Want to streamline your backpacking hydration setup? Here's how to build a convenient and lightweight system from among all the bottles and bladders out there.

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This is about more than just moving water down the trail. A good backpacking water system is:

What to Look For

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Easy to drink from while walking Convenient for cooking and drinking at camp Easy to refill mid-day Seamlessly compatible with your water filter Expandable for long carries and dry camps Lightweight

You might be surprised to hear long-distance backpackers love these disposable bottles (but we reuse them for months). Pros: light, cheap, fit well in pack pockets, compatible with filters Cons: fragile, disposable, bulky when empty, hard to drink from if you can't reach your pack pocket

Smartwater Bottles

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Collapsible bottles are perfect for extra capacity that's only needed sometimes.  Pros: light, fold down small when empty, great for backflushing filters Cons: hard to slide in and out of pack pockets, hard to fill from standing water

Flexible Soft Bottles

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Hydration bladders offer the easiest sipping but come with drawbacks for other parts of backpacking. Pros: large capacity, easy to drink from, weight is close to center of gravity Cons: harder to refill, can't see how much is left, less convenient for camp

Hydration Bladder

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This clever system combines the benefits of hydration bladders and bottles for the best of both worlds.  Pros: easy to drink from, monitor, and refill Cons: fewer options available, not quite as refined as other options

Bottle + Hose

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Read the full post at Exploring Wild:

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This interactive trip planning guide is packed with checklists, key questions, and recommendations to take the worry out of planning your first or biggest backpacking trip.