Hands-on Gear Review

Hydrapak Shape-Shift Reservoir Review

Hydrapak Shape-Shift Reservoir
Top Pick Award
Price:  $35 List | $28.69 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, internal zipper reduces sloshing, magnetic clip, dishwasher safe, quick release hose, compatible with other brands, large flip-top closure
Cons:  Need to maintain the O-ring, closure is not attached well
Bottom line:  The best lightweight hydration system we've tested so far!
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight (*= 3L size):  4.85 oz*
Bladder Capacity Options (liters):  2L, 3L
Plasticy Taste w/ Opening?:  Yes
Manufacturer:   Hydrapak

Our Verdict

If you're looking for the hands-down best option for ounce-counting adventures, the Hydrapak Shape-Shift Reservoir is for you. It has a simple design and slim profile, making it race-ready and compatible with any running or hiking pack. The zip-lock divider prevents water from sloshing around, while the flip top opening makes for easy cleaning and fill ups. The blaster valve delivers water quickly with little suckage required, while the quantum clip keeps the tube in place. This bladder stood up while freezing and laying out in the sun. It has a very similar construct to the Geigerrig Hydration Engine except it is not pressurized. Flip it inside out and throw it in the dishwasher for a good clean. Overall, a simple and easy to use bladder, winning our Top Pick for Lightweight Adventures.

Product Update — May 2017
The Hydrapak has a new look for this year. You can see the latest option above, but keep scrolling for a full comparison!


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Hydration Bladders of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Amber King

Last Updated:
Saturday
August 13, 2016

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Product Update for Spring 2017


If you noticed that the Shape-Shift in the photo above doesn't match the ones in our tester's hands-on photos, you would be right! Hydrapak rebranded their products this past winter, but they confirmed with us that the changes to the Shape-Shift were purely cosmetic. You can expect the same great value from this Top Pick, just with a new logo! Check out a side-by-side comparison below, with the new reservoir on the left and the old version on the right.
Hydrapak Shape-Shift Reservoir
Hydrapak Shape-Shift Reservoir 3 Liter

Hands-On Review


This award winner is slim, simple, and light. This race ready bladder is a great addition to your gear list on any mission - especially when weight is a major consideration. This is our Top Pick for Lightweight Adventures.

Performance Comparison


HydraPak seems to really be coming up in the hydration world. This brand builds high-quality hydration bladders used by several brand partners to include; Osprey, Innov, Geigerigg, Gregory, Salomon, Nathan, The North Face, Patagonia, GU, and many more. The bladders are built with a strong polymer, different than any other bladder we've tested. Most are also dishwasher safe.

The HydraPak Shape Shift is our Top Pick for Lightweight Adventures. We took it with us running in Peru  day hiking in Colorado  and everywhere in between. Its slim profile fits neatly inside both running and hiking packs.
The HydraPak Shape Shift is our Top Pick for Lightweight Adventures. We took it with us running in Peru, day hiking in Colorado, and everywhere in between. Its slim profile fits neatly inside both running and hiking packs.

Ease of Use


Similar to the Geigerrig Hydration Engine and Osprey Hydraulic LT Reservoir, this bladder has a simple blaster bite valve that allows ample flow with little suckage. The locking mechanism on the bite valve can be difficult to use and did lock up during our testing; we attribute this primarily to using sugary drinks in the bladder and not cleaning it properly. That said, if you're in the market to switch it out, you can use any of the other brands with a quick release mechanism.

The many features of the HydraPak that we loved. The magnetic clip made it easy to keep the hose in place. The measurements on the side of the bladder helped us figure out how much water we needed daily. The zippered compartment gave us versatility with the bladder's profile. While the bite valve provided great water flow (we only wished it was easier to lock and unlock).
The many features of the HydraPak that we loved. The magnetic clip made it easy to keep the hose in place. The measurements on the side of the bladder helped us figure out how much water we needed daily. The zippered compartment gave us versatility with the bladder's profile. While the bite valve provided great water flow (we only wished it was easier to lock and unlock).

This bladder has a great thin profile and a zip lock divider inside to prevent sloshing while running or biking. Zipping up this divider makes the profile thinner, while unzipping it makes it larger. It fits nicely into narrow bladder sleeves, and we found it to be compatible with every pack we tested. We also loved the quantum magnetic clip that keeps the tube in place. Overall, an easy to use bladder, perfect for all conventional functions.

Ease of Care


With the bomber wide mouth opening and its ability to turn inside out, this is one of the easiest bladders to care for. A brush easily fits inside for a more hefty clean. Drying is also a cinch. Simply unzip the internal divider, pull it through, and let it dry.

Here we see the HydraPak taken apart (at the internal zipper)  and flipped inside out to clean and dry.
Here we see the HydraPak taken apart (at the internal zipper), and flipped inside out to clean and dry.

For hose care, simply blow the water through the tube. For a more thorough clean, use a HydraPak Tube Brush. The mouthpiece can be taken apart and cleaned easily. If you don't want to take the time to manually clean the bladder, feel free to throw it in the dishwater on the top shelf at low heat. Badda-bing, badda-bom, a clean sterile bladder! For an extra squeaky clean bladder, throw a tablet like Hydrapak Bottle Bright in there to get rid of any odors and stains.

Dishwasher safe? These two HydraPak brand bladders are! On the top is the Geigerigg  on the bottom is the Shape-Shift. Just flip  clean  and dry. Just make sure to wash on low heat.
Dishwasher safe? These two HydraPak brand bladders are! On the top is the Geigerigg, on the bottom is the Shape-Shift. Just flip, clean, and dry. Just make sure to wash on low heat.

Even though this system is easy to care for, you must take a few extra steps for long-term durability. Like the Geigerrig bladder, make sure to maintain the O-rings to ensure the quick-release system continues to work over time. Our main tester had a similar pack with the exact quick release system that failed due to a lack of care. That said, it's good to do this with all quick release systems.

Ease of Filling


Fill this bladder in a slow trickling stream, a river, a lake, or in a deep sink. Simply open the bladder, pinch the sides, and filling can begin. In a stream, we swooped up water into the reservoir for an easy fill.

The large mouth makes filling up easy! Fill it in lakes  streams  rivers  or at home in your sink.
The large mouth makes filling up easy! Fill it in lakes, streams, rivers, or at home in your sink.

The only place we had difficulty fully filling the bladder was in a shallow basin like a water fountain. Unlike the Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir, it does not have a built-in handle. As a result, filling is not as easy. However, we didn't really notice the difference until we actually put the bladders side by side. In all, the large mouth is great to fill up mostly everywhere with ease.

Quality


Like all bladders in this review, the HydraPak scored fairly high for quality. Even though the construct is not as thick as the Platypus Big Zip LP or CamelBak Crux Reservoir, we found the material to be pretty resistant to punctures.

A look at the seams and construction of the four main bladder types. Top left: HydraPak varieties (hosted in Osprey  Geigerigg  and HydraPak) feature seamless technology with minimal welded seams. Top right: The CamelBak features smaller  more durable seams. Bottom left: Platypus features large seams that we could literally pull apart. Bottom Right: MSR features super strong welds in the fabric outer.
A look at the seams and construction of the four main bladder types. Top left: HydraPak varieties (hosted in Osprey, Geigerigg, and HydraPak) feature seamless technology with minimal welded seams. Top right: The CamelBak features smaller, more durable seams. Bottom left: Platypus features large seams that we could literally pull apart. Bottom Right: MSR features super strong welds in the fabric outer.

The bladder is 100% welded with minimal seams that we couldn't pull apart. We were surprised to learn that we could actually freeze the bag (as advertised) and put warm (but not hot) beverages inside. This is a great addition if you're in need of a last minute ice pack or warm bag. In all, we feel this is a high-quality product that will last a long time.

Here we observe no leaks from the flip top - one of the many quality tests we put each bladder through.
Here we observe no leaks from the flip top - one of the many quality tests we put each bladder through.

Our only caveat was the attachment for the closure. It came off regularly, and we weren't sure how to keep it attached. In some cases, we almost lost it while filling. Other than that, it did a great job. If you're looking for something meant to live outside AND inside a pack, check out the MSR Dromlite Bags, scoring a perfect ten for quality.

Our biggest caveat with this pack was the closure lid. It commonly came off the attachment with no place to attach it well.
Our biggest caveat with this pack was the closure lid. It commonly came off the attachment with no place to attach it well.

Weight


The lightest of all bladders tested! At only 4.85oz (for a 3L bag), it hardly feels like you're carrying anything at all! Many of our testers choose this bladder when seeking a companion for running a race or if they just wanted to go ultralight. As a result of this lightweight and simple design, it earned itself our Top Pick for Lightweight Adventures.

Running through the Peruvian Andes wasn't easy but having a light bladder like the HydraPak Shape-Shift made the experience so much more enjoyable!
Running through the Peruvian Andes wasn't easy but having a light bladder like the HydraPak Shape-Shift made the experience so much more enjoyable!

Best Application


As a lightweight bladder, feel free to take this on any adventure that requires as little weight as possible. Running a trail? Biking across the country? Day hiking with the dog? The HydraPak will suffice for any of the above and more! However, if you're looking for a great backpacking companion, check out the MSR Dromlite instead. It's a little more durability with lots of great additional functions and features.

Value


At only $35 this is one heck of a deal. A simple lightweight bladder for a great low price. We suspect it will last you years with proper care. If this wasn't a top pick, it'd be a contender for our Best Buy award, won by the CamelBak Crux.

Conclusion


This Top Pick for Lightweight Adventures is perfect race-ready bladder truly excelling where lightweight design is required.

Hydration on the go is key while trail running  biking  and hiking. Jared runs the Red Mountain summits in Southwest Colorado equipped with a 1.5L HydraPak brand reservoir.
Hydration on the go is key while trail running, biking, and hiking. Jared runs the Red Mountain summits in Southwest Colorado equipped with a 1.5L HydraPak brand reservoir.

Other Versions & Accessories


This bladder is available in 32 oz, 50 oz, 2 and 3L options.

HydraPak Elite Reservoir
  • No ziplock divider, simple design
  • Magnetic tube clip
  • Lighter
  • Cost: $24

HydraPak Tube Brush
  • Cleans the tubes of any residue
  • Universal diameter, compatible with all hydration tubes
  • 91 cm/36 inches
  • Cost: $10

Videos


Amber King

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Most recent review: August 13, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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