Hikers use hydration bladders for a number of reasons. In fact, hydration bladders are a great example of how many different people can use the same thing in any number of different ways. There are dozens of reasons to use a hydration bladder.

You may be asking yourself what advantages a bladder has over a water bottle. This is a fair question, but just imagine how much more free you will feel with your water strapped to your back or around your hip, not needing to constantly hold something during your hike.

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. For review purposes, we will be focusing on the 3-liter version.


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 is the model with the faster valve.

I personally prefer the faster valve because you can always limit how much you drink, even if you have faster water flow.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Not very stylish
  • Can sometimes leak

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 won't 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 product is advertised as dish water safe; however, it is difficult to turn the bag inside out in order to clean it.

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'd want to show another hiker on the trails.

This CamelBak hydration bladder is made for convenience. It has an on/off switch that can be activated with a single hand. It's leak proof cap is tight and secure, yet easy to take off, and it uses an automatic valve that only opens when you want it to.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Easy to use
  • Lots of convenience features

Cons

  • Bulky, odd shaped
  • Not clear colored

4. MSR DromLite 6-L


Overall Rating:

5 / 5

This holds a lot of water. There are few hydration bladders on the market that hold as much water as this bag.

This isn't the only great thing about the MSR DromLite though. It also looks pretty modern. It doesn't look like anything out of a hospital room, and it features stylish fonts and logos.

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

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Holds 6-liters
  • Incredible cap design

Cons

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

5. Hydrasleeve Reservoir


Overall Rating:

4.5 / 5

This hydration 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.

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 has an easy to drink from hose, quickly disconnects, and it has the latest leak proof technologies.

The biggest innovation from this bladder is where the hose disconnects. It is placed at the middle instead of the bottom, meaning you can disconnect it while still in your backpack.

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

This bladder is perfect for someone to purchase to find out if they like hydration bladders or not. It's priced cheaply, and it looks cool.

It comes in 3 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.

Pros

  • Fairly priced
  • Lots of colors
  • Stylish

Cons

  • Lacks any innovative features
  • Cheaply made

8. Marchway Tactical Molle Hydration Pack


Overall Rating:

4 / 5

Here is 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.

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.

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.

This hydration bladder is very convenient when you don't want to carry around a backpack full of other stuff. It is great for going to the park, fairs, carnivals, and festivals. It's still great for hikers as well.

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. Comfort is key with the Gregory Mountain 3D Hydro Reservoir.

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.

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