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Backpacking Gear for Beginners: Water Bladder

This post is part of the Backpacking Gear for Beginners course.

Why do you need a water bladder? 

A water bladder is a plastic bag of water that sits in your backpack with a tube that hangs over your shoulder. Whenever you need a drink you just drink from the tube. You don’t have to find the water bottle hanging from your pack somewhere or take your pack off. I find I drink a lot more water on trips where I have a bladder in my pack.

It’s not absolutely necessary. Many people just use a water bottle. But it is very convenient. When you refill a water bottle, you can put the water in the bladder first then fill up the bottle if needed.

Get big opening for cleaning

Some older styles of water bladders had a very small opening for filling and cleaning. These make it tough to get in there and clean it out. The big openings are easier for filling from the tap or water bottle too.

Get a detachable hose

Some bladders have a hose that unclips from the bladder. This makes it easier to leave the hose threaded into your backpack with all your gear when you fill up the bladder. Unclip the hose and just pull the bladder out.

Get a closable bite valve or cover

Some have bite valves that screw shut or turn off for travelling. Sometimes the bite valve gets stuck under another bag and opens on the car or bus. This makes a mess and wastes your full bladder of clean water from home.

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