Hydration bladders are a necessity in mountain biking because they allow riders to drink easily without having to stop their ride. This ensures that the rider is hydrated so that they can ride faster, longer, and safer.
However, there are many people saying that hydration bladders don’t last long. Well, that isn’t entirely true because its lifespan depends on many factors.
This article aims to dive deep into that issue and discuss how long do these hydration bladders usually last. We’ll also show you the things that can affect its longevity as well as when is the right time to buy a new bladder.
How long will a hydration bladder last?
There is no single answer to this because it really all depends on many factors such as how you use them, where you’ll use them, and the kind of riding you do. The way you use the bladder also plays a huge role in how long it’ll last.
However, bladders usually last around 6 to 12 months or a year for most mid-end variants. The premium ones such as those from Osprey and Camelbak bladder usually last longer.
But this can be argued because the frequency of use can also lower the lifespan of the bladder. There are also some cases when the bladder just lasts for around a month at least.
On the other hand, some hydration pack bladders last for 3 to 5 years or even more as long as you take good care of their individual parts such as the shoulder straps and bite valve.
Also, make it a habit to dry completely your backpack and deep clean it regularly with hot water and baking soda, just like how you’d clean water bottles.
What are the factors affecting hydration bladder lifespan?
The first thing that can have a huge effect on the lifespan of your bladder hydration pack is the storage capacity or the amount of water that you put into it. The more water you put in, the more it flexes.
Note that bladders are made of a special kind of rubber. But they can stretch and flex if they’re filled with too much water.
This can then damage the material and cause it to have leaks, which is common in other packs and cheaper water reservoir brands.
We recommend that you don’t fill the bladder fully. It’s best you just limit the water you put into hydration packs to around 80% to 90% of how much space it can take in so that there won’t be too much pressure.
Also make sure that it still has space for other things like a first aid kit, paper towels, extra gear, and even lip balm or denture cleaning tablets, especially if you’re a bit picky with your things.
Frequency of use
How often you use the bladder will also have an effect on its lifespan. It won’t last long if you use it often. Meanwhile, if you just use hydration packs occasionally, then it makes sense for it to last longer.
But this isn’t always the case because the rubber material of the bladder can deteriorate if it stays in a static position for a long time.
This means that hydration packs can deteriorate on their own if it doesn’t move, or more specifically, it isn’t used. We recommend that you use your bladder at least once a week or every other week and don’t bite the bite valve very strongly because the bite valve can leak.
Remember that the bite valve is a crucial part of your drinking hose, so make sure it’s well taken care of during bike rides.
Hydration packs bite valves are also sensitive parts so you need to be careful with them. This ensures that the hydration pack and hydration reservoir aren’t used that much, but also isn’t left to deteriorate on its own.
Also, take note of how you use the other parts such as the shoulder strap. Shoulder straps can deteriorate if you put too much pressure on them such as carrying heavy things.
You should also make sure that you properly clean your bladder so that it will last long.
We recommend you use lemon juice, hot water or warm water and baking soda to get rid of accumulated dust and mold growth that are usually found on the storage space, extra layer of fabric, drinking hose, hip belt pockets, water reservoir, bite valves, and zippered pockets.
You should also make sure that the water reservoir is dry completely after your deep clean routine. It shouldn’t also have the stains coming from the baking soda. You can do this by washing it thoroughly with hot water or warm water while putting the bladder upside down along with its extra layers and extra pockets.
Doing a deep clean might be tiring especially if you always do it every after a ride. However, this is important especially if you have one of the best hydration packs like Osprey packs.
The kind of backpack you have is also a factor because this is where you place the bladder. It’s best if you choose a backpack that is specifically designed for your bladder or hydration reservoir.
An example would be to use the default and stock bag that comes with the bladder or water bottles you bought.
This ensures that they are compatible with each other and that there won’t be any problem with the fit and connections of the hydration pack, which then avoids any damage to the bladder and hydration reservoir.
Make sure that you choose the right backpack. Aside from the safety factor, you will also make your kids excited about the next mountain biking ride or trip outdoors if ever they have their own hydration packs.
Your riding discipline is a huge factor in determining how long your hydration bladder will last.
If you are into light mountain biking such as cross country, then expect the hydration packs bladder to last longer because you are less likely to crash, and in the process, avoid damaging your bag and bladder inside, along with the right shoulder strap on most packs.
Meanwhile, you can expect to have a shorter hydration pack lifespan if you’re into enduro because you’re going to need a lot of water which then can stretch hydration backpacks and damage the material.
Secondly, you are also more likely to crash on rough trails because you ride in technical and sketchy offroad sections along with your hydration packs or hydration reservoir.
These are even amplified if you’re into downhill riding because you’re going on very aggressive trails and you use the hydration system of your hydration reservoir harder than ever, which is more prone to usage abuse.
The climate can also affect the longevity of your hydration pack. If you always fridge in a warm and hot climate, you can expect it to not last that long because the UV rays of the sun can have a detrimental effect on the rubber material found on the hydration pack bladder’s surface.
Meanwhile, you can expect your hydration pack bladder to last longer if you’re always out in cold weather because the low temperature neutralizes the UV rays and puts the hydration pack in a more relaxed position. You can also air-dry the drink tube of the hydration pack and water reservoir for extended periods for a more thorough cleaning.
The way you take care of the hydration pack bladder obviously affects its lifespan. If you always clean and wash the drinking tube with dish soap, lemon juice, and baking soda every after the ride, then you can expect it to last longer for years.
But if you just leave it as is, then expect your hydration bladder and hydration system to have a shorter bladder lifespan. The dirt, grime, and sediments inside it, as well as the grease from your saliva, can all have a detrimental effect on the bladder.
Remember the tips we’ve mentioned in this article, and always do your best to clean the bladder every after ride. But also don’t compromise your riding style just for the sake of prolonging its use. Just enjoy the outdoors and keep hydrated all the time without using water bottles.