You might be thinking, “how does something we fill with clean water ever need cleaning?” But bacteria and mold are resourceful little buggers, and will inevitably find their way into your CamelBakPlatypus or other brand of hydration reservoir. Your best defense is to clean your system regularly. It’s not hard to do, but the shapes are awkward and it helps if you have the right supplies and know a few tips.

How to clean a hydration bladder:

  1. Gather your cleaner, plus dish soap, brushes and drying aids.
  2. Mix hot water and cleaner, then fill the system.
  3. Soak and drain, then scrub and rinse.
  4. Allow to air dry.


Video: How to Clean a Hydration Bladder


Hydration Bladder Cleaning Supplies

Supplies for cleaning a hydration bladder


You’re likely to clean your reservoir more often if you have the right supplies on hand. Special equipment isn’t required, but if you want to make the job easier and more thorough, it’s helpful to have tools designed for the task.

Reservoir Cleaning Supplies


Cleaning Solutions

You’ll need a mild dish soap, plus any of the following cleaning solutions:

  • Reservoir cleaning tablets: no measuring needed. Just pop in a tablet specifically formulated to remove deposits that can build up in your hydration system over time.
  • Baking soda: an all-around cleaner that’s effective against odors. Platypus recommends ¼ cup of baking soda in ¾ cups of water per liter of volume in your reservoir.
  • Household bleach: kills bacteria and viruses. Platypus recommends using 2 to 5 drops of unscented household bleach per liter of water. Note that you can combine bleach and baking soda together for a more thorough cleaning.
  • Lemon juice: helps neutralize really strong odors. Platypus recommends using ¼ cup of lemon juice per liter of water. It can also be combined with bleach and/or baking soda, but you need to point the reservoir opening away from you because lemon juice and baking soda produce a fizzy reaction.
  • Denture-cleaning tablets: Though not specifically made for a hydration system, these are used by some people as inexpensive alternative cleaning tablets.

Cleaning Tools

  • Cleaning brushes for reservoir and drinking tube: These can help you get into all the nooks and crannies more successfully.
  • Kitchen scrubbing pad or scrub brush: You probably already have these at home, but they may not get to all the hard-to-reach places.
  • A knotted cord: The cord has to be longer than your drinking tube and the knot should be large enough to fit snugly inside it. Simply pull the cord and knot through the tube a few times during the scrubbing process.

Drying Aids

The key is to keep the bladder fully open to allow air to circulate. It’s preferable to hang or place the bladder upside down so water can drip out.

  • Reservoir hanger: Most will fit any bladder, but a few are only compatible with certain reservoir models.
  • Clothespins: and a clothes hanger
  • Kitchen whisk: Slip it inside to hold the bladder wide open.
  • Paper towels: Stuff the reservoir with enough to hold it wide open.


Cleaning and Scrubbing a Hydration Bladder

This is a two-stage process. First, you mix and add the cleaning solution to neutralize nasties throughout the system. Then, you’ll wash with dish soap to help remove all residue of the cleaning solution.

Step One: Add the Cleaning Solution

Pinching the bite valve of a hydration bladder to ensure that the cleaning solution reaches the tube

  1. Fill the bladder with warm water (not so hot that it can scald you), add a cleaning tablet (or your home cleaning ingredients), seal it up and shake it.
  2. Lift the reservoir up, letting the tube drape into the sink; then pinch open the bite valve until you see water flowing out of it. This ensures the entire reservoir system is in contact with the cleaning solution.
  3. Set it aside and let soak. If you have reservoir-cleaning tablets, the instructions typically call for it to sit for five minutes; if you’re using a mixture of household ingredients, wait about 20 minutes. Then drain the system.

Step Two: Wash with Dish Soap, then Rinse

Scrubbing the inside of a hydration reservoir with a bristle brush

  1. Fill the bladder and tube again, this time with a mixture of warm water and a little dish soap.
  2. Scrub the interior of the bladder; then scrub the interior of the tube. This is easier if you remove the bite valve, which you can scrub separately.
  3. Thoroughly rinse everything.

Step Three: Air Drying

A hydration bladder drying on a rack while propped open with a kitchen whisk

  1. Disassemble all pieces (tube, reservoir and bite valve).
  2. Place your reservoir on its hanger, or set it upright to dry.
  3. Hang your tube and set the bite valve aside. Some hangers have a tube clip; you can also drape the tube over a clothes hanger or a horizontal bar.

Though using the bathroom is tempting because you don’t mind a few drips there, it’s best to find a non-humid, out-of-the-way location for drying. Then give everything in the hydration system plenty of time to thoroughly dry, because putting it away with even a small amount of moisture inside invites mold growth.


Related Articles

Hydration Basics

Hydration Basics for Trail Running

Hydration Packs: How to Choose

How to Treat Water in the Backcountry

Before you grumble about a gray forecast, it’s worth remembering that giant redwoods, colorful wildflowers and grandiose canyons were all made possible by the relentless pitter patter of a billion raindrops.

If you adopt the proper attitude, you can learn to love hiking in the rain. Proper prep helps, too. In this article we’ll cover the basics:

  • Gearing up: Consider adding a few key items for wet-weather comfort and safety.
  • Clothing tips: Learn what not to bring, and how to check your clothing for rain-readiness.
  • Trail hazards: Learn how to avoid common complications.

Gearing Up for Hiking in the Rain

a hiker wearing gaiters on a wet rainy trail

All trips should start with Ten Essentials. When rain is a distinct possibility, it’s also wise to adjust your gear list.

Protecting Your Gear: Because seams aren’t sealed, packs aren’t truly waterproof, especially in a downpour. In addition, all of the places that make gear accessible to you also provide a path for rain to seep in. Even zippers that are water resistant will let water sneak in eventually.

Added protection options for your pack include the following: 

  • Pack raincover. Some packs come with one, or you can buy a cover sized to fit your daypack.
  • Lightweight dry sacksYou can use these inside your pack for your most vulnerable gear.
  • Waterproof cases. Look for one that’s specially designed to fit your phone, helmet cam or other favorite gadget.
  • Ziplock plastic bags. These are inexpensive, though not unfailingly waterproof nor particularly durable.
  • Trash bags. On a rainy day, some might call this the Eleventh Essential. You can use the scissors on your multi-tool to fashion a crude pack cover out of one. You can also use one to double-bag important items for added protection. And it’s always a good move to use one to carry out trash you find along the trail.

Almost-Essential Wet-Weather Gear: The following items can make things easier and more enjoyable on a drippy day:

  • Trekking polesWhen footing is sloppy, poles can be a huge help, especially on creek crossings.
  • Handwarmers.Typically considered a winter sports accessory, these work when you tear open an outer foil pouch to produce a heat packet that lasts for hours. The added warmth can lift your spirts if your extremities are getting uncomfortable.
  • Extra blister supplies. Wet feet are more blister-prone feet. Read Blister Prevention and Care for more details.
  • Headlamp. Because it’s one of the Ten Essentials, you should be packing it. Consider using it before dark, though, if light conditions get extra gloomy.
  • Bandana or multitowelThese are handy for wiping or drying off wet gear. The bandana can be the token cotton item on your list. (Most multitowels are synthetic.)

Clothing Tips for Wet-Weather Hiking

a hiker suiting up with rain gear as the rain starts to fall

Before you head out with the possibility of rain in the forecast, take a closer look at your clothing, including outerwear and footwear, and assess how rain-ready they are. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Absolutely no cotton. This is key for next-to-skin layers because cotton holds water, including your sweat, and chills you. Go with wicking materials like wool, nylon or polyester clothing instead. Don’t think that cotton in briefs or a bra is OK either, because those are the first things search-and-rescue workers will cut off if there’s a possibility that you’re starting to get hypothermia.
  • Go with synthetic insulation in your jacket. Standard down loses much of its insulating ability if you get it wet. Water-resistant down and hybrids that combine synthetic insulation and water-resistant down are your next best bet. If you’re hiking in milder weather, you can pack a lightweight fleece or soft-shell jacket instead.
  • Evaluate your rainwearIf you’re considering an upgrade, read Rainwear: How to Choose. Going with bright colors can help brighten your mood on a relentlessly gray day. In an emergency, bright colors also help search teams locate you.
  • Renew your rainwear’s Durable Water Repellent (DWR). If you love your current raingear, see if drops bead up and roll off. If not, renew its DWR coating to restore performance. It’s a good idea to renew your DWR coating at the beginning of every hiking season.
  • Pack a rain cap. Even if your rain jacket has a brimmed hood, it does a poor job of keeping rain off your face or glasses. A rain hat should have a nice, broad brim. If you choose a ballcap-style hat, then you can wear it under the hood of your rain jacket.
  • Evaluate your footwear. Waterproof boots and shoes keep feet drier initially, making them a good option for colder conditions. Renew the waterproofing at the beginning of each season, or if you notice large dark spots forming when you splosh across wet terrain. Mesh footwear works well in milder conditions, as mesh drains and dries more quickly if you land in a puddle or creek. With either option you need deep lug soles to deal with mud and superior traction to deal with slippery rocks and logs.
  • Pack gaiters. They’ll shield your socks and the tops of your footwear.
  • Pack dry clothes. Extra clothing is already one of the Ten Essentials. Be sure dry socks are one of the extras you bring.

Wet Weather Trail Hazards

a hiker on a slippery rock surface on a rainy hike

A significant storm system can create dangers and health concerns. If you’re on the lookout, you can take steps to avoid unwanted complications.

  • Slippery surfaces. Tread carefully on muddy slopes, slimy rocks and rain-slickened logs.
  • Swollen creeks. Unbuckle your hipbelt before you cross, so you can easily get free of your pack if you slip and fall into a fast-moving current.
  • Flash floods. If you’ll be in canyon country, check the forecasts ahead of time and keep an eye out for quickly accessible higher ground.
  • Hypothermia. Watch for the “umbles”: mumbling, grumbling, stumbling and tumbling. Those are telltale signs that you need to stop, dry out and get some calories in you. And, in general, you need to eat and drink more often than you would in sunny weather. If rain discourages rest stops, drink and snack while you’re hiking.

Rainy Day Hiking Tips

looking up to the tops of trees and rainy skies while on a rainy hike

With the right mindset, a rainy-day hike can be one that you remember fondly for years to come. The air is cleaner and the solitude more profound. It will take an extra precaution or two to keep things on track, though:

  • Remember that staying dry is easier than drying out after you’re wet. Don’t wait to throw on your rain shell, or to take cover in a full-on rain squall.
  • Keep monitoring the weather. Weather forecasting is an inexact science.
  • Keep an eye out for lightning. It puts on a great show, which you won’t want to miss. However, it’s even more important that you know how to take cover. Learn more by reading Weather Basics for Backpackers.
  • Constantly self-assess. Add layers or grab a snack if you’re starting to feel a little cold. And gloomy light can sap your mental state, so poll your hiking crew to be sure everyone’s still having a good time.
  • Ditch destination fever. If a relentless storm makes things miserable or downright hazardous, turn around and call it a day. You’ll still have tales to tell and time for an extra hot cocoa or two to tell them over later.

Article used by permission. HWD is an REI co-op affiliate and earns a small commission from shopping links

Don’t forget to join our FB group at

The Details

We’ll begin at the Secret Trail (aka the Calabasas-Cold Creek Trail) and wind our way through shaded ravines, dense chaparral and sandstone outcrops until we reach Calabasas Peak Motorway. Here we throw away the hiking book (I lose so many books this way) and instead of taking the Motorway to Calabasas Peak, we’ll go off-trail along some use trails. We’ll not only bag the peak, but we’ll also circumnavigate it along an old overgrown trail.

Optional: There are a lot of giant sandstone slabs and other formations to explore, but not required. Members who like rock climbing are encouraged to do so, the rest of us will take pictures

Calabasas Peak (2163 ft) towers over Red Rock Canyon, Old Topanga Canyon and bowl-shaped Cold Creek Canyon. From the top there are spectacular views into Ventura County, the Pacific Ocean and San Fernando and Simi valleys.

Hike is 4.7 miles with about 1,200 feet total gain. We’ll have our snack break at this hidden cistern. Don’t drink the water hee hee

Dogs ok

No beginners

Post Hike Lunch

Post hike lunch at Maria’s Italian Kitchen in El Camino shopping center at 23331 Mulholland Dr. Its to the left of Wells Fargo


The trail head is located on Mulholland Hwy less than a fifth of a mile west of Dry Canyon Cold Creek Road.

Note that on the Meetup map there is a red and a gold pinpoint. Aim for the gold one See my interactive map (

Coordinates: 34.12666, -118.65748 (

From the 101 freeway in Agoura/Calabasas, head South on Las Virgenes Road to Mulholland Hwy. Turn Left on Mulholland and continue 5.7 miles to a small parking area on the right. or….

From 101 Ventura Fwy in the Vally: take Valley Circle/Mulholland Dr exit south, turn right on Valmar Rd (becomes Old Topanga Cyn Rd) then right on Mulholland Hwy 2.1 miles to the parking area on the left.

From PCH take Topanga Canyon and turn left up Old Topanga. Take a left at Mulholland Hwy for a couple miles and then turn left onto turnout. If you are coming up Malibu Canyon take a right at Mulholland for 5.7 miles

Park off-pavement. There is overflow parking 500′ south (“west”) across the street next to the house. Click for map (

Bring at least 2 qts water, snacks, sunscreen.


The Organizers and members of Hiking With Dean are not professional leaders, guides, or mountaineers. The function of the member or organizer is only to organize the trip. Each person who shows up for a trip/meetup (and their guest or guests) is responsible for his or her own safety. By attending a hike, or any other event organized by this group, you are acknowledging that you and any guests that you bring are aware of the risks, dangers and hazards associated with the activity and freely accept and fully assume all such risks, dangers and hazards, and further agree to release and discharge the Organizers, Members of the Hiking With Dean Meetup Group from and against any and all liability arising from your participation in the group activities per our ASSUMPTION OF RISK AND LIABILITY WAIVER and Section 6.2 of the Terms of Service.

The Columbia Sportswear’s footwear product creation team has asked me to lead a hike for them. They are flying down from Portland to get some consumer insights and to better understand what someone might be looking for in an urban hike where they might go out for lunch afterward. Come to the hike with an open mind as they will be asking some of you questions about what goes into picking what you wear on certain hikes.

We’ll be doing the Eagle Rock — Musch Loop in a counter-clockwise direction.

We’ll start outside of Trippet Ranch on a neighborhood trail connecting us to the East Topanga Fireroad.  As we head up a grassy ridge and connect with Eagle Springs Fire Road  expansive views of the Santa Monica Mountains, Santa Ynez Canyon and a slice of the Pacific  Ocean will begin to emerge. Soon the  looming Eagle Rock comes into view

Eagle Rock, the most impressive landmark in all of Topanga State Park, will afford us an airy perch overlooking the upper watershed of Santa Ynez Canyon and the ocean beyond. We will eat, drink and explore on this impressive sandstone rock covered with crevices and caves. Here are some pics of the rock from previous hikes (click to enlarge):


On our return trip we’ll descend along the twists and turns of the Musch Trail and through sun-baked, fragrant chaparral. After passing the trail-side Musch Campground, we’ll find ourselves contouring around a couple of ravines under the shade of oak and laurel trees, until the Musch Meadows open before us. After crossing the meadow we will hook up with the Backbone Trail which leads us to the final segment of the hike on the 92 Trail, and our cars.

Here are some pics along the Musch Trail from previous hikes (click to enlarge):


Post hike lunch down the street at Canyon Bistro (120 N. Topanga Canyon Bl.)

Visit the Columbia Sportswear Store on Amazon

Directions to Trail Head

From Topanga Canyon Boulevard, turn east on Entrada Road; that’s to the left if you are coming from the San Fernando Valley. Follow Entrada Road by turning left at every opportunity until you arrive at Topanga State Park.

Park on street before the left turn into park. We will meet on the corner