Bladder or hard bottle or perhaps softflask? The answer to this question takes almost religious forms in the scene. I explain to you today the difference and show what you should look for in my eyes.

The liquid intake is elementary for the human body, which is already seen from the fact that the person can get up to an incredible 116 days without food, but after only a few days without water die out. Research assumes that a loss of fluid of ten percent of the body mass or more is fatal. Of course, various companies from the sports industry have also supported this circumstance and are presenting various solutions.

The bladder

Everyone knows them, many grumble about them and few really love them.

Volume: Bladders allow the wearer to carry large amounts of liquid. In my knowledge, bladders are available with a volume of up to 3 litres.

Weight distribution/fit: They look like a sack or A bag. This means that they cover the entire back (depending on the size) and distribute the weight accordingly. There are, however, also a few forms when the bladder is worn around the hips, for example.

Cleaning: Many drinking bubble manufacturers are still putting on narrow openings. This makes it more difficult to fill on the road at food points, as well as cleaning after use.

Advantage: Large volume and wide distribution, almost every backpack manufacturer in the sports sector has models with a drinking bladder. Thanks to the hose, they are well suited to drink during the load. When drinking you have your hands free, which is a great advantage when trail running with sticks or on the bike.

Disadvantage: Even with a large opening, the cleaning of the systems with a drinking bladder is really cumbersome. At the latest with the drinking tube and the bite valve it becomes annoying and you need special brushes. who also had to fill a drinking bladder in a packed backpack knows that it is almost impossible to get them full again without putting the contents of the backpack under water. Once the drinking bubble is removed, it is difficult to get it back in.

What should you pay attention to when buying a drinking bladder?

Make sure that the bladder is BPA-free, because BPA is a substance with hormone-like effect on the body. Make sure that the opening is large enough to make cleaning easier. Make sure that the hose and the bladder are easily separated from each other. Some manufacturers have developed quick locking systems for this purpose. With these closures it is possible to separate the hose from the filled bladder as well. This can be very convenient on the go when filling. Make sure that the cap of the bladder is easy to use. Although rotary closures are easy to use if you want to turn a lid into a solid vessel, but if this vessel is as flexible as a bladder, it can become a bit more difficult. Remember that you should be able to operate the shutter even when the bladder is in the backpack. I prefer bubbles here with a sliding closure.

The Softflask

The Softflask is a mixture of drinking bladder and drinking bottle.

Volume: Softflasks gets from a little 125 ml to just under 700 ml or Basically in the same sizes that you can find under the regular drinking bottles.

Weight distribution/seat: Normaly, Softflasks are transported in the front pockets of the rucksacks and the pockets are designed accordingly. With Softflasks, however, you are flexible enough to be able to transport them in the actual storage space on your back or your hand. There are also handheld systems for Softflasks.

Cleaning: Here, Softflasks does not really differ from drinking bubbles. Usually the opening is far too small and it is not possible to put it into the dishwasher.

Advantage: Unlike drinking bottles made of hard plastic, Softflasks are much more flexible and do not press on the body during transport. They shrink with the removal of the liquid and therefore require less space in the course of a barrel. If they are empty, they can simply be put into any pocket. An empty Softfalsk in the main part of the backpack gives you the flexibility to run on one piece with more fluid than on another.

Disadvantage: As with the bladder, cleaning can be a real pain. To fill up, you have to take the Softflask out of the pockets and then you may have problems when plugging in again. The soft and flexible material quickly becomes a disadvantage.

What should you pay attention to when buying a Softflask?

As with buying a drinking bladder, you should make sure that the material is BPA-free and food-safe. Make sure that the cap is as large as possible so that you can easily clean the Softflasks. Make sure that the bite valve has a high outlet. Nothing is more annoying than if you don’t get your liquid fast enough and you have to suck like a dumb one.

The drinking bottle

The classic, the hard plastic drinking bottle, everyone knows about cycling or football field.

Volume: The usual sizes range from 250 to 750 ml, and rarely up to 1 litre.

Weight distribution/seat: Depending on the backpack, the bottles can sit in pockets on the chest, on the side of the hips, at the lower back or between the shoulder blades. The most comfortable seats are bottles on the back between the shoulder blades or front in the chest pockets. There is the least movement in the body during running, so that the water does not spill. When positioned on or on the hips, the water always spills without a chance. Logical, because this part of the body is moving when running. The upper body, on the other hand, remains almost without rotation and movement and thus it is easy to keep the bottles together with the contents stable. Of course, you can also carry the drinking bottles in a handheld.

Cleaning: Normaly you can put any hard plastic drinking bottle into the dishwasher to have it cleaned there. You may only need to make sure that the lid or clean the silicone valve by hand. However, the vast majority of models also have no problem with this.

Advantage: I always say „every idiot can serve a drinking bottle“. What I mean by this is that at a food point, I can squeeze the bottle into the hand of every helper so that he fills it up and I don’t have to worry about whether he’s going to get the shutter. There’s still a twist lock. Helpers at the VPS are often on the legs for many hours and propose With cold fingers the nights for us around the ears. Almost every drinking bladder has a slightly different closure and so the helper has to rethink every time. I take a drinking bottle out of my backpack and give it to the helper. This can easily fill them up and plug me back in. Without a lot of fumbling on the backpack or the bottle. Simply hold and turn under the outlet of the water canister. A drinking bottle can also be set off simply so as to provide the water with energy powder. Softflasks or drinking bubbles fall.

Disadvantage: They are stubborn and big. Softflasks or drinking bubbles are reduced with a decreasing level and the pressure exerted by them. A drinking bottle made of hard plastic is and remains form-stable. Drinking bottles are usually also heavier than Softflasks comparable size.

What should you pay attention to when buying a drinking bottle?

Again, it applies again, fingers away from BPA and other plasticizers. As a rule, all manufacturers are anxious to banish these substances from their bottles. Make sure that the bottles are also really suitable for the dishwasher, so you save unnecessary work during cleaning. Make sure that the thread of the screw cap is not too fine. A fine thread overturns faster if you don’t want to twist the lid quite a few times in hectic or with cold fingers. Make sure that the bite valve qualitative is of high quality. The valve decides whether and how fast you get the liquid from the bottle and whether you try to beat your teeth or not.


Basically, it doesn’t matter which system you’re on the road for, as long as it serves its purpose. As you have read in the text read yes, I see in every system strengths but also weaknesses. It is up to you to evaluate and find the right person for you. I personally run with all three systems and have already been on the road with every variant for a long time. Often it is precisely on the long runs a combination of two solutions to which I rely. Often the drinking bladder is filled with water as a backup on the back, while I drink primarily from the drinking bottles or Softflasks in the chest pockets and also fill them with the VPS. Just drinking bottles are also suitable for running something other than water.   I hope this article has brought some light into the maze and helped you a bit.

Image sources: Hydrapak and Orange Oud

Dieser Beiträg wurde am 24. Februar 2018 veröffentlicht und zuletzt am 8. November 2019 von Sascha aktualisiert

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Sascha Rupp

Ich laufe gerne weit und lange, mittlerweile fast ausschließlich abseits der Straße und meist weit weg von Asphalt. Trailrunning ist meine Art zu laufen, denn auf dem Trail oder im Wald, da finde ich Ruhe und Entspannung. An Bestzeiten bin ich nicht interessiert, Distanz ist, was mich reizt.View Author posts