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MSR DromLite Bags Review

This reservoir is lightweight and durable with many functions.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $30 List | $20.21 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, super packable, durable material, inexpensive, incredibly versatile
Cons:  Poor taste, does not come with hose or bite valve, doesn't pack easily into backpack sleeves
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 15, 2019
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 10
  • Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Ease of Care - 25% 6
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 6
  • Quality and Durability - 15% 9
  • Weight and Packability - 15% 9

Our Verdict

If you seek a versatile and lightweight liquid reservoir, the MSR DromLite Bag is our best recommendation. During our tests ranging in locations from the Grand Canyon to the 14,000 ft peaks of the Colorado Rockies, we battered this bladder to see if it would hold up to the durability standards of its predecessor. We hung it from rocks, bushwhacked with it on the outside of our pack, stuffed it into tight spaces, froze it, and heated it up. After these tests (and many others), we are happy to report that this bladder is incredibly durable and offers great performance (minus the taste). It stands out for its lightweight and packable design that can work as a camp pillow, solar shower, hot water bottle, and more! This Top Pick really is best for any type of activity where you need a lightweight water reservoir, and we love it for backpacking.

This durable hydration bladder is built as a reservoir for extra water storage and comes in three different sizes; 2L, 4L, and 6L. It does not come with a hose or a bite valve. You have to purchase the MSR Hydration Kit if you want to drink on the go (like all the other hydration bladders on the market).


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
MSR DromLite Bags
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $20.21 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$27.71 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$34.99 at Amazon$34.99 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$39.00 at Amazon
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Pros Lightweight, super packable, durable material, inexpensive, incredibly versatileDurable, reliable, fast flow rate, easy to fillDurable, great water flow, easy to fill and clean, versatile use, good price.Lightweight, slim profile, simple to use, easy to cleanMany innovative uses, slim profile, pressurized system, fairly lightweight, easy to fill, dishwasher safe
Cons Poor taste, does not come with hose or bite valve, doesn't pack easily into backpack sleevesWider profile doesn't fit narrow hydration sleevesCan't flip inside out.Not as durable as other options, connections get gummed up without lubricationExpensive, small learning curve, no measurement on bag, initial plasticky taste, not our favorite bite valve
Bottom Line This reservoir is lightweight and durable with many functions.This favorite offers burly and reliable construction best for hiking and backpacking.This high value bladder with stellar performance for a decent price.A lightweight and slim bladder for any on-the-go athlete.This notable bladder offers a pressurized system and a great all-around hydration system.
Rating Categories MSR DromLite Bags Platypus Big Zip EVO CamelBak Crux Reservoir Shape-Shift Reservoir Geigerrig Hydration Engine
Ease Of Use (25%)
10
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8
10
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9
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9
10
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8
10
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8
Ease Of Care (25%)
10
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6
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8
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8
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9
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9
Ease Of Filling (20%)
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Quality And Durability (15%)
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Weight And Packability (15%)
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6
Specs MSR DromLite Bags Platypus Big Zip EVO CamelBak Crux... Shape-Shift... Geigerrig...
Weight of Bladder & Tube (3L, *2.5L system,**4L system) 5.20 oz** 6.90 oz 8.40 oz 5.40 oz 6.40 oz
Bladder Capacity Options (liters) 2L, 4L, 6L 1.5L, 2L, 3L 1.5L, 2L, 3L 2L, 3L 2L, 3L
Dishwasher Friendly? No No No Yes Yes
Plastic Taste Yes No No Yes Yes
BPA-free? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bite Valve None (Bite valve with lock arm shutoff valve in separate attachment kit) HyFLO Self-sealing Bite Valve Bite valve with updated shutoff valve Bite valve with shutoff twist valve Bite valve with shutoff twist valve
Can bite valve be removed? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hose Connection At the mouth of the screw top Mid-tube, but can be changed to the base. Quick Release Quick release hose (no swivel) Quick release (no swivel) Quick release hose (no swivel)
Closure Type Screw top (3 in 1 spouts) Zip top Screw top Slide top Slide top
Warranty Limited warranty Limited warranty Lifetime Guarantee Lifetime warranty 30-day money back guarantee

Our Analysis and Test Results

The currently-sold MSR DromLite has a 3-in-1 cap that is not compatible with the 2016 accessory kits (like solar shower and hydration kit) that fit the previous version of this product. If you want to buy the new DromLite, but you want to use your old accessories still, just give MSR a call. They will send you a cap that will work (the old design) free of charge.

This Top Pick boasts an insanely packable design that isn't only durable but incredibly lightweight as well. It's a perfect option as an additional reservoir for day hikes, backpacking missions, or hanging out around camp.

Performance Comparison


The DromLite Hydration bladder can be hung from rocks  stuffed into backpacks  and dragged pretty much everywhere. Its lightweight and packable design in addition to its vast adaptability makes it a Top Pick.
The DromLite Hydration bladder can be hung from rocks, stuffed into backpacks, and dragged pretty much everywhere. Its lightweight and packable design in addition to its vast adaptability makes it a Top Pick.

Ease of Use


The DromLite is an easy to use hydration reservoir that can be turned into a bladder. The key feature is its well-engineered 3-in-1 cap that can be used in three different ways.


First, the Nalgene-sized open houses a durable and sturdy tab that makes holding the bladder easy while filling. This opening is compatible with the MSR pump and a plethora of other accessories. Second, there is a second screw top opening that attaches to the first screw-top lid which provides a medium flow of water, perfect for filling up a water bottle or hydration bladder. The third is the trickle spout. This is an even smaller spout, perfect for taking a quick drink.

Here we see the Nalgene-sized opening with the top to the left. You can see the hole  which is the second size of the pouring. We typically used the Nalgene sized spout when sharing water or filling it up. The next size  we use when we need a lot of water quickly. The last is for a good sip here or there.
Here we see the Nalgene-sized opening with the top to the left. You can see the hole, which is the second size of the pouring. We typically used the Nalgene sized spout when sharing water or filling it up. The next size, we use when we need a lot of water quickly. The last is for a good sip here or there.

The hydration kit that can be ordered separately from the DromLite is rudimentary at best, attaching to the second opening. The bite valve is comfortable and offers a shut-off valve open that doesn't get sticky or gummed up after multiple uses. Also, the bite valve can be switched out for other options that are compatible with HydraPak or Camelbak if you prefer another mouthpiece. Our major caveat is that the hose is (obviously) not quick-release and is not compatible with other hoses.

A look at the flow rate on the second hole  high up on a cliff in Indian Creek  Moab.
A look at the flow rate on the second hole, high up on a cliff in Indian Creek, Moab.

This bladder is not designed to fit inside of smaller running packs or thinner profile hydration packs. That said, it did well, fitting into larger hydration packs with a wider profile. Some backpack sleeves tested could not house it. Overall, we'd recommend assessing how you want to carry this reservoir before buying it to ensure it fits in your back.

A look at the use of the hydration kit makes for drinking water on the go easy!
A look at the use of the hydration kit makes for drinking water on the go easy!

Users of the DromLite prefer to use the additional hydration kit (mouthpiece and hose) for adventures where you don't want to dig through your pack to get to your water. Otherwise, the DromLite is best used as an additional reservoir or a general water-carry system.

Ease of Care


This bladder is more difficult to care for than other models tested in this review. The Nalgene-sized opening is small, and you can't fit a hand inside to clean the opening. Luckily, the 3-in-1 cap comes apart quickly and is super easy to soak and scrub. The exterior plastic material is translucent so you can monitor any potential bacterial growth, which is an improvement from the previous design.


To clean this bladder, use a cleaning tablet or be diligent about making sure you rinse and dry your bladder after use. In our testing period, we simply rinsed and dried and didn't notice any build-up over time. If you plan on using a sugary drink (which you can with this new design), be sure to use both a small brush and cleaning tablets. Then, throw it into the freezer (without water inside) after it is dried to ensure no bacterial growth.

While most brushes won't fit inside  you're better off just rinsing and drying. Avoid sugary substances as you'll have a hard time getting out all the sugar  making it a potential petri dish for bacterial growth.
While most brushes won't fit inside, you're better off just rinsing and drying. Avoid sugary substances as you'll have a hard time getting out all the sugar, making it a potential petri dish for bacterial growth.

If bacterial growth does ensue (for example; you forgot to clean your bladder and left it in your backpack for a week or longer!), be sure to scrub it well with a small brush and, again, use a cleaning tablet. The construct of this bladder will make it difficult to reach every nook and cranny.

Simply rinse and dry with any kitchen appliance to keep the bag from falling in on one another.
Simply rinse and dry with any kitchen appliance to keep the bag from falling in on one another.

Consider a tablet such as Hydrapak Bottle Bright; this formula is biodegradable, non-toxic, and non-chlorinated to help ensure all potential bacteria is removed from the bladder.

Ease of Filling


Equipped with a durable and burly handle that allows you to fill your DromLite bag from a tap or river easily, the filling is simple. That said, while the handle is sturdy and doesn't deform under the weight of the bag while it fills, we felt that other hydration bladders are easier to fill from trickling streams or super shallow mediums.


While you can fill this bladder from outside rivers and streams, water is harder to catch than traditional bladders. One trick we learned is to simply place the fold top collector on the rock, allowing water to trickle inside. The screw-top design doesn't allow this use. That said, it's perfect for plunging into a lake or raging river, collecting water quickly.

A look at the easy to hold lid that makes it simple to fill with just one hand.
A look at the easy to hold lid that makes it simple to fill with just one hand.

Quality and Durability


Constructed of a new film with welded seams, MSR says that it offers "reliable durability," and we agree. Through our testing period, we threw it into backpacks, loaded it into coolers, put it in the freezer, and smashed it all around the crag. We hung it (and it fell numerous times) from rocks and sat on it too many times to count. We even had the dog drink out of it and play with it for a while. After all this abuse, the film, seams, and cap held up!


We pulled at the welded seams, trying to see if they would delaminate, and they don't budge an inch. When filling the bladder and squishing and squeezing it in all directions, the cap didn't leak at any of the screw points (despite some potential failure points).

Even hanging it up against rocks  this bladder has proven to be quite durable  even after a year of testing.
Even hanging it up against rocks, this bladder has proven to be quite durable, even after a year of testing.

While this new construction makes us want to take care of the bladder a little more carefully than the previous version, there are no noted durability issues in our time with this bladder. In hand, it feels less durable because the materials are thinner than the previous design, but performance-wise, it's still a beast! The durable exterior is designed to withstand punctures, making it an excellent option for hanging from trees or rocks around camp.

Weight and Packability


This is one of the lightest and most compressible hydration bladders you'll find on the market. The outer materials are durable yet flexible, folding efficiently and effectively. The new design is not nearly as bulky as the last model, making it a packable option for any sport that requires lightweight travel. This is a big reason that it's our best recommendation for backpacking.


This bladder  when empty  packs really small. A perfect option if you need to store your bladder on the go and space is limited.
This bladder, when empty, packs really small. A perfect option if you need to store your bladder on the go and space is limited.

Value


This product is super high value! If it hadn't already won a Top Pick, it would be our Best Buy award winner. It comes in 2L, 4L, and 6L options with a super low retail price. We've had and used ours for over two years now, trailing it along on climbing and backpacking adventures. It is still holding up, and the best value is in its herculean versatility around camp and on the trail.

Kasia ventures into this hot-springs slot-canyon with the Dromlite tucked into her overnight bag. While we can't see it in this photo  it faired well under pressure  keeping us both hydrated in the Arizona desert.
Kasia ventures into this hot-springs slot-canyon with the Dromlite tucked into her overnight bag. While we can't see it in this photo, it faired well under pressure, keeping us both hydrated in the Arizona desert.

Conclusion


The MSR DromLite Bag features a new design that is still durable but more lightweight and packable than its well-known red predecessor. It comes in a variety of sizes and proved to be one of the most versatile hydration bladders tested. Because of its lightweight versatility that won't fail you on the trail, it's our go-to for backpacking and hiking.

This reservoir proved useful when taking the hour-long approach up to the lesser trafficked Cave Wall in Indian Creek. We were able to store extra water for ourselves and the dog in these hot arid conditions. This Top Pick for Backpacking is our favorite for overnights and day trips for its grand versatility.
This reservoir proved useful when taking the hour-long approach up to the lesser trafficked Cave Wall in Indian Creek. We were able to store extra water for ourselves and the dog in these hot arid conditions. This Top Pick for Backpacking is our favorite for overnights and day trips for its grand versatility.


Amber King