If you enjoy outdoor activities and don’t yet own a hydration bladder, you’re missing out! Hydration bladders were first seen in mass use by cyclists and other endurance athletes in need of a drink while moving.
But now they a must have item for anyone interesting in camping, hiking, or other outdoors activities. They enable you to keep fluid coming via a tube from the bladder in your backpack. It’s easy, convenient, and helps you keep hydrated without having to stop and take a drink from a bottle.
Not only do they enable you to drink water hands-free. They are affordable, easy to use, and incredibly useful, it’s no wonder they are becoming incredibly popular. I certainly won’t leave home without mine, and neither will you once you have one.
This doesn’t mean you can just buy the first or cheapest one you find though. There are a few different types on the market, and finding the right one is like a perfect fitting glove. It feels right, and makes your life a lot easier.
What Size Hydration Bladder Do I Need?
There are some different size bladders on the market. But the 3 Liter capacity is by far the most useful and popular size. The 3L bladder is a manageable weight, and it’s large enough that you will not have to fill it often. At least it’s very unlikely you will need to stop and refill it before you reach your destination.
Most backpacks with built in compartments for bladders are designed for the 3 L size. So I recommend you buy a 3 L. They don’t weigh a lot empty anyway, so it’s better to have a larger bladder than one too small. You don’t have to fill it up all the way if you don’t need to.
Comparing Hydration Bladders and Water Bottles
Firstly, I am going to say right off the bat – hydration bladders are a much more convenient and easy way to take on fluids while hiking, backpacking, or doing any other outdoor activities.
This isn’t to say there aren’t some pro points to using a standard plastic water bottle for some people. But if you’re serious about outdoors activities, you need a hydration bladder. Once you’ve used one, you will certainly never go back to bottled water.
Hydration bladders allow you to drink without having to stop what you’re doing. Think about this, to drink from a bottle you need to take the bottle out of your backpack, remove the lid, and take a sip. This may not sound like a lot of effort, and it’s normal practice for a lot of people reading this.
However, compare that to using a hydration bladder. You can be hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, or jogging. It doesn’t matter, you can still sip water from your bladder. You have a tube connected to the water and thread through to near your mouth. All you need to do is take a sip on the tube and you’re drinking.
This means you don’t have to spend so much time thinking about when you last had a drink. How much you have been drinking throughout the day, and when is a good time to stop. You can sip away from the tube on the bladder whenever you want.
So, in summary;
Pros of Hydration Bladders
- Easy to drink while moving.
- Generally hold more than water bottles.
- Convenient and easy way to keep hydrated.
- Less chance of leaking or damaging contents in your backpack.
Pros of Water Bottles
- Bottles are lighter than hydration bladders.
- Less maintenance and easier to clean than hydration bladders.
- Less expensive than hydration bladders.
What Is the Difference between Pressurized and Non-Pressurized Hydration Bladders?
Pressurized hydration bladders have two compartments. One compartment is for the water, and the other is for air. They come with a small hand pump so you can pump the water out of the nozzle without having to suck.
There isn’t a huge advantage to having a pressurized bladder, it’s more of a personal choice. For the sake of simplicity and taking up less space I prefer non-pressurized bladders. The pressurized models are heavier and not as easy to use while running or cycling.