Staying hydrated should be one of your highest priorities when you are hiking, trekking, mountaineering, backpacking or engaging in other outdoor activities. And the best way to ward off dehydration is to use a hydration bladder.
Hydration bladders have become more popular over the years. And rightly so. For one, they are very convenient to use. You can easily access the tube hovering around your shoulder and have a drink. No need to stop, no time wasted. Talk about drinking on the go.
Also, you won’t run out of water when using hydration bladders as they can hold water for 3-hour, 4-hour, and 6-hour hikes depending on the size.
Hydration bladders are also comfortable to carry as they are compatible with many backpacks. And you’ll also be able to navigate difficult terrain easily.
That being said, you can now see why you should consider getting a hydration bladder for your hikes and treks. In this article, we have put together and easy guide that will save you from the stress and sometimes confusion you’ll experience when searching for a hydration bladder.
‘How do I choose a hydration bladder that’s perfect for my activities?’ It’s a valid question to ask. We’ll be taking you through a buying guide that tells you all you need to know about hydration bladders, features to look out for, what makes a hydration bladder great, and so on.
By the end of this buying guide, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and buy the best hydration bladder, the one that’s perfect for you. So here we go.
How To Choose Your Hydration Bladder
Purpose, Size, and Profile
The very first thing you should consider when buying a hydration bladder is its purpose i.e what you’ll be using the hydration bladder for. Are you going hiking, mountaineering, backpacking, or trail running? Or is it biking or exploring on foot? And the reason for this is that there are different features on hydration bladders that make them better suited to certain types of activities than others.
About size, you should by now know hydration bladders come in different sizes with the most popular ones having capacities of 2 and 3 Litres. Now, the bigger your hydration bladder, the more weight you’ll have to carry.
You’ll agree it makes sense to carry a bigger hydration bladder if you will be covering longer distances. The need for a bigger bladder is even more obvious if the weather is very hot as that means you’ll be more thirsty and likely drink more water. But if you’ll be covering shorter distances or if the weather is cool, then it makes more sense to carry a smaller bladder.
We’ll like to point out that while it’s enticing to buy smaller bladders for easy transport, there’s no law that mandates you must fill your 3L bladders to capacity. If you’ll be going on a short trek, you can just partially fill your 3L bladders.
The profile of your hydration bladder determines if it will fit into backpacks. Most backpacks come with hydration sleeves to hold your bladders and you should make sure the hydration bladder you are getting is the right fit.
We are pretty sure we’ve used “BPA-free” and the likes a number of times in this article. Bisphenol A (BPA), and its replacements bisphenol S (BPS) and bisphenol F (BPF) are plasticizers. This means they make plastic lightweight, stronger, and more flexible. But these compounds have been shown to have a number of harmful health benefits.
So whichever type of material your hydration bladder is made from (TPU, polyethylene), it should be free from these plasticizers.
Ease of Cleaning and Filling/Refilling
You have to consider how easy it is to clean the hydration bladder. Some bladders have large openings that allow you to easily access the inside with your hand or a brush. The inside of some hydration bladders can be pulled while there are some that can be cleaned by a dishwasher.
The wide opening also allows you to easily fill the bladder. Some bladders have two openings with one opening allowing refilling in difficult situations.
Whenever you put fluids other than water in your hydration bladder, you must take extra care to wash it. And washing will be made a lot easier if the bladder can be easily dismantled.
Bite Valve Features
Since the bite valve is what delivers water into your mouth, it’s important it has a number of features for you to have a good experience during your outdoor activities.
For one, the bite valve must be soft and comfortable to use. Also, there must be a shut-off switch to stop the flow of water when you want to be done sipping. There are bladders that have a turn valve to shut off the water but the switch mechanism is easier to use and clean.
The bite valve ideally should be medium-sized. Too large and it becomes uncomfortable to use. Even sipping water becomes difficult because of the reduced pressure. And a small bite valve has the disadvantage of providing a little amount of water per sip.
Hydration bladders can also be versatile and used for a number of purposes. Of course, the primary purpose of your bladder is to provide water for you during your activities. But sometimes when you are outdoors, a little improvisation now and then will come in handy.
You can use your hydration bladder to wash your gear. Just open the valve and position the nozzle towards your valve. Also, you can also use it to wash your dishes in a similar manner. Of course, there has to be good water flow for you to use it for these activities comfortably.
How to Avoid/Get rid of Plastic Taste?
Let’s face it, no one wants to drink water that tastes like plastic. But this has happened so many times with hydration bladders. However, the good news is hydration bladders are made of food-grade plastics so there are no harmful health effects. But still, plastic tastes aren’t great, right? We agree with you.
There are now high-quality hydration bladders that don’t leach plastic into your water. We considered the possibility of getting plastic taste when compiling our list.
But the truth is that it’s possible to get a plastic taste from a hydration bladder, especially during the first time of use, no matter the quality. So our advice is to thoroughly wash your hydration bladder after purchase.
Just fill the bladder to about ¾ of its capacity with warm water, add one or two tablespoons of baking soda (you can also add a cup or two of vinegar), and allow the contents to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Then rinse thoroughly and dry. No more plastic taste fella. Hurrah!
There you have it, our top hydration bladders and their buying guides. You see, choosing a hydration bladder doesn’t have to be a difficult task.
Now that we’ve provided you with all the information you need, you should now be able to pick a bladder that meets all your needs.
So get a hydration bladder now and enjoy a hands-free and on-the-go hydration process!