Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Many innovative uses, easy to clean, easy to drink.
Cons: Expensive, not the lightest, small learning curve.
Best Uses: Mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, camping, dirt biking.
This is the most innovative reservoir tested, the most versatile and it gets our Editors' Choice award. It has a variety of uses, thanks to the pressurized system that no other hydration bladders tested offered. It is the only reservoir we tested that also doubles as a sun shower and a way to clean off your dog and sports equipment after use. It is also one of the easiest bladders to clean. It is more expensive than most other reservoirs but not that much considering how innovative it is. It is also a little heavy. For the best value in a hydration bladder we recommend the CamelBak Antidote Reservoir. If you are mostly backpacking or want to travel light, we recommend the MSR DromLite. Check out our complete Hydration Bladder Review to see how all the best options compared to each other.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
More than anything else, this bladder is different because of the pressurization. At first glance this seemed like a gimmick; an unnecessary way to make the product more complicated, heavy and expensive. However, the more we used it the more we loved it.
Ease of Filling
This scored in the middle of the road for ease of filling. In a deep kitchen sink it is very easy to fill. In a shallow bathroom sink or camping thing, it can be hard to get the reservoir completely full and be tricky to keep the bottom of the reservoir from touching the sink (only really important in funky campground bathrooms). Keep in mind that with the added complexity of the pressurize duel chamber system, it can take some practice to learn how to depressurize the air chamber quickly.
We found this to be one of the top scorers for durability. The only leakage issue we had was the fact the hose quick release attachment faces out and not to the side. In rare occasions we found the quick release accidentally came half undone and leaked.
Ease of Drinking
This is by far the easiest hydration bladder to drink from. The pressure system really does spray the water without you needing to suck at all. We found a huge benefit to this spray in that we turned our bladder into both of sunshower and a way to clean off our dog if it jumped in a puddle during a hike.
The added compartment, pressure valve, extra quick release and extra tube make this one of the heavier bladders tested. It is not insanely heavy, but light hikers and backpackers will likely scoff at the extra features. Day hikers and mountain bikers will find the extra weight well worth it.
Ease of Cleaning
This is the easiest badder to clean. It is the only reservoir we tested that is advertised as dishwasher safe. Not only is it easy to clean because of the large sick opening, it is also very easy to dry. This makes it a good option to use with sports drinks where the sugary residue breeds bacteria if you are not on top of it. That said, you still have the challenge of keeping the tubes clean if you are using sports drinks. For a more detailed discussion on tube cleaning, check out our review of the Geigerrig 1600 hydration pack.
This system excels at day hiking, mountain biking, dirt biking, and any other activity where moving as absolutely light as possible is not essential. We also take this surfing so that it can double as a solar powered shower when we are done.
This is one of the more expensive hydration bladders. That said, it is not that much more expensive. We expect the long-term durability to be above average. If you take advantage of the pressurized system like we do, this is a great value.
While at first we were unsure about the value of a pressurized system, we are now believers. We love the versatility and creativity that we get with this system. We are always finding new uses, from pet cleaning to showering. We originally thought this would just be a product for gear nerds, but we think that its uses extend past the tech-obsessed outdoor user.
This comes in both the 2 L and 3 L size. We generally recommend the Hydration Engine 3L for $50, because it is not that much heavier, expensive, or difficult to use.
G4 125 FL Virus Filter
— Chris McNamara
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Most recent review: March 24, 2015
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