Gear Hack: Refill Your Backpack Hydration Reservoir from Water Bottles or Filters
As I’ve explained before, I use hydration reservoirs almost exclusively over water bottles when I’m hiking. For me, I drink more, stay hydrated, and make better time along the trail when I can easily drink from the tube without stopping.
One of the biggest challenges with water bladders for backpacks is refilling them along the trail. Whether you’re hiking a remote section of the Appalachian Trail or passes through towns along the Camino de Santiago, removing the hydration bladder from your pack to refill it is a pain. For the last few years, I’ve been hacking my water reservoir so that I can refill it without ever removing it from my backpack.
HOW TO REFILL BACKPACK HYDRATION RESERVOIR FROM WATER BOTTLES OR FILTERS
This step-by-step guide will help you create a refill hose for your backpack hydration reservoir so that you can quickly refill it from SmartWater style bottles or collapsible water bottles without removing the reservoir from your rucksack. At the end of this instruction, you NOTE: This method also allows you to refill your water bladder directly from a Sawyer Squeeze Backpack Water Filter.
Backpack Water Reservoir – I recommend the Platypus Big Zip Evo model (specifically the EVO) because of it’s larger drinking tube, making it easier to drink and easier to refill.
Osprey Replacement Water Bladder Hose – I recommend the Osprey for quality and for its alternate hose color.
Refillable Water Bottle – I recommend the collapsible Evernew Water Carry (900ML or 1.5L) or repurposing Smart Water brand bottles for fit.
- Disconnect the blue drinking tube from your empty Platypus Big Zip Evo reservoir at the quick connect and set the drinking tube aside.
- Attach the white female quick connect from the Sawyer Fast Fill Adaptor Pack to the clear Osprey Replacement Water Bladder Hose. Press firmly to ensure a complete seal.
- Connect the white female quick connect to the male connector of your water bladder. Measure 12″ – 24″ of clear hose and cut the clear hose at that point.
- Insert the blue bottle connector from the Sawyer Fast Fill Adaptor Pack into the open end of the clear hose. Press firmly to ensure a complete seal.
At this point, you should now have two hoses that can quickly connect and disconnect from your water bladder reservoir: the original blue hose for drinking and the clear hose that you have created for refilling.
To refill your hydration bladder, simply disconnect the blue hose and attach the clear hose. Fill the collapsible Evernew Water Carry or repurposed Smart Water brand bottles with water and then attach to the blue bottle connector. Invert the bottle and give a short squeeze to start the gravity transfer into your hydration reservoir.
If water flow stops or slows due to airlock, loosen the bottle connection slightly to allow air transfer (you should see bubbles displacing the water.) You may have to do this one or two times per refill until you get a feel for the right bottle tightness.
Husband. Father. Backpacker. Pilgrim. Author.
My recent treks include the Camino de Santiago through Portugal and Spain as well as section hiking along the Florida Trail and the Appalachian Trail. In 2020 and 2021, I’m walking the California Missions Trail in the United States, as well as England’s ancient Pilgrims’ Way from London to Canterbury. Afterward, I’ll begin the Via Francigena, the historic way in Europe connecting Canterbury to Rome.