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Hydrapak Shape-Shift Reservoir Review

A lightweight and slim bladder that's especially suited for ounce-counting athletes pushing deep into the backcountry
Hydrapak Shape-Shift Reservoir
Photo: HydraPak
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $38 List | $32.19 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, slim profile, simple to use, easy to clean
Cons:  Not as durable as other options, connections get gummed up without lubrication
Manufacturer:   Hydrapak
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 15, 2019
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 12
  • Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Ease of Care - 25% 9
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 6
  • Quality and Durability - 15% 5
  • Weight and Packability - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The HydraPak ShapeShift Reservoir is one of the lightest bladder and hose setups that we've tested thus far, and in its lightweight class, it's definitely our favorite. We've used it while crushing ultradistance races of 50+ miles and ski touring in cold weather. It offers a faster rate of flow through the newly designed mouthpiece. Out of the box, it does have a plastic taste, but that 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. It's also the most reliable for the weight.

It's important to note that this bladder only holds 2.5 L when the ShapeShift Connect in the center is put together. If you release it, it'll hold 3L.

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $32.19 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Lightweight, slim profile, simple to use, easy to cleanThick and durable bladder, handle for easy filling, drying accessory, excellent flow rate, narrow and rounded profile for easy fit in narrow packsDurable, reliable, fast flow rate, easy to fill, excellent valve locking mechanismDurable, great water flow, easy to fill and clean, versatile use, good priceDurable, versatile and lightweight design, good flow rate, great price
Cons Not as durable as other options, connections get gummed up without lubricationBulkier components don't pack downWider profile, closure is hard to close in cold weather and requires maintenanceCan't flip inside outHarder to clean, bite valve doesn't lock off
Bottom Line A lightweight and slim bladder that's especially suited for ounce-counting athletes pushing deep into the backcountryThis top performer stands out for its quality construction and easy filling profile that is reliable for hydration on backcountry adventures and day tripsThis is a burly and reliable option has an awesome flow rate and convenient features, but long-term testing isn't favoring the zip closureThis is a high value bladder with stellar performance for a decent priceThis durable, lightweight, and simple bladder won't take a toll on your wallet
Rating Categories Hydrapak Shape-Shif... Gregory 3D Hydro Platypus Big Zip EVO CamelBak Crux Reser... Platypus Hoser
Ease Of Use (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Ease Of Care (25%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
Ease Of Filling (20%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
Quality And Durability (15%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
Weight And Packability (15%)
9.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
10.0
Specs Hydrapak Shape-Shif... Gregory 3D Hydro Platypus Big Zip EVO CamelBak Crux Reser... Platypus Hoser
Weight of Bladder & Tube (oz) 5.40 oz (3L) 7.1 oz (3L) 6.90 oz (3L) 8.40 oz (3L) 4.2 oz (3L)
Bladder Capacity Options (liters) 2L, 3L 3 L 1.5L, 2L, 3L 1.5L, 2L, 3L 1L, 1.5L, 3L
Dishwasher Friendly? Yes No No No No
Plastic Taste Yes No No No No
Bite Valve Bite valve with shutoff twist valve Push-button on/off valve HyFLO Self-sealing Bite Valve Bite valve with updated shutoff valve HyFLO bite valve
Can bite valve be removed? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Hose Connection Quick release (no swivel) Mid-tube quick release, but can be changed to the base. Mid-tube, but can be changed to the base. Quick Release Quick release hose (no swivel) Screw-on hose
Closure Type Slide top Screw top Zip top Screw top Screw top (hose connection)

Our Analysis and Test Results

Our favorite lightweight hydration bladder saw a few updates that make it a touch fancier and more versatile. Its connections are more durable with a handle that makes filling 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 go-to for lightweight performance.

Performance Comparison


Summiting a peak with the lightweight HydraPak in tow made climbing...
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.
Photo: Amber King

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...
A look at the narrow profile that fits nicely into most hydration packs.
Photo: Amber King

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.

A look at the twist-lock mechanism for whenever you need to lock the...
A look at the twist-lock mechanism for whenever you need to lock the valve from leaking. This is especially useful when stuffing it into an overloaded backpack.
Photo: Amber King
The quick connection is nice and compatible with other hoses...
The quick connection is nice and compatible with other hoses. However, it does require maintenance. If you don't use the provided lube that comes with it, you'll find this connection to gum up, and even stop working after a period of time. If you buy it, be sure to commit to maintaining it.
Photo: Amber King

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

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

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.
Photo: Amber King

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 sources, 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...
The two handles on the sides make it easier to fill from different spouts and shallow basins.
Photo: Amber King

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 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.


Tucked away into a gear-laden backpack, it holds up nicely.
Tucked away into a gear-laden backpack, it holds up nicely.
Photo: Amber King

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 60 degrees C/140 degrees F)". 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...
Fit it into even the smallest of hydration vests and backpacks like this one!
Photo: Amber King

A reason that we really love this bladder is that it fits well with most running vests and hiking packs. Others 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. Of the bladders out there, the performance is the best for the weight.

Value


The price is right for the performance. We've tested this bladder for many years, and the latest update for almost a year now. While we love its lightweight design, it's important to note that the quick connect on this bladder has failed on us. We've had to replace it almost every two years after heavy use (it's our favorite to use for running, and we run a lot!). Just note that this may not be the same value as other contenders.

Running up to Uncompahgre Peak with our favorite running companion...
Running up to Uncompahgre Peak with our favorite running companion, the HydraPak ShapeShift 3L hydration bladder. It tucks easily into our running pack for this lightweight adventure.
Photo: Amber King

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

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