HydraPak is becoming a powerhouse in the hydration world. This brand builds high-quality hydration bladders used by several brand partners, including 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.
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 significant consideration.
A look at the new make-over of the HydraPak Shape-Shifter. It's a lightweight contender that wins a Top Pick for all who are looking to carry as little as possible.
Ease of Use
This bladder features a simple "blaster" bite valve that allows sufficient 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. If you're in the market to switch it out, you can use any of the other brands with a quick release mechanism.
It features a thin profile and a ziplock divider inside to prevent sloshing while on the move. Zipping up this divider makes the profile thinner while unzipping it makes it larger. It fits nicely into narrow bladder sleeves and is compatible with most packs. We love the quantum magnetic clip that keeps the tube in place. This helps to prevent the mouthpiece from jostling around on the go.
The bladder also features a hanger, like other bladders, which helps to keep it upright in the back. By attaching this, it won't collapse under pressure, ensuring that you can suck every last drop of water that is left in your bladder. Overall, this is a simple and easy-to-use option for all types of outdoor activities.
Our main tester is PSYCHED about the lightweight design of this bladder while crushing over 6,000ft of vertical gain in the steep mountains of Colorado. She especially appreciates how it fits nicely into her running vest.
Ease of Care
With a wide mouth opening that is absolutely bomber and its ability to turn inside out, this is one of the easiest bladders to care for. A brush easily fits inside for a heftier clean. Drying is also a cinch. Simply unzip the internal divider, pull it through, and let it dry. In addition, the bite valve and hose are easily removed for cleaning. Just put the valve in a hot bath to clean out any unwanted bacterial build-up. Then clean the hose with the HydraPak Tube Brush.
The best maintenance is daily maintenance. Make sure to rinse and dry this bladder after every use to avoid bacterial growth. It can also handle being thrown into the freezer to ensure any bacteria is killed. Overall, this is an easy bladder to take care of, especially if you rinse and dry it after each use.
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 lubricate the O-rings occasionally 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 from your tap at home. Merely open the bladder, pinch the sides, and filling can begin. The flip-top design promotes easy collection from a slow-drizzle. Lay it down flat and start your water collection.
The only place you might have difficulty filling this bladder is in a shallow basin like a water fountain. It does not have a built-in handle, and the body of the bladder is not rigid, making it hard to hold in place. Aside from that, its largemouth opening is great to fill up from most sources with ease.
While the material is a thinner TPU film than other contenders, it's still fairly durable. It's not as resilient as thicker-filmed products like the Camelbak Crux.
The bladder is 100% welded with minimal seams that we couldn't pull apart. We are happy to report this bag can stand up to freezing and being filled with warm (not hot) beverages. Overall, a good quality bag that is not as resistant to punctures as thicker-plastic contenders.
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.
Weight and Packability
This is a super lightweight bladder. 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 while going ultralight. It is our favorite for long distance running. As a result of this lightweight and simple design, it earned itself our Top Pick for this exact purpose.
When the bladder is empty, and the hoses are disconnected (at the base), it can roll up into a tiny neat package. This promotes easy storage in a backpack or the freezer (to kill bacteria) when not in use. Overall, one of the lightest and simplest hydration bladders on the market.
While it functions well for lightweight missions, its functions are not restricted to just that. Take it will trail running, biking across the county, or just day hiking with the pup. It's a great option for most applications. Don't plan on throwing it around camp as the exterior material isn't as durable as other contenders.
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!
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 it weren't a top pick, it'd be a contender for our Best Buy Award.
This race-ready bladder is lightweight and featureless. It truly excels where a lightweight design is required. Take home this Top Pick for all your speedy adventures this year!
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.