How To Replace a Bite Valve on a Hydration Bladder

Key Points

  • There's no reason to replace an entire hydration bladder because your bite valve doesn't function correctly.

  • Replacing a bite valve is much easier than you think; tools aren't required, and anyone can do it.

  • With a little preventative maintenance, you won't have bite valve issues on your next adventure.

All seasoned hikers go through their gear with a fine-tooth comb before starting their journey. There's nothing more aggravating to the group than a hiker with equipment malfunctions — especially malfunctions you should notice before leaving the house.

Outdoor enthusiasts need hydration packs (or hydration bladders) and bite valves. Hikers, cyclists, and hunters wear hydration packs on their backs and drink water through the wrap-around tube without stopping what they're doing. The bite valve is located at the end of the tube, and when they bite the tube, water flows from the bladder.

Hydration bladders are simple to inspect but irritating when they leak or stop working. It's even more frustrating when something as simple as a bite valve malfunctions. This guide looks further into bite valve operation and how to replace it if it fails.

After all, the National Park Service says that "[a] rule of thumb is to drink 2 liters of water a day or more, especially if you're in very hot climates," so it's imperative to keep your hydration pack functioning.

Inspect Your Bite Valve

Inspect all your hiking gear before heading to the trail. This includes your bite valve. Check for proper operation to ensure your bite valve is working correctly.

Here are a few things to look out for to ensure your bite valve is in working order:

  1. Ensure your bite valve is locked, fill your hydration bladder with water, close it properly, and dry off any excess water. Check closely for leaks.

  2. With your bite valve locked, ensure there are no leaks. If you notice it leaking, replace it.

  3. Some bite valves have a soft plastic sheath. The sheath can sustain damage over time, so inspect it for tears and ensure it's still pliable. Sometimes, you can buy just the sheath, but replacing the entire bite valve is best.

  4. Unlock your bite valve. Some models pull to open, and others twist. It's easy to partially unlock your bite valve. Make sure it's fully open, as some models are tricky.

  5. Locate the bite grooves on your valve. When you bite down on these grooves, the valve opens, and water flows. If water doesn't pass through, replace it.

  6. Lock your bite valve and make sure it doesn't leak. If there are no leaks, your inspection is complete.

traveler man hiking drinking water on mountain with Teide volcano on the background

Where To Buy a Replacement Bite Valve

Replacement bite valves are available online from places like Amazon and even Walmart. If you know who made the hydration pack or bladder you use, check their website. For instance, Camelbak has replacement bite valves. You can also find them at brick-and-mortar stores like Scheels, REI, and Cabela's.

Do your homework and buy the right bite valve for your hydration pack. If you prefer, get an aftermarket bite valve. There are many to choose from, but a valve like the HydraPak Blaster Bite Valve supplies you with more water for less effort. This is especially helpful for cyclists on long road trips.

There are two main types of valves to choose from: the bite valve and the push-pull valve. The bite valve is more popular. It's hands-free and allows you to stay hydrated while on the move.

The push-pull valve has its advantages as well. When you pull it open, the water flows until you push it closed. It's great for kids who can't make the bite valve work, doesn't freeze like bite valves sometimes do, and it's useful for rinsing your hands off.

In some cases, you may need both on the same trip. They're easily interchangeable: Simply pull the bite valve off and replace it with the push-pull valve.

How To Replace a Bite Valve

It only takes a few easy steps to replace a bite valve. If your valve has been on your hydration bladder for a while, removing it may be more challenging.

Follow these steps to remove even the most stubborn bite valves:

  1. Grab the water tube with one hand and the bite valve with the other. Next, pull them in opposite directions. If the bite valve is stubborn, try twisting and pulling simultaneously.

  2. Use the coffee cup method if the bite valve doesn't come out. Fill a coffee cup three-quarters full of hot water, preferably 170 F. Drop the bite valve in the coffee cup for 30 seconds.

  3. After 30 seconds, remove the tube and bite valve from the coffee cup using a towel to protect your hands from the hot water.

  4. Firmly grasp the tube in one hand and the bite valve in the other. Pull them in opposite directions. The heat expands the tube, and the bite valve will pull out much easier.

  5. With the old bite valve removed, install the new bite tube. Grab the tube with one hand and push the new bite valve into the tube with your other hand.

  6. If the bite valve won't push into the tube, use the coffee cup method to make installing the new bite valve easier. Once the new bite valve is fully seated, you're done. Be sure to dispose of the parts properly.

How To Clean Your Bite Valve

Clean your hydration bladder and bite valve after each use. It's simple to do and keeps your bite valve functioning correctly. It also protects you from any germs or bacteria.

Follow these steps to keep your bite valve clean and bacteria-free:

  1. Before you start, gather the needed cleaning and drying supplies. Have mild detergent or cleaning tabs, a soft brush, and paper towels on hand. A hydration pack cleaning kit makes cleaning your bite valve and water tube much easier. (You can also consider natural cleaning solutions.)

  2. For proper cleaning, remove the water tube from the hydration bladder. The top hydration pack brands have a quick disconnect for the water hose. Remove the hose from the quick disconnect.

  3. After removing the tube, remove the bite valve. Gently clean the sheath and bite valve inside and out with warm soapy water. Then, thoroughly rinse the soap and lay it on a paper towel to dry. Some bite valves have a removable sheath. If yours does, remove the sheath, clean it, and let it dry. Using the tube brush from your cleaning kit, run the brush through the tube. Alternate the brush with a rinse three times or until clean.

  4. Hang the tube to dry.

  5. Once the tube, sheath, and bite valve are dry, install the sheath on the bite valve and push it back into the tube. Next, install the tube on the hydration bladder. Be sure to store your hydration bladder properly.

Bite Valve Tips and Tricks

Here are a few extra tips and tricks to ensure your bite works properly:

  • Occasionally, the slit on a new bite valve won't be cut completely through, and water won't flow. Use a knife or sharp scissors to carefully open the slit and allow more water to flow.

  • If you're on a hike and your bite valve stops working, or you need to drink a lot at once, pull the bite valve out and drink straight from the tube. The bite valve acts as a stopper.

You're Ready for Adventure

With your bite valve and water tube clean and operating smoothly, you're ready to go on an outdoor adventure, whether solo or with a group!

If you're considering traveling to Texas, Austin hosts Hiking for Tacos every Sunday through the end of 2023. Enjoy delicious tacos at the end of your hike, and stay hydrated with a fully functioning hydration pack and bite valve!

Follow the advice in this article to keep your bite valve operational for years to come. If it stops working, you know how to order and replace another one. You'll never be the one to slow down the trip.

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