Our Editors' Choice stands out for its innovative pressurization system. At first, it seems contrived and complicated - only something a serious gear geek would buy. However, the more we use it, the more we learn that it could have a place in anybody's gear closet.
Ashley enjoys a cool drink at the crag with our Editors' Choice winner.
Ease of Use
This is by far the easiest hydration bladder to drink from. The pressure system sprays the water without the need to suck at all. Simply bite down, and water will come! The bite valve is smaller than the CamelBak Crux but because of the pressurized system, it didn't have any major performance differences (except when depressurized).
A huge benefit to the spray function is that we turned our bladder into sun shower and a way to clean off ourselves, animals, and equipment before getting into our vehicle. We also like the option of a shower after long days on the trail or to remove sand post-surf.
The Hydration Engine features a flip top construct that is long and thin. It fits nicely into packs and stays pressurized for easy water access.
Initially, part of our skepticism with the pressurized system is it felt like it was solving a problem that didn't exist. All the hydration systems we tested are relatively easy to drink from. However, the benefits don't exist so much in how easy it is to drink from, but the variety of uses it fulfills when pressurized.
A look at the air connection. The bulb pumps air into the bladder to keep it pressurized. When you want to take out air, simply depress the button next to the pump bulb. Easy peasy.
Our biggest caveats with the bite valve are that the on and off switch is pretty difficult to turn, and actually got stuck when not adequately cared for. We prefer switch-locks like on the Crux instead. We are also surprised that this bladder did not have a measurement system on the side of the bag. This made filling more difficult when we were trying to be very specific with the amount of water we wanted to carry on trail runs. We would recommend any other bladder if you're interested in one with a measurement.
Jack isn't too pleased with this cleaning method, but we are! The pressurized system makes cleaning off paws and drinking on the trail a breeze.
If you're not a fan of the bite valve, switch the tube and valve out with whichever you prefer. All quick-release hoses in this review were compatible with this bladder.
Ease of Cleaning
This is the easiest bladder to clean. It is one of the two reservoirs manufactured by HydraPak that is advertised as dishwasher safe. Not only is it easy to clean because of the huge opening, it is very easy to dry.
This makes it a good option to use with sports drinks where the sugary residue breeds bacteria if you are not on top of it. That said, you still have the challenge of keeping the tubes clean if you are using sports drinks. Geigerrig claims that with the pressurized system, it actually keeps the tubes cleaner by eliminating backwash when forcing liquids through, which makes sense.
Take a look at this video
to see how to clean the tubes of this bladder.
Ease of Filling
This bladder is relatively easy to fill. In a deep kitchen sink, it is very easy to fill. In a shallow bathroom or camping sink, it can be hard to get the reservoir full and tricky to keep the bottom of the reservoir from touching the sink (only critical in funky campground bathrooms).
This bladder excelled at collecting water from slowly trickling streams. You can unfold the top, place it on the substrate, and allow the water trickle in - a great use if you're stuck in the middle of the woods.
The flip top technology comes with simple instructions! Fold the top and seal with the lid closure. The wide top makes for easy filling in both streams and sinks.
sells filtration systems that easily clip into the tube including the Crypto Filter
and G4 125 FL Virus Filter
). A cool feature that avoids waiting for iodine to kick in or work laboriously to pump water through a Water Filter
Quality and Durability
Manufactured by HydraPak, this has a similar quality rating as other packs like the HydraPak and Osprey. However, it earns a higher rating because it integrates a nylon fabric that protects the bladder from wear and tear. This is especially helpful when stuffing and pressurizing the system inside of a backpacking pack filled with many items.
A look at the seams and construction of the four main bladder types. Top left: HydraPak varieties (hosted in Osprey, Geigerigg, and HydraPak) feature seamless technology with minimal welded seams. Top right: The CamelBak features smaller, more durable seams. Bottom left: Platypus features large seams that we could literally pull apart. Bottom Right: MSR features super strong welds in the fabric outer.
Weight and Packability
Even with the additional compartment (with a nylon exterior), pressure valve, extra quick release, and tube, this is one of most lightweight bladders tested. Weighing in at only 5.85 oz, it's an excellent option for lightweight adventures. That said, if you add the pump, it becomes one of the heaviest by another ounce. It is not insanely heavy, but light hikers and backpackers may scoff at this extra feature.
This is a versatile bladder with many applications. It really does excel in most sports - especially day hiking, mountain biking, dirt biking, and any other activity where moving as absolutely light as possible is not essential. We found ourselves reaching for lighter options while trail running, but we brought it along for unconventional activities like SUPing and surfing, mostly so we could rinse ourselves (and our gear) off before heading home for the day.
Take this bladder backpacking, hiking, or trekking. It'll keep moving with you as far as you need to go.
This is one of the more expensive hydration bladders. At $49, it is a little more expensive. Unless you're specifically looking for a pressurized system, there are many other non-pressurized systems with a better value.
While at first, we weren't sure about the value of a pressurized system, we are now believers. We love the versatility and creativity in this system. We are always finding new uses, from pet cleaning to showering. We originally thought this would be a product for gear nerds, but its uses extend past the tech-obsessed outdoor user.
Using the Geigerrig Hydration Engine as a sun shower after surfing.