Platypus Big Zip EVO Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Durable, reliable, fast flow rate, easy to fill
Cons: Wider profile doesn't fit narrow hydration sleeves
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Our Editors' Choice Award winner is highly versatile, quite durable, and offers fast and effective water delivery. Designed with a "no plastic taste" guarantee, this product surely does deliver, providing taste-free water right out of the packaging. It's one of the few bladders we'd trust on a long backpacking trip and offers functionality for the odd run or day hike as well. It has many connection point options that provide great versatility and allows the user to optimize it to their liking, making it a great option for a wide range of users.
Ease of Use
The big bite valve and wider tube used with offers the best rate of water flow and is comfortable to drink from. It's easy to load into a bag but has a wider profile.
The bite valve is relatively larger than other options out there and fits comfortably into the mouth. This new bite valve is a step up for the previous version. The lock on it is a big lever that opens and closes smoothly. 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.
The tube clips into a point half-way 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 the tube 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.
If you don't like the clip-in point half-way 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 appreciated this when we wanted a little less hose (it's very long) and wanted to reduce weight on a longer trail run.
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.
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.
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 by simply placing a pair of tongs at the opening did a good job to help with the drying out process.
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 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.
Our caveat with the filling system is with the zip-top enclosure. While we appreciate both the zip and slide top to ensure no leakage, the zip-top can be challenging to close. It is constructed of two pieces of heavy plastic that work like a super thick ziplock bag. While this is okay for warmer weather where your fingers can really press both sides together efficiently, it's problematic in cold weather. That aside, it's easy to use and collect water from most water sources in most types of weather.
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.
With such amazing performance on the trail, it is priced fairly and reasonably. We believe that this reservoir will last you for a long time (though only time will tell), making this a great value option in addition to a stand-out performer.
The Platypus Big Zip is our Editors' Choice winner for its durable design, high flow rate, and versatile function. It's best for backpacking, mountain biking, day hikes, and more. It's not the most narrow or lightweight bladder, making it less functional for super lightweight endeavors or hydration backpacks with a narrow water pocket. In our eyes, it's one of the most versatile and reliable options out there, fulfilling the needs of most outdoor recreationists better than its competition. It doesn't make your water taste like plastic, and the anti-microbial growth lining makes maintenance a breeze.
— Amber King