Accessories

Best Hydration Bladders in 2020 – Reviewed

Anyone who needs to carry water with them in a backpack or other suitable piece of personal equipment is probably going to want to invest in a hydration bladder. These bladders can be filled with water and have a hose that connects to them, so the runner or backpacker can drink through them without having to take a rest stop to do so.

Originally designed for military purposes, these bladders are now popular with athletes of all types, hunters, campers, hikers, and survivalist all around the world. And they work extremely well. We found them to be such an impressive piece of equipment, we’ve decided to review the best hydration bladders available, so all of our readers can enjoy using them.

Quick Summary of Hydration Bladders

 Best Overall 
Platypus Big Zip 3-Liter Water Reservoir  (review)

 Best Value 
Wacool 3-Liter EVA Hydration Pack Bladder  (review)

 Best Affordable 
Lanny 2-Liter Leakproof Water Bladder  (review)

Reviews

Platypus Big Zip 3-Liter Water Reservoir

 Best Overall 

This product is probably one of the most recommended hydration bladders currently available, and we think there is a very good reason for that fact. After trying it out, we discovered that it was one of the best ones available. The product holds 3-liters of water, comes with a limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer and is made from quality materials in the United States. It’s a hydration bladder that’s designed to meet the hydration needs of athletes and outdoors people everywhere, as can be seen by its array of features.

The first thing that we’re going to talk about is the construction of this hydration bag. It’s approximately 9×17.2-inches and only weighs 6.5-ounces when empty, but it’s made in a way that makes it extremely durable and prevents the bag from giving the water a plastic taste. It’s capable of doing this because it uses a dual-bag construction. The inside bag—the one that comes in contact with the water—is made from a food-grade plastic that’s BPA-free and phthalate-free and doesn’t make the water taste like plastic. This inner bladder is then placed inside a thicker and heavier outer bag that is more durable. The combination makes the water taste great while ensuring that the bladder can hold up just about anything.

Another thing that we liked about this product was that it had a low profile design that was equipped with a center baffle. This kept the water weight evenly distributed on the user’s back by ensuring that the bladder maintains its shape when filled. Speaking of filling the bladder, that process is easily done by removing the Slide-Lock from the bag, and adding water through the large opening. The user can then secure the Slide-Lock back on the bag, knowing that it’s never going to leak.

This bag also has other features that make it one of the best hydration bladders available. It has embedded silver-ions in it that keeps the mold and bacteria from forming in the reservoir. It also has a shutoff-valve that eliminates leaks and is available with either a standard water valve or one with a fast-flow valve. If it’s 3-liter bag is too big for runners or backpackers, then they can also buy the bladder in 1.5-liter and 2-liter sizes. After looking at its features, it’s easy to see how this is one of the better bladders for hydration currently available.

PROS:

  • It doesn’t have a plastic taste to it.
  • It holds 3-liters of water.
  • It’s easy to fill and to empty.
CONS:

  • None.

Wacool 3-Liter EVA Hydration Pack Bladder

 Best Value 

When we first came across this hydration bladder, we discovered that this product almost had too many great features for us to put in one review. However, we knew we had to rise to the challenge, so the following review hopefully encapsulates everything great about this product, all while communicating it’s one major flaw. With that being said, let’s begin with the construction of this water bladder and then work our way through some of its major features.

These 3-liter bladders are approximately 15-inches long, and 7.8-inches wide. It’s made with a 0.6mm extra-thick liner that’s pressure-tolerant and is designed to hold up to heavy use. It has double soldering sealing on its side that increases its durability and allows it to handle rougher conditions than some inferior bags. And because this bladder is odorless, tasteless and BPA-free EVA material, the consumer doesn’t have to worry about it making their water taste off while they’re using it.

Although the sliding mouthpiece did leak a bit, and only a little bit, we found the rest of the bladder worked extremely well. It has a 40-inch hose that was easy to route through a hydration backpack, and it’s equipped with a double opening design that makes it extremely easy to fill. Oh, we almost forget, the hydration hose is also insulated, so there is less of a chance of the user getting a hot shot of water when they’re using this product in warm weather conditions.

And no review of this product would be complete without mentioning its reasonable price that is sometimes half the cost of some of the competing water bladders available. All of these features make this a great value for anyone looking for one of these devices, and also makes it a product that’s sure to hold up on the running track or use on the trail for a long time to come.

PROS:

  • This product doesn’t have a plastic taste to it.
  • It has a double-opening design.
  • It’s an inexpensive water bladder.
CONS:

  • The cap to the drinking hose doesn’t stay on well.

Lanny 2-Liter Leakproof Water Bladder

 Best Affordable 

Okay, we feel that we probably have to begin this review by stating that this isn’t the best quality hydration bladder available. Sure, it seems well designed and hasn’t leaked so far, but it does feel like it’s not as durable as other bladders are. However, we kind of expected it because this model is less expensive than other water bladders and is probably best described as a budget model. With that being said though, this bladder does offer the user some good functionality and features. We’re just not sure how long it will hold up.

This product is made with food-grade material that is FDA-certified and is BPA-free. Unlike other cheap bladders, this model doesn’t make the water taste or smell like plastic, which we felt was a big plus. It also seemed to hold the water that was placed in it well and do it without leaking.

This model is also equipped with a 90-degree bite-valve that delivers water at a high-flow level. And this bladder is equipped with a large mouth opening, so it’s easy to fill and to clean. The large opening also makes it easier for the user to add ice cubes to it—if they so desire.

Another thing that’s worth discussing is that the inner portion of this water bladder is microbial resistant. That means that algae and bacteria won’t form in the properly maintained bag and make the water taste stagnant or bad. All of these features make this product one worth considering for anyone who is looking for a budget hydration bladder for their running, hiking, or biking needs.

PROS:

  • It’s an extremely inexpensive hydration bladder.
  • It doesn’t have a plastic taste to it.
CONS:

  • It doesn’t feel as durable as other bladders.

A Guide To Hydration Bladders

We could spend all day recommending to our readers the best hydration bladders available, but many people are still going to want to look for their water bladders on their own. That’s fair, so we’ve decided that the least we could do was to provide our readers with the information they need to make an informed decision—regardless of whether they’re buying one of the bladders we’ve recommended or want to look for one on their own. We created this guide to help all of our readers find the best bladders for hydration available, and we hope that it serves its purpose.

The History Of Hydration Bladders

Even though some outdoor websites claim that these hydration bladders were developed by cross country bicyclist during the 1990s, they were first widely used by the U.S military. Sure, bicyclists and runners did begin to use them after they discovered how useful they were, but we have to give props to the military who used them first. Regardless of who used them first, however, it’s probably worth mentioning that these bladders are used by a lot of different people including athletes, campers, hikers, and anyone else who benefits from having clean water at their disposal while they’re on the move.

Buying The Best Hydration Bladder

Okay, with a little bit of the history of these bladders out of the way, let’s turn our attention to how our readers can buy the best ones around. Below are some of the things that prospective bladder buyers are going to want to consider before they purchase their next hydration pack.

Look For A Leakproof Bladder

One of the things that consumers are going to want to look for when searching for a hydration bladder is just how likely it is to leak. The last thing a person wants when using these bladders is to have one leak, which could wet down the consumer’s back or backpack. The bag should be made of a durable material and equipped with either a capped drink tube or a shut-off bite valve that’s less likely to leak. The lid or slide that keeps the bag closed should lock into place and the bag should have double-edges to prevent accidental leaks.

Look For A Hygienic Hydration Bladder

Another thing the consumer should consider is the material the bladder is made of. The best bladders are the ones that are made of food-grade material that’s tasteless, odorless, and BPA-free. Because food grade materials aren’t as durable as some other materials used to make bladders, some manufacturers have come up with the idea of using a food-grade material that holds the water and an outer material that’s made of something more durable. It’s this two-layer design that seems to work the best for making the water great-tasting and making the bag durable at the same time.

Look At The Bladder’s Size & Capacity

The next thing the consumer is going to want to seriously think about is the size of the hydration pack, and this is a little bit harder for the average person to decide upon. That’s because these bladders come in 1-liter, 2-liter and 3-liter sizes, and consumers need to determine what size best fits their needs. If the consumer purchases a pack that’s larger than what they need, then they will end up carrying more weight than they need to carry. On the other hand, if they purchase a bag that’s too small for their needs, they’re going to run out of the water more quickly and will have to refill the bag more frequently. Therefore, the best water bladder for the consumer is the one that’s the perfect balance of size and capacity.

Consider How The Bladder Is Refilled

Another thing worth thinking about when buying a new hydration bladder is how the unit is refilled. When it comes to these types of bladders, there are three different models available. There are zip-top models, fold-over models, and screw-top models. Each of these different methods ways to add water to the bladder has its pros and cons respectively, so the consumer is going to want to think about it seriously before purchase. Let’s take a brief look at each of these methods separately to see which ones are worth buying.

  • Screw Top Bladders: These bladders are the easiest to fill from faucets, but they can be difficult to clean with manual cleaning brushes.
  • Zip Top Bladders: These models are easy to use and are great for filling at streams. They are easier to clean than screw-top models.
  • Fold Top Bladders: These bags are best for filling from shallow outdoor sources or tap. They are usually easy to clean, too.

Other Features To Consider

Before this article concludes, we’d like to mention a few other features that the consumer might want to consider before they purchase their next hydration bladder. The following features aren’t especially important but they do contribute to the value of the ease-of-use of the bladder.

  • Center Baffles The Help The Bladder Keep Its Shape
  • Embedded Silver-Ion Liners That Inhibit Bacterial Growth
  • Insulated Hoses That Keep Water Cool
  • Self-Locking Hose Connectors That Prevent Leaks

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