Wearing hydration packs when exercising has so many upsides that they are the first thing athletes look to when it comes to hydration. So, it’ll come as no surprise that packs of all sizes and for all sorts of activities are equipped with a special compartment for a hydration bladder and a channel for the hose to pass through.
Thankfully, most of these bladders have undergone an antibacterial treatment and are made of BPA-free plastic. Bisphenol A is a synthetic compound used to make polycarbonate, but it’s also one that can be harmful to your health. So, when buying water bottles, camping cutlery and tableware and other plastic products, make sure they are BPA free!
Even with the antibacterial treatment and a BPA-free production, it is extremely important to clean and care for your hydration system properly and on a regular basis so that it not only looks clean but really IS clean!
In the following, we are going to give you some advice on how to clean and care for your hydration system properly not only to increase its longevity but also to keep you healthy.
The proper care for your hydration bladder
It is best to store hydration systems in a cool, dry place. This will help to prevent the growth of bacteria, which thrive in warm, damp places. You should also refrain from drying the bladder in the direct sunlight, as this will preserve the elasticity of the plastic and prevent the material from becoming brittle.
It is important to keep your bladder in the appropriate compartment away from your other gear, especially sharp objects, and to attach it on the inside. The hose runs straight up from the bottom of the bladder along one of the shoulder straps. Make sure it doesn’t have any kinks in it. If your hydration system is equipped with a shut-off valve, be careful when opening and closing it so that it doesn’t break.
Fastening the hose
In addition, it is wise to take care when attaching the hose to the bladder if you have a removable one. If you love mountain biking through muddy terrain, we recommend keeping your mouthpiece closed with a protective lid, provided your hydration system has one. If it doesn’t or you’d just prefer your water supply to be more easily accessible when you’re on the go, use the lid when you store and transport the bladder, instead. The lid can be attached to the mouthpiece or hose using an elastic band.
For even more comfort and convenience, we recommend you get a magnetic holder or clip for your mouthpiece. These magnetic clips make accessing your mouthpiece much easier than a regular hose clamp. Of course, you don’t necessarily need an extra clip. You can use the loops on the straps to keep your hose is place as well. When it comes to choosing between a screw top opening and a flip-top closure, only you can decide what is best for you. However, keep in mind that some screw top openings match the threads of water filters. Flip-top closures, however, have the advantage that they have a larger opening, which makes cleaning the inside much easier.
There are also a bunch of add-ons for colder or warmer weather, including insulated sip tubes and insulated bladders. These serve to keep your water cold or your tea hot when you’re on the go. Plus, a neoprene cover will protect the plastic from wear resulting from the difference between the temperature of the liquid and the outside temperature. Ski hydration packs are often already equipped with an insulated tube.
How and how often should I clean my hydration system?
As a general rule, it is best to fill up your bladder with tap water or, even better, mineral water. Of course, you can always opt to filter your tap water instead. When using unfiltered tap water or liquid with additives, such as tea or water with vitamin powder, it is important to clean your hydration system more frequently and remove stubborn deposits.
Clean the bladder, mouthpiece and hose after each use with hot (but not boiling) water (approximately 60°C) with some washing-up liquid and allow it to dry completely. This will kill the germs and allow you to rinse out any dirt. On occasion, you can soak these same components in vinegar and rinse them out with clean water in order to remove any stubborn deposits.
The hydration system should be cleaned mechanically after three uses at the very most. If you were out playing in the mud, dirtying up your hydration system in the process, you’ll need to clean it straight away so that no dirt, sand or mud dries up on or inside of the components. You’ll be happy to know that there are special hydration pack cleaning kits. They consist of a long round brush for cleaning the bladder and a long brush for the hose. Use these along with some warm water and some washing-up liquid and gently scrub the interior of the bladder and hose. Then rinse them out thoroughly. Some sets include a special flat cleaning gadget you can use to wash the bladder, but a cloth will do the trick as well.
This probably goes without saying, but you should also wash the mouthpiece with a cloth and some washing-up liquid. Then you can disinfect all of the parts using denture cleaner. Sounds weird, I know, but it works extremely well. It’ll also work on the lids of your water bottles and other camping tableware and cutlery. After washing and removing the visible dirt and deposits from your hydrations system, just throw a denture cleaner tablet in a glass or the sink and let your mouthpiece or lid soak. Then rinse the parts off and voilà! No more yucky germs!
Replacement parts and accessories for hydration bladders
If something breaks or an important component is just so old that you can’t use it anymore, you should be able to find a replacement pretty easily, regardless of whether it’s a mouthpiece, hose or bladder lid. The clips for the strap on your pack are replaceable as well.
Despite proper care and frequent washes, there will come a time when your hydration system needs to be replaced. But, don’t worry, with the proper care, it won’t be for a long time. By thoroughly cleaning your hydration system, you’ll increase its longevity significantly! So, grab a brush and some denture cleaner and get to work!