What Can You Put In A Hydration Bladder?

You've probably heard that you shouldn’t drink anything other than water from your hydration pack. And while it’s not necessarily bad advice, it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. 

Sure, your bladder will tend to absorb the flavor of whatever you put into it, sugary drinks promote the growth of mold and bacteria, and carbonated drinks will quickly flatten and could damage your bladder.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t drink anything other than water from your hydration pack. It’s often just less convenient to do so. 

Sports drinks, coffee, tea, juice, and alcohol are all okay to put in your hydration bladder. At least as long as you clean your bladder thoroughly immediately after every use and don’t mind having your bladder absorb some of the flavor of whatever you’re drinking.  

However, it's generally best to avoid carbonated drinks. They can pressurize and potentially damage your bladder and will flatten and get gross pretty quickly anyway. That means no beer and no soda. 

If you stick to only drinking water from your hydration pack, you’ll have to worry less about mold, will save a lot of time cleaning, and your bladder will taste fresher.

But as long as you understand the downsides, it’s really your call. 

Can You Put Gatorade In A Hydration Bladder?

Some of the most popular drinks to put in a hydration bladder, aside from water, are Gatorade and other sports drinks. 

After all, when you’re using a hydration pack you’re usually moving around a lot and sweating buckets. Replenishing all those lost fluids and electrolytes is super important.

But there are two problems. 

First, bacteria and mold will absolutely love the sugar content. Unless you’re very thoroughly washing your bladder immediately after using it, you’re going to have some issues over time.

And second, most hydration bladders will pretty quickly absorb whatever flavor you put into them.

A good alternative to Gatorade and other sugary sports drinks are low-calorie and sugar-free varieties — zero calorie Glacier Freeze is top tier.  

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Sure you may still have to deal with your bladder absorbing some flavor, but at least you won’t be providing all those sugar-loving microorganisms much to feast on. 

Can You Put Alcohol In A Hydration Bladder?

Putting alcohol in a hydration pack is super common at festivals and campgrounds across the states — but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea. 

For a festival or party where you want to go all night and aren't too worried about whether or not your $30 bladder survives the night then absolutely – fill that bad boy up with your favorite spirits and go to town.

But for those who care about their CamelBak it's helpful to know that alcohol will slowly break down the chemical bonds of your bladder, making it brittle and more likely to split at the seams. 

This won't happen overnight, but with regular usage you'll notice your CamelBak doesn't last as long as it might otherwise.

Second, if you thought the flavor and odor that Gatorade leaves behind in a hydration pack is bad, liquor is ten times worse. No matter how well you clean it, that boozy smell and taste are here to stay. 

You can remove bad tastes from your CamelBak bladder using lemon water and this can sometimes work with alcohol. However, it's not guaranteed so expect your water to taste like booze for a while afterwards.

But ultimately, if you don’t mind replacing your reservoir in a year or two and don’t plan to ever drink water from your hydration pack again, go for it. There aren’t really any short term consequences to putting alcohol in a hydration pack. 

Can You Put Beer In A Hydration Bladder?

While some types of alcohol are sort-of-okay to put in a hydration pack, beer is definitely not ideal. 

In addition to the same issues other alcoholic beverages cause, beer is carbonated — meaning that as your beer sloshes around when you move, it’ll quickly become flat, foamy, and all-around nasty.

Drinking your beer through the straw will also cause it to foam up on the way to your mouth giving you a mouth full of foam and just a little bit of beer.

Though I have heard theories that this aeration can make you drunk quicker so if that's what you're going for then maybe it is an ok option for you.

What’s worse, if you fill the bladder too much, the carbonation can pressurize the reservoir, putting it at risk of rupturing or damaging the QuickLink port. This is pretty unlikely as CamelBak bladders don't leak or break often, but it can happen.

If you really want to drink alcohol from your hydration pack, stick to hard liquor, wine, and non carbonated mixed drinks.

Can You Put Soda In A Hydration Bladder?

Soda is one of the absolute last things you should put in a hydration pack. 

Like Gatorade, your bladder will absorb the flavor of the soda and its sugar content will promote the growth of mold and bacteria.

And like beer, as you move around and your soda sloshes inside, it’ll become flat pretty quickly and may cause excessive pressure in your reservoir.

Can You Put Coffee Or Tea In A Hydration Bladder?

Coffee and tea are among the best non-water drinks to put in a hydration pack. 

But there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Don’t put super hot coffee or tea in your hydration pack. Let it cool off a bit first or use iced coffee and iced tea instead. Boiling or near-boiling water may damage your bladder.
  • Coffee in particular is likely to stain your reservoir. CamelBak cleaning tablets and a thorough scrub should help remove them.
  • If you add sugar or creamer to your coffee or tea, remember that the sugars and dairy will promote the growth of mold and bacteria. Clean the bladder thoroughly as soon as you’re done with it. 
  • Your bladder is likely to absorb the taste and odor. The taste and smell of coffee is particularly difficult to remove.