The importance of staying well hydrated while you are running or engaging in other strenuous physical activity cannot be emphasized enough.
But, as you have probably experienced already, it is pretty inconvenient to carry a water bottle (or two) with you on a run. Not only could it throw off the balance of your body, but it also requires you to pause to take a drink. This can get pretty tiresome after a while.
And if you put your water bottle in your backpack (so you don’t have to hold it in your hand while running), that requires an even longer pause in your run, since you have to take the backpack off, unzip it, and take the water bottle out before you can even take a drink. That makes hydration seem pretty tiresome. And that makes it more likely you’ll skip out on it.
So what’s the solution? Get a hydration bladder! A hydration bladder will allow you to stay hydrated while running without ever having to pause your run.
Below, we have reviewed the best hydration bladders for basically all of your needs. All you have to do is choose the one that suits you best. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide for your convenience.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Camelbak Crux 1.5L Reservoir
Nathan 1.6 Liter Insulated Hydration Bladder
Platypus Big Zip EVO 3 Liter
Best Hydration Bladder for Road Running
1. Camelbak Crux 1.5L Reservoir
The first entry on our list comes from the company that invented the hydration pack. Camelbak has become practically synonymous with hydration packs and bladders. The product is the Camelbak Crux 1.5L Reservoir. Our editors have found the Camelbak Crux to be the best hydration bladder for road running.
The version of the Crux has been newly redesigned to offer 20 percent more water for every sip you take. The cap, which is leak-proof, has been re-engineered to be even easier to open and to close. The Crux features proprietary Hydroguard technology to inhibit bacterial growth in both the tube and the reservoir, and the tube can be detached for easier cleaning.
This model also features an on/off lever that allows you to seal the drinking tube completely shut using only one hand. Its big bite valve also includes self-sealing technology, which eliminates any annoying drips after you take a drink.
The Crux is completely free of any BPA, BPF, and BPS. And it has been put through an exhaustive series of stress tests designed to ensure that the bladder will not fail you in your time of need. The 1.5 L (50 fl. oz) capacity is large enough for runs of up to 3 hours. And the bladder when empty weighs in at only 7 oz, making it an excellent choice for maximum hydration with a minimum amount of weight.
- Provides 20 percent more water in each sip
- Drinking tube can be sealed shut using one hand with the on/off lever
- Self-sealing big bite valve eliminates annoying drips after every drink
- Includes technology to minimize bacterial growth
- Easy to open and close leak-proof cap
- May not be compatible with older Camelbak backpacks
- Drinking tube is not insulated
Top Hydration Bladder for Trail Running
2. Hydrapak Force 2L
The features and the rugged, well thought-out design of the Force 2L hydration bladder from Hydrapak make it our pick for the best hydration bladder for trail running.
The bladder’s description says, “Rugged Reversible Hydration,” and we couldn’t agree more. The Force 2L features a patented, easy-to-use slider top design that allows for quick and easy filling. The tight closure maintains a leak-proof seal. The slide top is tethered to the bag so you won’t lose it.
The Hydrapak also features two FlexGrip handles to make the bladder easy to access and carry in your pack. The 36 inch HydraFusion drink tube is flexible, insulated, and well-protected for less than ideal conditions, featuring a guard that keeps the bite valve from gathering any dirt. The Blaster bite valve is high flow and is self-sealing after each drink; it also features an on/off bar that twists smoothly to prevent any leaking.
The reservoir lives up to its heavy duty, rugged name with its construction from abrasion resistant, ultra-durable TPU and RF welded seams to offer elasticity and durability. It is also free from PVC and BPA, can be frozen, and can withstand a maximum temperature of 140 degrees F. Its 2 L capacity makes it suitable for adequate hydration for runs of up to nearly 4 hours.
But that’s not even the best part! The entire bag can be turned inside out with ease due to the patented Slide-Seal top, making this bladder reversible for exceedingly easy cleaning. The combination of this easy cleaning feature along with features such as the insulated drinking tube and the overall rugged, super-durable construction earns this reservoir top honors for best trail running hydration bladder.
- Easy refilling and secure closure
- Insulated drink tube keeps water cold
- Dirt guard keeps dirt from accumulating in nozzle
- Heavyweight, durable TPU design
- Updated high flow design allows for 20 percent more flow
- The slide-seal top can be a little unwieldy to pull off at times (lubrication may be required)
Best Hydration Bladder for Hiking
3. Source Outdoor Widepac Hydration System
The Source Outdoor Widepac Hydration System gets our top pick for the best hydration bladder for hiking.
The patented Wideslide system allows the reservoir to open wide, enabling easy filling, draining, and cleaning. The Glass-Like technology used in the construction of the reservoir makes it smoother than ordinary TPU, making it almost the same as actual glass, so the bladder is self-maintaining and even easier to clean. It also features Grunge-Guard technology that inhibits the growth of bacteria in the drinking tube and reservoir and allows you to refill with water for days or weeks on end without needing to clean the reservoir. The system keeps water tasting fresh even after days in the bladder.
The Taste-Free system features co-extruded PE film that is free from BPA and Phthalates. It retains the water’s pure taste without any hint of plastic flavor. It also features a high flow bite valve that prevents drips and leaks and has a dirt shield cover to keep sand, dirt, mud, dust, and any other pollution from contaminating the valve. The bladder comes in two sizes: 1.5L and 2L, allowing you to choose which capacity best suits your hiking needs.
- Glass-like material makes the bladder easy to clean
- Grunge-Guard technology inhibits the growth of bacteria in the drinking tube and reservoir
- Patented Wideslide opening system allows it to open wide, enabling easy filling, draining, and cleaning without any leaks
- Taste-Free system keeps water tasting pure without any hint of plastic flavor
- Drinking tube is not insulated
Top Hydration Bladder for Backpacking
4. Platypus Hoser Reservoir
The Hoser Reservoir from Platypus is a minimalist, super-light hydration system offering a durable, versatile design. It’s perfect for day hikes, thru-hiking, and backpacking. Thus, it earns our pick for best hydration bladder for backpacking.
The updated Hoser design features a self-sealing HyFLO bite valve that offers 30 percent more flow, allowing for quick and easy hydration on the move. The integrated loop for hanging or carrying enables it to be secured easily in a backpack or location of your choosing, making it easily transportable. The drinking tube has a clip that can be attached to your pack for easy access.
The bladder features embedded silver ion technology which safeguards the reservoir from any bacterial or mold growth. It is free from BPA, BPS, and phthalates. Its 1/4″ drink tube and its threaded port make it versatile and compatible with adapters and accessory caps. It comes in 1L, 1.8L, 2L, and 3L sizes.
- Minimalist, lightweight design perfect for backpacking and hiking
- HyFLO bite valve is self-sealing and offers hands-free hydration and 30 percent higher flow rate
- Hang/carry loop and drink tube clip
- Small opening
Best Hydration Pack for Skiing
5. Deuter Streamer Thermo Bag 3.0 L
When participating in snow sports, one of the annoying things you may experience is your drinking water freezing. Solve this problem with the Deuter Streamer Thermo Bag. It keeps your hydration bladder insulated and warm even in freezing conditions, making it perfect for skiing and other snow sports.
Place your hydration bladder inside this insulated thermal bag which keeps your water or other beverage ice cold during the summer or warm in the winter. The thermal bag features side loops for easy transport and can also be carried in a backpack. The bag is made of 210 denier PA (polyamide) that has PU coating and RipStop thread, fabric which is light yet robust, perfect for constructing lightweight backpacks.
The fabric is coated with DWR coating which repels both dirt and water. Also, the bag is free from PFC. Our recommendation: Get a hydration bladder that has an insulated drinking tube to use with this thermal bag.
- Insulated thermal bag to keep your drink hot or cold for a long period of time, no matter what the weather is like
- Side loops make the pack transportable on the outside of a backpack; can also be placed inside
- Made with 210 denier PA (polyamide) with PU coating and RipStop thread
- PFC-free; wide zip opening for easy accommodation of hydration bladders
- Hydration bladder not included
Top Value Hydration Bladder
6. Hydrapak Velocity 1.5 L
Another winning entry from Hydrapak, the Velocity 1.5L gets our pick for the hydration bladder that offers the best value.
Like the aforementioned Force 2L, the Velocity 1.5L features a patented slider top design that allows for a wide opening for quick and easy filling and a tight closure for a leak-proof seal. The slide top is tethered to the bladder so you won’t lose it.
The 36-inch HydraFusion drink tube is flexible, will not kink, and offers steady flow. The Blaster bite valve is self-sealing after each drink and offers high flow. An on/off bar twists smoothly to prevent leakage while not in use.
The Plug-N-Play connecting system allows for easy disconnecting of the tube and removal of the bladder from your backpack for easy refills. Leaks are prevented with an auto shutoff valve. The bladder has an external capacity gauge through which you can track water intake and measure contents.
The reservoir is made from abrasion resistant, ultra-durable TPU and RF welded seams to provide elasticity and durability. It can be frozen, is free from PVC and BPA, and can withstand up to 140 degrees F. Its 1.5 liter capacity is good for runs of up to 3 hours.
The reservoir can be turned inside out thanks to the patented Slide-Seal top, making it reversible for exceedingly easy cleaning. It’s also super lightweight, weighing only 4.4 oz. The decent capacity combined with the superior features and extremely light weight make it the best value hydration bladder.
- Slide-Seal top allows for easy filling and secure closure
- Reversible bag for easy cleaning
- Durable design and welded seams make this reservoir abrasion resistant
- Updated high flow design allows for 20 percent more flow
- HydraFusion drink tube won’t kink
- Nothing major
Best Insulated Hydration Bladder
7. Nathan 1.6 Liter Insulated Hydration Bladder
This 1.6L option from Nathan is our choice for best insulated hydration bladder. If you would rather not purchase a thermal bag like the Deuter, and you want a hydration bladder that is already insulated, this Nathan model is the one for you.
This bladder is BPA-free and features a high-flow bite valve and a large opening for easy filling. It also includes a quick release drinking hose for easier cleaning. The low profile of the bladder reduces sloshing and spills.
The water in the bladder will stay cold for 38 percent longer than uninsulated bladders. The 1.6L capacity provides enough water for a run of up to 3 hours. It is compatible with Nathan’s VaporHowe 12L 2.0 and VaporKrar 12L 2.0 packs and vests.
- Insulated hydration bladder keeps water cold
- High-flow bite valve
- Detachable drinking hose
- Low profile reduces sloshing and spills
- Shape of bladder makes cleaning slightly difficult
Top Large Capacity Hydration Bladder
8. Platypus Big Zip EVO 3-Liter
The 3L Big Zip EVO, another excellent model from Platypus, is our choice for the best hydration bladder with a large capacity.
The EVO features a secure SlideLock opening which can open in either direction to allow for easy opening, secure closure, and simple filling of the bladder. The pincher grip is handy and makes it easy to fill the bladder with only one hand. The Quick-disconnecting High Mount feature provides fast and easy access and eliminates the need to dig down into your pack.
The shut off valve is leak-proof, stopping the flow instantly. The HyFLO bite valve is self-sealing and, together with a larger drink tube that is 5/16 “ in diameter, delivers a higher flow rate. The center baffle is semi-rigid, which provides low-profile support and keeps it simple to clean and dry.
The materials are free from BPA, BPS, and phthalates. The embedded silver ion technology keeps your water free from mold and bacteria. And the 3L capacity can provide enough water for runs of up to 6 hours.
- High capacity bladder
- High flow rate from large diameter drink tube and bite valve
- One handed filling
- Closure can be slid off/on in both directions
- Offers wide opening for easy filling
- Drinking tube not insulated
Best Hydration Bladder for Carrying Two Types of Fluid
9. Source Outdoor D|vide Hydration System
This ingenious drinking system from Source, the Outdoor D|vide Hydration System, allows you to carry and access two different types of drinks in the same hydration bladder. It is our choice for the best hydration bladder for carrying two types of fluid.
This bladder features two compartments and two different drinking valves. This is perfect for long distance runners, who may need a drink besides water to restore their electrolyte balance. So you can carry and drink water and the sports drink of your choice at the same time! Also, the size of the compartments can change according to your need (the amount of both drinks added together will ultimately be either 2 L or 3 L, depending on the size you choose), and the drinking tubes are different colors so you don’t forget what you are drinking.
This model contains all the usual benefits of Source hydration bladders, such as a Widepac slide closure for a wide opening, a Taste-Free system, GrungeGuard Technology, and Glass-Like Technology. This all adds up to produce a hydration bladder that basically cleans itself and requires as little maintenance as possible.
- Can carry two types of fluid using two compartments and two drinking tubes
- Widepac slide closure for a wide opening
- Bladder limits off-putting taste
- Low maintenance design
- Drinking from one compartment that has a low amount of liquid may be difficult if the other compartment is full
Top Hydration Bladder to Reduce Sloshing
10. Nathan 1.8 Liter Hydration Bladder
This 1.8 L hydration bladder from Nathan is perfectly designed to reduce sloshing and spills, making it our top hydration bladder for reducing sloshing.
This bladder is BPA-free and is designed with a sleek hourglass shape as well as an internal baffle that reduces sloshing. A quick release drinking hose allows for easier cleaning and more convenient setup. The 1.8 L capacity provides enough water for approximately 3.5 hours of running.
This bladder is compatible with a wide variety of Nathan packs and vests: VaporHowe 12L, VaporKrar 12L, Moxy, Firestorm, Grit, Intensity, HPL #020, and Journey 25L. Because Nathan has a lot of products with similar names, we have provided you with the correct product link here.
- Internal baffle and hourglass design reduce sloshing
- Quick release drinking hose
- Wide mouth for easy refilling
- Doesn’t hold as much as other bladders
When purchasing a hydration bladder, you may be overwhelmed by the dizzying number of options available on the market.
Hopefully this article has helped to narrow down and simplify the choices for you. But to help you further, here are the most important features you should consider when selecting a hydration bladder.
You want a bladder that can carry enough water for the activity you have planned. But you don’t want to carry so much water that it becomes a strain on your back and you end up at the close of your activity with a bunch of left over, unused water.
Thus, you should carefully determine how much water you usually drink for a certain activity. Buy a hydration bladder with the appropriate capacity. On average, a runner can expect to drink 4 to 6 ounces of water every 20 minutes (or 6 to 8 ounces of water every twenty minutes for faster than an 8-minute mile), but everyone’s body has slightly different needs. So figure out how much water you need for the activity you plan to use the hydration bladder with and select the capacity accordingly.
The mechanism used to open and close the bladder for refilling, cleaning, and draining is important. Look for a hydration bladder with a closing mechanism that is easy to use, wide enough to allow for easy refilling, and which allows for easy cleaning.
The closing mechanism is arguably one of the most frequently used parts of the hydration bladder. Make sure that you select one that suits your tastes and preferences. For instance, if you frequently refill water from public drinking sources, make sure the opening of the bladder you choose can do that easily.
Ease of Cleaning
This is a big one. Reusable water bottles and water reservoirs can be a breeding ground for pathogens of all kinds, so the hydration bladder you choose needs to be easy to clean. Otherwise, the bacterial growth will contaminate your water, keep it from tasting pure and fresh, and possibly make you ill.
Look for features like a wide mouth and a detachable tube. Also, the smoother the plastic is, the less purchase bacteria will be able to gain on the surface of the components. You may also want to consider a hydration pack with anti-microbial technology of some kind.
Another important feature to consider is the mouthpiece. After all, since the primary draw of hydration bladders is the fact that you can hydrate with minimal use of your hands (or hands free) while you’re on the go, getting a bladder with an easy-to-use mouthpiece is essential. A bite valve is a good feature to look for, and standard on most models. Also, make sure that the mouthpiece seals itself and is free from drips and leaks. A dirt guard is another nice feature to have, especially in more outdoorsy settings.
A high enough flow rate is another vital aspect. You don’t want to have to spend extra effort to get the water you need during your activity. Get a hydration bladder with high flow technology.
Other features that you may want to consider in your hydration reservoir include clips for securing the drinking tube to your backpack or an insulated wrapping for the tube. An insulated drinking tube will keep your water cool and prevent that first unpleasant burst of warm water.