5 Best Hydration Bladders of 2024

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running. Our reputation is our most important asset, which is why we only provide completely honest and unbiased recommendations.
Waist-down view of a female hiker pulling the Gregory 3D Hydro hydration bladder out of her backpack along a trail
Gregory 3D Hydro – Photo credit: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CleverHiker.com)

For convenient, hands-free hydration on the go, you’ll need a hydration bladder to stick in your pack. We’ve used 40 bladders over the years from brands like CamelBak, HydraPak, Osprey, and more – from the most basic options to reservoirs with all the bells and whistles. To help us identify the best, we look at different features, carrying capacity, and weight – at a variety of price points. If you’re on the hunt for a new drinking system, we’ll point you in the right direction.

And if you need a whole setup, we have you covered with our lists of the best hydration backpacks and water filters. If you are also open to a classic container, we’ve tested and reviewed our favorite water bottles for on trail and everyday use.

Quick Picks for Hydration bladders

Check out this quick list of our favorite hydration bladders or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Best hydration bladder overall: Gregory 3D Hydro ($43)

Best ultralight hydration bladder: HydraPak Contour ($43)

Best hydration bladder for large-volume backpacks: Osprey Hydraulics ($52)

Affordable & reliable hydration bladder: CamelBak Crux ($37)

Best budget hydration bladder: Kureida ($15)

What’s new

We’ve been sipping and chugging on trail to fine-tune our list. We’ve added some new picks and continued to count on our reliable favorites:

  • The Gregory 3D Hydro is durable and easy to fill, retaining its status as our favorite bladder overall.

  • The HydraPak Contour is lightweight, doesn’t slosh as much as other models, and is easy to dry, all of which easily earn it a spot on the list.

  • If you need a bladder on the cheap, the Kureida will treat you right. Its locking valve is convenient and has a capacity comparable to more expensive models.

Gregory 3D Hydro

Best hydration bladder overall

Price: $43

Weight: 10.2 oz.(2L)

Capacities Available: 2L, 3L & Trek (3L with push-button pour spout to use in basecamp)

Pros

  • Dries quickly & completely
  • Durable
  • Convient features
  • East to fill in shallow sinks

Cons

  • A bit expensive
  • Cap can get cross-threaded (alwasy double-check for leaks by turing upside-down

The Gregory 3D Hydro is our favorite hydration bladder overall because it’s durable, and it has a ton of handy features. What really sets it apart is that it’s soft-molded with a water bottle-like material. That means it holds its shape and stays open to dry completely between uses – greatly reducing the chances of grime accumulation. It even has a hook to hang it upside down when you’re done. The easy care and durability of the Hydro make it our #1 recommendation for anyone who’ll be using their reservoir often, and it’s definitely the one we’ll be using the most for our hikes.

HydraPak Contour

Best ultralight hydration bladder

Price: $43

Weight: 5 oz.(2L)

Capacities Available: 1.5L Lumbar, 2L, 3L

Pros

  • Ultralight
  • Durable & flexible material
  • Baffles for minimal sloshing
  • Reversible for easy drying

Cons

  • Expensive

Every ounce of weight savings counts when you’re on the trail, which is why we were stoked to find the HydraPak Contour Reservoir. The 2L bladder only weighs 5 oz., which makes it 50% lighter than some of the leading competition. The Contour may be light, but it doesn’t skimp on convenient features. The most noteworthy traits are the leak-free zip top, the tab to turn it inside out to dry, and the magnetic bite valve that sticks to your backpack’s sternum strap. We also appreciate the inner baffles that help keep sloshing to a minimum. The Contour is a little spendy, but it’s right on par with the best reservoirs on the market. This high-quality and outstandingly lightweight bladder is a great choice that will last for many years of adventures.

Osprey Hydraulics

Best hydration bladder for large-volume backpacks

Price: $52

Weight: 7.4 oz.(2L)

Capacities Available: 2L & 3L, 1.5L LT & 2.5L LT (LT – lightweight with no backer plate)

Pros

  • Lots of convenient features
  • Slim/stiff design makes it easier to get in & out of a loaded backpack
  • Easy to clearn
  • High-flow bite valve

Cons

  • Not as easy to dry as the Gregory 3D Hydro

The high quality and full-featured Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir is a great choice for anyone who needs reliable hydration on the go, but we like it especially when using large-volume backpacks. Most hydration bladders are a little um… floppy, but this one has a solid backer plate that gives it some rigidity. This holds the bladder in a slim, low-profile shape which is both comfortable to carry and easy to slide into a full backpack’s narrow hydration compartment. We also appreciate how easy it is to clean and ensure a leakproof seal with the Hydraulics’ wide slider top. The Hydraulics has everything a hiker could want for convenience on the trail, and it comes in a bunch of sizes for different trip lengths. The 1.5L and 2.5L LT models forgo the backer plate for those who prefer a bladder that’s a bit lighter.

CamelBak Crux

Affordable & reliable hydration bladder

Price: $37

Weight: 7 oz.(2L)

Capacities Available: 1.5L, 2L, 3L & 2L with Filtration Kit

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Extra wide port makes it easy to clean
  • Large handle

Cons

  • Quick disconnect port is less accessible than some
  • A bit tougher to fill completely in shallow sinks

The name CamelBak has been synonymous with hydration bladders since the first one hit the market in the 1980s. What started as an IV bag filled with water in a tube sock decades ago has evolved to their most modern offering, the CamelBak Crux. While it doesn’t have quite as many features as some bladders, we’re fans of the Crux for its durable material and extra-wide opening that makes it easy to clean. The large handle on the port makes it easy to hold, though the bag hangs more vertically than some, so it’s tougher to fill to the brim in shallow sinks. The Crux delivers the reliability people expect at an affordable price, and it comes in a ton of sizes to fit different packs.

Kureida

Best budget hydration bladder

Price: $13

Weight: 7 oz.(2L)

Capacities Available: 2L

Pros

  • Affordable
  • A few convenient features

Cons

  • Not as durable as some
  • Not as easy to clean & dry as others

If you’re on a tight budget, but you still want the convenience of hands-free hydration on your hikes, we recommend the Kureida bladder. It costs far less but has some of the same features as more expensive drinking reservoirs, like a locking bite valve with a dust cover and quick disconnect tube. The components aren’t as high quality as those you’ll find on some of our favorite high-end bladders, and we don’t expect it to last as long as some. That said, the Kureida bladder will get you out on the trail for a fraction of the price and should hold up well enough for the occasional user.

A backpacker using the HydraPak Contour hydration reservoir with the Deuter Aircontact Core 65+10 SL
HydraPak Contour – Photo credit: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CleverHiker.com)

What’s Most Important to You in a Hydration Bladder?

PRICE

A great hydration bladder doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can be well worth spending a little more to get a high quality bladder that’s reliable and convenient if you’ll be using it a lot. On this list, we recommend a range of reservoirs from budget to high-end.

Best budget hydration bladders

FEATURES

A basic hydration bladder will quench your thirst on the move, but extra features like a bite valve shutoff, a quick-disconnect tube, and a magnet to stick your bite valve to your backpack’s sternum strap will make for a smoother experience. Our favorite systems are also designed with details that make filling, cleaning, and drying hassle-free.

Feature-rich hydration bladders

WEIGHT

We tend to prefer lightweight gear since weight adds up quickly in a backpack. Choosing a hydration bladder that’s as light as possible can ultimately lead to a more comfortable carry. That said, getting a bladder with extra convenience features can be well worth carrying a few ounces of additional weight.

Lightest hydration bladders

Slightly heavier hydration bladders with more features

CAPACITY

Most bladders are available in a variety of capacities. 2L bladders are the most popular, since they’re a great size for shorter day hikes and backpacking trips when you plan to refill. Larger bladders (3L) give you the ability to carry more for longer stretches between refills. Small bladders (1-1.5L) are the lightest and most compact, so they fit well in small daypacks and will be less sloshy in running vests.

Best small bladders (1-1.5L)

Critical Hydration Bladder Considerations

HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD I CARRY?

The liquid capacity of a hydration bladder is usually measured in liters (L), and most hold between 1L-3L. Water is heavy (1L weighs approx. 2 lbs.), so it’s important to carefully consider how much you’ll actually drink and plan accordingly. It can be nice to have a larger maximum capacity for long days on the trail, but you don’t have to fill your reservoir to the brim if you want to keep your load light. To estimate how much water you’ll need to carry, a good rule of thumb is to have .5L per hour for moderate activity in mild temperatures. You may need to dial this up depending on conditions and personal preferences. Strenuous hiking in high heat may call for 1L of water or more per hour.

A HIGH QUALITY HYDRATION BLADDER LIKE THE OSPREY HYDRAULICS WILL LAST FOR MANY MILES & HUNDREDS OF LITERS OF WATER
THE GREGORY 3D HYDRO HAS A SUPER QUICK & CONVENIENT HANGER (GREGORY SPEEDCLIP ATTACHMENT)

FILTERING WATER ON THE GO WITH A BLADDER

If you’ll be refilling your hydration bladder from natural sources on the trail, you’ll need to carry a filtration method to make water safe to drink. Chlorine Dioxide Drops / Pills are lightweight and affordable, but there’s a bit of a waiting period. There are reservoir filter kits you can pick up, or you can make your own inline system by ordering an extra quick connect kit, bite valve, and a Sawyer Squeeze. Another option is to bring a filter like the Katadyn BeFree to scoop and filter water into your hydration bladder. Check out our Best Water Filters list for a complete list of our favorite water filtering methods for hiking.

THE GREGORY 3D HYDRO HOLDS ITS SHAPE AND STAYS OPEN TO DRY COMPLETELY BETWEEN USES & IT EVEN HAS A HOOK TO HANG IT UPSIDE-DOWN

HYDRATION BLADDER CARE

 Most hydration bladders have polyethylene linings, which retain tastes and odors more easily than polycarbonate bottles. Because of this, we recommend not filling them with anything but water. The best way to maintain any plastic water bottle or bladder is to rinse it out after each use, and let it air dry completely. Periodically drop in a fizzy cleaning tablet, like these from Bottle Bright, or a tablespoon each of bleach and baking soda and let it sit overnight. This, along with a thorough scrub down with a bottle brush (see cleaning kit recommendations above), will keep grime, funky tastes, and odors at bay.

THE CAMELBAK CRUX HAS A HUGE PORT & A LARGE HANDLE TO MAKE FILLING EASY

Related: If you need a daypack and a hydration bladder, check out our Best Hydration Packs list.

Osprey Hydraulics – Photo credit: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CleverHiker.com)

Honorable Mentions

These bladders are some of the best out there for a specific purpose:

HydraPak Cenote – An ultralight (4.8-ounce) and affordable reservoir with a refreshingly uncomplicated design.

Kureida Dual Hydration Bladder – A unique blader with a separate chamber and a second hose for electrolyte drink mix (would be great if sharing with young kids).

Platypus Big Zip EVO – another feature-rich bladder with a zip-top closure that’s similar to the Osprey Hydraulics, but not quite as durable.

THE GREGORY 3D HYDRO COMES AS A BUNDLE WITH SOME OF OUR FAVORITE HYDRATION PACKS