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 | $34.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 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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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 10
  • Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Ease of Care - 25% 9
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 7
  • Quality and Durability - 15% 6
  • 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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award   Top Pick Award 
Price $34.99 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$36.95 at Backcountry
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$34.99 at Amazon$39.00 at Amazon$26.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Lightweight, slim profile, simple to use, easy to cleanDurable, reliable, fast flow rate, easy to fillDurable, great water flow, easy to fill and clean, versatile use, good price.Many innovative uses, slim profile, pressurized system, fairly lightweight, easy to fill, dishwasher safeLightweight, super packable, durable material, inexpensive, incredibly versatile
Cons Not as durable as other options, connections get gummed up without lubricationWider profile doesn't fit narrow hydration sleevesCan't flip inside out.Expensive, small learning curve, no measurement on bag, initial plasticky taste, not our favorite bite valvePoor taste, does not come with hose or bite valve, doesn't pack easily into backpack sleeves
Bottom Line A lightweight and slim bladder for any on-the-go athlete.This favorite offers burly and reliable construction best for hiking and backpacking.This high value bladder with stellar performance for a decent price.This notable bladder offers a pressurized system and a great all-around hydration system.This reservoir is lightweight and durable with many functions.
Rating Categories Shape-Shift Reservoir Platypus Big Zip EVO CamelBak Crux Reservoir Geigerrig Hydration Engine MSR DromLite Bags
Ease Of Use (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Ease Of Care (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
6
Ease Of Filling (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
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6
Quality And Durability (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
Weight And Packability (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
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5
10
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6
10
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9
Specs Shape-Shift... Platypus Big Zip EVO CamelBak Crux... Geigerrig... MSR DromLite Bags
Weight of Bladder & Tube (3L, *2.5L system,**4L system) 5.40 oz 6.90 oz 8.40 oz 6.40 oz 5.20 oz**
Bladder Capacity Options (liters) 2L, 3L 1.5L, 2L, 3L 1.5L, 2L, 3L 2L, 3L 2L, 4L, 6L
Dishwasher Friendly? Yes No No Yes No
Plastic Taste Yes No No Yes Yes
BPA-free? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bite Valve Bite valve with shutoff twist valve HyFLO Self-sealing Bite Valve Bite valve with updated shutoff valve Bite valve with shutoff twist valve None (Bite valve with lock arm shutoff valve in separate attachment kit)
Can bite valve be removed? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hose Connection Quick release (no swivel) Mid-tube, but can be changed to the base. Quick Release Quick release hose (no swivel) Quick release hose (no swivel) At the mouth of the screw top
Closure Type Slide top Zip top Screw top Slide top Screw top (3 in 1 spouts)
Warranty Lifetime warranty Limited warranty Lifetime Guarantee 30-day money back guarantee Limited warranty

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 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.

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.
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.
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.
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.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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 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 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 newest update for several months. While it does require some maintenance, the lightweight and simple design are worth the cost. Of the lightweight options out there, this one is the most reliable, with the best water flow, and no leakage. Give it a try - the value is right.

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.
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.

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