Hiking Water Bottle vs. Bladder: Which One Is Ideal for Hiking?

Hiking water bottle vs. bladder: Which one should you choose for your upcoming hiking trip? You will get a reasonable answer after reading this article!

Top Rated Best Budget Hiking Water Bottles

Top Rated Best Budget Hiking Bladders

Hiking Water Bottle vs. Bladder: Comparison Table

Hydration bladder Water bottle
Price Typically more than $30. Can be under $10.
Taste Taste like plastic Taste like water
Temperature resistance Not ideal for extreme weather. An insulated bottle is best for extremes.
Hygiene More difficult to clean, and prone to mold and bacteria. Easy to clean, dishwasher safe.
Durability Susceptible to piercing, broken valves, joints, and mouthpieces. Very durable and robust
Refilling A bit of a hassle. Easy
Ease of use Easy. Somewhat complicated.
Packability Put it in its own pouch. Takes up a bit of space in the pack.
Capacity Can be three liters or more. About a liter or less.

Hiking Water Bottle vs. Bladder: Head-To-Head Comparison



Although both options are available at various prices, a water bottle will suit you better if you are looking for a low-cost choice. It is easy to find a bottle for about $10, whereas a hydration bladder usually costs as little as $30.


It may sound silly, but the water bladder typically makes your water taste like plastic in the long run.

There are many remedies for this condition, involving lime juice and baking soda. Without putting in effort and time, the water can be uncomfortable to drink.

Temperature Resistance

If you hike in hot weather conditions, you can end up drinking hot water (due to the weather). On the other hand, when you travel in the winter, your water is likely to be cold as well.

If you hold your water in a bottle, it will get warmer more quickly if you carry it in a bladder. So if you are hiking on hot days, we recommend packing it inside the backpack and using a vacuum-insulated bottle with several ice cubes inside.

Water might be frozen in both options, but the hydration bladder is very likely to freeze. But in cold temperatures, it is feasible to use hot water in one insulated bottle. So a water bottle is ideal for extreme conditions.


Whether you use bladders or bottles, cleaning them regularly is essential to avoid bacteria accumulation. Cleaning a water bottle is simple, as all you need to do is toss it in the dishwasher.

Meanwhile, hydration bladders are notoriously tricky to clean and have a high risk of mold growth.

Therefore, you will need to master the technique of cleaning a hydration bladder and consider storing it in the freezer when not in use to avoid mold.


Buying durable hiking gear is essential. Besides helping you save money, it also helps protect the environment by reducing plastic waste.

A high-quality water bottle, whether made of aluminum or plastic, will last for many years, while dents will not affect its operability.

The common thing that can occur is the plastic lid stopping fitting your bottle’s lip. However, replacement lids are always available.

On the other hand, a hydration bladder is usually made of a soft, pierceable fabric. So leaks can occur in the joints between the tube or the mouthpiece and the bladder.

The hydration bladder’s individual parts are typically replaceable, but you must ensure that you do not pack it with any sharp items in your backpack. Also, avoid placing heavy objects on it when you are not using it.


Regarding refilling, it is easy to use a water bladder. Yet, using a water bottle is even easier. All you need to do is unscrew the top of your water bottle and drink.

Refilling a hydration bladder might be slightly more bothersome, depending on the kind of backpack or pack you hold.

Nowadays, many bladders have a large screw-on lid, allowing you to undo and fill it up. However, you still need to remove the whole hydration bladder from the backpack, then place it back; still too inconvenient!

Of course, if you are using a backpack that does not have a pouch for a hydration bladder, it is essential to remove all things from the backpack to get it.

Ease of Use

At first glance, you might think a bottle seems easy to utilize. All you need to do is open the lid and drink.

But when you go on the trail, stopping to rummage through the bag for a drink every time you are thirsty can be annoying. For that reason, you probably don’t drink a lot of water while hiking.

Threading the hydration bladder’s tube through the loops on the backpack can be a bit annoying, but when you are walking, you will have easy access to this tube, allowing you to sip away constantly. That is the great advantage of the bladder.

Comfort And Packability

Once you have prepared a filled water bottle, you will need to decide where you put it. You usually have two options: Put the bottle inside the backpack or in a side pocket.

If you put it inside the backpack, it will take up space. Also,  you need to center it so it will not feel lopsided as you hike. If you put it in a side pocket, you will save space in your pack, but it’ll feel uneven.

If you go with a hydration bladder, you’ll have the right hiking backpack with one pocket for it. So, it is not necessary to think about where to put the bladder or whether it’ll be comfortable. In addition, you will also never feel off-balance.

The bladder will not take up precious space inside your pack, allowing you to have more room for things you need, such as your gloves and waterproof jacket.

If your pack has no special pouch for the hydration bladder, you can use it. It will be less comfortable, but you can position it at the bottom of the pack.


When it comes to hiking, it’s important to bring enough water to complete the trip unless you prefer to stop and drink from the springs every few miles. In this category, the hydration bladder is the winner.

A typical water bottle can hold from 750ml to 1 liter of liquid, while a hydration bladder can carry three liters or more.

To get the same amount of water as one bladder, you will need to bring about three bottles of water, which is quite annoying.

Hiking Water Bottle vs. Bladder: Final Verdict

If you prioritize comfort, ease of use while hiking, and ensuring you stay hydrated, you will fall in love with bladder hydration.

Keep in mind that it will take some effort to refill and clean. However, you will be fine and can drink more, as long as you can treat it to remove the plastic taste.

On the other hand, a water bottle will take up more space in the backpack and generally doesn’t hold as much water.

Yet, it also has a lot of benefits, including being cheap, durable, and easy to refill and clean. In addition, a water bottle is also ideal for extreme temperatures.



Should I Get a Water Bladder for Hiking?

Yes, you can’t go wrong with it for your hiking trip.

Do Thru Hikers Use Hydration Bladders?

Yes. Regarding thru-hikers, a common way to store water is using a hydration reservoir.

Are Water Bladders Good for Backpacking?

Yes, hydration bladders are essential gear for backpackers.

Is a Hydration Bladder Worth It?

Of course. It allows you to carry and drink water more easily and conveniently.

What Size Water Bladder Do I Need for Hiking?

It can allow you to carry three liters or more of liquid.

Are Hydration Packs Good for Hiking?

Yes. A hydration pack will make it easier to stay hydrated on the trail.

Why Do Thru Hikers Use Smart Water Bottles?

Smartwater bottles are durable, featherlight, cheap, and fit into about any water bottle pocket on any pack.

How Long Do Bladders Last?

Bladders typically last around six to twelve months for most mid-end variants.

Is Camelbaks Good for Hiking?

Hiking with a CamelBak will make storing and drinking water more comfortable and easier.

Why Do Hikers Use Nalgene Bottles?

Nalgene bottles are durable, easy to clean, and can be used in harsh conditions.

Is Camelbak Bottle Worth the Money?

The short answer is Yes. It is one of the best plastic water bottles available today.

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