Last updated: 17/10/2022

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Welcome to our big hydration bladder test 2022. Here we present all the hydration systems that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information for you and also added a summary of the customer reviews on the internet.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best product for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a hydration system.




The Best Hydration Bladder: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a hydration bladder

In our guide you will find answers to important questions that you should think about before buying a hydration bladder.

Who is a hydration bladder suitable for?

Hydration bladders are suitable for anyone who is active in sports.

Whether hiking in the Alps, cycling or running, the hydration bladder offers absolute added value in many different situations and supplies the athlete with liquid on demand via the backpack or another device.

Wandern

Especially when hiking in the mountains, a hydration system can prove useful. (Image source: unsplash.com / Toomas Tartes)

Since this is done via a tube with a mouthpiece, you save yourself the constant putting on and taking off of the backpack, the associated drinking breaks, and the rummaging around for the water bottle.

In addition, the hydration bladder shines in situations where you don’t have free hands. Especially when climbing, a hydration bladder can be a sensible investment.

What alternatives are there to hydration bladders?

Of course, if your sport allows it, you can simply use a water bottle, but this has considerable disadvantages compared to a hydration system.

In addition to the points mentioned above, weight and space savings also play a major role and make a normal bottle very unattractive.

Another alternative is the soft flask. Due to the choice of material, these are much more flexible than a normal water bottle and allow it to shrink in the course of emptying.

When the bottle is empty, it can be easily folded and stored away.

What size should I buy?

Hydration bladders come in dozens of different designs and volumes. Most manufacturers offer systems with a capacity of one to six litres. Many also offer 2.5 or 3.5.

Wanderer

The size of a hydration bladder always depends on your own needs. For particularly long hikes or bike tours, you need a hydration bladder with a particularly large volume. (Image source: pixabay.com / MaBras)

Of course, it makes sense to calculate your own water needs. Since this should not be less than 2 litres, you should buy at least a 2 to 3 litre hydration bladder.

It is not worth buying a larger volume and only filling it halfway, as this can lead to deformation of the bladder and have a negative effect on the space requirement.

Which valve for the hydration system?

Basically, there are two different options to choose from:

  • the bite valve:

opens when pressure is applied, e.g. with the teeth, and then closes again by itself. Here it can occasionally happen that a little liquid leaks out.

  • the pull valve:

opens by pulling with teeth, lips or the hand and closes again by pushing. These systems are characterised by very good sealing.

Which valve is the better one depends, among other things, on personal preference. However, the pull valve offers the higher level of comfort due to its particularly good sealing.

Harmful substances from the hydration bladder?

The question of whether drinking from a hydration bladder is hazardous to health is a legitimate one.

Hydration systems are made of soft material.

Hydration systems are made of soft material, usually polyurethane, to be as flexible and space-saving as possible. Here you should make sure that no softeners are added. You can also buy a BPA-free hydration bladder.

However, these must not be used for carbonated drinks.

How much does a bladder cost?

The cheapest hydration bladders cost around 12 euros, while the more expensive models can cost up to 35 euros.
However, you should never save money at the wrong end. Cheap models often have considerable quality defects.

There is often talk in various internet forums of liquid leaks and toxic substances, and many people advise against buying so-called no-name drinking systems.

Products from well-known manufacturers that are already very well established in the sports sector are recommended. Although these have their price, they can keep their promises in contrast to their cheap competitors.

Decision: Which hydration system is right for you?

If you want to buy a hydration bladder, you can choose between two variations.

As already described above, there is the:

  1. Bite valve
  2. Rotary valve

It all depends on your personal preference, because apart from shape and volume, there are no other basic differences in hydration systems.

Nevertheless, you should think about shape and volume:

  • How much space do I have available?
  • How much water do I need?

If you attach a lot of importance to easy cleaning, you should buy a drinking bladder that is suitable for dishwashers and use only water on longer tours.

What are the characteristics of the bite valve and what are its advantages?

As the name suggests, the bite valve is triggered by pressure. The mechanism is triggered mainly with the teeth and the valve is opened. When the pressure is released, the system closes automatically and stops the water supply.

Especially the automatic closing is an important reason for many people to buy and can be extremely useful in tense situations.

Advantages
  • Pleasant opening of the valve by pressure, e.g. with the teeth
  • automatic closing
  • thus easier to use in many situations
Disadvantages
  • Automatic closure encourages leakage

However, many buyers report problems with the seal and small amounts of leaking liquid. If you have no problems with this and can benefit from the automatic valve closure, you should consider a drinking system with a bite valve.

What are the features of the pull valve and what are its advantages?

The pull valve opens the valve by pulling it, e.g. with your lips or teeth, but unlike the bite valve, it usually closes again only after you push the valve back again. This is done with the mouth or with the hand.

The advantage of this is that it closes particularly well and no liquid can leak out unintentionally.

However, the valve has to be actively closed again, so you have to focus on the closure and are distracted from your work for a short moment.

Advantages
  • Depending on personal preference, also pleasant to open by pulling the mouthpiece
  • Particularly secure closure of the cap, which almost excludes leakage
Disadvantages
  • Valve requires active reclosure and therefore needs the user’s attention

In the end, personal preference plays a major role in deciding between bite or pull valves, but the type of activity can also be decisive.

Many sports, such as climbing, require absolute focus and can make the pull valve and its manual closure uninteresting.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate hydration bladders based on these factors

In this section, we will list various buying criteria and tell you which things you should pay more attention to in order to avoid making mistakes when buying a hydration system.

The criteria include:

  • Suitability of the backpack
  • Size
  • Weight
  • Shape
  • Material
  • Cleaning
  • Bite or pull valve

In the coming paragraphs we will go into more detail and explain these points.

Suitability of the backpack

First of all, you should check whether your backpack is designed to carry a hydration system. It should have a special holder and a connection for the tube.

There is also the option of attaching the hydration bladder to the backpack, but this can lead to problems with transport.
You can see how to integrate a hydration system into your backpack in the following video.

Size of the hydration bladder

The size refers to the volume of the hydration bladder, which also affects the weight and shape of the bladder and can be more or less noticeable in your pack.

Pay attention to the volume of the water bottle.

Here you should make sure that you decide how many litres of volume you need depending on your needs. If you are going to be on the road for a long time or need a lot of liquid for other reasons, such as particularly hard work, you should not buy less than three litres.

Weight of the bladder

The empty weight also plays a big role, as you usually want to carry as little extra weight around with you as possible. There are differences here as well, but they are not as serious.

Depending on the activity, you should think about the maximum weight of the hydration system. The average hydration bladder weighs between 100 and 250 grams.

Shape of the bladder

There are many different shapes of hydration bladders.

There are major differences in shape. Some bladders are oval, others are cylindrical or even abstract. You should consider which shape fits best in your backpack in order to save as much space as possible.

Note that the bladder will change shape.

The material of the bladder

The material should not contain any harmful substances, you should pay more attention to this as it is your health that is at stake. Plasticisers such as BPA are carcinogenic and are even suspected of affecting sex hormones according to various studies.

In any case, it is advisable not to buy cheap products without a seal of approval.

Cleaning and refilling the bladder

There are also differences in cleaning and refilling. Some hydration systems are easy to clean, others not so much. Some are dishwasher safe, others are not. Others have an opening that is too small for easy refilling.

Spülbecken

Not all hydration bladders are dishwasher-safe and must therefore be rinsed by hand. (Image source: unsplash.com / Greg Rakozy)

If you value easy cleaning and refilling, then you should make sure that your hydration system has a large opening. In addition, you should only use your hydration bladder for water.

If you pay attention to these points, you can be sure that your hydration bladder will be a helpful companion for a long time.

Important facts about hydration bladders

Want to learn more about hydration bladders? In our trivia section we have compiled more interesting information on the subject of hydration bladders.

How do I clean my bladder?

If you want to clean your hydration bladder, you should clarify a few questions beforehand to avoid damage and to prevent the formation of bacteria as much as possible:

  1. Pay attention to the shape of the bladder. Depending on the shape, different tools need to be used. A hydration bladder with a large belly is difficult to clean with a bottle brush. Special cleaning sets are used here.
  2. The material also plays a big role. Is it dishwasher safe? What is the maximum temperature it can withstand?
  3. If the drinking system can be dismantled into its details, it is much easier to clean the individual components. However, this is now standard for all models. Only older models and cheap products cannot be disassembled.
  4. You should also pay attention to how quickly your hydration bladder will dry. If it remains damp for too long, this can promote the formation of bacteria.

Now to the cleaning, before which you should make sure to store the bladder in a cool and dry place. This reduces the formation of bacteria and is best for the protection of the material.

If you use tap water or sugary drinks in your bladder, you will need to clean it more often because of the limescale or sugar. It is best to use lime-free mineral water.

Clean the water bottle with warm water.

The hydration bladder should be cleaned with warm water (approx. 50 °C – 65 °C) and a little washing-up liquid. If sugar or limescale deposits have formed, you can soak the hydration system in vinegar water and then rinse it thoroughly.
After repeated use, we recommend buying a special cleaning kit.

To make the cleaning procedure easier to understand, we have selected a YouTube video with detailed instructions.

What drinks can I fill into my bladder? How can I easily get carbon dioxide into my water?

In the best case you should just use water. According to an American study, doctors recommend one litre of water per 20 kg of body weight.

Wasser

Hydration is incredibly important. Since people sweat a lot during sports activities, hydration bladders offer an absolute added value for replenishing water reserves. Anyone who participates in sports should consider buying one. (Image source: unsplash.com / mrjn Photography)

The situation is different for athletes. Here it can be said that three or more litres should be drunk during exertion. To illustrate the water requirement, we have created a small table.

Gender water requirement
Man 2l – 2.5l
Woman 2l

Basically, any drink can be filled into a hydration bladder. Depending on the material, even sugary drinks are harmless.

However, you must be aware that cola or similar drinks leave sugar residues, which lead to a considerably increased build-up of bacteria and therefore require frequent cleaning.

Carbonic acid can be added to still water by using so-called water tabs. These are simply dissolved in the water and can be easily transported.

Further tips for the use of a hydration bladder

  • Pay attention to the outside temperature and prepare accordingly.
    If it is too hot, this can damage the material and the bladder becomes brittle, which can lead to leaks and, in the worst case, pollutants getting into your drink and endangering your health.
  • Do not place sharp or pointed objects near your bladder.
    Sounds obvious, but it can happen quickly that a needle or similar makes a hole in your bladder and the liquid leaks out.
  • There are special insulations to keep water cold or tea warm. This allows you to keep your drink at the desired temperature in summer and winter.

Image source: unsplash.com / Brandon Kaida

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