Last Updated on 27/08/2023
9 Best Hydration Reservoirs for Hiking
Learn which is the best hydration reservoir for hiking and what makes it stand out from the rest in this guide to water reservoirs for hiking. We reveal the different styles of a water bladder and explain why some are easier to use and others are a flood risk to your backpack.
If you go on hiking or camping trips regularly, staying hydrated is undoubtedly one of your most essential needs. While you could opt for the conventional water bottles if your trip will be a relatively short one, a hydration reservoir or hydration bladder is still your best option. Why? You are more likely to stay hydrated if you don’t have to stop and take your bag off to find your water bottle.
Getting lost in nature can make you lose track of time. You’ll end up spending more time outdoors than you initially planned. That’s why a hydration reservoir (which has the potential to accommodate more water) might just be a lifesaver. Apart from the ability to hold more fluid (which is one of the greatest advantages over conventional water bottles), hydration reservoirs also come with more features that make them a must-have for hiking trips. For even more security you could also carry a portable water filter.
However, you might want to ensure you opt for a product that’ll suit your individual needs. That said, here’s a well-researched list of the best hydration reservoirs for hiking in the market. You’ll save yourself the hassle of searching through tons of products and also have the chance to choose among the best.
Best Hydration Reservoir Reviews
Hydrapak Force Ultra-Durable Water Bladder/Reservoir Hydration
This Hydrapak Force Ultra-Durable Hydration Bladder/Reservoir offers a military-grade design that comes in with a superior material that’s not only puncture-resistant but also expands to eight times its size—yet retains structural integrity.
The superior TPU material is totally PVC and BPA-free. It also meets up with FDA standards. So, any liquid content you put in is safe for consumption. Engineered with a bite valve and an easy twist on/off valves, you’ll find this one easy to use while on the go.
Furthermore, the opening is wide enough, making refilling, cleaning, and drying a breeze. As for the size, the 3-liter reservoir weighs just a little over 9 ounces, making it perfect for your long hiking trips without translating to any extra unbearable weight. Now add the lifetime warranty, and you’ll probably agree there’s no reason not to try Hydrapak Force.
HydraPak Shape-Shift hydration Bladder/Reservoir
For activities like snowboarding, mountain biking, cycling, HydraPak Shape-Shift Hydration Bladder is what you need for a hands-free, light-weight journey, and stability maintenance. Its material is durable and flexible, with a large shape-shifting capacity as you fill it with water.
Furthermore, it features a convenient water access system that has an auto-shut valve for preventing fluid leakage. Thanks to the convenient slide-seal top technology (which allows wide and easy opening), you can take advantage of it and reverse the reservoir in and out to make cleaning extra easy.
You can even throw it in the dishwasher if you prefer not to hand wash it. Even better is the fact that the 3-liter design is BPA-free, making it safe and in line with regulatory requirements.
CamelBak Crux 100 oz Hydration Pack Reservoir
The CamelBak Crux is great if you’re after more water per sip to reduce the frequency of sipping. More than other hydration bladder water delivery designs, the CamelBak Crux 100 oz Hydration Pack Reservoir delivers 20% more water with each sip.
What’s more, the 3L reservoir weighs only 7 ounces and measures 15 x 7.5 x 2.5 inches, making it ideal for small backpacks. This is especially handy if you’re after a lightweight design. As you engage the bite valve system to access water, it has an on/off lever operation with a finger flick to prevent leakages. For safe use, the manufacturer furnished this one with hydro guard technology that prevents the growth of microorganisms in the main bladder and hose.
OMORC Hydration Bladder
OMORC Hydration Bladder is a BPA-free design, with an odorless and tasteless experience, even with the first use. The hydration bladder features an upgraded, quadruple protection design that is leak-proof and puncture-proof.
Its 9 ounces, the 3-liter capacity reservoir is furnished with a 39-inch long hose and a bite valve mouthpiece that altogether makes access to water easy and direct from the backpack. This is a true hands-free operation.
What’s more, OMORC lined the hose of this one with insulation using neoprene material to prevent the freezing of residual water which can cause blockage in subzero weather. With a 1-year warranty cover, you can rest easy while you purchase.
Source Hydration Bladder WXP
Source hydration technologies delivered this Source Hydration Bladder WXP with a weave-covered tube for UV Protection and a unique magnetic clip design for easy hose management.
The 2-3 liter hydration system features a premium material design that offers a tasteless and odorless drinking experience that’s common with many new plastic drinking equipment. Thanks to its unique “Widepac” closure design, refilling and maintenance have never been easier.
What’s more, this manufacturer is all about safety. The reservoir comes with a dirt shield valve to keep debris and dust away from the reservoir. It also has a finished weight of just 0.23 kg or 8.4 ounces and a dimension of s LxWxH12.2 x 5.91 x 1.18 inches. You’ll not only enjoy hands-free hiking, but you won’t have to compromise your desire to pack light for your trip.
Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir
While the Osprey hydraulic reservoir is designed to accommodate more water, you’ll love the Hydrostatic backer plate feature, which offers the perfect structure where the entire reservoir can be shoved into. Thanks to this, the overall design ultimately maintains a flat/low profile. The design further doubles as an easy-fill and easy-clean feature.
For ease of use, it comes with a bite valve drinking mechanism and a quick twist-off/on switch to prevent leakages. In terms of safety, all the parts are BPA/lead-free and food-safe, from the main reservoir to the hose.
Platypus Big Zip Water Reservoir for Hydration Backpacks
You’ll find the combination of a two-way side-lock slide design and a fast flow valve in this hands-free Platypus Big Zip Water Reservoir for Hydration Backpacks. These are two important features that aid in easy cleaning/refill and access to water.
The fast flow valve is ideal for those who want to drink more water at a faster rate but with lesser frequency. The manufacturer also designs standard flow rate hoses to keep the flow of water at a normal pace.
This reservoir has been designed with a BPA-free material and a handy pincher grip that offers a convenient one-hand operation.
Platypus offers one of the light-weight hydration reservoir systems in the market, with its 1.5 liters measuring only 8.5 x 13 inches and weighing 5.6 ounces, while the 2 and 3-liter reservoirs stand at 8.7 x 15 inches/6 ounces, and 9 x 17.2/ 6.5 ounces respectively.
Osprey Packs Hydraulics Lumbar 1.5L Hydration Reservoir
This Osprey Hydraulics Lumbar 1.5L Hydration Reservoir is an improvement to its premise product in the area of weight reduction and simpler handling operation. Osprey added a carry handle and a wide opening to this one for easy cleaning and filling.
Furthermore, there’s a slide-seal closure mechanism that keeps water securely sealed in the reservoir. As for the material, it’s durable and made of TPU, which is dishwasher-friendly. You’ll also appreciate the bite valve mechanism for easy access to water.
Hikers, campers, and lovers of extreme activity can fit this 1.5-liter Osprey reservoir into small lumbar packs or creatively pair it with a larger hydration reservoir if there’s a greater need for water.
Camelbak 100 Ounce Antidote Reservoir
This product goes beyond just a water reservoir. Camelbak dubbed this one the Antidote. This Camelbak Antidote Reservoir redefines what a personal outdoor water delivery system should look like. This way, you can adapt to the harshest terrain. It features one of the most rugged puncture-proof materials on the market and comes with an easy disconnect feature between the hose and the main reservoir unit.
Not only will this feature aid in easy cleaning, but you can also replace the hose when it’s broken. What’s more, the hose comes insulated for a subzero environment. With a weight of a little over 9 ounces, you can store more water and still remain travel-light. Altogether, it checks all the boxes for hands-free movement and one-handed operation. This is no hydration reservoir you want to pass on. Altogether, it’s relatively affordable.
Is a Hydration Bladder the Same as A Hydration Reservoir?
Yes, a hydration bladder and a hydration reservoir mean the same thing. The design of a hydration reservoir or bladder offers more flexibility and capacity than conventional water bottles. They are usually compatible with modern hiking backpacks, making them even easier to carry around than traditional plastic water bottles.
How Big of A Hydration Bladder Do I Need?
For non-rigorous activities, around two liters of water is ideal. Therefore, a three-liter hydration bladder isn’t a bad idea, especially if you desire to stretch your activities further. Bear in mind that this might make also increase the need for water. Altogether, having a reservoir big enough to accommodate enough water is the best option.
Is It Ok to Leave Water in A Camel Bak?
Whether Camelbak or any other bladder, reservoir bladders are not designed for long storage of water; however, if you must retain water, it shouldn’t be for more than two to three days. It’s common practice for hikers to blow back residual water and air. This practice promotes the growth of mold and bacteria. If left for longer than three days, more molds and bacteria may grow.
How to Store a Hydration Reservoir?
After each camping or hiking trip, it is best to thoroughly wash the reservoir before keeping your hydration reservoir away. To prevent the growth of any microorganisms, place them in the freezer after draining most of the water out. You can take them out when you are ready to go hiking again.
Benefits of Hydration Bladders
Hydration bladders offer a larger capacity of water for those that like to engage in more rigorous or lengthy hiking activities. Without enough water, you can quickly dehydrate on a hike. Furthermore, it allows for hands-free hiking activities, which circumvents the need to hold water bottles—for those that hydrate frequently.
The design of the hydration reservoir also offers the convenience of drinking water without having to reach into the backpack to get your water bottle out every time you need water.
Hiking activities require constant rhythm. Stopping frequently to take water affects the rhythm. On the other hand, a hydration reservoir offers seamless access to water.
Can You Put Ice in A Hydration Pack?
Yes, adding ice cubes to a hydration reservoir is one of the best ways to keep its contents cold. You can fill the reservoir to around half before topping it up with ice cubes.
Can You Freeze a Hydration Pack?
Yes, you can freeze your hydration reservoir when storing it away until the next use. However, you should avoid filling up the reservoir. Since water expands when it freezes, it’s best to fill only about 2/3 of the reservoir with water before you place it in a freezer.
Because your hydration needs are important when you go camping, hiking, or other outdoor activities, you want to ensure you make the best decision when you purchase a hydration reservoir. Beyond just avoiding dehydration, there are other features to look out for in a hydration reservoir or bladder. We’ve listed some of the major ones to consider when on the hunt for a hydration reservoir.
Hydration reservoir durability largely depends on the quality and thickness of the material. The thicker the plastic, the less likely it could break. A durable reservoir or bladder should be puncture-resistant, which may also be a little heavier than a less durable one. But hey, an additional yet negligible extra weight is not a bad idea if it’ll mean having durability on your side.
Usually, the body of the reservoir is not prone to leakages. What you should fix your eyes on are the joints where the body of the reservoir connects to the mouthpiece. Over time, it’s not uncommon for the mouthpiece to wear out, thereby causing leakages. What will be great is to opt for a hydration reservoir with a detachable mouthpiece design. This way, you can replace any damaged or worn-out parts instead of buying another hydration reservoir unit.
Shape and Size
This is where you don’t want to put preference over your actual needs. You want to make sure that the shape of your hydration reservoir fits in your backpack. What’s more, if you’ve not chosen a backpack at all, it’s best your opt for a backpack that has a hydration reservoir sleeve. This sleeve will determine if you should get a reservoir that becomes fat or flat when filled with fluid. A wide backpack sleeve should ideally go with a wide reservoir, while a narrow sleeve will fit a slim reservoir.
When it comes to size, manufacturers usually roll out hydration reservoirs with sizes between 1.5 to 3 liters. You’ll find that the 2 and 3-liter reservoirs are more common. The best option here is to opt for a-three liter reservoirs because the weight and price difference between both bladders are usually negligible.
Besides, the three-liter hydration reservoir offers you the liberty of filling it up or halfway, depending on your need. Therefore, on the days you choose to go on long hiking trips, you don’t have to purchase a new water reservoir—since you already have one with a large capacity.
Because hydration reservoirs usually have a tougher build, you may find that they weigh slightly heavier than conventional water bottles. Still, the former offers greater benefits. For your convenience and ease of moving from place to place, empty hydration reservoirs should be lightweight since water will add extra weight. Therefore, a-three liter reservoir should weigh around 9 ounces or a little over. This way, you shouldn’t feel too much unbearable weight even after filling it with fluid.
Ease of Use
Hydration reservoirs are designed to be used outdoors and mostly while walking or during quick/brief stops. These scenarios are not always convenient. So hydration reservoirs should offer its user a simple and seamless means of operation. If this is not achievable, the essence of having it is almost defeated.
Most importantly, you should find easy drinking from the equipment, which greatly depends on the size of the mouthpiece and the drinking mechanism. It might be best to avoid a mouthpiece that’s too large or too small. The former is harder to control, while the latter presents drinking difficulties.
The drinking mechanism is also one of the features that contribute to ease of use. Most hydration reservoirs usually have a bitting/ sucking mechanism. Now, a well-designed system should not require much pressure before water is let out. The bite and release mechanism is more popular and easier to use compared to other types. You simply have to close the valve separately after drinking.
Easy to Fill
Many manufacturers of hydration reservoirs design openings with varying sizes. The smaller the opening, the more difficult it is to fill with water. Also, if the opening is too wide or big, chances are, closing it can present some challenges as well. It’s best to opt for a medium-size opening, which will make closing easier, refilling less stressful, and will also significantly reduce the possibility of dirt entering the reservoir.
Manufacturers make reservoir closures as snap caps or wide slides. While both offer ease of refill, you should opt for a closure type that allows enough space for proper cleaning of the reservoir’s insides. You can opt for a reservoir that allows you to dip your hands all the way in to reach the corners.
This way, you’ll reach any part of the reservoir where molds may be present. Also, you can opt for hydration reservoirs with wider closures that allow the reverse of the bladder material inside out. This one offers even greater cleaning efficiency.
There are two common mouthpiece options when it comes to hydration reservoir design: they include the bit valve/mouthpiece or the push/pull valve. The former offers hassle-free access to stored water by applying very little pressure on the teeth to let the water out.
The latter presents a little hassle as you have to close the valve with your hands after drinking is complete. The bite valve system is more convenient if you want to truly enjoy minimal control with your hands.
If you love extreme weather activities, then a subzero temperature is no stranger. What happens to the hydration reservoir is that the water in the main tank and the residual water in the mouthpiece after drinking may freeze.
The water around the mouthpiece usually freezes faster as it’s smaller in size. The implication is that you may not have access to the water in the main reservoir, even if it’s not frozen. What most extreme weather hikers do is blow any residual water around the mouthpiece back into the main reservoir. This action clears the hose of any residual fluid that could be subject to freezing temperatures.
However, you can circumvent this altogether by opting for hydration bladders designed for colder outside temperatures. Some manufacturers design the reservoir hose with an insulation material called neoprene. This prevents any residual water from freezing. This way, you’ll avoid repetitive blowback of residual fluid back into the main hydration reservoir, which also promotes bacteria growth.
If you intend to make the contents of your hydration reservoir cooler, the addition of ice to the water is one of your best options. A bladder with a thick wall will naturally retain the cold for a longer period. It’s also okay to place your reservoir in the freezer. However, you don’t want to fill it up because water will expand as it solidifies. Altogether, a thicker, more durable material will retain coolness and accommodate expansion as water freezes without suffering damage.
Thanks for reading this article on the best hydration reservoirs and bladders.