Best Hydration Bladders – 2021 Buying Guide
The water bladders featured in our list below are some of the options currently available on the market because they will ensure that you always have the right amount of water on you at all times—without weighing you down or making you uncomfortable during you runs or hikes, no matter how far you’re going. Investing in one of the bladders will ensure that you can remain hand-free so you can enjoy your run and focus on pushing your self to the limit without getting dehydrated.
To learn more, check out our list of the top 10 best hydration pack bladders currently available!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Portability is one of the most important factors to consider when looking for a hydration bladder—after all, the whole point of investing in one of these is so that you can take water with you on your runs. Staying hydrated during your runs is incredibly important, so make sure you get something that is portable enough to fit your needs. As we narrowed down our products and picked our final 10, we took a close look at the portability each one had to offer and used this as one of our main ratings in each review.
When looking at portability, we considered the size of each of the water bladders and whether or not they would be compatible with most hydration packs. If you have a hydration vest or pack, you will really need to take into consideration whether or not the bladder you are considering will fit comfortably with it—if not then the bladder will not fit your portability needs.
On the other hand, if you want something that is more versatile or something that will work for longer hikes or treks, then you can take a look at the larger bladders. At the end of the day, you will have to find something that fits your specific needs and while the smaller bladders are more portable for obvious reasons, that doesn’t mean that they will work for everyone.
The material your hydration bladders are made of is obviously highly important. Most water bladders are made from some sort of polyurethane blend which makes them strong, but still lightweight and flexible.
Some of the products on our list, such as the Hydrapak First Wave Hydration Pack Bladder, are made of thicker materials than other, making them perfect for people who engage in rugged activities or are just hard on their gear.
Most of the bladders on our list also have some sort of anti-microbial feature built into the fabric. This will help keep your bladders from smelling bad or tasting bad. Don't get us wrong, it's still very important for you to clean the bladders between uses and let it dry completely, but let's be honest, it doesn't always happen.
Anti-microbial technology helps keep your water bladder fresh when you might not have time for proper cleaning.
When considering the type of bladder opening on your hydration bladders, you should consider the ease of filling the bladder, the filling environment, and how easy it is to open or close the bladder opening. There are 3 types of openings of typical hydration pack bladders: Screw cap, Fold Top or Zip Top.
Fold Top Opening
With the folding top opening the tops part flips up, folds over, then once it is folded over, you slide the closure over on the top, this prevents the bag from experiencing leaks.
It is the best bladder opening if you have to fill up your bladder in streams or any other outdoor water points especially where there are limited resources. It is easy to wash and clean, especially when it’s turned inside out.
Zip Top Opening
This bladder opening is similar to the folding top with a few marked differences. These bladders utilize a zip locking system to make sure that they're free of leaks and to make access a little bit easier. Many runners trade the ease-of-use for the time that it takes to fill them up. They take a little bit longer to arrange and to close afterward. Many runners recommend these for regular faucets or slow flowing water sources. One of the biggest differences is the way that these bladders have to be cleaned. The zip top bladder will need to be brushed out and can’t be turned inside out to sterilize the inside. This means that it takes a little bit longer to sanitize than other models.
Screw Top Opening
These bladders tend to take more time when opening and closing than both the zip-top and fold top water bladders. When looking for a shallower bladder basin, these are a much better option. These are perfect for camping trips, long trail hikes, and for long-distance runners who have the ability to fill them up at water resources with easy access. They can also be filled to capacity, unlike hydration bladders with other types of openings. Although it’s always a good idea to leave a small amount of air under the cap to make sure that they don’t spill or leak on the go.
Bite Valve Size
The size of the bite valves is different and varies in type from bladder to bladder. Most will have a locking mechanism of some sort. Some valves are bigger in size, while other valves tend to be smaller. The size determines how hard or easy it will be to suck water from the bladder. In summary, this means that large bite valves are harder to suck fluid with via the tubes (if you don’t have a pressurized system). Small valves are sufficient, even though they cannot offer a large water flow, which is provided using medium valves. Medium valves are usually preferred by runners.
Pressurized or Non-Pressurized
A pressurized system in a hydration pack bladder will have two chambers. The first one is for water and the other for air. By using a pressure pump, you are supposed to blow the air up so that you have a reservoir that is pressurized. Water will come out of the bite valve minus any sucking. The real advantage of pressurized systems: they make use easy when working out. Also, they are able to keep the tubes cleaner and free of any bacteria.
They also need fewer cleaning sessions. Nevertheless, if you use sugary drinks in the bladder, you will need to clean the tubes whether it’s a pressurized system or a non-pressurized system. This is because sugar residues need intense flushing, using soap, a brush, and some warm water in order to come out.
Like all running gear, comfort is of utmost importance. Whether it is clothes, shoes, or—in this case—hydration bladders you need to make sure that you are comfortable with what you choose. So, regardless of whether you are using a hydration vest, hydration backpack, or just need a bladder that is compatible (or fits in) your day pack, you will need to make sure that you get something that you can wear comfortably and that isn’t too heavy—but still able to hold as much water as you need.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many additional benefits a bladder has to offer if it is uncomfortable. After all, if you can’t wear it comfortably then you won’t be able to use it—and you will end up right back where you started, looking for the right bladder for yourself. When we took a look at the overall comfort of each of the bladders on this list, we made sure to consider several factors.
First and foremost, we took a look at actual user reviews so that we could see what people really had to say about the bladders. This was important because sometimes you can’t really gauge how comfortable something until you test it out. We also took a look at the overall size of the bladder and whether how the weight would distribute when in use. Often times if you are running long distances and not just hiking, it is better to get two or more smaller water bladders and attach them evenly around your hydration vest, so the weight is distributed evenly. At the end of the day though, comfort is really up to you and just depends on your personal preferences.
Best Hydration Pack Bladder
1. Geigerrig Hydration Engine
This hydration bladder is the perfect option for anyone who lives a super active lifestyle, and who loves to just grab their gear and go. With extremely strong nylon reinforcement, this water bladder is designed to last. It's also easy to clean and holds enough water for even your most challenging long-distance runs. The dishwasher-safe design prevents the growth of bacteria and helps to keep the Geigerrig Hydration Engine ready to use!Read more
This hydration pack bladder is really lightweight and features a compact size that makes it really portable and perfect option for anyone who is always on the go.
Made of BPA Free plastic and dishwasher safe materials, this water bladder backpack is really durable and easy to take care of.
When it comes to features, this bladder is reversible and also comes with a lifetime warranty—which goes to show how much the company stands behind this product. It also features a wide mouth and slide top so you can easily refill it. It has a spray feature as well—which is perfect for those hot summer days. And, to top it off, it is compatible with a filter so you can make sure you are always drinking delicious clean water!
This 3L capacity bladder won’t weigh you down and will ensure that you stay comfortable no matter how far you run.
2. Osprey Hydraulics
The first thing that stuck out to us about the Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir is that it has a 1/4″/6.35mm hose which allows water to flow almost effortlessly. The exterior of this bladder has handy capacity marking which removes any guesswork you might have when checking your water level. If you’re turned off by the taste of plastic (let's face it, who isn’t?) this bladder may be for you.Read more
This hydration bladder is really portable and features a low-profile design. It is pretty compact and easily portable—so if you are always on the go then you will love this one because it is really portable.
The material is a Metallocene PE with taste-free film (BPA/PVC free) plus an antimicrobial formula which works to stop the buildup of bacteria and mold. If all this weren’t enough the low profile of this bladder keeps the weight of the water consistent and close to your body.
This hydration pack bladder features a backer plate that will help shape the reservoir. It is also really easy to pour thanks to its pour shield which extends out almost like a funnel.
If you want a hydration bladder that offers a fast and easy flow, then you will want to take a closer look at this hydration bladder. It features a magnetic bite valve that makes it easy to use and its welded chevron baffles prevent water from sloshing all over the place.
3. Platypus Big Zip LP
Sometimes simplicity is best, and this is one thing you can certainly say about the Platypus Big Zip LP Reservoir water bladder backpack: it's simple. Its design is straightforward yet effective and its low profile makes it a great match for small running packs. It has a slide lock 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.Read more
If you want a portable hydration bladder, this is a great one to consider. It can hold up to 101 ounces and is a perfect option for those of you who are always on the go.
This bladder is made of BPA-free polyethylene and has a silver-ion antimicrobial finish. It stays fresh and it doesn’t pick up any unpleasant tastes.
This water bladder offers a shutoff valve and quick release hose as well as wide opening with a slide lock closure—for a secure and tight fit.
This bladder is comfortable to wear and won’t weigh you down or nudge you in the wrong place.
4. Aquatic Way
If you’re looking for a no-frills and economical bladder to meet the basic need for 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 almost all of the boxes you’d want to be checked.Read more
This hydration bladder is pretty portable and wear-proof. It is perfect for all distance runners—but perfect for those of you who like to go the distance.
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.
This hydration pack bladder is pressure-treated and really durable. It is designed to be leakproof and has antibacterial properties.
Its oversized opening makes this one easy to drink and its mouthpiece is easily accessible so you don’t have to stop every time you want to get a drink.
5. Camelbak Antidote
Camelbacks are such a well known and loved product that they have almost become synonymous with hydration bladders themselves. 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 CamelbakRead more
This water bladder is really portable and has a Quick Link™ connection system so it’s easy to disconnect the drinking tube.
Made of BPA-free and durable materials, this one is definitely built to last you the long haul!
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
The low-profile fit means leads to comfort and stability. Big Bite™ valve is super easy to use, making sure you don’t end up with a flood in your pack
6. Hydrapak Shape Shift
The Hydrapak Shape Shift hydration bladder is easy to use, lightweight, and perfect for runners looking for a reliable hydration pack bladder they can use for the long haul. While it's a little on the pricey side, it's worth it if you want a high-quality bladder. Read lessRead more
If you want a portable water bladder then you will love this one! It is lightweight, easy to use, and perfect for runners!
This bladder is BPA free and is made of abrasive-resistant TPU.
This bladder is both BPA and PVC free as well as reversible. The reversible feature lets you turn it inside out so that you can easily stick it in the dishwasher or clean it by hand--in essence, it makes it easier to clean, which makes your life easier
The bladder also has a high blaster valve that is easy to seal and doesn't leak when not in use. It is made of TPU which makes the water bladder backpack highly durable and abrasion-resistant. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, just in case!
7. Salomon SS16 Soft Reservoir
The Salomon SS16 Soft Reservoir is a good choice for anyone who needs a reliable reservoir pack that will serve them well without breaking the bank and without being overly flashy or difficult to use.Read more
We know how important it is to stay light and to make sure you do not weigh yourself down with too much stuff while you are out on a run. The Salomon SS16 Soft Reservoir bladder is perfect because it has a decent capacity yet is easy to use and is very portable. You can take it with your wherever it is you plan to go with little extra effort.
The materials that were used in this pack are made to be durable and will hold up to the wear and tear you would expect from an avid runner or hiker. It is easy to use and is designed to take the jostling and abuse that outdoor running would inflict. If you want something easy to use yet made to be durable the Salomon SS16 Soft Reservoir is a pack worth considering!
At 1.5 liters, this is a smaller pack but is great for people who do a lot of running or enjoy hiking but are not into the endurance runs and such. If has an easy set up and easy access tube for on the go hydration and a secure fill cap that prevent unwanted leaking. The slim and light design makes it easy for adults and youth alike which is a major selling point for this bladder!
The final point that makes the Salomon SS16 Soft Reservoir a good choice for adults and youth and beginners and seasoned runners alike is that it is comfortable to carry while out on a run. Everyone can use this pack without a lot of extra effort or planning and is versatile enough to meet any packing and transportation needs that you may have.
If you love running lots of miles but hate running out of the water, check out the Freemove water bladder. The TPU material is antimicrobial and it’s the highest quality material. This bladder doesn’t change the taste of water as some bladders do. It is also BPA free and FDA approved. There’s a specially designed mouthpiece where all you need to do is press the on/off button.Read more
This hydration bladder is really portable and perfect for those of you who enjoy being outside for long periods of time.
The bladder is made from neoprene which can regulate the temperature and keep your water cool so you can enjoy it even when it's hot out. It has a special antilock system so no worries about the mouthpiece locking up. The water flow is very fast and it's really simple to drink from.
There’s also a cap to prevent any dirt from getting inside of the bladder. Many runners appreciated the special cleaning kit that comes with the bladder. Runners said that it was very helpful for cleaning the water bladder. There are also special drying supporters that help your bladder to dry faster.
Lightweight and compact, this hydration is comfortable even for you long distance runners out there.
9. MSR DromLite Bag
The MSR DromLite Bag hydration bladder is a good choice for those who want a reliable pack that is durable and easy to use while not breaking the bank or costing you a fortune!Read more
One important factor to consider when you are searching for a new hydration pack bladder for your pack is that it needs to be portable. This is a well-designed hydration pack that is easy to carry and that will give you quick and easy access to water without being overly cumbersome and hard to take with you. This is important when you are heading out on a long run or a hike!
The materials used in the MSR DromLite Bag is such that is it durable and will hold up well to the wear and tear of frequent use. It can handle the rough terrains and environments and will serve you well for a long time to come. The materials used are top of the line and are designed to resist puncture and tears so they are perfect for rugged environments and conditions.
It can hold up to 6 liters of fluid and is easy to carry and asses while on the go. It is designed with features that help make this a hydration pack that is perfect for the avid runner who is always on the go. Access to cool fresh water has never been easier and while this is near the bottom of our list of bladders it is still a good choice and is one that will serve you well!
The final factor we considered in our search for the best hydration packs was how comfortable they are to use and the MSR DromLite Bag is very comfortable and easy to use. It will stay in place and not slide around while you are out enjoying your run or hike or workout session. When it comes to comfort this is a decent choice for beginner and experienced runners alike.
10. Deuter Streamer 2.0
The Deuter Streamer 2.0 hydration pack may be at the bottom of our list but it is still a high quality product that will serve you well and will keep you hydrated on your runs and hikes.Read more
It is a little more bulky and cumbersome compared to the other hydration bladders featured on this list bit the Deuter Streamer 2.0 is still a good choice for anyone in need of good portable water supplies. Whether you are hiking, climbing, running, or working out, this is a good hydration pack bladder that will help you stay safe and hydrated no matter how long you are out for.
The Deuter Streamer 2.0 has materials that are fairly durable though there are some reports of wear and tear issues after a lot of use, particularly in the hose and the fill cap area. This is still a good water bladder to consider for your water transport needs and is good enough to find a spot here on our top ten list!
This is a fairly basic bladder without a lot of bells and whistles and fancy design features. It has a basic hose for easy on the go access and a fairly easy fill access point. It is made a lightweight plastic and is easy to carry and will collapse easily when partially filled or empty, making it easy to carry with you wherever you need to go.
Even at the bottom of our list, we are still finding quality bladders that are easy to use and that won’t hurt or cause a lot of aches and pains. The Deuter Streamer 2.0 pack is made with comfort in mind and will serve you well. You can get easy reliable access to water when you need it the most and avoid sore muscles and aches at the same time.