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MSR DromLite Review

   
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  • Currently 4.5/5
Overall avg rating 4.5 of 5 based on 5 reviews. Most recent review: October 30, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $21 - $27 | Compare prices at 8 resellers
Pros:  3 sizes, lightweight, compact, high capacity to weight ratio, tons of accessories, tremendously versatile.
Cons:  Not as easy to drink of of as a rigid water bottle, hose and mouth piece accessories not as good as other companies.
Best Uses:  Everything!!
User Rating:     
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 (4.0 of 5) based on 4 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (4/4) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   MSR
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ April 25, 2013  
Overview
The MSR DromLite is a highly adaptable, exceptionally durable, lightweight water bladder. After nine years of field testing across a multitude of outdoor sports, in a host of different countries, we can confidently say that the DromLite is the single best solution to backcountry water storage we know of. Simply put, this is the author's number one favorite piece of gear ever.

The DromLite is available in three different sizes and has a slew of optional accessories including: a hose and mouth-piece, a spigot cap for around camp, and a shower kit. This is much more than the average hydration bladder.

To accurately compare it's cost with the others in the hydration bladder review, you need to add in $20 for the MSR hydration kit which is sold separately.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Capacity
The DromLite is available in 2, 4, and 6 liter versions. After using all of them, our testers prefer the four liter version best because it provides enough space to store enough water for the time between sources to refill, such as when rock climbing or hiking in the desert. The 2 liter version weighs 0.5 ounces less, which we don't believe is enough of a weight savings to warrant the reduced capacity. The 6 liter version only weighs 5.7 oz., or 0.6 oz. more than the 4 liter model, but we rarely if ever found this additional capacity to be useful, and therefore prefer the 4 liter model. Therfore, this review cover the 4 liter model, which at least three OutdoorGearLab Editors own and love.

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Tressa Gibbard hydrates with the 4L MSR DromLite-- which requires two hands-- after climbing Royal Arches to Crest Jewel Direct in Yosemite.
Credit: Max Neale
Durability
The DromLite is made from a 200-denier Cordura nylon that's shockingly durable for its weight. It's difficult to estimate how long it will last. I've used the same model for four years of hard use and believe that it's //much more durable than standard transparent hydration bladders. Through using four other Droms the only thing that has broken was a small part of a cap, which Cascade Designs replaced free of charge. Like all other hydration bladders, the Drom will eventually wear out, causing water to task bad. When this happens we suggest that you replace the worn model with a new one. Overall, we suspect that the Drom is the most durable hydration bladder made.

Ease of Use
The DromLite's durable rigid cap can be used in three ways. (1) The cap comes off to reveal a large, wide-mouth Nalgene sized opening that makes the reservoir easy to fill, empty, and dry out the reservoir. (2) A small, flip open trickle spout releases a small amount of water and can be used for rinsing dishes, washing hands, or to spray your fiends with. Unscrewing the trickle spout gives access to a medium sized (1/4 inch ish) opening that I use most frequently. Your mouth can grasp around the edges of this opening well and when you tip the bag up water gushes into you mouth at a wonderfully fast rate. Despite fear of dropping the cap, I've never done so even after hundreds of multi-pitch rock climbs, where dropping the cap could have serious consequences.

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All droms come with a 3-in-1 cap. Here, that cap's "trickle spout" is used to fill a water bottle on a 6 week bike tour down Mexico's Baja Peninsula, a trip that required our testers to carry a significant amount of water through remote desert regions.
Credit: OutdoorGearLab
Versatility
The DromLite is tremendously versailte!! It's incredible for day hikes, backpacking, rock climbing, bike tours, road trips… just about everything!! Literally! The DromLite even makes an excellent pillow (blow air inside to create your ideal level of support). A vast array of optional accessories, see below, further increase a drom's versatility.

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One can fill an MSR DromLite with snow and tie it to the outside of a pack to create liquid water. CiloGear 30L W/NWD pack shown here.
Credit: OutdoorGearLab
Limitations
There are three primary drawbacks to the DromLite: (1) unlike rigid bottles that fit inside insulted cozies, a drom is not suitable for winter use. It freezes solid into a very heavy chunk of ice that takes a long time to melt, which is a total pain in the butt. (2) A drom isn't as easy to drink out of as a rigid water bottle. For example, it can't stand up by itself on your desk and it takes two hands to use. For most people, in most situations, neither of these drawbacks will be significant. (3) Filling it up in streams or in small sinks can leaves the outer nylon wet, which is bad because the water can then transfer to other things inside your backpack. This problem can largely be mitigated by wiping excess water off with your hand; by packing a backpack with waterproof items, like food, near the top of your pack—so that the drom lies on top; or by putting the drom in an outside pocket of your backpack. For the vast majority of people in the vast majority of outdoor situations these drawbacks are insignificant or downright trivial.

When compared to other hydration bladders that are only intended to be used with a hose and mouthpiece (all of the other models compared in this Best In Class Review), the DromLite comes up short when as a mouthpiece equipped bladder. The hose connects with a simple friction device, not a quick release, and the mouth piece is rudimentary (but effective). Some GearLab testers, such as this author, strongly dislike mouth piece type hydration bladders and find that the Drom performs better for nearly every activity except racing.

Value
Tremendous performance for only $30!! As mentioned previously, this is the author's single all-time favorite piece of outdoor gear.

Other Versions
If durability is more important than weight savings consider the ultra burly 500-denier Dromedary Bag. This Drom bag is available in 2, 4, 6, and 10 liter bags.

Accessories
The DromLite is compatible with a slew of accessories that further increases its versatility. The company's water filters can screw on to create an easy, no leak seal. Perhaps, more importantly, various caps are compatible with droms. For example, a Dromedary Bag Spigot Cap, $10, is great for car camping and base camping. An Dromedary Bag Shower Kit, $20, turns any drom into a solar shower (water gets warmer faster with the black Dromedary than with the red DromLite). You can also add an Dromedary Bag Hydration Kit, $20, to any drom to make it a hydration bladder!

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Dan Sandberg uses the MSR Hyperflow to fill a 4 liter MSR DromLite, which screws directly onto the filter. Pacific Crest Trail, High Sierra, California.
Credit: Max Neale

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: October 30, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)

100% of 4 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
5 Total Ratings
5 star: 60%  (3)
4 star: 20%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 20%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 4 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Sep 9, 2013 - 10:28am
WDW4 · Climber · Lexington, KY
I have used the MSR 6L DromLite for the past year, mainly for climbing and backpacking in the eastern US.

It's convenience around camp, volume for a long day of climbing, and packability make me satisfied with the product.

My DromLite has not leaked.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Oct 30, 2014 - 10:14pm
JamieM · Mountain Biker · Calais, VT
I use my 4 liter Drom bag for everything. I'm about to get the Hydration Kit add on, but don't know yet how much I'll love that. I took it last summer on a 2000 mile section of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and it held up great. I did wear a tiny hole in it when I had it strapped to my rear rack on a particularly bumpy section without any padding. I used a thermarest patch kit patch to repair in the field and it's held up for the last year without leaking.

A few years ago a friend had a bike crash and hers went skidding across two lanes of pavement and down a long rocky embankment - when we found it it was dusty but otherwise like new.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Feb 8, 2014 - 12:27pm
Entropy · Backpacker · Pittsburgh
I'll always pay more for MSR. Unlike Sawyer squeeze, these bags are resilient and will take a beating on the trail. The large bag is great for base camp and the 3L bladder is for your hiking bag.
Intermodality of MSR allows for easy filling of these bags too… I can not say enough positive about this product.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   May 10, 2013 - 05:12pm
jstrater · Climber · San Francisco, CA
I've been using MSR Dromedary and DromLite bags for years, and I think the concept is great: a durable, packable container that both weighs less than Nalgene bottles and holds more water. The Cordura on both kinds of bag inspires more confidence than the thin plastic used for conventional hydration bladders.

The downside: I've had multiple Drom bags leak around the cap area, and I've heard similar complaints from friends. Even replacing the cap doesn't help. The CamelBak and Platypus systems I've used don't seem to have the same problem, even in a pack stuffed with climbing gear.

I still use the Dromedary & DromLite bags, but I never depend on them exclusively or pack them above things that can't get wet. They see the most use around camp as a way to avoid filtering water all the time.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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MSR DromLite is available in six, four, and two liter versions.
Credit: MSR
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