One of the finest inventions among biking accessories are biking hydration bladders. Why? Because they help solve a big problem that’s been plaguing bikers for decades:
How do you pack enough water to keep yourself hydrated during a ride without using precious space and affecting your biking performance?
Water bladders are soft-sided plastic containers. They’re made from flexible and “squishy” plastic and are designed to hold significant amounts of water without leaking. They fit almost anywhere outside the main compartments of your backpack — giving you ample space for your other biking essentials.
Biking hydration bladders allow you to drink while riding. Thanks to its long drinking tube, you don’t have to stop in the middle of a ride to dig into your backpack.
Hydration is Essential
Biking is a very demanding physical activity. And keeping yourself hydrated is key to a fun biking experience. Remember that your body is made up of 70% water. Fluid losses can affect your biking performance significantly! For example, losing just 2% of your body weight due to sweating can affect your ability to focus. Lose 5% and you’ll start experiencing the symptoms of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke usually sets in if you lose more than 10% of your body’s water.
Keeping yourself well-hydrated helps your joints and muscles perform better. Water helps remove cellular wastes and facilitates better absorption of nutrients. Furthermore, it keeps your joints lubricated. Dehydration affects the volume of your blood. Lower blood volume means that your hearts need to work extra hard to deliver enough oxygen to your cells. This makes it more difficult to bike.
Top 10 Best Hydration Bladders You Should Buy for 2019
WACOOL Water Reservoir
Dimensions: 16.2” x 7.0” x 1.3”
The WACOOL water reservoir packs in as many features that make it a bargain for the price. It has a capacity of 3 L (100 oz) and is made of BPA-free material so you can enjoy a hike’s worth of water without that foul plastic taste. The pack is also secured with a 0.024 in-thick antimicrobial liner that can withstand high pressure and extreme physical activity.
You don’t have to worry about the liquid leaking out – the sides are sealed using the double soldering technique to ensure nothing gets out. The hose has military-grade insulation and an antibacterial mouthpiece.
The water bladder comes in two colors: blue and green.
Platypus Big Zip LP Reservoir
Dimensions: 13.8” x 4.6” x 1.6” for 1.5 L capacity
The Platypus Big Zip is functional… and looks cool! The reservoir has a wide-mouth opening that makes it easy to refill and the Slidelock technology allows you to secure it effortlessly. Quick-release hose and shutoff valve make drinking and refilling easy. The pack is made of BPA-, BPS-, and phthalate-free material.
The lining is also embedded with silver ions to provide protection from fungal and bacterial contamination. The reservoir comes in three sizes: 1.5 L (50 oz), 2 L (70 oz), and 3 L (100 oz).
Geigerrig Pressurized Hydration Engine and Reservoir
Dimensions: 10.0” x 7.5” x 1.0”
What happens when technology meets the outdoors? The Geigerrig pressurized hydration engine allows you eject a steady stream of water from the 3 L reservoir, making it a multifunctional spray. Your water isn’t only for drinking; you can rinse cuts or abrasions if the situation calls for it, or spray off debris from parts that you need to be cleaned ASAP. If you add an Aquamira Frontier Filter inline you can refill from a natural source of water.
The Geigerrig engine is guaranteed to last you a long time as it is covered by a lifetime warranty.
Camelbak Mil Spec Antidote Reservoir
Dimensions: 11.0” x 2.5” x 2.5”
Camelbak is known for their reliable products, with designs that are specifically aimed at combat and tactical applications. This brand of durability extends to its reservoirs. The bite valve adapter shuts off the tube automatically so you can refill faster and the opening has an air-tight ¼ open/close switch.
This product is BPA-, BPS-, and BPF-free.
Camelbak Crux Reservoir
Dimensions: 18.0” x 9.0” x 3.0”
Camelbak goes classic through the Crux reservoir, keeping it at a charming blue color. The simplicity of the design makes up for its ability to deliver 20% more water in a single sip, something that cyclists, trekkers, and athletes have had on their wish lists for a while. The reservoir has an ergonomic handle and an on/off lever that keeps all of your water in.
The Camelbak Crux is BPA-, BPS-, and BPF-free.
Unigear Hydration Bladder
Dimensions: 17.5” x 8” x 1.3”
The Unigear Hydration Bladder has a wide screw cap so you can fill it with ice cubes and rehydrate yourself with cool water throughout the day. The 360-degree swivel spout helps you seal the bladder with ease and the soft mouthpiece has an antimicrobial coating.
This bladder is made with BPA-free TPU. It comes in three colors: blue, brown, and gray-brown.
Perfect Hydration Bladder
Dimensions: 16.5” x 6.5” x 0.02”
Yet another military grade product that is made for the rough outback can be found in the Perfect Hydration Bladder. The soft mouthpiece is sealed with twist shut-off valve and the reservoir pouch has a center baffle that helps balance the contents of the bladder. The large opening allows for a fast refill and has a roll-top seal to ensure nothing sloshes out while you’re on the move. The convenience of having this attached to your backpack has a downside: it can only hold 2 L of liquid max.
The Perfect Hydration Bladder is BPA-free.
Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir
Dimensions: 15.0” X 8.0” X 2.0”
Like the Perfect Hydration Bladder, Osprey’s Hydraulics LT Reservoir focuses on balance and handiness, with twin-welded chevron baffles to distribute the liquid equally along all parts of the reservoir. It slides easily into backpacks because of its flat, streamlined design. All parts are made with food grade materials.
Dimensions: 10.2” x 5.0” x 2.0”
The HydraPak Shape-Shift has everything you need in a reservoir – BPA- and PVC-free TPU body, reversible design for dishwasher compatibility, and lifetime warranty. This HydraPak variant features the Shape-Shift high-flow blaster bite valve that seals automatically after each sip. It also has an on/off lever to completely contain the liquid. The slim design gives you improved stabilization so you can enjoy your water even during difficult treks or bike rides.
Source Tactical Gear WLPS Low Profile 3L Hydration Reservoir
Dimensions: 15.0″ × 10.0” × 2.6”
The Low Profile Hydration System is another military-grade item in this list. Source is famous for their tactical gear, and their reservoirs do not disappoint. It is all that a good reservoir should be. With the Hi-Flow Storm-Valve for stress-free disassembly and featuring an integrated shut-off mechanism, this reservoir promises no trouble. The Cool Weave Cover Tube provides insulation and protection from UV light. Their Grunge-Guard technology also adds an antimicrobial additional layer.
Best Hydration Bladders Frequently Asked Questions
What size of hydration bladders do I need?
There are various sizes of hydration bladders on the market. The most common size is the 3L capacity which is large enough for your biking needs but still manageable in terms of weight. Most biking backpacks have compartments designed for water bladders of this size. Here’s the rule of the thumb: It’s better to buy a larger hydration bladder that a small one. After all, they don’t weight too much empty and you don’t have to fill it up all the way every time.
What’s the difference between hydration bladders and water bottles?
Compared to water bottles, it’s easier to drink in hydration bladders when moving. They hold more water and is more convenient too! Hydration bottles are less prone to leaking as well. On the downside, water bottles are cheaper, lighter, and easier to clean than biking water bladders.
How do I clean a hydration bladder?
Your biking hydration bladder should be clean and dry with every use. This biking must-have can quickly turn into a science experiment if you don’t clean them properly. Here are the steps on how to clean your hydration bladder:
- Dump out any remaining water inside your hydration bladder. Flush the hose by holding the bladder above your head and then pinching the bite valve while holding the hose down low.
- Pour warm water into the bladder, swish, pour it out, and then flush the hose.
- Using mild soap and sponge, scrub as much of the interior as you can and then rinse.
- Again, fill your hydration bladder with warm water, ½ teaspoon of bleach, and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Close the valve, shake, and let the cleaning solution sit for half an hour.
- Pour out the cleaning solution and rinse the hydration bladder well. Flush the hose, open the reservoir, and hang the bladder to dry. Make sure that the reservoir doesn’t close on itself. Use balled paper towels or a custom-bent metal hanger to keep it open.
- If your hydration still has a funky taste or smell, repeat the steps above. You also add some lemon juice.
- Store your hydration bladder inside the freezer between rides to prevent mildew from growing when it’s too humid outside.
- Aside from the cleaning solutions mentioned above, you can also use a commercially available hydration bladder cleaning kit.
What are the different types of hydration packs?
In general, there are two types of hydration bladders. Hydration backpacks are designed to be worn on the back while hydration waist packs go on your waist. Hydration backpacks are further divided into 4 sub-categories:
Hiking hydration bladders – designed like standard hiking backpacks and usually come with enough space for carrying food, extra layers, and essentials.
Cycling hydration bladder – created specifically for mountain biking and road biking. These biking bladders are compact and don’t create too much wind resistance when riding. Mountain biking hydration packs tend to be larger to make room for bike tools, extra gear, and food.
Running hydration packs – specifically designed for running, these hydration packs comes in either as a vest or backpack.
What are the factors I need to consider when buying hydration bladders?
When shopping for a hydration bladder, consider the following:
Type of hydration bladder – make sure the pack is designed for your intended use.
Capacity – it has enough capacity for your hydration needs.
Fit – Not too tight, not too loose. Just perfect!
Features – Wide mouth opening, quick disconnect tubing, cold weather add-ons, etc.
To get the most out of your biking adventure, keep yourself hydrated at all times. You don’t have to bring bulky water bottles in every ride. Grab yourself one or two of these best hydration bladders and ride your heart out without worrying about dehydration.