The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Hydrapak Shape-Shift Reservoir Review

A lightweight and slim bladder for any on-the-go athlete.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $38 List | $26.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, slim profile, simple to use, easy to clean
Cons:  Not as durable as other options
Manufacturer:   Hydrapak
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 16, 2019
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84
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

The HydraPak ShapeShift Reservoir is the lightest bladder and hose set-up that we've tested thus far. We've used it while crushing ultradistance races of 50+ miles and ski touring in cold weather. Its slim profile is similar to the Geigerrig Hydration Engine but offers a faster rate of flow through the newly designed mouthpiece. While it's not as durable as the Geigerrig, it'll hold up for lots of use. Unfortunately, out of the box, it does have a plastic taste that eventually went away after about two weeks of consistent use. While we didn't like that so much, we still used it for its easy design that is easy to maintain. Given that it is easy to clean, you can add sugary substances to the bladder, as long as you are on top of care. This is a top choice for our on-the-go athletes that care about the ounces.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Our favorite lightweight hydration bladder saw a few updates that make it a touch bit fancier and more versatile. Its connections are more durable with a brand-new handle that makes filling a touch bit easier. Its rate of flow is faster than the previous iteration, making it very easy to drink on the go. It's still lightweight with a thin profile and our number one goto for lightweight performance.

Performance Comparison


Summiting a peak with the lightweight HydraPak in tow made climbing up to 14 000 ft a little easier. This Top Pick is our favorite for ultralight adventures like this one.
Summiting a peak with the lightweight HydraPak in tow made climbing up to 14,000 ft a little easier. This Top Pick is our favorite for ultralight adventures like this one.

Ease of Use


The new bite valve offered in this iteration is advertised to offer "20% more flow" in the 2019 update. Indeed this design offers a faster flow compared to its predecessor. It's easy to hydrate on-to-go, and it is one of the easiest bladders to use because of its simple design.


The bite valve is long and cylindrical, similar to other HydraPak designs. It isn't too large and fits nicely in the mouth, offering a sufficient flow of water.

A look at the narrow profile that fits nicely into most hydration packs.
A look at the narrow profile that fits nicely into most hydration packs.

When testing it against the previous year's model, we noticed we hardly to suck water at all. Water was received readily…which we really appreciate! It has a twist lock that prevents water from leaking out when not in use. That said, we hardly locked it, as the bite valve is well-sealed and offers protection from leakage naturally on its own.


We, unfortunately, did experience a plasticky taste our water right out of the package. Over time, this eventually went away, but it did take several uses before we didn't notice it anymore.

Ease of Care


This is a low maintenance bladder that is easy to care for. It can be flipped inside out, is dishwasher safe, is easy to scrub inside. Given its ease of care, we will say you can add sugary mixtures into the bladder if you would like because it is simple to clean all the individual parts.


The hose connects at the base of the reservoir. After using it, we blew out additional water and unplugged the bite valve for easy air drying. The bite valve can be taken apart and soaked to cleaning easily as well.

All parts can be disconnected for easy care. The bladder can be flipped inside out and even put into the dishwasher.
All parts can be disconnected for easy care. The bladder can be flipped inside out and even put into the dishwasher.

The reservoir is pretty legit. Even though the profile is thin, it's simple. The plastic is flexible enough that you can turn it inside out. The center baffle comes apart, making this nice and easy. When we used it, we simply emptied all the water and put a pair of tongs inside to hold it open and air dry.

If you need to sterilize it, you can turn it inside out and scrub it with a brush and soap. If you don't have time for that, simply place it on the top rack of your dishwasher and was on low heat. Most HydraPak reservoirs (that we know) have this wonderful care ability!

If you don't feel like doing all those extra steps  simply let it sit out to dry.
If you don't feel like doing all those extra steps, simply let it sit out to dry.

If you put sugary substances into your bladder, know that you must clean it out soon. Bacterial colonies will grow if not maintained daily. If you plan on storing it, make sure water in the tube, bite valve, and the reservoir is completely evaporated. If you wish, you can throw the bladder into the freezer until you use it again to avoid any bacterial growth.

Ease of Filling


The Shapeshift has a plastic handle that makes filling up this bladder quite nice and easy.


While the handle is quite small, it offers enough room to get the tips of your fingers underneath it. The filling is not one handed as the opening still closes on itself, and you need a second hand to hold it open under a spout.

It's easy to pour and fill with the spout.
It's easy to pour and fill with the spout.

On the go, we found it easy to dunk this bladder into a pond or river and fill it up completely. The spout makes it easy to pour water out, but shallow sources that don't run are a little more difficult to collect from. All in all, we found it pretty easy to fill from most source, and the new handle promotes a better way to hold onto the bladder while on the go.

The two handles on the sides make it easier to fill from different spouts and shallow basins.
The two handles on the sides make it easier to fill from different spouts and shallow basins.

Quality and Durability


The ShapeShift is constructed of a durable polymer that is somewhat puncture resistant, but is quite flexible. The new tube connector offers a much easier connection that also seems far more durable than the previous design. In our testing period, we did not experience any issues with leaking or punctures, even after throwing it around in a climbing pack as both a hydration bladder and a storage vessel.


Other hydration bladders that are constructed of a heavier plastic polymer, like the Platypus Big Zip Evo, our Editor's Choice winner, did better in this metric. It's thicker and offers more resistance to abrasion and other forces that might pop it or put a hole in it. While we can't speak for this new model, simply because we haven't tested it long enough, the previous HydraPak Shapeshift maintained its performance for a long time.

Tucked away into a gear-laden backpack  it holds up nicely.
Tucked away into a gear-laden backpack, it holds up nicely.

We owned the previous version for a few years, and it wasn't until after 100's of days on the trail that it started to leak at the seams. While we hope this design is more durable, it does look similar in construction. Overall, it's pretty darn durable for its ultralight construction. We have trusted this bladder while fastpacking 100's of miles in Europe and running ultradistance marathons. We've used it on backpacking and climbing trips, dumping all of our stuff into a bag, knowing that the HydraPak could take the abuse.

A cool note is the website states that it has a "wide working temperature…(can be frozen - max temp 60oC/140oF)". Feel free to use it while ski touring, trail running, or day walking with the dog.

Weight and Packability


This bladder is lightweight and offers a slim profile that is easy to pack away into all hydration backpack systems. The 3L version weighs 5.40 oz with both the tube and bladder.


There have been heavier components added to make the hydration system more functional and easier to use than its predecessor. Previously, it weighed 4.80 oz. While it's not as lightweight as it used to be, it's still one of the lightest out there. The profile of the bladder is slim in width and depth, making it long and skinny. It fits nicely into even the most narrow bladder sleeves on any hydration pack. The interior baffle helps to hold the shape of the bladder. When it's not put together (it looks like a thick ziplock inside), it can hold 3L. When it is put together, the profile becomes even thinner, with a water capacity of 2.5L.

Fit it into even the smallest of hydration vests and backpacks like this one!
Fit it into even the smallest of hydration vests and backpacks like this one!

A reason that we really love this bladder is that it fits well with most running vests and hiking packs. Others, like the Platypus, are too wide to fit nicely into more narrow sleeves, making it a great option to articulate well with lightweight packs used for many lightweight adventures. There are lighter options, like the MSR Dromlite, our Top Pick for Backpacking because it is only a water storage container, but of the hydration bladders with a built-in hose and mouthpiece, it's the lightest we've tested so far.

Best Applications


Truly, this bladder can be used for any adventure, but its low weight and slim profile makes it prime for use on ultralight adventures like ski touring, trail running, or fastpacking. It's compatible with many water filtration systems, and the tubes and mouthpieces can be switched out for other options that you might prefer. This versatile and lightweight bladder is our favorite when we're trying to keep the ounces of weight off our back. It's a reliable option you can trust for long days in the backcountry.

Running up to Uncompahgre Peak with our favorite running companion!
Running up to Uncompahgre Peak with our favorite running companion!

Value


Retailing for $38, this is just a few dollars more than our Best Buy award winner. The price is right, even though you might have to replace it after several years of use. We appreciate the value it brings for such a lightweight design.

Conclusion


The HydraPak Shapeshift is a lightweight bladder with a slim profile. It can be used for pretty much anything but is our top choice when we're counting the ounces. For such a lightweight design, it's durable and fits nearly every hydration pack out there. Its a favorite for trail running, ski touring, and fastpacking.


Amber King