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Gregory 3D Hydro Review

This top performer stands out for its quality construction and easy filling profile that is reliable for hydration on backcountry adventures and day trips
Gregory 3D Hydro
Photo: Gregory
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $40 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Thick and durable bladder, handle for easy filling, drying accessory, excellent flow rate, narrow and rounded profile for easy fit in narrow packs
Cons:  Bulkier components don't pack down
Manufacturer:   Gregory
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 4, 2021
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 12
  • Ease of Use - 25% 9
  • Ease of Care - 25% 7
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 9
  • Quality and Durability - 15% 8
  • Weight and Packability - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Gregory 3D Hydro surprised us with its dominating performance, combining durability and ease of use better than any other model we've come across. The thick walls of the bladder can be squeezed into packs for nearly any adventure. It features a narrow and rounded design that fits comfortably in narrow packs. The screw-top lid is easy to use with an innovative handle that makes filling more convenient than ever. The flow rate leaves nothing to be desired. Care is simple, as all parts can be pulled apart and put back together, with a drying hanger accessory that allows you to hang it upside down. While the screw-top lid is a little small, making it harder to scrub the inside of the reservoir, this model is our top choice for outdoor recreation.

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Gregory 3D Hydro
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Gregory 3D Hydro
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
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$33.00 at Amazon
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$25.95 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Thick and durable bladder, handle for easy filling, drying accessory, excellent flow rate, narrow and rounded profile for easy fit in narrow packsLightweight, slim profile, simple to use, easy to cleanDurable, great water flow, easy to fill and clean, versatile use, good priceLightweight, super packable, durable material, inexpensive, incredibly versatileDurable, versatile and lightweight design, good flow rate, great price
Cons Bulkier components don't pack downNot as durable as other options, connections get gummed up without lubricationCan't flip inside outPoor taste, does not come with hose or bite valve, doesn't pack easily into backpack sleevesHarder to clean, bite valve doesn't lock off
Bottom Line This top performer stands out for its quality construction and easy filling profile that is reliable for hydration on backcountry adventures and day tripsA lightweight and slim bladder that's especially suited for ounce-counting athletes pushing deep into the backcountryThis is a high value bladder with stellar performance for a decent priceThis reservoir is lightweight and durable with many functions and uses in the outdoorsThis durable, lightweight, and simple bladder won't take a toll on your wallet
Rating Categories Gregory 3D Hydro Hydrapak Shape-Shif... CamelBak Crux Reser... MSR DromLite Bags Platypus Hoser
Ease Of Use (25%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
Ease Of Care (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Ease Of Filling (20%)
9.0
6.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
Quality And Durability (15%)
8.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
Weight And Packability (15%)
6.0
9.0
5.0
9.0
10.0
Specs Gregory 3D Hydro Hydrapak Shape-Shif... CamelBak Crux Reser... MSR DromLite Bags Platypus Hoser
Weight of Bladder & Tube (oz) 7.1 oz (3L) 5.40 oz (3L) 8.40 oz (3L) 5.20 oz (4L) 4.2 oz (3L)
Bladder Capacity Options (liters) 3 L 2L, 3L 1.5L, 2L, 3L 2L, 4L, 6L 1L, 1.5L, 3L
Dishwasher Friendly? No Yes No No No
Plastic Taste No Yes No Yes No
Bite Valve Push-button on/off valve Bite valve with shutoff twist valve Bite valve with updated shutoff valve None (Bite valve with lock arm shutoff valve in separate attachment kit) HyFLO bite valve
Can bite valve be removed? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Hose Connection Mid-tube quick release, but can be changed to the base. Quick release (no swivel) Quick release hose (no swivel) At the mouth of the screw top Screw-on hose
Closure Type Screw top Slide top Screw top Screw top (3 in 1 spouts) Screw top (hose connection)

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Gregory 3D Hydro stands out for its reliable design and construction features that make it a versatile option for all sorts of outdoor adventures. We appreciate its durable construction, hanging loop, and ability to take apart all components. We wish the opening was a touch larger in the case the bladder body needs to be cleaned. We tested the 3-liter version.

Performance Comparison


The 3D Hydro stands out as a burly and user-friendly hydration...
The 3D Hydro stands out as a burly and user-friendly hydration bladder built for frequent use.
Photo: Amber King

Ease of Use


This is the most user-friendly of all hydration bladders we have tested. It comes loaded with unique features including a push switch to lock the bite valve, a large handle for filling, and a hanging clip for drying. We love the high rate of water flow that makes it easy to drink and use while hiking, biking, and exploring in the great outdoors.


The bite valve is a regular-sized bite valve that feels comfortable in the mouth and offers a more than sufficient flow of water. To use, unlock the valve by pushing down, and start drinking. Our only gripe with the design is the lock can be hard to push when it gets gummed up after using it on several missions, so be sure to keep it clean.

It also comes with a robust hanging clip at the top of the bag that works well with plenty of backpacks. The clip is made of thicker plastic and fits all of the running and hiking bags we tested it with. One downside of the bladder's design is it can't be rolled up or packed away because of the thicker components (like the handle) on the body of the bladder.

A look at the locking mechanism that can be sticky and one we don't...
A look at the locking mechanism that can be sticky and one we don't love as much as a simple turn switch. We do like the magnetic clip that secures the hose well while moving.
Photo: Amber King

We also appreciate the narrow profile that slides into the sleeves of some of the most narrow hydration sleeves in our packs. Unlike other bladders with a flip-top opening that uses a plastic arm across the top, this has a rounded and narrow shoulder. Many times, we have run with these flip-top plastic arms, and they have dug into our back while in a thinner running pack. The Gregory 3D Hydro stands out for its performance in these packs as it doesn't dig, poke, or abrade while running or biking.

The bite value offers an excellent rate of flow.
The bite value offers an excellent rate of flow.
Photo: Amber King

We also appreciate that Gregory uses the standard auto-connect connections that will easily work with an on-the-go filtration system. We were also able to switch out the bite valve with any of the options in this review, so if you don't love the valve or locking mechanism, you can switch it out very easily.

Upon getting this out of the packaging, we didn't notice any nasty tastes of plastic, which is a huge plus.

Ease of Care


We appreciate that all components (including the bite valve) can be popped off and cleaned independently. The plastic hanging clip is a welcome feature that works surprisingly well. Instead of using a pair of kitchen tongs, you can hang it upside down to let it dry out. That said, the size of the bag and opening of the screw lid limits its cleaning capabilities.


This is not a dishwasher-safe bladder and cannot be flipped inside out. As a result, care needs to be consistent to avoid any bacterial build-up in the bag itself. You will have a hard time maneuvering a scrubbing tool inside the bladder because of its smaller opening. That said, it's not impossible but will take more effort than a flip-top option.

Here you can see that all components can be taken apart easily for...
Here you can see that all components can be taken apart easily for cleaning.
Photo: Amber King

As mentioned before, all hoses disconnect from all connections and the mouthpiece completely comes apart for independent cleaning. It also features a mid-hose quick release clip. To empty, blow all the water through the hose before disconnecting the hoses, and hang to dry. If you use sugary substances, be sure to rinse out the bags well.

The drying hanger is a useful add-on that we used regularly in the kitchen. After rinsing, we would hang it over the sink. Some water does collect in the space between the opening and the hanger, but that's easily fixed by shaking it out once it's collected. We had no issues with bacterial build-up here. That said, this also worked well to dry by inserting a pair of tongs if you don't like the drying hanger.

We love that the hanger facilitates draining and drying, and the bag...
We love that the hanger facilitates draining and drying, and the bag itself offers rigidity and shape so the two sides don't stick together.
Photo: Amber King

Ease of Filling


We love the robust handle and screw-top lid used in the design of this bladder. The handle allows you to easily fill from a faucet, river, or another water source. Unlike a flip-top bladder, it can't easily collect water from super shallow sources, but most users will not need their bladder to do this.


We tested this while exploring streams and rivers in Sedona, Arizona. We also filled it several times at the sink. Overall, we appreciate the handle and screw top which makes it easy to collect water in all these locations. Under a small stream, we would submerge it and fill it right from the source (then we would treat it for health reasons). Since the handle is oriented along the long axis of the bladder, it sits lengthwise on the bottom of the water source. This helps to bring water into the bladder, instead of the body falling vertically and limiting filling capabilities.

The large handle helps to maintain the structural integrity of the...
The large handle helps to maintain the structural integrity of the bag which makes filling easy.
Photo: Amber King

The structure is a little more rigid than most due to the built-in handle. When the weight of the water is added to the bladder, the base does sink, but there is enough structural integrity to the handle that it stays easy to hold up and fill. Overall, we appreciate the design and thoughtfulness of this bladder making it easy to fill in most sources.

Sink filling is easy peasy. The rigid structural design and the...
Sink filling is easy peasy. The rigid structural design and the handle maintain their horizontal position so filling in shallow sinks becomes simple.
Photo: Amber King

Quality and Durability


This earns top marks for quality. We appreciate the robust and almost over-engineered design that features bomber components like a stiffer hanger, reinforced screw top lid, and puncture-resistant plastic. This is a hydration bladder that we would trust to hang in the backcountry without the worry of it puncturing if it falls or encounters a few sharp rocks.


We tested it by stuffing it into fully loaded backpacks and smaller running backs. We filled and used it 30+ times in our testing and never had issues with leaks, punctures, or integrity flaws. We also pulled at the seams of the bags, and they don't delaminate, even with a lot of pulling force. We poked the bag with a pencil, which did leave an imprint, but couldn't poke through the plastic. Overall, we seem to be pretty darn durable, but far from indestructible.

This model features quality components. If your pack has a clip in...
This model features quality components. If your pack has a clip in the hydration sleeve, the 3D Hydro attaches easily with its plastic top bar. The screw-top is secure and never leaked on us. The thick polymer body is puncture resistant and ready to be stuffed into tiny places.
Photo: Amber King

Weight and Packability


The biggest caveat of this contender is its bulkiness and lack of packability. It weighs 7.1 oz, making it an ounce or two heavier than most. This is because of the integrated handle and components that we love so much, which scores it high in the durability metric. While this is a great option for backpacking and hiking bags, it's not our first choice for an ultralight adventure where the bladder itself needs to be rolled up and stowed when empty. Use it where structural integrity is needed. Because of this bulkier design, it is easier to stuff into fully loaded packs than other options that flop around when stuffing into tight spaces.


This is a little heavier than options, but we didn't notice the...
This is a little heavier than options, but we didn't notice the weight while running and exploring on the trails.
Photo: Amber King

Value


We appreciate the reliability of this bladder. Given the bomber design, it's one we'd trust for longer missions into the backcountry, where it might take a beating, either in your pack or out of it. We are willing to pay a little more for its extras, but some may not see the value in the handle or hanging accessory. At first, we were unsure, too. Now, we're fully convinced of its benefits and believe there's great value in getting this top-of-the-line bladder.

Conclusion


The Gregory 3D Hydro stands out as a top contender for its durable design that is thoughtful and easy to use. We appreciate the built-in handle and rounded shoulders that make it comfortable to fill and carry in most types of packs. While it is slightly heavier and can't roll up into a small ball, it's a great option for those seeking a reliable bladder that can be taken on a longer mission where reliability is key.

Heading out on a backpacking trip? This reliable bladder is one of...
Heading out on a backpacking trip? This reliable bladder is one of our favorites for long treks into beautiful places. Here, we explore the desert on a backpacking escape with a bladder to help keep us hydrated.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King