Water bottle versus hydration bladder? It can be a heated debate among backpackers. I’ve been on team hydration bladder for years because I like the convenience of drinking from a hose and can’t reach bottles in my pack’s side pockets. It’s easier for me to stay hydrated with a bladder, but I have to admit that bottles are easier to deal with in every other way.
One Bottle Hydration aims to solve this dilemma by essentially turning your favorite water bottle into a hydration bladder. It’s a simple but brilliant idea that feels like it should be more popular than it is. As soon as I heard about it, I bought one right away with high hopes.
I’ve now used my One Bottle Hydration System (the 28mm Smartwater version) on five backpacking trips, and I’ll definitely use it on my next trip too. It works well and has no major drawbacks, though there is room for refinement in a couple areas. Read on for all the details in my review below.
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One Bottle Review
Price: $28 (Smartwater system with TPU tube)
Weight: 2.8 oz for basic system
Bottle compatibility: Smartwater and other 28mm thread
Other versions compatible with:
Klean Kanteen TKWide
Custom adjustments possible by request
My rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars
Shop One Bottle Hydration at:
What I love:
- Combines best aspects of bottle and hydration bladder
- Easy to drink from
- Light and simple
Could be better:
- Bite valve is not the greatest (but you can swap it out for your favorite)
- A bit expensive, but fair considering it’s made in the US by a tiny company
My conclusion: The One Bottle hydration system combines the best aspects of bottles and hydration bladders: easy drinking, easy refill, and easy monitoring. The adapter cap design is simple, effective, and durable. The bite valve is not my favorite but is easily replaced. Overall I love the system; the 28mm Smartwater bottle version is my new go-to for backpacking hydration.
Why It’s a Great Idea
The One Bottle system makes a ton of sense once you understand the problem it solves. For those who aren’t intimately familiar with the tradeoffs between all the ways of carrying water on a hike, here’s the deal.
Hydration bladders are great for staying hydrated because they’re super-easy to drink from. But they’re annoying to refill in a stuffed pack (even when filtering through the hose, due to pressure on the bag) and it’s almost impossible to see how much water you have left. They are also prone to building up mildew, can potentially spring a leak in your pack, and some people don’t like drinking from plastic.
Bottles are faster to refill and make monitoring water supply much easier, but are less convenient to drink from. For some combinations of people and backpacks they can be reached while hiking, but some of us can’t get the bottles out of our side pockets and back in again without help. Some people also like bottles that are insulated or non-plastic, features you won’t find in any hydration bladder.
The One Bottle system combines the easy refill and monitoring of a favorite bottle with the convenient drinking of a hydration hose. It really is the best of both worlds. You might wonder if there’s some major drawback that negates the benefits, but for me there isn’t. The system works as advertised.
Parts of the System
Here’s what came with my Smartwater / 28mm thread hydration kit:
- Injection molded adapter cap that fits a Smartwater bottle (or other common bottles using 28mm threads) and allows the hose to pass into the bottle
- 43″ long TPU hose with standard 1/4″ inner diameter and 3/8″ outer diameter (also available with Silicone tube for $11 extra if you’re trying to reduce the amount of plastic in your life)
- Plastic clip for securing bite valve to backpack strap
- Extra bottle cap
- For an additional cost you can also add an insulated hose cover and 3D printed valve cover.
The hose slides through the adapter cap and reaches down to the bottom of the bottle. The amount of hose inside the bottle is adjustable, so it will fit any size bottle as long as the cap fits the bottle’s mouth. There are currently six different cap designs to fit most popular bottles, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more are added to the lineup.
The injection molded cap is the heart of the system, and it’s a simple yet effective design. It screws onto my bottles easily and feels durable. The rubber grommet seals around the hose and holds it in place, but also allows it to slide in or out as needed to adjust the amount of hose in the bottle. With the cap screwed on tightly I have not experienced any leaks, even with the bottle lying on its side.
My biggest worry about the One Bottle system was that it would be hard to drink from if a vacuum formed inside the rigid bottle. Too much sucking gets tiring fast on a long hike. Fortunately, once I widened the slit in the bite valve as mentioned above I’ve found it easy to drink from. I feel just a tad more resistance than drinking from my hydration bladder, but it’s not a big deal.
The ease of drinking is made possible by a clever vent and valve system that lets air in but prevents water from leaking out. The little clear rubber sticky-outy-bit is the stem of an “umbrella valve” that covers the vent. This explains why it’s possible to drink without creating a vacuum inside a rigid bottle but no water leaks out when the bottle is tilted sideways. Smart!
Hose and Valve
The full system includes a hose and bite valve, but the adapter cap is really the star of the show. The hose is standard and the valve is just so-so. The 28mm version is available separately without the hose and bite valve for $8 less, which is worth considering if you’re using a 28mm threaded bottle.
The hose is a standard 3/8″ outer diameter (1/4″ inner diameter), just like the ones that come with most hydration bladders. If you already have one sitting around you can use it with the One Bottle adapter cap (just remove the bit that attaches to the hydration bladder, or snip the hose right above it). Or you can buy one, like the Platypus drink tube.
The bite valve in the One Bottle kit is not my favorite. The website even includes instructions for how to widen the slit with a knife, which I did because the flow rate was too low. I much prefer bite valves from Hydrapak, Platypus, or Osprey for their higher flow rate, easier operation, and more comfortable mouth feel.
All that said, the One Bottle kit is a better value than buying the adapter cap, hose, and bite valve separately. And if you want the silicone tube option then One Bottle’s kit is unique.
Before buying the One Bottle system I tried a cheap Amazon alternative, the Lixada Drink Tube, which I no longer use. Though the One Bottle system is a few dollars more expensive, I recommend it over the Lixada.
The Lixada’s biggest issue was a very obvious plastic taste that didn’t go away with a few days of use. It felt really unhealthy and I just couldn’t stomach it. Also, it’s a bit more complicated with more plastic parts that don’t feel as durable. Finally, it fits Smartwater bottles fine but isn’t available for other bottle types, which is obviously a deal breaker if you prefer a different kind of bottle.
The One Bottle system is better on all these counts and worth the few extra dollars in my opinion. Additionally it’s made in the US by a very small company, and the maker Matt offers good customer support and a 5 year warranty.
If you can already drink easily from bottles while hiking, you may not need the One Bottle system. But for everyone else, I suggest giving it a try. It’s strictly better than either a hydration bladder or hard-to-reach bottles, in my opinion.
If you use Smartwater bottles and already have a hose and valve that you like, I recommend buying just the adapter since the hose is standard and the bite valve is not the best.
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Or visit the hiking and backpacking section for lots more.
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