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Platypus Big Zip EVO Review

This is a burly and reliable option has an awesome flow rate and convenient features, but long-term testing isn't favoring the zip closure
Platypus Big Zip EVO
Photo: Platypus
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Price:  $40 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, reliable, fast flow rate, easy to fill, excellent valve locking mechanism
Cons:  Wider profile, closure is hard to close in cold weather and requires maintenance
Manufacturer:   Platypus
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 4, 2021
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 12
  • Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Ease of Care - 25% 8
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 7
  • Quality and Durability - 15% 8
  • Weight and Packability - 15% 7

Our Verdict

We love the durable design of the Platypus Big Zip EVO that features a large ziplock style closure. We appreciate its puncture-resistant design that can be rolled up and stored on the go. The bite value features a large push lock that can easily be taken apart for cleaning and delivers water at a high speed. While this was one of our favorites, after over a year of testing in all conditions, we notice the zip closure has become harder to use over time. The profile is also wider than most which doesn't make it a great option for narrower running packs. Overall, this is still a top-shelf bladder, but be aware of the closure issues we've encountered.

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Platypus Big Zip EVO
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
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$29.95 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Durable, reliable, fast flow rate, easy to fill, excellent valve locking mechanismThick and durable bladder, handle for easy filling, drying accessory, excellent flow rate, narrow and rounded profile for easy fit in narrow packsLightweight, 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 Wider profile, closure is hard to close in cold weather and requires maintenanceBulkier components don't pack downNot 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 This is a burly and reliable option has an awesome flow rate and convenient features, but long-term testing isn't favoring the zip closureThis top performer stands out for its quality construction and easy filling profile that is reliable for hydration on backcountry adventures and day tripsA lightweight and slim bladder that's especially suited for ounce-counting athletes pushing deep into the backcountryThis is a high value bladder with stellar performance for a decent priceThis reservoir is lightweight and durable with many functions and uses in the outdoors
Rating Categories Platypus Big Zip EVO Gregory 3D Hydro Shape-Shift Reservoir CamelBak Crux Reser... MSR DromLite Bags
Ease Of Use (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Ease Of Care (25%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Ease Of Filling (20%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
5.0
Quality And Durability (15%)
8.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
Weight And Packability (15%)
7.0
6.0
9.0
5.0
9.0
Specs Platypus Big Zip EVO Gregory 3D Hydro Shape-Shift Reservoir CamelBak Crux Reser... MSR DromLite Bags
Weight of Bladder & Tube (oz) 6.90 oz (3L) 7.1 oz (3L) 5.40 oz (3L) 8.40 oz (3L) 5.20 oz (4L)
Bladder Capacity Options (liters) 1.5L, 2L, 3L 3 L 2L, 3L 1.5L, 2L, 3L 2L, 4L, 6L
Dishwasher Friendly? No No Yes No No
Plastic Taste No No Yes No Yes
Bite Valve HyFLO Self-sealing Bite Valve Push-button on/off 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 Mid-tube, but can be changed to the base. Quick Release Mid-tube quick release, but can be changed to the base. Quick release (no swivel) Quick release hose (no swivel) At the mouth of the screw top
Closure Type Zip top Screw top Slide top Screw top Screw top (3 in 1 spouts)

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Platypus Big Zip EVO stands out for its durable body and faster water flow. It's easy to fill. It's one of the few bladders we'd trust on a long backpacking trip in warm weather and offers functionality for a run or day hike as well. After testing it for over a year, we have noted the closure has a hard time closing if it's not completely clean, or it's cold outside.

Performance Comparison


A look at the Platypus Big Zip that features durable and reliable...
A look at the Platypus Big Zip that features durable and reliable construction.
Photo: Amber King

Ease of Use


The big bite valve and wider tube offer an excellent rate of water flow. This bite valve is a step up from most, utilizing a large lever lock and larger design, that fits comfortably in the mouth. Over the last months of testing, it hasn't clogged up or been hard to turn, even while ski touring with a pair of gloves on.

Flow is fast which is great for on-the-go activities like running or...
Flow is fast which is great for on-the-go activities like running or hiking.
Photo: Amber King

The tube clips into a quick-release halfway up the tube, which makes unclipping the tube from the bladder nice and easy. While on a climbing trip, we had our bladder stuffed deep into the back of the pack, with gear and a rope inside. To load up with water, we simply unclipped it from this point, and removed the bladder, making it easy to access. This clip-in point makes the bladder a great option for backpacking or longer trips.

The zip-top enclosure. While it's easy to use in good weather, it's...
The zip-top enclosure. While it's easy to use in good weather, it's becoming harder to use over time and in colder weather.
Photo: Amber King

If you don't like the clip-in point halfway up the tube, you can simply pull the hose off the bottom attachment point, remove the mid-clip-in hardware, and reattach the tube to the bottom of the bladder. We haven't found any other bladder that offers this type of clip-in versatility. We really appreciate this when we wanted a little less hose (it's very long) and wanted to reduce weight on a longer trail run.

Here are a few of the different bite valves. We found some locking...
Here are a few of the different bite valves. We found some locking mechanisms to work easier than others. We prefer the larger bite valve (bottom) which is faster to flow than others.
Photo: Amber King

Another consideration is how easy it is to load into a backpack. Given that the material is more rigid and there is a center baffle in the center, it holds its shape well, doing better than most bladders tested. As a result, it can easily be loaded into an empty backpack or running bladder. Unfortunately, it has a wide profile, making it so that it doesn't work with some narrow hydration backpack sleeves.

A look at the ziptop closure with the complementary slide top for...
A look at the ziptop closure with the complementary slide top for additional protection.
Photo: Amber King

One issue of note is the zip-top closure. Like a large ziplock bag, two sides of plastic have to come together to close the bladder up. After using it for the last year or so, we've noticed this becoming more difficult. In cold weather, if there is any water on the closure, it becomes incredibly difficult to close, making it unusable. On that note, we never had a moment where we couldn't use the bladder, but for those considering it for, say a winter camping trip, we'd recommend only using it for warmer weather due to this issue. We prefer flip-top or screw-lid closures to this design.

Ease of Care


Caring for this bladder is easy. Many of the tube components completely disconnect, and the plastic used does not promote bacterial growth. While running, mountain biking, and backpacking, we've learned that this system is pretty simple to care for. The tubes all disconnect from the hardware and their attachment points, allowing you to access all the different areas for cleaning with a brush if necessary.

All components come apart for cleaning. You can take all tubes off...
All components come apart for cleaning. You can take all tubes off all attachments and completely deconstruct the bite valves to rid yourself of any accidental bacterial build-up
Photo: Amber King

The bite valve can easily be taken apart and put into a cleaning solution to ensure bacterial growth does not ensue. The reservoir itself has a semi-rigid baffle in the center that prevents the two sides of the plastic from collapsing on each other when empty. This helps to promote airflow throughout the bag. The opening is hard to keep open, but we felt that simply placing a pair of tongs at the opening did a good job to help with the drying out process.

A look at the easy pouring and filling spout that can be used with...
A look at the easy pouring and filling spout that can be used with one hand.
Photo: Amber King

Our only caveat with the care system is with the opening of the reservoir. The size is fairly small, not really allowing you to get a scrubbing tool inside with ease. Nor does the bag flip inside out. While we did use this bag with sugary substances that could cause bacterial growth, we were especially careful to rinse out the bag with a cleaning tablet. If bacterial growth had been encountered, we could imagine cleaning it out would be problematic in comparison to other options that can flip inside out. Aside from that, it's easy to care for, but you need to be diligent to clean it if using sugary fluids inside.

Ease of Filling


The Platypus Big Zip uses a zip-top with a slide-top enclosure to ensure that the bladder does not leak once it's filled up. The filling process is pretty simple given the opening, and it can collect water from most water sources easily.

The handle that you pinch to get a one-hand fill.
The handle that you pinch to get a one-hand fill.
Photo: Amber King

The Big Zip now has a handle that doesn't function for traditional use. Instead of putting fingers underneath it, like a handle, you pinch both sides to keep the bladder open with just one hand. This makes filling in a sink or from a spout super easy. The zip-top isn't as versatile as other bladders constructed by HydraPak simply because it doesn't have an elongated collecting and pouring spout that allows you to collect easily from shallow, flowing sources. Trying to fill from rivers, lakes, or taps is quite simple with this new design.

The filling process is easy, especially in deep sinks. Other models...
The filling process is easy, especially in deep sinks. Other models are easier to fill in shallow sinks.
Photo: Amber King

Quality and Durability


If you're seeking a durable bladder that you're not afraid to throw around, we can say this is where it's at. The reservoir features welded seams with a plastic material that is thicker than any of the other hydration bladders tested. It's puncture-resistant with great hardware integrated into the design. It offers a body that is reliable for backpacking into remote places.

Weight and Packability


This is a midweight hydration bladder weighing in at 6.90 oz. It's one of the heavier options tested (splitting ounces here…), but it still feels light in your backpack. It has a wider profile that makes it a little harder to pack in narrow backpacks, but we learned that it was only super tiny running packs that the 3-L capacity did not work in.

A wide profile that isn't super complementary with narrow running...
A wide profile that isn't super complementary with narrow running packs. While we could still fit it in, its best for wider backpacks.
Photo: Amber King

Value


Given the great durability of the bag itself and some of its simpler components, we think it is of good value. The only caveat to the design is the closure that struggles in cold weather. For every other use, it's one of our favorite and remains a high scorer and of high value because of its design perks.

Day hiking, running with a wider profile pack. This bladder is...
Day hiking, running with a wider profile pack. This bladder is versatile, durable, and reliable.
Photo: Amber King

Conclusion


The Platypus Big Zip is a great choice for overnights, longer trips, or day adventures. It features a high flow tube and a bite valve with an easy-to-use construction. It's still one we trust for most activities.

Amber King