Hydration Bladders: The Ultimate Tool for Adventure
Have you ever had a water bottle leak into your hiking rucksack, making the entire contents of the bag wet? Have you ever wished that you could have a water source available while running without having to tote around a heavy, sloshing water bottle? Wouldn’t it be simple to sip out of a straw while exploring rather than having to stop and mess with water bottle caps?
If you are tired of these scenarios, then you are in luck. A device called a hydration bladder can eliminate all of these pesky situations while freeing up your hands for outdoor activities and providing you with ultimate hydration.
What is a Hydration Bladder?
Hydration bladders are simplified water reservoirs with a spout-like attachment that allows individuals to wear their source of water on their back while having easy access to hydration. As a system that functions like a backpack, the CamelBak was the original hydration pack and was often used by soldiers and avid outdoorsmen.
Popular by demand, hydration bladders began to evolve and became available by many different manufacturers. Boasting various price-points, hydration bladders made their way from specialty stores to chain retailers. One might say that they have come a long way from the IV bag in a tube sock, as the original design stood (www.camelbak.com).
Anatomy of a Hydration Bladder
Each type of hydration bladder is comprised by 4 main components: an internal bladder that is used to store water, an outer shell that keeps the water cold and allows the bladder to be worn, a tube that draws the water from the bladder towards the user, and a mouthpiece that controls the flow of water into and out of the transfer tube.
Manufacturers play around with different types of textiles, straps, bladder material, and cooling features in order to develop various unique layouts. In order to choose the best option for oneself, it is important to consider the activities that it will be used for and the needs of the wearer. There are many options that are available to participants of every sport including hiking, running, cycling, and hunting.
Once you have decided on the type of bladder you want, it is a good idea to get some input from an expert on fit and sizing. Depending on the activity you are using the hydration bladder for, you may want more or less support. Typically, the size of a hydration bladder is based on the torso length of each individual. However, for specific activities you may be advised to size the bladder based on a snug grip on the hips. Women- and youth-specific versions are typically available to provide shorter and narrower dimensions for a better fit.
Why use a Hydration Bladder?
One of the main benefits of using a hydration bladders is its hands-free feature. With a soft structure that forms to the spine curvature of the wearer, it is lightweight and ergonomic. When the bladder is empty, the bladder takes up minimal space and can be folded, rolled, and/or stored away for convenience.
Hydration bladders are increasingly sanitary and can be thoroughly cleaned as opposed to other hydration options. In fact, by simply scrubbing a the bladder with dish soap and hot water and then leaving it to dry your hydration bladder is clean and ready to use on your next adventure. No specialized cleaning products or complicated processes are required (https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/how-to-clean-a-hydration-bladder.html).
Features of the Best Hydration Bladders
Many bladders are now available in various capacities. From 5 liters to 20 liters, there is a bladder option for every user. However, keep in mind that the large the volume of water the bladders holds the heavier it will be when full. Common bladder sizes are as follows:
0.5 liter or less (16 fluid ounces or less)
This option is great for walking or running. A waistpack that is accompanied by one or two water bottles is the typical setup.
1 liter or 1.5 liters (32 or 50 fluid ounces)
This size is good for both adults and children. If you want something that you can just shrug on for a quick bike commute or short hike, this would be a good choice.
2 liters or 2.5 liters (70 or 85 fluid ounces)
The most popular reservoir size. This option boasts a reasonable amount of weight/bulk while also providing an adequate amount of water that will only require intermittent refilling.
3 liters or more (100 fluid ounces or more)
Made for those who don’t like to frequently stop to refill or require more water intake, this larger option is ideal. This type of bladder is also good for individuals who will be hiking or exploring where water sources may be scarce.
Minimalist designs that eliminate wasted space, interchangeable hydration tubes, bite valves that reduce or eliminate leaking, BPA-free components, and wide openings for easy cleaning are some of the most desirable features of modern hydration bladder designs.
Hydration Bladder vs Water Bottle
When considering the investment of a hydration bladder there can seemingly be a few cons. For example, it will have to be cleaned out after each use and they are more costly than bottles. However, the long-term benefits of utilizing a hydration bladder over a water bottle far outweigh the negatives.
In general, bladders hold a larger amount of water than any other comparable bottle. This is made possible by the wearable design of a hydration bladder. They are also easier to carry, especially when running, hiking (especially with children), and carry other items. An easily accessible spout allows users to stay constantly hydrated with smaller sips of water, eliminating the sloshing feeling of water in the stomach.
Hydration bladders are also more friendly to the environment. The amount of plastic waste is reduced via discontinuing routine use of plastic bottles, and the hydration packs quickly pay for themselves in this aspect. While other stainless steel bottle options are available, they are seldom lightweight enough to carry around while filled with liquid.
Overall, hydration bladders are just more convenient than any other hydration option. They are economical, environmentally-friendly, easy to use, and hygienic. With options available for everyone in your family, hydration bladders provide a universal way to stay hydrated while on-the-go.
Best Hiking. World Wide Web. “The Best Hydration Bladders for Hiking in 2019.” https://besthiking.net/best-hydration-bladders-for-hiking/
Camelbak. World Wide Web. “About us.” https://www.camelbak.com/en/about
REI Co-Op. “How to Clean a Hydration Bladder.” https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/how-to-clean-a-hydration-bladder.html