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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.