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

Hydro Flask Journey Series 10 L Review

A comfortable pack with an insulated hydration system, but with a heavier weight and heavier price tag.
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Price:  $165 List | $164.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Well-insulated hydration system, quality construction, comfortable
Cons:  Expensive, heavy, limited storage
Manufacturer:   Hydroflask
By Nick Bruckbauer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 17, 2019
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 11
  • Ease of Drinking - 20% 7
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 5
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Storage - 20% 4
  • Weight - 10% 2
  • Ease of Cleaning - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Hydro Flask Journey Series 10L is the only hydration pack in our lineup that comes standard with an insulated drinking system. Hydro Flask claims that their Cold Flow system keeps water cold for over 4 hours, which we found to be true in our field tests. While we wouldn't typically turn down a sip of ice-cold water on our hot and sweaty outdoor adventures, we found that this luxury came at a high cost: price-wise, weight-wise, and storage-wise.

If you're willing to sacrifice the option of chilled water while on-the-go, there are other bigger, lighter, more fully-featured packs in our lineup for a lower price, such as our Editors' Choice Award winner Platypus Duthie.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $164.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$139.95 at Amazon$129.95 at Amazon
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$69.95 at REI$84.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Well-insulated hydration system, quality construction, comfortableComfortable, good organization, great hydration systemBreathability, excellent storage, comfort and supportBig volume, lightweight, great priceLightweight, storage volume, hydration system
Cons Expensive, heavy, limited storagePricePrice, thin waist beltFewer pockets, average hydration performanceLimited organization, poor ventilation
Bottom Line A comfortable pack with an insulated hydration system, but with a heavier weight and heavier price tag.Our Editors' Choice all mountain hydration pack - for good reason.A lightweight yet fully featured hydration pack that just missed out on our top ranking.An excellent volume to weight to price ratio makes this our Best Buy Award winner.An all-around pack that successfully blurs the line between hydration pack and daypack.
Rating Categories Hydro Flask Journey Series 1... Platypus Duthie A.M. 10 Osprey Syncro 12 Gregory Nano 18 H2O Osprey Skarab 18
Ease Of Drinking (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
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8
Ease Of Filling (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
6
Comfort (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Storage (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
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9
10
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9
10
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7
Weight (10%)
10
0
2
10
0
5
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
7
Ease Of Cleaning (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
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6
10
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7
Specs Hydro Flask... Platypus Duthie... Osprey Syncro 12 Gregory Nano 18 H2O Osprey Skarab 18
Pack Size 10L 10L 12L 18L 18L
Bladder Capacity 3L 3L 2.5L 3L 2.5L
Waist Belt Padded hip belt Two zippered pockets on the waist belt 3/4" webbing Removable 3/4" webbing Removable 3/4" webbing
Weight (measured) 49 oz (size M/L) 30.4 oz 34 oz 25.5 oz 25.5 oz
Weight (claimed) 48 oz 34 oz 27.5 oz 18.4 oz 17.6 oz

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Journey Series 10L is an impressive new pack from Hydro Flask that comes with a built-in insulated 3.0-liter hydration system that can keep water cold for four hours or more. With solid construction and a comfortable design, this pack looks and feels nice, and does its intended job of carrying a large volume of chilled water very effectively. Our testers found that this luxury came with some pretty steep trade-offs though, as this was the heaviest and most expensive pack in our lineup, and its functional storage volume was quite limited by the insulated hydration compartment.

If the ability to keep your water cold while on the move is a top priority, then this is definitely the best pack in our lineup for that job. If this feature is a luxury that you're willing to sacrifice, then other packs like our Editors' Choice Award Winner Platypus Duthie A.M. 10 or our Best Buy Award Winner Gregory Nano 18 H2O should be on your list.

Performance Comparison


The Journey Series provides plenty of comfort and the ultimate luxury of chilled water out on the trail.
The Journey Series provides plenty of comfort and the ultimate luxury of chilled water out on the trail.

Ease of Drinking


The Journey Series 10L comes standard with an insulated 3.0-liter hydration bladder made by HydraPak, with the same high-quality HydraPak bite valve found on the Osprey packs that we reviewed. While we were pleased with the overall performance of this hardware, we found that drinking from this model was slightly more difficult than with the other HydraPak systems, an observation that was confirmed with one of the slower drain times during our in-home flow testing. We're not exactly sure what to attribute this to, but one of our testers (who is an engineer by day) hypothesizes that the insulated surface on the inside of the bladder is rougher than normal, which ever so slightly slows down the flow of water within the system.

The insulated bladder material may slightly slow down the flow of water.
The insulated bladder material may slightly slow down the flow of water.

While ease of drinking with this pack was adequate, it fell short of the performance of Platypus's proprietary Big Zip hydration system and Hyperflow bite valve found on the Duthie A.M. 10, or the Crux hydration system and Big Bite valve found on the four CamelBak packs that we tested.

The HydraPak bite valve is comfortable to sip from.
The HydraPak bite valve is comfortable to sip from.

Ease of Filling


The insulated 3.0-liter HydraPak hydration bladder on this pack was very easy to refill once you got it in your hands. The folding top opening is almost as wide as the entire bladder, making filling up or adding ice extremely easy. However, the scores that this pack received in this metric were compromised because of the difficulty we experienced removing and replacing this pack within its insulated housing.

The 3.0-liter hydration bladder has a wide-mouth opening that's easy to refill.
The 3.0-liter hydration bladder has a wide-mouth opening that's easy to refill.

With a hefy 3.0-liter volume and an insulated body, the HydraPak bladder is a bit bulky to begin with, and after filling it to its maximum capacity, found that it seemed quite a bit bloated compared to some of the other bladders we tested. Unfortunately, this made it quite challenging to replace the filled bladder back into its insulated neoprene housing within the main body of the pack.

The insulated bladder and insulated housing sleeve on the Hydro Flask made removing and replacing the bladder challenging.
The insulated bladder and insulated housing sleeve on the Hydro Flask made removing and replacing the bladder challenging.

While this was one of the few packs in our lineup to feature a quick release button on the drinking tube, that bonus feature was overshadowed by the difficulty we experienced maneuvering the bladder out of and back into its insulated housing. The good news is that once our chilled water was settled back into its home inside the pack, the insulation system did a good job of keeping it cold.

The insulated neoprene bladder housing did a good job of keeping our water cold for several hours.
The insulated neoprene bladder housing did a good job of keeping our water cold for several hours.

We appreciated packs with a separate easily accessible hydration bladder pocket, like the Osprey Syncro 12 and the Platypus Duthie A.M. 10, which made accessing the bladder system a breeze.

Comfort


The Journey Series 10L tied for the top score in our comfort rankings, with its comfortably padded shoulder straps and waist belt wings, and a supportive and well-ventilated pack panel that kept a consistent gap between the pack and our body. We found that this pack definitely optimized the right blend of firm support and soft cushioning. Another feature we appreciated was that this pack has one of the widest and most supportive waist belts in our lineup, hugging our hips and supporting the 3.0-liters of chilled water that's along for the ride.

The padded mesh back panel on the Journey Series pack is well-ventilated and very comfortable.
The padded mesh back panel on the Journey Series pack is well-ventilated and very comfortable.

Storage


With a claimed 10 liters of volume, the Journey Series 10L lands right in the middle of our lineup in terms of storage space, yet found its score reduced because a good chunk of that overall volume was consumed by the built-in insulated hydration compartment and the bulky 3.0-liter bladder. Our testers found that with a full capacity of water, we had to work to stuff a rain shell in the main compartment, and didn't have much room leftover for anything other than our wallet, phone, and keys.

The insulated hydration compartment didn't leave much storage space in the main body of the pack.
The insulated hydration compartment didn't leave much storage space in the main body of the pack.

This pack also comes with two externally accessed zippered compartments near the bottom of the pack. Although these pockets are externally accessed, the storage space is housed within the main body of the pack, reducing the utility of these pockets when the hydration system and main body are at their full capacity.

One of the lower external access pockets has just enough room for a wallet or keys.
One of the lower external access pockets has just enough room for a wallet or keys.

While this pack is listed with a 10-liter volume, we found that the other 10-liter pack in our lineup, the Editors' Choice Award winner Platypus Duthie A.M. 10 offered much more useful storage space and organization ability. For even more storage for your bulkier items, our Best Buy Award winner Gregory Nano 18 H2O provides a very handy 18 liters of space.

Weight


With a measured weight of 3 lbs, 1 oz., the Journey Series 10L 12 is the heaviest pack in our lineup, and didn't score too well as a result. With its specialized insulated hydration system, this pack is 4.5 oz. heavier than the more technical and next heaviest Deuter Compact EXP 12, and approximately twice as heavy as our Best Buy Award winner Gregory Nano 18 H2O. While this pack is certainly effective at its intended purpose of keeping your water supply chilled, it comes with quite a weight penalty to do so.

While it's the heaviest pack we tested  the Journey Series 10L was quite comfortable.
While it's the heaviest pack we tested, the Journey Series 10L was quite comfortable.

Ease of Cleaning


This pack's hydration system received a very respectable score in our ease of cleaning category. Once the bladder is empty, it becomes much easier to maneuver out of the pack with its quick release drinking tube, and the wide-mouthed opening on the HydraPak bladder provides easy access to every nook and cranny. While not as easy to access as models with a more easily accessible bladder compartment, like the Osprey Syncro 12, this system was easy to clean and maintain.

The quick release drinking tube made removing and cleaning the bladder much easier.
The quick release drinking tube made removing and cleaning the bladder much easier.

Best Applications


The Journey Series 10L should be your go-to pack if you're looking for a hydration system that can keep your water supply chilled when the mercury rises. Folks who hike in hot weather often will appreciate the bladder insulation and fantastic comforr this pack provides. With an efficient insulation system, this pack does its intended job well, but comes with a heavier weight and steeper price tag than any other pack in our review. For those who can go without the insulated water system, there are probably better choices out there with more features and lower weights, and lower prices.

The Journey Series 10L is a comfortable  luxurious choice.
The Journey Series 10L is a comfortable, luxurious choice.

Value


As the most expensive pack in our lineup with a $165 list price, and the only one with a built-in water insulation system, the Journey Series 10L could be the right choice for users who absolutely want or need a chilled water supply, but is most likely a poor value for most others. As the heaviest and most expensive pack in our lineup, most users will likely be better served looking elsewhere for a pack that combines performance and value better than this one.

Conclusion


With a reliable insulation system and a sleek and comfortable design, the Hydro Flask Journey Series 10L is a capable choice for users who want the ultimate luxury of chilled hydration out on the trail. While it is the heaviest and most expensive pack in our lineup, most users who are looking for a lighter all-around pack without spending top dollar may prefer a different option.


Nick Bruckbauer