Ultimately, the hydration bladder vs bottle battle comes down to personal preference.
I’ve used both and I usually hike with both but I’d choose the hydration bladder over bottles for the simple reason that I tend to drink more during a hike using the hydration bladder, taking small sips frequently rather than large chugs from a bottle.
- Bottles force you to stop for a regular breather – you can enjoy the scenery while you access your bottles from your backpack, and enjoy a short break.
- Bottles are super cheap!
- You can easily see how much you’ve drunk.
- If you carry a bottle, you’re less likely to get those puffy, hiking fingers because you hold your hand more upright with the bottle.
- You can freeze a spare bottle to enjoy a nice cold drink during a hike on a hot day, after it has melted.
- Bottles can slow your progress because you may have to stop to get bottles out of your pack if you don’t have easy access to side pockets.
- You may not stay hydrated enough during a hike if you have to keep stopping to access your bottles from your pack.
- If you carry a bottle, you have one less hand free for a pole, a map, or if you’re a klutz like me, to help you grab onto something when you stumble
(Note: that’s when I stumble, not if!)
- It’s easy to access your drink so you’re more likely to take sips more often and stay well-hydrated.
- Hydration bladders often have a controlled tap that you can use for washing your hands.
- You carry the water, often the heaviest item in your daypack, close to your back, making it more ergonomic.
- Hydration packs are harder to clean and require maintenance.
- They are usually more expensive than bottles.
- The bladder is more prone to tearing and leaks.
- You can’t easily see how much you’ve been drinking and they’re harder to refill on the go.
- The water in the tube can get warm on a warm or hot day. I find myself taking a big swig and spitting it out until I get to the cooler water.
Hydration bladder vs bottle – the conclusion
In my opinion, the ease and convenience while hiking of the hydration bladder wins. However, I always hike with at least one backup water bottle, in case of leaks.
Don’t forget to leave a bottle of water in the car for after your hike. I usually leave a bottle of frozen water in the car in a cooler bag and hope that it has melted but stayed cool by the time I get back to the car. Mmm. Refreshing!
So, what do you think? Is it a hydration bladder or bottles for you?
Buying a hydration pack or bottle online
If you’re looking at buying a hydration pack or water bottle online, I highly recommend getting one from Wild Earth*. They have a great range available and often have fantastic sales where you can pick up a great bargain.
*Note: this is an affiliate link – if you click on this link and buy something from Wild Earth, then I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. These guys are based in Queensland and I’ve bought from them before. They offer a quick service and great customer service. I only recommend suppliers I can personally vouch for 🙂