Hands-on Gear Review

Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir Review

All about stability, this heavy hydration bladder retains its shape when full and empty.
Osprey Hydraulics
By: Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 21, 2018
Price:  $42 List  |  $40.00 at REI - 5% Off
Pros:  Easy to fill everywhere, easy to put into a backpack, fast flow, locking bite-valve, versatile with other bite valves and hoses
Cons:  Expensive, heavy design, hard to clean, outer material isn't puncture-proof, specific fit, bad taste
Manufacturer:   Osprey
75
OVERALL
SCORE


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

The Osprey Hydraulics bladder is unique for its integrated backplate that helps the bladder retain its shape when empty. Offered in 2L or 3L options, it features a slim profile and an elongated spout, perfect for collecting water from shallow trickles in the backcountry. It slides easily into backpacks making it easy to remove, fill, and replace without frustration. The hose comes in two parts (see photos). The idea is to create easy access to unclip so you don't have to take it off your pack or dig through your backpack contents. That said, this feature makes it a little harder to clean and pack away.

While good for hiking and backpacking, it's a little too heavy for running vests. A lighter version is the Osprey Hydraulics LT that has the same features, minus the rigid backplate, making the fit more versatile with backpacks and running packs. While we didn't experience any durability issues or note any problems during our testing period, some online reviews express issues with the durability of the outer fabric. Also, the taste of the bladder was bad during the first few uses, but it went away after several uses. If you seek a better option, the Source Tactical WXP offers a more durable outer fabric and no weird taste. However, it doesn't have an integrated rigid backplate, nor does it have the same hose system. Overall, this is a great hydration bladder for those seeking a rigid and easy-to-use hydration bladder.

If you find yourself needing to scrub your bladder seriously, check out the Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir Cleaning Kit. It is helpful, but unnecessary if you maintain it after each use.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Osprey Hydraulics bladder is great for the hiker or backpacker seeking a bladder that retains its shape while filling it with water and exploring trails.

Performance Comparison


A look at the Osprey Hydraulics that fits nicely inside a hydration pack or backpacking pack. A perfect option for day hiking or backpacking for days.
A look at the Osprey Hydraulics that fits nicely inside a hydration pack or backpacking pack. A perfect option for day hiking or backpacking for days.

Ease of Use


The Osprey Hydraulics hydration bladder offers an easy way to get your bladder in and out of a loaded backpack. A feature unique to the bladder is the ergonomic HydroStatic back plate that adds structure and rigidity to the bladder that maintains its flat profile when stuffed inside a pack. While this is a cool feature that many backpackers and hikers may enjoy, it limits the versatility of its fit. Since the backplate is rigid, it is designed only to fit inside of packs that are large enough to accommodate it. For example; if you have a 3-L bladder, you need a backpack that can hold a 3-L bladder. The bladder does not compress down, nor is it comfortable to wear with a running pack that requires a smaller bladder with a slimmer profile. That said, it provides a little more structure to an otherwise unstructured backpack, a cool idea!

The backplate on the Osprey Hydraulics makes this bladder durable and easy to slip into a backpack.

Another unique feature of this hydration bladder (similar to the Osprey Hydraulics LT) is that the hose doesn't connect at the base of the bladder, but halfway up the line, making it easy to unclip without having to dig through piles of stuff in your backpack. The bite valve features a twist-locking mechanism that prevents any unexpected water loss. We ran and climbed with it unlocked, though, and the bite valve doesn't leak. If you don't like the way the bite valve feels, or you prefer a different locking mechanism, the hose and bite valve can be switched out for pretty much any other option in this review.

The universal hookups allow you to switch out the hose. Shown here is a Deuter tube attached to the Hydraulics bladder.
The bite valve  up close with a bit of trail spice...

This twist-lock bite valve can get gummed up and won't twist after a prolonged use. Make sure to clean it regularly.

Ease of Care


The flip-top design makes it easy to get inside and scrub the bladder reservoir if needed. It is dishwasher safe and can be loaded up on the top rack of a washing machine set to low temperatures. That said, because the hose connects halfway up the length of the hose, it's almost impossible to clean the section of hose between the base of the bladder and the connection point. A huge bummer. You also can't flip it inside out because of the backplate. Therefore, maintenance is key. Rinse and dry after each use. Make sure to blow all remaining water in the hose back into the reservoir and let it dry. To kill and suspected bacteria, put the hose and reservoir in the freezer until you're ready to use it again. Overall, this bladder is not the easiest to care for, but it's not hard either if you stay up on maintenance.

Ease of Filling


The flip-top design features an extended spout and a handle that makes filling from a tap, river, lake, or trickling stream easy peasy. The rigid backplate keeps the shape of the bladder, even when empty, making it easy to pour and share water from this bladder. Overall, a super easy hydration system to fill up and share water.


Quality & Durability


This Osprey model is a high-quality product that offers a surprisingly durable design. The reinforced HydroStatic backplate protects from abrasion and friction while hiking. The outer film is a little thinner, so it's not as resistant to punctures as the thicker Source Tactical WXP. The seams are welded and in good shape, while the quality of the plastics is bomber and well-crafted. There were no durability issues observed in our time testing this bladder, though some online reviews mention issues with punctures and leakage around the base of the bladder.

This bladder tastes bad during the first uses. We recommend cleaning it thoroughly before use. After a few uses, this taste went away, but the first times using it was pretty gnarly.

Weight & Compressibility


Given the additional features and materials utilized in its design, this is a relatively heavy bladder. It maintains a slim profile when empty and can be left in the hydration bladder sleeve, but it cannot be rolled up or packed away to a smaller size because (a) the backplate is too rigid, and (b) there is no hose disconnect at the base of the bladder. The lightweight version of this bladder is the Osprey Hydraulics LT that omits the backplate from the design and is more versatile.

Here we see a few other bladders rolled up and compacted down. While we tried to do this  the Osprey Hydraulics is not rollable or compressible.
Here we see a few other bladders rolled up and compacted down. While we tried to do this, the Osprey Hydraulics is not rollable or compressible.

Best Applications


The Hydraulics is best used for hiking and backpacking, although the ultralight crowd might not appreciate the extra heft. It is not a great option for running as the backplate adds additional weight and rigidity. While it can be used as a plain reservoir, the outer fabric is not thick enough to serve as a reliable option. Take it on your next long-distance backpacking mission and fill it easily on the trail, just don't expect to throw it around camp.

Here we hike up Hayden Ridge (11 000 ft) with the Osprey Hydraulics bladder for easy hydration on the go.
Here we hike up Hayden Ridge (11,000 ft) with the Osprey Hydraulics bladder for easy hydration on the go.

Value


Retailing for $42 (3L design), this is at the high end of the price spectrum. Many bladders that score higher cost less. That said, if you want a bladder that stands out for a stable design with an integrated backplate and easy to access hose release, this may be right up your alley.

This bladder also comes in a 2-L design that retails for $40. The 3-L is a better value as you get more for just two bucks extra! That said, make sure to look at the size of pack you intend to use this in as fit is specific.

Conclusion


The Osprey Hydraulics hydration bladder offers a durable and rigid design that makes stuffing it into packs and filling it up easy peasy. A solid choice for those seeking a great hiking and backpacking hydration bladder because it's so easy to fill from trickling streams.

Amber King

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: July 21, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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  • 5
 (2.7)

33% of 3 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 50%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 50%  (2)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Hiker

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   Jun 7, 2016 - 05:06pm
G-Man62 · Hiker · Lighthouse Point

Let me start by saying I am a huge CamelBak fan, I have a few and love them all. That being said, I have purchased these from Osprey in the 3 liter capacity. Now with a few hikes in with this reservoir including some back to back 10-14 mile days in Acadia I feel I can offer a good review. I purchased them after doing a lot of research and finally took a chance based on a the consistency of the positive attributes.

OK, I saw a lot about how they leak and are heavy. I agree they are a bit heavier than some of the others on the market but by 6-7 oz or so (I think), not by a huge margin. As for leaking, I gave them to my wife and offered no instructions other than check for leaks, she filled them and checked for leaking and in fact they both leaked. She opened the lids, then tried spinning them backwards until they seated then tightened them again. NO LEAKS!! Not even a little, ever again! If anything they are getting easier to seal with time and use. The lid is attached with a rather rigid plastic holder that insists on keeping it in place. It can be a pain to keep the lid out of the way when filling. Not a big deal but it requires you to kind of fold/hold it back out of the way. Okay, so there is a small learning curve here but not a big deal.

When putting them into our packs, hers is a 18L mine is a 32L both have dedicated bladder pockets. You find out immediately the handle is a great feature and makes filling, carrying and inserting them a breeze! The semi-ridged backing also helps in the reservoir holding it's shape and inserting it into the bladder pockets. This has proven to be a consistent finding for both of us. I think this is also where the extra weight comes in but in my (our) opinion it's worth it. If they could cut some weight out and keep these features it would be awesome.

The hose is also a good length. I am 6'3" and it's perfect for me. It's easy to cut shorter if needed but adding length is a bit tougher. The magnetic holder is an awesome feature and the bite valve is the best I (we) have ever used (sorry Camelbak). In fact it was a pleasant surprise that they really give you a lot of water with no effort! it's been described as a "passive pressurization" and I would have to agree! We live in sunny (read hot) South Florida and my wife loves that she can spritz her face and neck at will on the trail.

I would like to see a baffle be placed inside to stop the water from sloshing. We always remove as much air as possible and only use for hiking so sloshing is not a real big issue for us but if you run, climb or bike aggressively it might be.

I have a cleaning kit and really have not found them to be any more difficult to clean than any other non top-zip design. As with all my reservoirs/bladders, I stuff a balled up paper towel inside and leave the lid open, they dry no problem. We cleaned them before our first use with hydration bladder cleaning tabs and found they did not make the water taste bad.

Overall these are very good hydration reservoirs that allow you to carry a lot of water and work very well. I have held back one star for the weight and the lack of a baffle. I do recommend these and will probably purchase again if I need another.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

Backpacker

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   Nov 1, 2015 - 08:15pm
Michelle Lawson · Backpacker · Scarborough, Maine

I bought this reservoir in 2014 and have regretted ever since. It has consistently leaked every time I have used it, making a mess in my backpack. I tried everything to find the leak but failed to. The plus to this is that Osprey is shipping me a new one after a year of owning this one. They have a new style coming out in January of 2015. I'm hoping it's much improved.



Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.

Climber

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   Aug 27, 2014 - 08:27am
Stefan Jacobsen · Climber · Danmark

Nothing much to add. Except that the magnet tends to pick up dust from rocks containing iron. Ditched the handle, still heavy.



Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.


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