Bottle or bladder? The debate over which is better continues to rage, with both sides claiming superiority. When it comes to choosing a bladder or a bottle personal preference reigns supreme. If you’re struggling to pick a side this handy pro/con list might help. 

Woman hiking with Recon water bottle

Bottles Pros

1. Easy to assess volume 

Providing your bottle is transparent like a Recon one glance is all you need to know exactly how much you have left. 

2. Easy to add electrolytes

The wide and sturdy mouth of a water bottle makes it straightforward to add flavoured and electrolyte-rich powders when you're on the go. 

3. Can double as a hottie at night

On chilly nights outdoors there is nothing nicer than feeling your toes defrost on a bottle of hot water. Bonus cosy time when you pop it in the foot of your sleeping bag like a hottie. 

4. Easy to Clean

Water bottles tend to have fewer moving parts, making them more straightforward to clean. 

Bottle Cons

1. Hard to drink on the go 

With a bottle there is often the need to stop moving to unscrew a lid or twist a cap, inhibiting  hydration uptake. This stopping and starting can get frustrating. While taking a break is a good thing your hydration could suffer. 

2. Bulky

Unlike bladders, bottles don’t deflate as you drink or compress down. Even when empty a bottle stays the same size, taking up precious space in your pack or day bag. 

3. Heavy 

Rigid water bottles tend to be weighty, and water is heavy. That’s a lot to carry on your back.  

4. The slosh factor 

Water in a bottle will tend to move as you do. When water is replaced by air the remaining hydration has more space to slosh, and it does!  


Hydrapak hydration bladder

Bladder Pros

1. Huge Capacity

Some water bladders can hold huge volumes. The common 1.5L is just a starting point. The option of greater capacity is amazing when you’re hiking for long periods without reliable access to water. 

2. Walk uninterrupted

Sip without breaking your stride. It’s easy to drink without having to stop, rummage through your gear, unscrew a lid, and tip the bottle to your mouth.

3. Comfortable 

Water bladders are flexible. They form around your body and belongings, so you’re never being stabbed in the kidney by a misplaced bottle at a jaunty angle. 

4. Self-sufficient 

You’ll never have to ask a mate to go into your backpack to fish out a water bottle. You can manage your own hydration. 

5. Hands free

If you're using trekking poles or hunting carrying a weapon, being able to hydrate hands free is a huge plus.  


Bladder Cons

1. Warming

If you’re not using an insulated bladder your body heat can warm your water, which isn’t pleasant.   

2. Difficulty assessing what's left 

Because the reservoir is hidden away in your pack, you have to fish around to find out how much you have left. This can be a little annoying. 

3. No great gulps  

Designed to be sipped at over a long period of time, a great guzzling of water is virtually impossible.  

4. Specialist cleaning 

While you can usually chuck the body of your bladder in the dishwasher, getting the hoses properly clean requires specialist tools. 


In order to figure out if you're Team Bladder or Team Bottle spending a bit of time with both can help make up your mind. Whichever camp you find yourself in the main thing is you're staying hydrated when you're out exploring. 

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