Hydro Flask Journey Series 10 L Review
Cons: Expensive, heavy, limited storage
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Journey Series 10L is an impressive offering 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 effectively does its intended job of carrying a large volume of chilled water. Our testers found that this luxury comes with some pretty steep trade-offs though, as this is the heaviest and most expensive pack in our lineup, and its functional storage volume is 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!
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 many other packs in our lineup. While we were pleased with the overall performance of this hardware, we found that drinking from this model is slightly more difficult than with the other HydraPak systems. 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.
Ease of Filling
The insulated 3.0-liter HydraPak hydration bladder on this pack is very easy to refill once you're able to get your hands on it. 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 receives in this metric are compromised because of the difficulty we experienced removing and replacing this pack within its insulated housing.
With a hefty 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, it becomes quite bloated compared to some of the other bladders we tested. Unfortunately, this makes it quite challenging to replace the filled bladder back into its insulated neoprene housing within the main body of the pack.
While this is one of the few packs in our lineup to feature a quick-release button on the drinking hose, that bonus feature is overshadowed by the difficulty in maneuvering the bladder out of and back into its insulated housing. The good news is that once the chilled water is settled back into its home inside the pack, the insulation system does a good job of keeping it cold.
The Journey Series 10L is among the highest scorers in our comfort rankings, with its comfortably padded shoulder straps and waist belt wings, and a supportive and well-ventilated pack panel that keeps a consistent gap between the pack and your body. This pack definitely optimizes the right blend of firm support and soft cushioning. Another feature we appreciate is that this pack has one of the widest and most supportive waist belts in our lineup, hugging the hips and supporting the 3.0-liters of chilled water that's along for the ride.
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 has its score reduced because a good chunk of that overall volume gets 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 left over for anything other than our wallet, phone, and keys.
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.
While this pack is listed with a 10-liter volume, we found that the other similarly sized packs in our lineup offer much more useful storage space and organization capabilities.
With a measured weight of 3 lbs, 1 oz., the Journey Series 10L is the heaviest pack in our lineup, and doesn't score too well in this metric as a result. With its specialized insulated hydration system, this pack is nearly twice as heavy as some other high-performing packs that we reviewed. While this pack is certainly effective at its intended purpose of keeping your water supply chilled, it does so with quite a weight penalty.
Ease of Cleaning
This pack's hydration system receives 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 hose, 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, this system is easy to clean and maintain.
As the only hydration pack in our lineup 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 it's 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.
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
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