservoir has an access port which makes it filling it a breeze, the cap has also been redesigned and is easy to open/close
- Cleaning the reservoir is easy, the port is big enough that you can fit your hand or a toothbrush inside
- Has a Quick Link™ connection system so it’s easy to disconnect the drinking tube if you so desire
- The low-profile fit means leads to comfort and stability
- The Antidote has a built in baffle which is designed to stop water from sloshing all over the place and increasing tension on your back.
- Big Bite™ valve is super easy to use—just bite and swig; HydroLock™ valve shuts off water, making sure you don’t end up with a flood in your pack

Specs:

Size: 18 x 8 x 3.5 inches

Capacity: 70 Oz

BPA- Free: Yes

Material(s) Polyurethane
Pros
  • The large access port makes refilling and cleaning super easy
  • The Quick Link system allows the drinking tube to be easily removed for cleaning
  • Built in baffles reduce sloshing inside the bladder
  • Camelbak's Big Bite valve provide fast flowing hydration
Cons
  • The large closure may leak some when thrown around, or used under rugged conditions

Geigerrig Hydration Engine

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If you’d like a slightly higher grade than your average Camelbak the Geigerrig Hydration Engine is one solution. Don’t be put off by the fact it looks a bit like an IV bag. This is a great concept of a bladder and works extremely well, especially if you’re running at any type of altitude. The bladder of the Hydration Engine is composed of two chambers and is built to fit into almost any pack. One key feature of this bladder we really loved is the slide top which allows for the entire top of the bladder to be open. No more fussing with a port or gasket. The slide top allows for easy refilling, cleaning and most problematic of all drying. The bite valve also works exceptionally well letting you get a healthy supply of water (without sucking too hard) but not inundating you either. It may set you back a bit more than some other options price-wise but what you get in return is unparalleled performance and durability.
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About the Product:

- Some highlights in no particular order: slide top, industrial grade water tube, reservoir, and power bulb
- The pressure bulb and pressure tube provides a delicate mechanism to pressurize the hydration bladders thus utilizing the patented two chamber system
- Handy On/off switch on the bite valve prevents leaks
- A key differentiator: the slide top built by Hydrapak provides an indestructible seal that is leak free and retains the pressure of the Geigerrig system
- The quick release valves make it simple and easy to disconnect the tubes and leave them positioned in the hydration pack while you remove the reservoir for to refill or dry
- Bladder material is fully reversible and dishwasher safe

Specs:

Size: 16.72 x 7.25 inches

Capacity: 50 Oz

BPA- Free: Yes and dishwasher friendly

Material(s) thermoplastic urethane, stands up extremely well over time
Pros
  • Can be pressurized with a pressure bulb
  • Valves can be easily removed with a quick release disconnect
  • Dishwasher safe
Cons
  • The pump bulb could come loose under harsh conditions

Platypus Big Zip LP Reservoir – 3 Liter

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Sometimes simplicity is best, and this is one thing you can certainly say about the Platypus Big Zip LP Reservoir, its simple. Its design is straightforward yet effective and its low profile makes it a great match for small running packs. Its got a slidelock opening at the top making access to the reservoir no problem at all. This system also stands up well to leaking in our experience, in that it doesn’t. The addition of silver-ion antimicrobial properties keeps things fresh and a quick-release hose and valve pairing make drinking and refilling easy. Overall this is an excellent choice for any runner.
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About the Product:

- Proudly manufactured in the USA
- Made from BPA-free polyethylene with silver-ion antimicrobial finish delivers fresh, sanitary and taste free liquids
- Has a wide opening with patented Slidelock™ closure is easy to refill and secure
- Lightweight, streamlined design is meant to ride flat in your pack — minimizes sloshing around and overall load
- Quick-release hose and shutoff valve make drinking and refilling the bladder a simple process

Specs:

Size: 17.2 x 8.8 Inches

Capacity: 101 fluid ounces

BPA- Free: Yes

Material(s): thermoplastic urethane, stands up extremely well over time
Pros
  • Refilling is easy with the wider opening and Slidelock closure
  • Low profile design
  • Limited sloshing
  • BPA free
  • No plastic taste
Cons
  • Probably not ideal for rougher activities

Aquatic Way Hydration Bladder Water Reservoir

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If you’re looking for a no frills and economical bladder to meet the basic need of easy access to water on the go a great place to turn is to the Aquatic Way Bladder Water Reservoir. This bladder is a good choice for a variety of reasons, but most of all it checks most all of the boxes you’d want checked. It’s made from food-grade BPA-Free and FDA (if you trust the FDA) approved materials, has leak proof seam technology, it is easy to clean and dry using its large opening, and best of all it has insulation that allows the water to resist quick temperature change. It may not be as finely engineered or calibrated as some higher end bladders, but the Aquatic Way Bladder Water Reservoir offers a great bang for your buck.
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About the Product:

- Extremely well constructed from thick TPU that is pressure-treated and wear-proof. Manufactured with built in leak proof sealing technology.
- BPA-Free and FDA approved material, has antimicrobial properties
- Oversized opening, ideal for cleaning and easy access. Drying is a breeze and you can even scoop ice cubes directly from the fridge into the bladder
- Soft yet durable mouthpiece, has a 90-degree turn mouthpiece. Easily accessible shutoff valve, no leakage.
- Neoprene insulated tube cover helps water stay cold on hot days and vice versa on cold ones
- Shop with peace of mind. Sixty day100% money back guarantee

Specs:

Size: 1.13 x 6.5 x 15 inches

Capacity: 67.6 oz

BPA- Free: Yes, FDA approved

Material(s): thermoplastic urethane
Pros
  • BPA-Free
  • Constructed of FDA approved material with antimicrobial properties
  • Oversized opening allows easy refilling and cleaning
  • 100% money back guarantee
Cons
  • May not be ideal for extreme situations

Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir

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The first thing that stuck out to us about the Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir is has a 1/4″/6.35mm hose which allows water to flow almost effortlessly. The exterior of this bladder has handy capacity marking also which removes any guesswork you might have to make when checking your levels. If you’re turned off by the taste of plastic (lets face it who isn’t?) this bladder may be for you. The material is a Metallocene PE with taste-free film (BPA/PVC free) plus a antimicrobial formula to which works to stop the buildup of bacteria and mold. If all this weren’t enough the low profile of this bladders’ build keeps the weight of the water consistent and close to your body. This is a particular boon for runners.
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About the Product:

- Backer plate help to shape the reservoir, keeping it low-profile so it won’t mess up the ballast of your backpack
- Pour shield extends the collar (almost like a funnel) to make filling and pouring easy
- Has a welded chevron baffles to help prevent too much sloshing and to maintain the shape
- Has a magnetic sternum strap that you attach can attach to you pack, giving the magnetic bite valve a spot to rest while out of use
- Well formed bite valve offers fast and easy water flow

Specs:

Size: 15 x 7 x 3.1 inches

Capacity: 2 or 3 liters, depends on size

BPA- Free: Yes

Material(s): Metallocene PE Film
Pros
  • Internal baffles help prevent sloshing
  • Maintains a low profile structure
  • Bite valve allows fast water flow
  • Extended pour shield make refilling much easier
Cons
  • Has a bit of a plastic taste at first

Hydration is one of those things you really have to stay on top of, it can sneak up on you. You may be sitting there thinking, yeah, yeah — I know this, I’m fine, it doesn’t apply to me. If that’s actually true then great! But for the rest of us a refresher never hurts. According to one source:

Women need 2,700 milliliters daily, which is a little more than 90 ounces. Men need even more — 3,700 milliliters per day, or 125 ounces, according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine.

Thats a lot of water. How to make sure your intake levels stay up in the recommended zone? There are many ways, but one simple one is to get a good bladder and make sure it’s always tucked in your pack. This is particularly important for trail runners or ultra-marathoners. So, you need a bladder, but which one? Like so many products today the number of options has proliferated dramatically making choices more complicated. If you have a bladder you like by all means stick with it, but for those thinking about purchasing their first bladder or needing to replace an old one we’ve done some legwork for you.

 

A bit More About Bladders: Tips and Cleaning

 

How do I clean my hydration bladder?

It is very important that you practice good hygiene, cleaning your reservoir consistently, and caring for it properly after use. Cleaning instructions are as follows:

  • Start with hot (almost boiling) water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda or bleach.  Mix the solution thoroughly inside and hold it up above your head while you apply pressure to the bite valve, making sure the solution runs through the tub as well.
  • Let the reservoir and cleaning mixture soak for roughly 30 minutes
  • Rinse  the reservoir with hot water and non-chemical soap. Be certain you’ve cleaned all the bleach before resuming use. You can also take a toothbrush (or other small brush) and gently scrub the interior of the reservoir
  • Once the reservoir is clean, make sure you air dry so that no moisture ends up trapped inside the bladder. Sometimes stuffing clean rags inside can help to this end.

 

How often should I clean it?

This is a bit down to personal preference (and how much you use it). A few times a year is likely good or even less if you care for it well after use.

 

Can I drink other liquids from it besides water?

Of course you can, but in our experience strongly flavored drinks will have a lingering effect. If you must drink alcohol from it we highly recommend you get a separate bladder for this. Hints of tequila don’t go down particularly well during a 5k.

 

How should I store my bladder when it’s not in use?

Make sure that it is completely dry, roll it up and stow it in the freezer. This will ensure nothing can grow in it. If you’ve got limited freezer space anywhere dry will do.

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