Hydration bladders may all look the similar and preform the same function, but they vary in terms of features such as material, size, design, and waterflow. Their main purpose is to safely store water for consumption.

These water reservoirs can be stored in backpacks that are specifically made for them, or even just a regular backpack. Most bladders are used by hikers and backpackers that travel long distances where water is scarce.

There are multiple factors to consider when looking for the best hydration bladder on the market. You will need to consider weight, compactness, durability, seal, and overall performance over a long period of time.

After testing out a variety of hydration bladders, we have compiled a list that best suites all hikers, backpackers, and anybody searching for a quality

Top Water Reservoirs in 2021

Product Name

Price

Rating


Platypus Big Zip EVO

$$

HydraPak Shape-Shift Low Profile Bladder

$$

CamelBak Crux

$$

MSR DromLite Bag

$$

Hydrasleeve Reservoir

$$$

Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir

$$

Lanney Hydration Bladder

$

Marchway Tactical Hydration Pack

$$

TETON Sports TrailRunner 2.0 

$

Gregory Mountain 3D Hydro Reservoir

$$

1. Platypus Big Zip EVO


Overall Rating:

5 / 5

The Platypus Big Zip EVO comes in 3 sizes: 1.5-liter, 2-liter, and 3-liter. When picking a size, bigger is not always better; make sure to check if it fits into your carrier.

In addition to coming in 3 sizes, it comes in 2 different models: the Standard version and the version with the fast flow valve. The EVO model offers a fast valve which allows for a smooth and constant stream of refreshing water during a long trek.

Most hikers prefer the faster valve because you can always limit how much you drink, even if you have a faster water flow.

This high-quality hydration bladder also offers a reliable valve that prevents leaks. Most backpackers prefer the clear see-through bladder in case of molding or dirt that may get inside.

One of our favorite features of the Platypus is the slide lock with a wide opening that allows for fast refills or removal of water.

Pros

  • Variety of sizes
  • Material doesn't change taste
  • Anti-Microbial and clear

Cons

  • Not very stylish
  • Limited colorway

2. HydraPak Shape-Shift Low Profile Bladder


Overall Rating:

5 / 5

This HyrdraPak product is very low profile, meaning it will fit in pretty much anything. No matter whether you pick the 2-liter or the 3-liter model, you do not have to worry about it not fitting in your backpack.

The drinking tube disconnects from the bag and never spills, thanks to the auto cutoff valve. This makes refilling a breeze because you don't have to worry about holding up the drinking hose. The detachable tube is perfect for when damage occurs; you won't have to replace the whole bladder.

The product is advertised as dishwasher safe; however, it is difficult to turn the bag inside out to clean it, even with the wide opening.

Pros

  • Low profile, easy storage
  • Shut off valve is durable
  • Feature packed

Cons

  • Not very stylish
  • Some advertised features are unrealistic

3. CamelBak Crux 2-L


Overall Rating:

5 / 5

The CamelBak Crux, the favorite amongst hikers, took an easy on the eyes approach to hydration bladders. This model looks less like an IV bag and more like something you would show another hiker on the trails.

These types of hydration bladder are built for convenience. It has an on/off switch that can be activated with a single hand for drinking. The leak-proof cap is tight and secure, yet easy to take off. It uses an automatic valve that only opens when you want it to.

The outside of the bag also contains measurements to let you know how much water you are drinking if you ever need to pace yourself on long trips.

It's difficult to wash since it's near impossible to turn inside out. We do not recommend this for backpackers with a large bag since the tube is fairly short. It needs a good tug if you want to drink with ease or have a backpacking buddy.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Easy to use
  • Convenience features

Cons

  • Bulky, odd shaped
  • Not clear colored

4. MSR DromLite 6-L


Overall Rating:

5 / 5

This is perfect for strong backpackers that need a large amount of water. There are few hydration bladders on the market that are capable of storing this much liquid. Don't forget, the more water a bladder stores, the heavier it gets.

This isn't the only great thing about the MSR DromLite. It also looks pretty modern with a neutral color that's great for concealment. You may wonder why concealment is necessary; most users that require a large bladder have other intents in mind.

These bladders are great for short towers during an overnight trip. You can attach this water reservoir to a tree branch and easily do personal hygiene.

The DromLite's design also means it can be compressed to much smaller than its bloated size. It's easy to transport once it has been emptied. Another design that we like is the cap. The cap has 3 modes, drink, pour, and fill.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Holds 6-liters
  • Incredibly versatile

Cons

  • Will not fit in many backpacks
  • Can get quite heavy when filled

5. Hydrasleeve Reservoir


Overall Rating:

4.5 / 5

The Hydrasleeve bladder features a very minimalistic look. It also comes with a different group of people in mind.

This hydration bladder is insulated, meaning those who may be hiking in colder climates won't have their water freeze, unless of course, it's sitting still for hours on end.

The insulated sleeve and the actual reservoir work perfectly together. It can even be refilled without removing it from the sleeve.

The sleek design is built with 210D nylon ripstop fabric that's tough on the outside and keeping liquid cool on the inside.

Pros

  • Comes with insulation
  • Stylish design
  • Minimalistic

Cons

  • Unreliable hose
  • Sometimes ships without sleeve

6. Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir


Overall Rating:

4.5 / 5

The Osprey Hydraulics hydration bladder has lots of desirable features. It is convenient to drink from the hose, quick disconnects, and it has the latest leak-proof technologies.

The clear bladder also gives hikers and backpackers peace of mind, knowing their water is fresh and sanitary.

The biggest innovation from this bladder is where the hose disconnects. It is placed in the middle instead of the bottom, meaning you can disconnect it while still in your backpack. It's perfect for when you need to do a quick swap or replacement.

Pros

  • Innovative design
  • Stylish
  • Disconnects easily

Cons

  • Low quality control
  • Can be hard to operate

7. Lanney's Hydration Bladder 2-L


Overall Rating:

4.5 / 5

The Lanney's hydration bladder is perfect for beginners to find out if they like hydration bladders or not. It's priced cheaply, and it looks cool. The protective tubing is great for rugged terrains to prevent it from any tearing.

It comes in serval different colors, military green, a light blue, and a lighter green. You won't find the latest and greatest features here, but you will be able to get a good understanding of hydration bladders by using this for a few of your hikes.


We like to bring this bladder as a backpack incase anything goes wrong with the current one. It is always better to be safe with an extra; especially important resources like water.

Pros

  • Fairly priced
  • Protective tubing
  • Stylish

Cons

  • Lacks any innovative features
  • Cheaply made

8. Marchway Tactical Molle Hydration Pack


Overall Rating:

4 / 5

The Marchway another great option for people who are looking to take their first hike. This provides you with most of what you need to have a safe, enjoyable hike. It of course includes a water hydration bladder with a MOLLE backpack.

The bladder itself has a convenient on/off switch on the hose, and it comes in 5 distinct different colors - which match the backpack that come with it. It's overall a well built bladder, just with minimum features.


It's perfect for an all in one purchase and ideal for shorter trips. The protective cap on the hose does get annoying, but it helps keep the mouth piece clean.

Pros

  • Comes with a backpack
  • Stylish
  • Lots of color options

Cons

  • Doesn't have many features
  • Plastic taste

9. Teton Sports TrailRunner 2.0 Hydration Pack


Overall Rating:

4 / 5

Our previous entry came with a backpack; this one is the backpack. Rather than being a hydration bladder that goes into a backpack, this bladder is built into the backpack.

It's super easy to remove and feels comfortable to run in. It hugs your shoulders and back without having the bladder shake around.

This hydration bladder is very convenient when you don't want to carry around a backpack full of other stuff. It's great for going to the park, fairs, carnivals, and festivals. We still recommend this for hikers, as long as it's not a far trek as it only contains 2-Liters.

Pros

  • All-in-one design
  • Looks stylish
  • Lightweight and compact 

Cons

  • No extra compartments
  • Backpack does not feel durable

10. Gregory Mountain Products


Overall Rating:

4 / 5

The shape of this hydration bladder is what makes it great. It isn't a simple pouch like most of the bladders above. It is bigger on one side than the other, making it fit snugly against your back.

The Gregory Mountain bladder is designed for the natural shape of your back. Comfort is key when it comes to this 3D Hydro Reservoir.

The clear bladder makes it easy to clean and check for unwanted germs inside. It offers a magnetic valve attachment for easy access. This makes it easy to drink and put away without having to think twice.

The two-part tube makes it simple to replace and also features a hook on the bottom for hanging. This becomes useful when doing personal hygiene or you just don't want to put it on the floor.

Pros

  • Comfort design
  • Carrying hook
  • Easy to operate

Cons

  • Only comes in a single size
  • Fairly expensive

Buying Guide For Hydration Bladders

Below are four very important qualities to look for before purchasing any hydration bladder.

Size

You want to make sure the bladder is big enough for your needs. You don't want to run out of water. 

Material

Cheap bladders are made of cheap materials, and these materials won't last as long. They may even bust while you are on a hike.

Style

I hate to admit it, but style is important, even when it comes to hydration bladders. You may not like carrying around something that looks like an IV bag. The good news is, there are plenty of stylish, well-made hydration bladders. 

Flow Rate

All bladders will function the same, but not all bladders are created equally. Make sure you understand how well the tube flows before purchasing a new bladder. Some bladders have a different type of shut off valve. Shop around and find out which one you prefer

Frequently Asked Questions About Hydration Bladders

Who are hydration bladders for?

Hydration bladders were specifically made for hikers; however, many others will benefit from one as well. Concert goers, drivers, and many other people can benefit from hydration bladders. 

Are hydration bladders only for water?

No. You can put a sports juice in the bladder as well. Make sure you clean the bladder out thoroughly after wards. Some bladders even come with an anti microbial lining. 

How's cleaning and maintenance for hydrational packs?

You will be required to clean the bladder after every use, especially if you carry anything other than water in it.

Even with an anti microbial lining, bacteria could still manifest in the bladder. Some bladders are even dishwasher safe.

Bottom Line

There are a variety of different sizes and types of hydration bladders, as you've seen above. You are sure to find the perfect one for you, but it may take some experimentation until you find your perfect match.

We personally prefer the Gregory Mountain 3D Hydro Reservoir, saving the best for last. It is the perfect size and shape. We can't recommend it enough. You may also want to try one of the bladders that come with their own backpack.