A hydration bladder is a sealed plastic bag connected to a rubber hose to be used as a system for drinking water during when trekking, cycling, endurance running, etc. The size and features of the hydration bladder will vary according to manufacturer – the most common range 1.5 to 3.0 litres. Bladders are designed to fit inside a specially designed backpack with a hole to allow the hose to run from the inside of the back to the outside for easy access. The end of the hose will feature a bite valve that will prevent water from leaking out when not in use. Some of the latest developments include hydration packs that have pressurized hydration bladders which will force water through an in-line-filter allowing the user access to clean water on-the-go.
Hydration bladders are a much more effective aid in avoiding dehydration because of ease of use. All you have to do to have drink on the move is put the bite valve, which hangs beside your cheek, into your mouth and suck on it. Waterbottles placed in a pocket of your backpack or hanging from a clip can be a bit more fiddly to use and therefore some prefer to wait for a restbreak before they have a good swig from them. This is not a good approach to avoiding the perils of dehydration in a hot, humid, tropical environment.
Quality and convenience are two of the most important factors in choosing a hydration bladder. If the bite valve just fits on the tube there is a chance it could slip off – if you don’t have a spare valve (and companies like Camelback charge like a wounded bull for spares) then you are beggared.
I have used most of the brands over the years and I believe the Osprey is the best – by a long shot. It has a rigid spine which helps maintain its shape and prevent the reservoir from folding on top of itself, and the AquaGuard anti-microbial formula makes sure you don’t taste anything but pure, clean water. It has 180 degree on/off pivot bite valve with magnet which clips onto the strap of an Osprey pack for convenience.
Following are some useful links to allow you to do your own research:
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