If you seek a versatile and lightweight hydration bladder, the MSR DromLite 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 newly redesigned bladder is still incredibly durable and provides better performance (minus the taste). It is lightweight and folds up to the size of its cap, making it easy to pack into small corners of your already overloaded backpack. It also provides many functions that surpass that of just a water reservoir. It works well as a camp pillow, solar shower, hand washing station, hot water bottle…and even a dog bowl! And of course, it does a pretty good job at holding and distributing water. As a result of its multitude of functions, it's our Top Pick for backpacking.
While we love the versatility of this hydration system, it's not the easiest to clean, nor is it the easiest to collect water. The single opening is as wide as a Nalgene bottle, making it easy to fill from a tap, but hard to scrub if you accidentally forget to wash it for a few days (and this can happen!). Also, if you're stuck with a small trickle over a few rocks in the backcountry as your only water source, you might find yourself manufacturing a funnel from other materials, as the bladder top can't lay flat on the ground. As a result, it doesn't collect water as efficiently as other flip-topped contenders like the Geigerrig Hydration Engine. Nor does it have a backplate like the Osprey Hydraulics that promotes easier water collection in small trickles. Aside from those minor caveats, it's still one of our favorites for its versatile function and many uses in camp and on the trail.