The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir Review

All about stability, this heavy hydration bladder is perfect for backpacking
Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir
Photo: Osprey
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $42 List | $39.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
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
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 15, 2019
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 11
  • Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Ease of Care - 25% 6
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 8
  • Quality and Durability - 15% 8
  • Weight and Packability - 15% 4

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. While good for hiking and backpacking, it's a little too heavy for running vests. 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 polymer. Also, the taste of the bladder is bad during the first few uses, but it went away after several uses. This is a great hydration bladder for those seeking a rigid and easy-to-use system. Backpackers will love it as the rigid backplate can easily be used to stuff it into a backpack full of other items.

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.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $39.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$36.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$34.39 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$29.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$26.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
69
81
76
76
73
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Easy to fill everywhere, easy to put into a backpack, fast flow, locking bite-valve, versatile with other bite valves and hosesDurable, reliable, fast flow rate, easy to fillLightweight, slim profile, simple to use, easy to cleanDurable, great water flow, easy to fill and clean, versatile use, good priceLightweight, super packable, durable material, inexpensive, incredibly versatile
Cons Expensive, heavy design, hard to clean, outer material isn't puncture-proof, specific fit, bad tasteWider profile doesn't fit narrow hydration sleevesNot as durable as other options, connections get gummed up without lubricationCan't flip inside outPoor taste, does not come with hose or bite valve, doesn't pack easily into backpack sleeves
Bottom Line Ideal for the backpacker or hiker, this hydration bladder integrates a stable back plate for easier useA reliable and burly bladder with all-around awesome performanceReady for any on-the-go athlete looking for a lightweight hydration systemOne of our favorite bladders with an array of usesTake this lightweight and packable reservoir on your next backpacking adventure
Rating Categories Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir Platypus Big Zip EVO Shape-Shift Reservoir CamelBak Crux Reservoir MSR DromLite Bags
Ease Of Use (25%)
8
9
8
9
8
Ease Of Care (25%)
6
8
9
8
6
Ease Of Filling (20%)
8
8
7
9
6
Quality And Durability (15%)
8
8
4
5
8
Weight And Packability (15%)
4
7
9
5
9
Specs Osprey Hydraulics... Platypus Big Zip EVO Shape-Shift... CamelBak Crux... MSR DromLite Bags
Weight of Bladder & Tube (oz) 8.75 oz (3L) 6.90 oz (3L) 5.40 oz (3L) 8.40 oz (3L) 5.20 oz (4L)
Bladder Capacity Options (liters) 2L, 3L 1.5L, 2L, 3L 2L, 3L 1.5L, 2L, 3L 2L, 4L, 6L
Dishwasher Friendly? Yes No Yes No No
Plastic Taste Yes No Yes No Yes
Bite Valve Bite valve with shutoff twist valve HyFLO Self-sealing Bite Valve Bite valve with shutoff twist valve Bite valve with updated shutoff 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 Extended quick release hose (no swivel), no release at base of bladder Mid-tube, but can be changed to the base. Quick Release Quick release (no swivel) Quick release hose (no swivel) At the mouth of the screw top
Closure Type Slide top Zip top Slide top Screw top Screw top (3 in 1 spouts)
Warranty 1-year limited guarantee Limited warranty Lifetime warranty Lifetime Guarantee Limited warranty

Our Analysis and Test Results

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...
A look at the Osprey Hydraulics that fits nicely inside a hydration pack or backpacking pack. This 3-liter bladder is a perfect option for day hiking or backpacking for days.
Photo: Amber King

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 backplate that adds structure and rigidity to the bladder that maintains its flat profile when stuffed inside a pack.

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

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!

We love the zip top that makes the filling and overall use pretty...
We love the zip top that makes the filling and overall use pretty simple.
Photo: Amber King

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, up close with a bit of trail spice...
The bite valve, up close with a bit of trail spice...
Photo: Amber King

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...
The universal hookups allow you to switch out the hose. Shown here is a Deuter tube attached to the Hydraulics bladder.
Photo: Amber King

This twist-lock bite valve can get gummed up and won't twist after 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.

This disconnects at the center point. While this is great for...
This disconnects at the center point. While this is great for on-trail purposes, we find the connector that goes from the bag is much harder to clean. The rest is simple. Simply open it up, rinse it out, or use a sponge to clean it without any problem.
Photo: Amber King

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.

We appreciate the handle that sort of help to fill up the Osprey...
We appreciate the handle that sort of help to fill up the Osprey Hydraulics system. However, it's a bit small, and when the bladder becomes more full, it doesn't work as well. Great idea, but it needs to be refined.
Photo: Amber King

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.

Pinch it, and scoop up some water! We also appreciate the long...
Pinch it, and scoop up some water! We also appreciate the long tongue that offers great pouring capabilities.
Photo: Amber King

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 thicker options. 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.

The plastic is a little thinner, which isn't as impervious to...
The plastic is a little thinner, which isn't as impervious to punctures. The connectors are high quality though.
Photo: Amber King

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 time 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. As a result, its best for those who don't need to pack it away during their trips or adventures.

Here we see a few other bladders rolled up and compacted down. While...
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.
Photo: Amber King

Value


This is an expensive bladder for the price. Many bladders that score higher cost less. Those that will find the value in this bladder will be looking for one with better structure and stability. We found this the easiest to stuff into a full backpack, for example, than any other bladder tested. If you need a bladder that can do that, this is a good price. Otherwise, look at lower-priced options that don't have this nifty feature.

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

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