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Nothing’s more important than staying hydrated when hiking, and an excellent way to do this is with a hydration bladder. These water containers sit in special pockets on most hiking packs, which have an opening for the bladder’s drinking tube so you can sip throughout the day while keeping your hands free for other things. It’s more efficient than a water bottle, and the contents usually last longer, too. Hydration bladders come in many different sizes, so it’s important to judge how much water you’ll need for your hikes when choosing which bladder to bring.

When purchasing a hydration bladder, pay attention to durability, weight, and closure type. You want something that will stand up to the rigors of the great outdoors, but won’t weigh you down. You also want to make sure the opening allows easy access to the inside of the bladder so you can thoroughly clean it.

With a good hydration bladder in your pack, you’ll be ready to get outside without worrying about quenching your thirst.

Wide-slide closure. Amazon

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The Widepac has a three-liter capacity, and is made from a three-layer polyethylene material treated with an antimicrobial agent and Source’s “GrungeGuard” technology to prevent the growth of bacteria. The wide-slide closure makes refilling simple, and the drinking tube can be disconnected from the reservoir by pushing a button at the connecting joint. The helix bite valve, which opens the flow of water by applying pressure, comes with an included cover.

Twist lock protects against leaks. Amazon

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The Platypus Big Zip has a three-liter capacity, and features a switchable tube set-up that can plug into either the bottom or a connection point halfway up the bladder. The zip-top is easy to fill, and the durable plastic reservoir, which features dual-layer construction, uses silver-ion technology to help prevent bacterial growth. The bite valve features a twist lock for additional protection against leaks, but it doesn’t come with a cap to keep out dirt—that needs to be purchased separately.

Rigid backplate. Amazon

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This two-liter hydration bladder has an easy slide-seal top opening that closes tightly, but also provides wide access for easy filling and cleaning. A rigid backplate makes it easier to insert the bladder into a backpack’s hydration sleeve, even when the pack is fully loaded—but that does add some weight. The bite valve can be locked with a quarter-turn twist to help prevent leaks, and the whole unit is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

Hydroguard inhibits bacterial growth. Amazon

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This hydration bladder, which holds three liters of water, features an easy-open snap closure on the reservoir that makes refilling or cleaning the system a … well, a snap. The large ergonomic handle is easy to grab and go, and a self-sealing bite valve prevents leaks. CamelBak uses its “Hydroguard” technology that inhibits bacterial growth, and the bladder is made from 100 percent BPA-, BPS-, and BPF-free plastic.

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