Any fitness enthusiast or expert will tell you how important it is to stay hydrated while running.
Drinking enough water won’t only boost your energy supply and keep you cool during your run – it can also make all the difference to your recovery time.
However, if (like me) you hate having to pause your run every few minutes to uncap your water bottle and take a drink, proper hydration can easily start to feel like a chore.
But what if I told you there was a way to drink plenty of water completely hands-free during your run?
They’re often used by hikers and military service members, but these hydration systems are becoming increasingly popular in the world of fitness.
If you think a hydration bladder sounds like the perfect solution to all your sipping-related stresses, you’d be right, and you’re also in exactly the right place!
I’ve put together a list of the best hydration bladders available on the market right now.
I’ve also created a buyer’s guide to help you select the hydration system that will best enhance your exercise regimen.
Don’t be late to hydrate! Check out my top pick:
- 4 sizes available
- Lightweight construction
- Silver-ion for hygiene
- Self-sealing valve
- Multi-purpose carry loop
- Versatile opening
Platypus is one of the first brands you’ll hear of on the subject of hydration systems, and this water reservoir, in particular, stands out from the competition.
This hydration system is available for purchase in 4 capacity options: 1 litre, 1.8 litres, 2 litres, 3 litres.
Whether you enjoy a quick jog now and again or like to run for longer, you’ll be able to find the Platypus Hoser in a size that suits you.
The plastic material used to construct the main body of the container is free from harmful chemicals and completely taste-free.
It’s also embedded with silver-ion for protection against bacterial buildup.
The HyFlo valve is self-sealing for leak-proofing and produces a smooth flow of water with a 30% flow increase.
The outlet is easy to twist on and off and is compatible with any Platypus threaded tube and cap.
A convenient carrying loop is incorporated in the top of the bladder which you can either hold in your hand or attach to any other convenient part of your attire.
Because this hydration bladder is super lightweight, it won’t weigh you down no matter where you wear it!
- 4 capacity options
- Embedded silver-ion for microbial protection
- Self-sealing HyFlo valve
- Includes carry loop
- Versatile outlet
- Opening is quite small
If you’re on a budget and you’re looking for a great way to stay hydrated while you run, you are sure to love the Source Ultimate Hydration System.
The reservoir may be somewhat cheap but this doesn’t mean that it won’t stand the test of time.
The bladder has material that has been treated using an antimicrobial agent, and this helps to stop any bacteria growing.
It’s also incredibly simple to clean. It features a large wide slide opening system that is easy to use on the go.
If you’re walking or running out in the rain then the bladder has a twist lock that will help to stop it from leaking when you’re out.
As a whole, this is a highly effective hydration bladder that will be ideal for your walks, hikes and running sessions.
It is not without its issues however – some people have said that it’s a tiny bit difficult to suck the water out through the tube, but otherwise it’s incredibly practical.
- Comes with a valve cover
- Conslitrebe challenging to suck the water out through the tube
- It’s a little small at only 1.5 litres.
LANNEY’s hydration bladder is constructed quite similarly to the CHERAINTI model, with a few notable differences.
This hydration bladder is made from food-grade, BPA-free material that is thick and durable enough to resist puncturing.
The TPU tube, meanwhile, is insulated to keep your water at a consistent temperature.
The LANNEY hydration bladder can easily be filled up to its maximum 2-litre capacity through the large opening.
However, this opening is also leak-proof so, thanks to this feature the shutoff valve in the tube, and the military-grade sealing technology, your water will stay securely contained in the hydration system.
The large handle is ergonomically designed for a comfortable handheld grip, but could also be clipped onto a suitable part of workout attire.
The 90° bite valve, meanwhile, allows you to control the flow of water into your mouth using your teeth.
2 tube clips and an O ring are included with this hydration bladder for maximum convenience.
- Holds up to 2 litres
- Durable, BPA-free material
- Insulated TPU tube
- Valve-controlled flow
- Includes 2 tube clips and an O ring
- Some reports of leaking
The Big Zip Water Reservoir is another hydration bladder from Platypus that hikers and runners alike absolutely love.
You can buy this hydration bladder in 3 capacity options: 1.5 litres, 2 litres, and 3 litres.
I do like the availability of multiple size options from Platypus because it means you can select the bladder size that’s most compatible with the length of your running sessions (more on water consumption guidelines below).
The Platypus Big Zip Hydration Bladder is also available with either a fast-flow or standard valve, so whether you prefer a heavy, unobstructed flow of water or a more moderate water intake while running, you can count on Platypus to deliver.
This hydration bladder is made of leak-proof, food-grade material that won’t transfer any particular taste or odour to your water.
Silver-ion has also been embedded in the material to protect against harmful bacteria.
The Platypus Big Zip is easy to open, close, and refill thanks to the SlideLock which conveniently slides both left and right and provides a secure seal.
The pinch grip feature also allows for easy one-handed handling and refilling.
The handle is perfect for handheld carrying or clipping onto an attachment for hands-free convenience.
- 3 capacity options
- Flast-flow or standard valve
- Silver-ion microbe protection
- Reliable SlideLock
- Some customers have reported leaking
Osprey’s Hydraulics Reservoir is another very popular choice on the hydration system market, and it’s absolutely perfect for runners!
(At the time of writing it also has the accolade of Amazon’s Choice 🙂 )
This hydration bladder is available in 2 capacity options of 2 litres or 3 litres, both of which are ideal for maintaining optimal hydration during longer runs.
Made of durable, food-grade TPU material with a flexible TPU hose, this hydration bladder is a long-lasting product that is also comfortable and easy to use.
The seams have been welded on a molecular level to prevent leakage. This bladder is also safe for dishwasher cleaning in the top rack.
The Slide-Seal opening at the top of the bladder provides a waterproof seal and also makes refilling and cleaning effortless.
One feature of the Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir that I really like is the hydrostatic backplate that lends structure to the water pouch.
This helps it to stay upright whether you have it packed into your backpack or clipped to your body in any other way.
Despite this added feature, however, the water bladder is lightweight, making it ideal for use during exercise.
The bite valve on the mouthpiece gives the user control over the water flow, which is strong and smooth.
The hose itself is strong and kink-resistant for uninterrupted water flow when needed.
Included with this hydration bladder are a sternum strap magnet and hose magnet clip for accessibility and security.
- 2 capacity options
- Bite valve for flow control
- Features hydrostatic backplate
- Includes sternum strap magnet and hose clip
- Reports of a plastic taste
Best Hydration Bladder Buyer’s Guide
So, there you have it: the best hydration bladders money can buy!
Before you make your purchase, though, I’ve put together this buyer’s guide to give you a few extra pointers.
One of the most common concerns runners have about hydration bladders compared to normal water bottles is durability.
Will a hydration bladder be impact-resistant enough to withstand being dropped?
Will it puncture easily?
Will the water leak out?
As with regular water bottles, leaks do happen.
However, this is not necessarily more common with hydration bladders than with standard bottles, provided the bladder is high-quality and treated with care.
To ensure maximum durability, there are a few specific features I recommend looking out for.
First of all, it goes without saying that high-quality material is a must.
However, the strength of the material should be complemented by strong seam construction – ideally, they should be double-sealed or molecularly welded for a completely leak-proof seal.
The tube material (I recommend TPU) should be both thick and flexible to avoid snapping or puncturing.
It’s very easy for bacteria to build up inside water containers.
If the materials used in the construction of your hydration bladder aren’t inherently hygienic enough, regular washing may not be enough to prevent bacterial buildup.
That’s why I’ve made sure that all the materials used in the products I’ve reviewed are either food-grade or, at the very least, BPA-free.
If you really want to make sure that your hydration bladder stays as hygienic as possible, I recommend opting for a model that uses embedded silver-ion to provide an antimicrobial coating.
You’ll want to make sure that the hydration bladder you buy has enough capacity to supply you with all the water you need while running.
Of course, how much water should be drunk while exercising will vary from person to person depending on factors such as height, weight, and workout intensity.
However, general guidelines recommend drinking at least 300 to 800 ml of water per hour of exercise.
However, the products featured in our review section offer capacity options ranging from 1 litre to 3 litres, so if you tend to run for longer, there are also options here for you!
So, assuming you run for an hour and want to stay as hydrated as possible, the closest widely sold hydration bladder option for you would be 1 litre.
Most of the appeal of hydration bladders over standard water bottles comes from the fact that hydration bladders enable hands-free use.
However, this convenient feature also means that a hydration bladder needs to have a very strong and effective attachment system.
Many hydration bladders come with a handle that can either be handheld or clipped onto a backpack or item of clothing.
You could also store the bladder in a running backpack if you have one.
Other helpful attachment features include hose clips and sternum straps, which may or may not be magnetic and help to keep the drinking hose in position while you run.
This will make your water more easily accessible and enhance the hands-free functionality of your hydration bladder.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you clean a hydration bladder?
As with a normal water bottle, it’s extremely important to clean your hydration bladder between uses to prevent harmful bacteria from building up inside it.
There are a few different methods of cleaning a hydration bladder, and all of them are relatively straightforward.
The most common recommendation is to use half a teaspoon of bleach and 2 teaspoons of baking soda mixed with hot water.
Once you’ve filled the hydration bladder with this solution, you should leave it somewhere it won’t be disturbed and allow the cleaning products to take effect for roughly half an hour.
Make sure to thoroughly rinse your hydration bladder to get rid of any excess cleaning product before leaving it to drain and dry.
Alternatively, if the manufacturer has indicated that it’s safe to do so, you could also put the hydration bladder into the top rack of the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning.