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HydraPak HydraSleeve Review

A fully insulated and interchangeable hydration system that'll keep your water cold in the summer and unfrozen in the winter
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $60 List | $46.07 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Insulation, high flow rate, keeps liquids cold in the summer, interchangeable design to meet temperature needs
Cons:  Expensive up front cost, hose comes out of quick connect and can spill a bit
Manufacturer:   HydraPak
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 11, 2020
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 11
  • Ease of Use - 25% 7
  • Ease of Care - 25% 8
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 7
  • Quality and Durability - 15% 9
  • Weight and Packability - 15% 3

Our Verdict

Enjoy gushing cold water all summer long with the HydraPak Hydrasleeve hydration system. This Top Pick uses a unique insulative system that wraps both the bladder and tube with an insulative layer. While this adds a little weight to the traditional system, it makes the bladder durable enough to be used outside the backpack, strapped to a boat, or even the back of a bike. During the warm months, the water stays icy cold inside your backpack. During our field tests, our icy cold water stayed that way for six hours while hiking in the desert. This four-season hydration system is unique in its ability to insulate in all weather. It keeps water colder 3x longer and prevents water from freezing in the tube twice as long as normal systems.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The HydraSleeve uses a unique insulative pocket and hose that'll keep your drinks liquid in the winter and cold in the summer. It's a favorite amongst our testers that love to backpack and hike with icy cool water all day long. Use it without the pocket, or change out the insulative tubing for a regular hose. This bladder can be modularized and is the most versatile that we've tested so far.

Performance Comparison


A look at what comes with the HydraPak HydraSleeve. An insulated sleeve  tube  and ShapeShift Hydration bladder.
A look at what comes with the HydraPak HydraSleeve. An insulated sleeve, tube, and ShapeShift Hydration bladder.

Ease of Use


What makes this bladder our top pick is the insulative sleeve and tube that it comes with. This additional insulation offers better temperature stasis for longer periods of time. If you like to hike with super cold water in the summer, slide this model inside your pack, and expect icy slurps all day long. If you love to adventure in the winter, but struggle with hydration bladder tubes icing up, this system will help to prevent that, too. In addition, the mouthpiece offers exceptional water flow, doesn't slosh when you walk, and all parts can be changed out if needed. All in all, this is the most versatile hydration bladder that we've tested because of its insulative qualities.


Let's start with the most unique feature - the sleeve itself! Built with insulating foam and a reflective liner, this roll-top design doesn't only accommodate the bladder it comes with but can accommodate those that are wider or of different brands. We tried it out with five different types with five different brand names — and most worked.

The roll-top sleeved encloses the hydration bladder to keep it cooler in warmer conditions.
The roll-top sleeved encloses the hydration bladder to keep it cooler in warmer conditions.

Our only caveat with this sleeve is the connecter window at the bottom. Before pulling out the hydration bladder, you have to try and disconnect the tube, which is cumbersome. More often than not, the tube just popped right off, spilling a small amount of water.

Unfortunately  when we tried to disconnect the tube to remove the bladder from the sleeve  the tube sometimes pops off. This spills some water that's already in the tube. While it doesn't present an issue while it's in our pack and only happens when we intentionally try to remove it  it's a bit of annoyance. An issue that HydraPak should work on.
Unfortunately, when we tried to disconnect the tube to remove the bladder from the sleeve, the tube sometimes pops off. This spills some water that's already in the tube. While it doesn't present an issue while it's in our pack and only happens when we intentionally try to remove it, it's a bit of annoyance. An issue that HydraPak should work on.

The insulative tube is nice and thick, offering the same diameter tubing as other hydration bladders made by HydraFlask. As a result, flow is ample and always available. The high flow mouthpiece can easily be pinched between the teeth to yield a nice, generous stream of water.

The tube is thick and compatible with many hydration backpacks.
The tube is thick and compatible with many hydration backpacks.

If you want to parse down this system, feel free! You can use just the bladder, which is the HydraPak ShapeShift, our favorite lightweight system, which slims down your carrying weight. You can also switch out the insulated tube for a regular one. Typically most tubes from different brands are interchangeable. So look at the anatomy of the quick connect to see if it'll work. Plus, you can switch out the mouthpieces if you're not a fan. That said, we love the mouthpiece it comes with.

A look at the high flow bite valve and cover. The locking mechanism is a twist shut that does require the use of both hands.
A look at the high flow bite valve and cover. The locking mechanism is a twist shut that does require the use of both hands.

Insulation Tests

During our testing period, we took the time to really see how well this sleeve insulates. We timed how long the bladder took to freeze during objective testing in our freezer. We also looked at how well the tube kept water from freezing in a test that most regular bladders would easily fail. We also took each out into the field while skiing and backpacking in both cold and hot weather to see how the sleeve worked in comparison to other bladders.

Amongst the meats and tortillas  you'll see our insulative tests hard at work. Here we took the time to see which bladders froze the fastest and which tubes stayed liquid. No tubes stayed liquid even with insulation. After 24 hrs  the HydraSleeve bladder wasn't completely frozen like the other uninsulated bladders. Here we test it against a normal bladder (the control) in the center.
Amongst the meats and tortillas, you'll see our insulative tests hard at work. Here we took the time to see which bladders froze the fastest and which tubes stayed liquid. No tubes stayed liquid even with insulation. After 24 hrs, the HydraSleeve bladder wasn't completely frozen like the other uninsulated bladders. Here we test it against a normal bladder (the control) in the center.

After it all, we learned the insulative sleeve keeps water from freezing twice as long as regular hydration bladders, while the body of the bladder keeps the reservoir itself from freezing, even after being exposed to 0F temperatures for over 24 hrs!

A look inside the sleeve. It insulates using foam and reflective material.
A look inside the sleeve. It insulates using foam and reflective material.

In the field, we didn't have any issues with tubes freezing, even when skiing in the cold temperatures of the mountains all day long. In addition, the sleeve kept our water nice and cool during a 6-hour hike when temperatures got over 90F. This is our favorite insulative bladder that'll help keep water from freezing in the tube during the winter and cool in the summer. It keeps water from freezing in tubes twice as long as a regular bladder and keeps drinks cool in the reservoir 3X as long as normal bladders.

We also stripped down the system without the sleeve to take with us on running adventures. There were no real benefits to the insulation system in this use case  other than having an insulated sleeve. This is a benefit in the winter  but not so much the summer. You can also switch out the tube if you'd like.
We also stripped down the system without the sleeve to take with us on running adventures. There were no real benefits to the insulation system in this use case, other than having an insulated sleeve. This is a benefit in the winter, but not so much the summer. You can also switch out the tube if you'd like.

Ease of Care


Care is like any other bladder in this review. To ensure that it stays clean, be sure to empty it out after every use. We found that simply rinsing the insulating bladder sleeve was sufficient to keep it debris free.


The bladder can be put into the dishwasher (top rack) and flipped inside out. The bite valve disassembles completely so you can scrub it easily. Since you can't see the tube (insulation is black and can't be taken off), be sure you blowback the water after every use. If you suspect the tube to be dirty, be sure to purchase a tube cleaning kit and soak it regularly.

Simply dry out after rinsing this bladder after every use to reduce bacterial growth.
Simply dry out after rinsing this bladder after every use to reduce bacterial growth.

Put the tube in the freezer when you're not using it to kill any unwanted bacteria or viruses.

This bladder is dishwasher safe! Just make sure to tuck in the plastic slider and put it on the top rack.
This bladder is dishwasher safe! Just make sure to tuck in the plastic slider and put it on the top rack.

Ease of Filling


Filling is quite simple. The bladder has a tiny little handle that you can use, or you can pinch it open. It'll fill easily under a sink or hose. You can keep the bladder inside the sleeve to fill it, or take it out. If you take it out, you have to unclip the base of the hose and reattach it when sliding in - which takes more time. Filling up in streams is easy too, but you'll have work harder in stagnant sources (if you're in the backcountry).


You can fill this bladder with just one hand. Simply pinch it open. There are also two handles that help to provide a better grip.
You can fill this bladder with just one hand. Simply pinch it open. There are also two handles that help to provide a better grip.

Quality and Durability


Of the bladders tested, this set-up is the most durable and high quality.


The sleeve provides an additional level of protection from abrasion and wear and tear. It's composed of 21D Nylon ripstop that is waterproof. We were able to strap it to the outside of our packs, hang it with ease, and throw it around camp without worrying about punctures. The long and short - you can be rough with it.

The exterior of the Nylon sleeve provides abrasion resistance  which increases the longevity of any hydration bladder inside.
The exterior of the Nylon sleeve provides abrasion resistance, which increases the longevity of any hydration bladder inside.

The hydration bladder inside is the HydraPak ShapeShift which offers a decent level of durability on its own. Just know, it's been our experience that the quick connect at the base of this bladder gets gummed up after serious use and requires periodic lubrication. Even then, we've had to replace this bladder ever two years or so because we can't get the hose to click into the connect contact point. That said, we use the ShapeShift weekly (likely much more than typical users), and it's still never leaked on us, even after testing it for five years and counting!

On our backpacking missions  this usually came with  simply because we wanted to enjoy cold water. Its bulky design is hard to fit into most fully loaded packs. If you're traveling without a pack  feel free to strap it to your boat or bike  given its durable nature.
On our backpacking missions, this usually came with, simply because we wanted to enjoy cold water. Its bulky design is hard to fit into most fully loaded packs. If you're traveling without a pack, feel free to strap it to your boat or bike, given its durable nature.

Weight and Packability


Of all systems tested, it's not surprising that this one, with all its components, is heavy in comparison to systems without the sleeve. The bladder itself is lightweight and if you wanted to use it without the sleeve, you can. This cuts the weight significantly. Plus you can change out the insulated tube for a regular one.


The total weight (12 oz) accounts for the hydration bladder and tube (6.5 oz), and sleeve (5.50 oz). The sleeve features a rolltop construction that is compatible with only some hydration bladder hangers in most backpacks. A backpack that works the best will have a big hanging loop with lots of room to fit around the roll top. We typically slide this in at the base of our packs, or if there was no room, we put it on the outside, which still kept our water cool. It also features nifty attachment points to strap to a bike, boat, or backpack. We never really used these, but we could see how they'd easily work with a piece of webbing, cord, and a carabiner.

It has a slim profile that'll fit into most larger packs  but the sleeve itself is too large for a traditional running vest. The hydration bladder  however  will fit easily in either without the sleeve.
It has a slim profile that'll fit into most larger packs, but the sleeve itself is too large for a traditional running vest. The hydration bladder, however, will fit easily in either without the sleeve.

Value


If you've been seeking a hydration system that'll keep your water cool in the summer, this offers the best value out there. The price is about 40% higher than most hydration bladders but comes with a lot more than your traditional hydration system. While most people may not see the value in this extra price, many that love cold water for hours on end, and don't mind carrying a little weight, will easily justify the initial investment.

Looking for a great hydration system for backcountry skiing or hot desert romps? This one's our top pick for just that  earning it our best insulative hydration system award.
Looking for a great hydration system for backcountry skiing or hot desert romps? This one's our top pick for just that, earning it our best insulative hydration system award.

Conclusion


The HydraPak Hydrasleeve is a unique system that provides insulation all the way around both the bladder and the tube. This helps to prevent your tube from crusting up in the winter (which stops water flow) and also keeps your drinks cool and fresh for the summer. No other hydration system we've tested performs as well or provides this level of functionality. When you don't want to use the sleeve, simply remove it and use the high-quality bladder inside on its own.

Amber King