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Sea to Summit Hydraulic Review

This model offers a hybrid design for river trips that require some onshore backpack use
Sea to Summit Hydraulic
Photo: Sea to Summit
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Price:  $170 List
Pros:  Easy to carry, comfortable
Cons:  Not completely watertight, expensive
Manufacturer:   Sea to Summit
By Maggie Brandenburg & Leslie Yedor  ⋅  Jun 6, 2020
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 12
  • Waterproofness - 50% 5
  • Ease of Use - 30% 6
  • Features - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Sea to Summit Hydraulic is a combination of the classic roll-top dry bag and a backpack. The body of the bag is made of thick, abrasion-resistant material, and the backpacking harness is both comfortable and easy to remove. When you're on the water, pop off the harness and use one of the four burly nylon lash points to fix it to your raft. On land, slip the harness back into place and throw your gear onto your back for some onshore exploration. We loved this model for its dependable construction and smartly executed features. The only major drawback it's not entirely watertight. Your gear is protected from splashes and short submersions, but with any significant exposure to water, expect more than a few drops to seep in.

Color Updates

Sea to Summit released some new colors for the Hydraulic, one being the yellow shown above. There have been no updates to the features or design of the bag since our testing period.

June 2020

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Price $170 List$194.00 at Amazon$29.95 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Easy to carry, comfortableDurable, easy to use, comfortable to haul aroundNearly watertight, durable, lightweight, white interior helps you find thingsLightweight, easy to use, good compression designVery durable, easy to remove backpack straps, oversized capacity, simple metal clips
Cons Not completely watertight, expensiveExpensive, largeWill leak under duress, no easy carry straps, seams taped not weldedNot for use as a stand-alone bagLeaks if packed improperly, metal hooks take longer to use, tough to keep organized
Bottom Line A versatile combination of a classic roll-top dry bag and a backpackThis product keeps out water, no matter how rough and wet things might getQuality protection from splashes and brief submersions for a low priceThis waterproof stuff sack has all the features you need to keep your sleeping bag warm and securely stowedAn easy to use design that's well designed and durable, but overkill for many trips
Rating Categories Sea to Summit Hydraulic Watershed Colorado Duffel Sea to Summit Big River eVent Compression NRS Bill's Bag
Waterproofness (50%)
5
10
8
9
8
Ease Of Use (30%)
6
9
8
6
6
Features (10%)
7
8
8
7
8
Durability (10%)
8
8
7
6
8
Specs Sea to Summit... Watershed Colorado... Sea to Summit Big... eVent Compression NRS Bill's Bag
Weight (ounces) 36.8oz 4.8oz 8.0 oz 51.2oz 65.6oz
Size We Tested (liters) 35L 75L 35 L 20L 110L
Closure Type Roll-top ZipDry Roll-top Roll-top Roll-top
Included D-Rings? No Yes Yes No No
Style Roll-top backpack Duffel Roll-top Roll-top w/ lid and compression straps Roll-top w/ shoulder straps
Material 600D TPU laminated nylon Ppolyurethane-coated nylon 420D heavy duty nylon 70D nylon 21oz TobaTex

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sea to Summit Hydraulic measures 13 inches wide by 8 inches deep and 28 inches tall. This 35-liter pack is made out of 600D TPU laminated nylon and sports a removable backpack harness with padded shoulder straps and a nylon waist belt. It also features four welded nylon lash patches for easy attachment to your craft of choice.

Performance Comparison


This model features a comfortable removable backpack harness.
This model features a comfortable removable backpack harness.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Waterproofness


While overall, this product does well, this metric is where it fails to shine. Our gear stayed dry with casual use and when exposed to splashes. Upon submerging it, a fair amount of bubbles escaped, but only a few drops of water entered the main compartment. Unfortunately, when put to the rigorous task of being dragged behind a paddleboard through a lake, it on-boarded a significant amount of water, and our testing towel was soaked.

Some large bubbles escaped during our submersion testing.
Some large bubbles escaped during our submersion testing.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

This product may serve well for casual river days or to store gear that can handle the potential of getting a little wet. If you're worried about your raft getting flipped and your bag getting dragged through the white water, we tested several other options that offer significantly better protection.

Our testing towel ended up pretty soggy after submersion.
Our testing towel ended up pretty soggy after submersion.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Ease of Use


The Hydraulic has a long and narrow design with a single opening at the top. This means packing from the bottom up and stacking your contents, which makes reaching things at the bottom of the pack difficult.

This model is quite comfortable to carry. A handle at the top of the backpack makes a nice handhold when the pack is off your shoulders. The backpack straps are also well-padded and adjustable. Unfortunately, the 35-liter model has a webbing waist belt that is a bit painful on the hips with heavy loads.

This handle made it really easy to pick up the bag and we found this...
This handle made it really easy to pick up the bag and we found this feature surprisingly useful.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Padded Waist Belt
This model also comes in 65, 90, and 120-liter sizes. Each of these larger models features a padded adjustable waist belt more like that of a typical backpacking pack.

Features


The Hydraulic scores well in this metric due to its comfortable backpack frame that is quick and easy to remove and reattach. Fully-adjustable shoulder straps make for a more custom fit, and anodized aluminum buckles provide durability. While these buckles are convenient to slip on and off, they are also prone to popping off mid-use. This doesn't greatly compromise the functionality of the product, but it is a bit annoying.

The ridged lip helps provide a tighter seal than many of the other...
The ridged lip helps provide a tighter seal than many of the other competitors.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

The roll-top closure system of the Hydraulic is unique with an interlaced lip. Grooves in the reinforced lip line up and are intended to create a better seal. While it does allow the bag to withstand brief submersion, it lacks the complete protection of a truly interlocking lip like some of the other models we tested.

Durability


This model is one of the top scorers in this metric. It is made of a thick and super durable material that can withstand a serious beating. The lash points are also made out of a TPU material and welded into place. Even the backpack attachment points are made of sturdy aluminum.

aThe backpack straps are held on by metal clips that are quick to...
aThe backpack straps are held on by metal clips that are quick to pop off.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Value


This model is one of the pricier products in this review. With this price, however, comes equally high durability and versatility.

From paddle board to canyon trip, this bag is durable and easy to use.
From paddle board to canyon trip, this bag is durable and easy to use.
Photo: Leslie Yedor

Conclusion


The Sea to Summit Hydraulic is a versatile hybrid of a dry bag and a backpack. For river trips that also require the occasional use of a backpack or travel to drippy locales, it's a good product. For more serious backpacking, stick to a traditional backpacking pack. For trips where full water submersion is likely, consider something with more robust waterproofness.

Maggie Brandenburg & Leslie Yedor