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Badlands Hydration Reservoir Review

A four-season bladder that'll slow your water from freezing in the tube during cold weather and prevents water from heating up in the tube in hot weather
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Price:  $40 List
Pros:  Insulated tube, lightweight, easy to use and store, slim profile works with many packs
Cons:  Some reported durability issues, slower flow rate, harder to use mouthpiece
Manufacturer:   Badlands
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 11, 2020
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 11
  • Ease of Use - 25% 7
  • Ease of Care - 25% 6
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 7
  • Quality and Durability - 15% 5
  • Weight and Packability - 15% 8

Our Verdict

Looking to keep your water liquid in the winter? The Badlands Hydration Reservoir bladder uses an insulated tube that'll help you accomplish this feat. So many times we've been skiing and had our tubes freeze up on this as it is exposed to colder temperatures. While frequently blowing the water back into the bladder is a tried and true technique, the coldest weather still warrants additional insulation. After many in-field and objective tests we've learned that this will keep the water in your tube liquid longer, but won't completely prevent it from freezing. We also appreciate the ultra-packable, lightweight, and easy to fill design. We just wish it had a higher flow rate through the mouthpiece.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Struggling with frozen tubes in the winter? Hazaar! This system features a unique insulated hose which makes it versatile for year-round use. Use it throughout the winter to help avoid frozen water in your tube. Store it easily and/or switch out the tube for a regular one if you need it. This unique bladder is offered at a decent price but doesn't offer the best flow with some reported durability issues.

Performance Comparison


A look at the Badlands hydration bladder with its insulating tube.
A look at the Badlands hydration bladder with its insulating tube.

Ease of Use


The most unique feature of the Badlands hydration bladder is its use throughout all seasons. While many other bladders struggle with frozen tubes in the winter, this one offers additional insulation that prevents the tube from freezing longer than others. We also like its compatibility with other tubes and mouthpieces manufactured by HydraPak. Unfortunately, it's flow isn't as fast as others, but it still makes for easy hydration on the trail.

The tube diameter is still wide  but the mouthpiece is small which means the flow isn't as fast as other bite valves. The locking mechanism requires two hands for use but works well.
The tube diameter is still wide, but the mouthpiece is small which means the flow isn't as fast as other bite valves. The locking mechanism requires two hands for use but works well.

The mouthpiece is smaller than most you'd find on the market and isn't considered "high flow" by our testers. When running and backpacking with this mouthpiece, it didn't leak on us, even when kept in it's unlocked position. We also appreciate the cover it comes with which keeps unwanted dirt and grime from getting into its cracks and crevices. It is super easy to flick off with just one finger and drink almost immediately. We love to use it for running because of this quick access.

It doesn't come with any clips for security  but we do appreciate how light it is! We also like the cover it comes it to prevent the bite valve from getting dirty.
It doesn't come with any clips for security, but we do appreciate how light it is! We also like the cover it comes it to prevent the bite valve from getting dirty.

The quick connector at the base of the does require lubrication periodically (or it will fail) and is simple to use. The button at the base releases the tube. If you have another bladder made by HydraPak, chances are you can switch out the tube. The mouthpiece also pops out from the tube and can be swapped with any other mouthpiece you like (if it has the right anatomy). The locking mechanism isn't the smoothest and takes both hands to open and close.

The quick connect is compatible with several types of hydration hoses. The CamelBak Crux here fits easily into the bladder.
The quick connect is compatible with several types of hydration hoses. The CamelBak Crux here fits easily into the bladder.

Insulation Tests- How well does the tube insulation actually work?

This hydration bladder itself isn't insulated (just the tube is insulated), but natural insulation is typically found in the form of a backpack and the clothes you stuff into it. This naturally prevents the body of the bladder from freezing during super cold weather. In our insulative properties test, we took the time to simulate real-life conditions and tested this insulated tube in both the field and at home in our freezer.

Here we test how quickly the tubes freeze amongst competitors.
Here we test how quickly the tubes freeze amongst competitors.

To check to see how the tube actually insulated and prevented water from freezing, we performed a couple of tests. First, we put three bladders into the freezer to see how quickly each would freeze. During this test, the insulated tube of the Badlands proved to resist freezing about twice as long as an uninsulated tube that we included for comparison's sake. Know this isn't a completely freeze-proof system, but it buys you more time. While using it cross country skiing in sub-zero conditions, we never had issues with it freezing up, as we likely drank frequently enough from the tube to continually replace the water in the tube. The bladder and half the tube being nuzzled into insulation in the backpack helps this process. All in all, this won't prevent water from freezing, but it'll prolong it's liquid state longer than a regular bladder.

We enjoy some cross-country skiing in the backcountry while temperatures drop. The Badlands model provides tube insulation that keeps it from freezing longer.
We enjoy some cross-country skiing in the backcountry while temperatures drop. The Badlands model provides tube insulation that keeps it from freezing longer.

Ease of Care


This bladder is cared for similar to others, except for the tube. If it needs to be cleaned, unclip the hose and flip it inside out. Load it into the top of a dishwasher or scrub clean with a mild soap. Alternately, you can fill it and drop in cleaning tablets.

For easy cleaning  simply load it up in the top rack of the dishwasher  inside out.
For easy cleaning, simply load it up in the top rack of the dishwasher, inside out.

The hose and mouthpiece are much more difficult to clean. Since you can't see through the material, you don't know if it's super dirty or not. We found being diligent about rinsing it out is important to keep it serviced and clean. The mouthpiece can be removed, but can't be disassembled like other bladders. We recommend simply putting into a cleaning solution to cleanse it of bacteria. However, when we were doing this, we were never really sure if it got clean. As a result, it doesn't earn a high score in this category, even though it is dishwasher safe and can be flipped inside out.

Ease of Filling


The filling is pretty simple, but this bladder has no fancy features. The slide-top can easily be filled under a sink, water spigot, or stream. It has no additional handle, so we pinched the sides of the bladder to open it up.

Easily fill under a sink.
Easily fill under a sink.

Quality and Durability


This bladder features the same quality and durability as any bladder from HydraPak. The material is puncture resistant and will last you for a few years. It uses the same clip in technology as its other bladders, which we've found to fail after a few years of use. The clip gets gummed up and the connection isn't useful anymore. While we didn't experience this in our testing period (which was only a couple of months), this is something we've unfortunately come to expect from these bladders. But who knows…maybe this won't be your experience! To maintain it, be sure to lubricate the quick connect to keep it working in the long run.

The quick connection at the base of the hydration bladder can get gummed up over time with proper lubrication.
The quick connection at the base of the hydration bladder can get gummed up over time with proper lubrication.

While we didn't have any issue with leakage, there are several online reviews that discuss issues with leakage at both the bite valve and quick connect. While these experiences might be out of the "norm" (as there are many more positive reviews), it's an important note to make that this is far from a "workhorse" bladder and can't be thrown around. Treat it with care, keep it inside a backpack, and don't expect it to resist punctures if you're trying to store it without additional protection.

Weight and Packability


This bladder can easily be rolled up and stored in a small pack. The insulated tube is surprisingly light (only 2.1 oz) which is only a few ounces heavier than the normal HydraPak tube.

A look at the Badlands insulated bladder in a larger 60L backpacking backpack.
A look at the Badlands insulated bladder in a larger 60L backpacking backpack.

The total weight of this bladder + insulative tubing is 5.2 oz, making it one of the lightest bladders tested. Its slim profile easily fits into running packs, backpacking backpacks, and hydration packs while it's hanger is compatible with most. We're impressed with the weight of this hydration bladder, even with the added luxury of an insulated tube.

This lightweight and packable hydration system will fit into hydration vests and packs. It's also compatible with many different types of hanging tabs.
This lightweight and packable hydration system will fit into hydration vests and packs. It's also compatible with many different types of hanging tabs.

Value


The Badlands bladder is a versatile one with plenty of value. While it may not be the most durable, it offers functionality in both warm and cold climates, resisting tube freezing when temperatures really drop. Backpackers and ski tourers alike will find this bladder of considerable value as it adds versatility to its use. The price is about average for a 3L system as well.

We enjoy using the Badlands bladder while trail running  skiing  and adventuring through all four seasons.
We enjoy using the Badlands bladder while trail running, skiing, and adventuring through all four seasons.

Conclusion


The Badlands Hydration Reservoir stands out or its insulative tube feature. Not only is it a great choice for those that love to hike and backpack in the summer, but it'll also keep your exposed tube from freezing when the temperatures plummet in the winter.

Amber King