Hiking Bag Trekkers – You May Be Ingesting Bacteria


Hiking Bag Hydration Bladders Proper Cleaning

Hiking bag bacteria is something you may be ingesting without knowing it.  You may think because you are using filtered drinking water via the hydration bladder, so how could germs and bacterial grow? This is a myth, so let’s make sure we are properly cleaning our water bladder and hiking backpack drink tubing properly after each use to prevent mold from growing. You’d be surprised at how the slightest molecule of sugar from additives to your drinking water, such as Gator Aid and lemonade can accelerate the bacteria and mold within the backpack bladder and tubing. Adequate hygiene of this vessel is very important.

Let’s say your hiking bladder, for example, contains fresh filtered water in your backpack bladder for hiking.  As your hike continues and you drink from the bladder tubing, the bite valve which allows the passage of your drinking water from tubing to your mouth can collect bacteria from the air and from your mouth, especially after eating. Tiny microscopic food particles inside your mouth and on your teeth can collect and travel through the tubing, kind of like when your 3 year old drinks from your straw after just eating a cookie and there’s backwash present.

The idea is to get the hydration liquids your body needs without worrying about how neatly you drink. However, these realities are just a few reasons for proper cleaning after your trek. You could have a surplus bladder handy to switch off, but the used one must be cleaned eventually for the next switch. If you add fruit juice to your bladder, it should be rinsed immediately before mold can start to grow.

Hiking Bag Hydration Bladder – Keep It Clean and Dry

Cleaning And Properly Drying Your Water Bladder Is Key

Hiking bladders and pouches have the option of being frozen between uses since it does inhibit bacteria growth however, we all know water expands when frozen. Unless your bladder mouthpiece and bite valve are completely dry when you put it in the freezer, it could stretch from expansion and prevent the nozzle from self sealing. Be sure to remove the nozzle before freezing the bladder. Water left in the tubing may cause expansion so use extra caution to completely dry the tubing before you put it in your freezer.

Hiking Bag Water Bladders – What Cleaning Agent Works Best?

Hiking bag water receptacles are best cleaned with baking soda and vinegar. These are the best natural cleaning solutions to use on your drinking system. This mix disinfects and leaves your hydration bladder free of bacteria and mold.  Fill your bladder bag slightly smaller than your backpack bladder capacity with hot tap water (never boiling).If it’s 2 liters, add slightly less. Always use hot tap water as your base. I use a ratio of two tablespoons of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar added to my hot water. It will fizz a bit, but don’t worry about the natural chemical reaction. Close the bag and tubing, shake the water to dissolve the agents, let it flow through the tubing and pinch the bite valve to let the solution clean that area.

Let the bladder sit for 30-40 minutes. I shake it again about midway through the 30 minute mark, and let it sit undisturbed for the remaining time. After that, I dump the solution down the sink, rinse out the cleaning solution, making sure to flush the tubing and mouthpiece in the process.  I personally don’t like using bleach, but you can safely use a very small amount if you decide to.

This Next Step Is Crucial

Hiking bag water bladders must be dried and dried again. All of your bag and tubing must be completely dry. This is best accomplished by propping open your bag to allow air to dry the inside. Hang the empty bladder up high then squeeze the mouth piece with your fingers to get water to run through the hose. Don’t allow water trapped inside because it will take forever to evaporate. Air flow is key, although don’t be tempted to hang your bladder from the shower in a bathroom where humidity is high. That will defeat your purpose.

Hiking bag bladders should be propped open with several balled-up paper towels, which will absorb the residual internal water while keeping the bladder open. For my tubing, I use cotton swabs. A quick swipe will go a long way in eliminating surface water droplets for faster drying time. This can be a difficult place to get at, so I use some of hubby’s fishing line tied on and pull it through the tubing a couple of times. I have even used some of the kid’s pipe cleaners from their craft drawer.

After initial hand drying, you’ll need to leave the bladder, mouthpiece and tubing in a room with good air flow overnight. In the morning, remove the paper towels. You may want to rinse your bladder just prior to the next use for elimination of any possible residual cleaning solution.This is more of a personal decision since the bladder should have been very well flushed prior to drying.

Hiking Bag Water Pouches – Best Enjoyed When Clean

Clean and fresh always tastes better and is healthier for you. If you maintain the bladder and tubing, you’ll have no mold issues, so here’s to happy hiking, proper hydration and healthy drinking water on all of your excursions.

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