Curious about all the different ways of carrying water on a hike? There are a lot of things you can do, from using a hydration bladder to filling up a collapsible silicone bottle. In this guide, I will cover the best (and safest) ways of carrying water on a hike, including a few options for purifying outdoor water!
Read on to learn about all the different ways of carrying water on a hike and find that option that’s best for you!
Hydration bladders are easily the best way of carrying water while hiking, especially if you have a hiking backpack that’s compatible with reservoirs. You can choose between different shapes and sizes of hydration bladders, so it’s pretty easy to get something that’s a great fit for you.
When shopping for a hydration reservoir, it’s better to spend a little more and get something that’s top-notch quality than to buy the cheapest option available. The problem with cheap generic reservoirs is that they can have a nasty plastic smell that takes quite a while to get out. You’ll need to wash the reservoir over and over again until that smell is entirely gone, otherwise, the water will taste plasticky.
Also, they can leak, and that’s not what you want. Bladders from HydraPak and Osprey are the more premium brands, but the quality easily justifies the price. They feature leak-proof hoses and valves, sturdy plastic construction that doesn’t leak, and they’re easy to refill out in nature.
In addition to that, when you put a hydration bladder in a compatible backpack, you can easily set up hands-free hydration on the go. Secure the hose to the shoulder strap so that you can reach the bite valve without using your hands, and you have easy access to water throughout the hike.
Another advantage of water bladders is their size. They usually have a capacity of 2-4 liters, which is more than you can get from water bottles. The bladders with extra-large capacity are great for longer hikes, but you should keep in mind that they won’t do much to regulate the water temperatures.
So, even if you have enough water for a six-hour hike, you might not want to drink that water after it’s been sitting in the bladder for five hours.
The only downside to using hydration bladders instead of water bottles is the amount of maintenance. It takes more effort to properly clean a hydration bladder, especially since you have to clean every piece individually.
Most water bottles you can just throw in the dishwasher, but there are only one or two types of hydration reservoirs that are dishwasher safe. And that’s just for the main bladder – the hose and the valve still need to be cleaned individually.
It’s also very important that you leave the bladder to air-dry properly, and that can take a while. Water bottles dry quicker and they’re less likely to get moldy if you put them away with a few drops of water inside, which just makes them the more convenient option for some people.
Water bottles are the simplest way of carrying water on a hike. There are a lot of different pros to carrying your water in a bottle, from the number of options you have to the convenience of it. Most backpacks have dedicated water bottle pockets on the sides where you can keep the bottle while you’re hiking, but it’s still easy to reach with one hand while the pack is on your back.
Another great thing about water bottles is that there’s a lot of variety especially when it comes to size. You can also choose between different colors, shapes, and most importantly caps! The better brands sell multiple different caps for their water bottles, so it’s easy to adjust the bottle to suit you best.
In addition to that, water bottles are lightweight, easy to refill, and even easier to clean. Some are dishwasher safe, but that usually depends on the type of plastic used to make the water bottle, so be sure to double-check if a particular bottle is dishwasher safe.
There’s also a lot of plastic water bottles with an infuser inside, and they are an excellent option for people who like adding flavor to their water. You can chop up fruit into tiny pieces and put it in the infuser – your water will taste great and you don’t need to worry about choking on a piece of strawberry while you’re taking a sip.
When buying a water bottle you must choose the right type of plastic. Cheap bottles are usually made from cheap plastic that isn’t really dishwasher compatible and can make water taste plasticky.
Best water bottles are made from food-grade plastic that is BPA free and they will not leak any flavor or odor into the water. CamelBak is a popular brand for plastic water bottles because they are of great quality and very durable, but they are one of the more expensive options.
Stainless steel bottles are great alternatives to plastic water bottles. The main advantage of stainless steel bottles is that they are great at maintaining water temperature, whether you want to fill them up with hot or cold water.
For cold water, it’s best to add a few ice cubes inside and let them melt slowly throughout the day. Another upside is that you can use a stainless steel bottle to transport boiling water, in case you’re looking to make tea, coffee, soup, or something similar on the hike.
You can’t use plastic bottles with boiling water, so if you have any interest at all in carrying hot water on hikes, you need a stainless steel bottle.
The downside of stainless steel bottles is that they’re heavy. They’re a lot heavier than plastic bottles, so if you’re worried about the weight of your hiking backpack, they might not be the best option for you. Also, they’re a bit more difficult to clean. Most stainless steel bottles are not dishwasher safe and you will need to wash them manually.
The top brands for stainless steel bottles are ThermoFlask, Coleman, Iron Flask, etc. You can choose between several different sizes, caps, colors, and even shapes – Hydro Flask and Hydro Cell make insulated bottles specifically for coffee and wine, and they really are a champion when it comes to the variety of products.
Filtered water bottles are one of the best options for long hikes. These are bottles like the Grayl Geopress that have a filter that purifies bacteria, protozoa, heavy metals, and pretty much anything else that can be found in outdoor water. You can fill this bottle with lake water, let the filter do its magic, and you get water that is entirely clean and safe to drink.
These bottles are usually lighter than stainless steel bottles since their bodies are typically made from lightweight plastic. The filter does make them heavier than basic plastic bottles, but they’re still not as heavy as stainless-steel bottles.
The downside of filtered water bottles is that they are a lot more expensive than basic water bottles. Plus, there’s also the extra cost of purchasing new filters every so often, which is not something you have to think about with a basic water bottle. But then again, you can’t use a basic water bottle to get clean water out of a toilet bowl.
If you often go on long hikes and you run out of water mid-trail, you should really think about getting a filtered bottle. It will make things much easier for you, so it’s definitely worth the extra cost.
Collapsible water bottles are another great option for carrying water on hikes. They are the most compact option out of the bunch since they fold to half their size when empty. This is a really good option if you’re worried about saving space in your bag when hiking.
These water bottles are usually made from silicone, so it’s important to look for BPA-free silicone. You should also go for bottles with leak-proof lids, carabiner attachment points, and a wide-mouth design. Bottles with a narrow mouth make it almost impossible to add ice to the water, so they really aren’t a great option for hikes on hot days.
Additionally, you can also get collapsible bottles with a filter inside. These are great for long hikes when you eventually have to drink water from an outdoor source.
Sawyer filtration system includes one of their straw filters and a drinking pouch. The straw attaches to the included pouch, but you can also use it with other water bottles or to drink directly from the source. This is one of the best water purifier systems you can get your hands on, and it’s a must for all serious hikers who frequently drink water from outdoor sources.
The Sawyer straw filters 99.99% of all bacteria, protozoa, and microplastics, ensuring that every sip you take is perfectly safe.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.