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Can You Put Alcohol in Your Hydration Pack? …I Found Out

Every backpacker eventually thinks about filling their hydration bladder with alcohol. You can fit a whole lot of booze in that 3 Liter hydration bladder, but will it cause any problems.

I didn’t want to ruin my Camelbak so I bought a cheap hydration bladder off Amazon(this is the one) and decided to fill it up with booze. Can you put alcohol in your hydration pack… Today I found out?

Can You Put Alcohol In a Hydration Bladder(Camelbak)?

Yes, you can put alcohol in a Camelbak or hydration bladder, but it will damage the reservoir. Hard alcohol can damage the lining, so stick to mixed drinks. After your day of partying you will never completely clean the hydration bladder. Hope you like the taste of booze!

Alcohol Will Probably Damage Your Hydration Bladder

I obviously wasn’t the first person that wanted to fill my hydration pack with alcohol. So I decided to check online before potentially ruining my expensive Camelbak. Who wants to throw away 40 bucks and ruin their gear.

Unfortunately, there was no common consensus. After a little bit of searching online, I couldn’t find anybody with first-hand experience. People kept saying it was a bad idea, but I couldn’t find anybody who actually tried it.

At this point, I had to try it myself. I didn’t want to ruin my good hydration bladder so I bought a cheap hydration pack on Amazon(this is the one I bought) and gave that a try.

A Few Concerns

  • Damage: Would alcohol destroy the seal on my hydration bladder? In the auto-industry alcohol(aka ethanol) will eat away rubber gaskets. The same thing could happen to the seal on my hydration bladder. Nobody wants booze all over their pack.
  • Taste: Have you ever drank out of a plastic cup and noticed that milk or coffee taste? Plastic is porous and tends to absorb liquid.
  • Cleaning: Can you effectively clean out the hydration bladder after filling it with alcohol? Can you clean out all the nooks and crannies in the tube?

Don’t Put Beer in a Hydration Bladder

At first, I was going to try filling up my hydration bladder with beer. After thinking about it for a bit I realized that was a terrible idea. There’s three main reasons why I wouldn’t put beer in a hydration pack.

  1. Foamy: Every beer drinker has had to deal with a foamy beer. All it takes is a little shake and you’ll have foam everywhere. Just imagine how foamy that beer will get jostling around your pack as you walk.
  2. Warm: Do you like warm beer(I Don’t)? Since a hydration bladders tube is on the outside of your pack the first couple sips are always warm. Plus there’s no good way to keep the beer cold in your pack.
  3. CO2: Nobody likes flat beer. All that jostling is going to force all the CO2 out of your beer. After a little while, it’ll be nasty.

Don’t Fill Your Hydration Bladder With Straight Liquor

Filling your bladder with hard liquor is never a good idea. Ignore the fact that you’ll probably end up ridiculously drunk. Pure liquor will quickly eat away at the seals on your hydration pack and you’ll end up with booze all over your pack.

If you want to drink straight liquor fill up a 32/64oz Gatorade Bottle and throw it in your pack. That should be enough booze for the night.

You Can Fill a Hydration Pack With Mixed Drinks

You can definitely fill up your hydration bladder with mixed drinks without damaging the rubber seals. Since it’s 90 degrees today(Florida) I decided to head down to the pool for the day.

I thought about what I wanted to drink for a bit and settled on orange juice, vodka and a whole bunch of ice(aka a Screwdriver). I wanted to see if the acidity would damage the plastic(it didn’t).

After a full day at the pool, and a decent buzz, I wanted to check the bladder. Did the liquor damage my hydration pack?

Did Liquor Damage My Hydration Bladder?

I thoroughly cleaned the bladder, used all the right tools and threw in a cleaning tablet. After a thorough cleaning, you could still smell the booze inside the water reservoir. It seemed like the liquor leached into the plastic.

Although there was no physical damage that I could see, you could both smell and taste the Vodka in water. I’m glad I bought a cheap hydration pack because I could never take it back on the trail.

However, I was able to use it a couple more times at the pool. The next time I went out I switched to Fruit Punch and Vodka(stained the bladder red).