Hands-on Gear Review

Platypus Big Zip LP Review

Platypus Big Zip LP
Price:  $37 List | $23.95 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Thicker plastic is less prone to punctures, no plastic taste, fits inside most packs, divided compartments to prevent sloshing, larger hanger on the closure
Cons:  Wider than other hydration bladders tested, hard to suck bite valve
Bottom line:  A great general use bladder with a burly outer construct, zip top closure, and quick-release hose.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Weight (*= 3L size):  6.25 oz*
Bladder Capacity Options (liters):  1.5L, 2L, 3L
Plasticy Taste w/ Opening?:  No
Manufacturer:   Platypus

Our Verdict

The Platypus Big Zip LP (low profile) Reservoir is a burly hydration bladder that is easy to clean and relatively light. Even though it scored the lowest in this review, it did a great job as a general use bladder. It just didn't have nifty adaptations like other bladders tested, and the quality didn't seem as high as others. The zip top closure is intuitive and fast to use, while the quick release system is somewhat compatible with other bladders (and you can change out the mouthpiece).

The new slimmer profile is compatible with many packs but not all. This opening is a little different than a flip top opening, as it seals at the top similar to a ziplock bag instead of flipping over itself. We liked this design, but wished for a larger opening for a few reasons. We also found that in colder weather, the top was harder to peel apart in order to refill. If you're interested in a flip top model instead, check out our Editors' Choice winner, the Geigerrig Hydration Engine. Or if you like screw top options, check out our Best Buy winner, the CamelBak Crux Reservoir.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Amber King

Last Updated:
Saturday
August 13, 2016

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The Playtpus Big Zip LP Reservoir is your standard zip top bladder featuring an easy to fill reservoir. In addition, there is no plastic taste out of the box!

Performance Comparison


Finding a waterfall was a huge plus on this backpacking adventure in Peru. Filling up here with the Platypus Big Zip was also quite refreshing.
Finding a waterfall was a huge plus on this backpacking adventure in Peru. Filling up here with the Platypus Big Zip was also quite refreshing.

Ease of Use


This is the only reservoir where we really felt like we had to suck hard at times to get water out. The mouthpiece is a little larger than other models and most of the tubes are compatible with the quick-link tube attachment. However, because this attachment is oriented horizontally, it didn't make sense to use other systems that had a vertically oriented attachment. Luckily, there is a 90 degree connector at the base of the bladder that makes it compatible with other hoses. That said, it was a bit of a pain to switch these pieces out, but when we did, suckage was fine.

If you're not happy with the bite valve, swap it out for one you really love. We used the valve from the CamelBak Crux instead, which is also sold separately as the CamelBak Big Bite Valve. Another alternative that we like is the Hydrapak Blaster Bite Valve, a smaller valve that provides great flow with minimal effort.

Platypus has a compatible outlet  but because it is oriented horizontally  it doesn't allow other hoses to sit properly without the 90 degree attachment (top left corner). Look for vertically oriented attachments instead.
Platypus has a compatible outlet, but because it is oriented horizontally, it doesn't allow other hoses to sit properly without the 90 degree attachment (top left corner). Look for vertically oriented attachments instead.

For versatility, we found that even with the slimmer design, this bladder was not the best option for smaller running packs as it was too wide. If you choose this bladder for this use, make sure to order a 1L or 2L option. Other designs, with the exception of the MSR Dromlite Bags, were fine for this function because they were a little slimmer. Other than that, it was just fine for use in our Black Diamond climbing pack and other backpacking models. Just make sure your sleeve will appropriately accommodate the width of this bladder. When filled, it is about 8.5 inches at its widest section (3L version).

A comparison of the Platypus (left) and CamelBak (right) bite valve. We found the larger bite valves were a little harder to suck than medium sized valves.
A comparison of the Platypus (left) and CamelBak (right) bite valve. We found the larger bite valves were a little harder to suck than medium sized valves.

Also, for water sterilization, consider using a pump or iodine in the backcountry. When trying to sterilize water with a SteriPEN Ultra, we could not get our hand completely in the bag to swish it around. We would have liked a larger opening like we had with other models so we could use this device. An alternative is to simply leave the bag out in the sun for a few hours (it is a clear bag). The natural UV light does a great job killing bacteria and viruses - it just takes a while.

All that said, we really liked the burly and larger hanger on the closure strip of the bladder. No other bladder had this. With it, we were able to hang it from trees and carry it around with ease.

We loved the HUGE handle. No other bladder sported this great feature. This made it easy to carry and hang from trees while camping.
We loved the HUGE handle. No other bladder sported this great feature. This made it easy to carry and hang from trees while camping.

Ease of Cleaning


The Big Zip opening means that it is easy to get just about any scrub brush or sponge into the main compartment. It is also very easy to dry. We especially liked to use kitchen tongs to keep the bag material from falling in on itself. Unfortunately, we did not see anywhere on the website that you can put this in the dishwasher. That is one big advantage of the HydraPak brands like the Geigerrig Hydrations Engine and the HydraPak Shape-Shift Reservoir; just toss it in the dishwasher and you are good to go. Cleaning the tubes is just as challenging as with all hydration systems. Just about any kitchen brush will get into the main reservoir. However, to clean the tube we recommend getting the Platypus Cleaning Kit or Hydrapak Bottle Bright tablets, which are chlorine free and non-toxic.

Even though this has a "big" mouth  it wasn't as large as flip top varieties. It was easy enough to clean  but harder than most.
Even though this has a "big" mouth, it wasn't as large as flip top varieties. It was easy enough to clean, but harder than most.

Ease of Filling


This contender scored last for ease of filling, simply because the opening is not as fast to open and it lacks a handle. It was easy to fill in deep sinks, but harder in shallow basins. We also found that it wasn't as easy to fill in trickling streams, like the Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir. This is because the the top doesn't not have an extended 'funnel' like we found with other bladders to collect water. That said, even though it scored lower in this metric, it still did a good job of filling in most places and fulfilled its general functions. Others just had nifty applications (like a built in handle or tongue) to make filling faster and easier.

The mouth makes it easy to fill in sinks  lakes  and streams.
The mouth makes it easy to fill in sinks, lakes, and streams.

Quality


We didn't experience any leaks during our testing procedure and we loved the thickness of the plastic that makes it less prone to punctures. As a result, we think this is a high quality product. However, when we tried to pull the seams of the plastic apart, we saw de-lamination along the sides a lot faster than other products. With this product we were actually able to pull it apart, whereas others we weren't. As a result, others products seemed more durable. If you're looking for something that scored a perfect ten in quality - check out the MSR Dromlite.

A look at the seams and construction of the four main bladder types. Top left: HydraPak varieties (hosted in Osprey  Geigerigg  and HydraPak) feature seamless technology with minimal welded seams. Top right: The CamelBak features smaller  more durable seams. Bottom left: Platypus features large seams that we could literally pull apart. Bottom Right: MSR features super strong welds in the fabric outer.
A look at the seams and construction of the four main bladder types. Top left: HydraPak varieties (hosted in Osprey, Geigerigg, and HydraPak) feature seamless technology with minimal welded seams. Top right: The CamelBak features smaller, more durable seams. Bottom left: Platypus features large seams that we could literally pull apart. Bottom Right: MSR features super strong welds in the fabric outer.

Weight


This bladder weighs 6.25 oz (right in the middle of other bladders tested). If your main objective is to go ultra lightweight, we recommend the HydraPak Shape-Shift Reservoir instead.

Best Applications


We mainly use the 2L version because the hydration bladder and fits well inside our smaller hydration packs. We liked using this pack for day hikes, biking, climbing, and walking the dog. If you're looking for a great backpacking option, check out the MSR DromLite. If you're weight sensitive, check out the HydraPak Shape-Shift instead.

Value


At $37, the price is a little high for the overall scoring of the product. Even though it is a great bladder that performs in most activities, there are better-priced options like the CamelBak Crux. That said, we do expect great long-term durability with this product.

Conclusion


We really like this hydration bladder. However, it didn't quite rise to capturing any awards. It is a good all-around reservoir but we didn't particularly like the bite valve and it lacks some of the features of the other award winners.

Other Versions


Platypus Hoser
Platypus Hoser Hydration System
  • Cost - $25
  • Weight - 3.8 oz
  • Made of a similar material but does not have the big opening
  • Lighter weight but not as easy to fill and not as easy to clean
Amber King

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Most recent review: August 13, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
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