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Sea to Summit Hydraulic Review

This model offers a hybrid design for river trips that require some onshore backpack use.
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Price:  $170 List | $169.95 at REI
Pros:  Easy to carry, comfortable
Cons:  Not completely watertight, expensive
Manufacturer:   Sea to Summit
By Maggie Brandenburg & Leslie Yedor  ⋅  Sep 18, 2019
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57
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Waterproofness - 70% 5
  • Ease of Use - 10% 7
  • 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

This year, Sea to Summit released some new colors for the Hydraulic, one being the yellow shown above. The price also increased by $20. However, there have been no updates to the features or design of the bag since our testing period.

September 2019


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Pros Easy to carry, comfortableDurable, easy to use, comfortable to haul aroundLightweight, easy to useNearly watertight, durable, lightweight, white interior helps you find thingsWaterproof for short submersions, lightweight, easy to close appropriately
Cons Not completely watertight, expensiveExpensive, largeNot for use as a stand-alone bagWill leak under duress, no easy carry straps, seams taped not weldedVery tall and skinny shape, compression is awkward, fabric eventually soaks
Bottom Line This model offers a hybrid design for river trips that require some onshore backpack use.This product keeps out water, no matter how rough and wet things might get.This model is your classic lightweight stuff sack with the added bonus of waterproof material.An inexpensive model that provides great water resistance at a reasonably low price.Mostly waterproof, though a bit awkward to use.
Rating Categories Sea to Summit Hydraulic Watershed Colorado Duffel eVent Compression Sea to Summit Big River Outdoor Research Airpurge
Waterproofness (70%)
10
0
5
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Ease Of Use (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
4
Features (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
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6
Durability (10%)
10
0
8
10
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8
10
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7
10
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8
10
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5
Specs Sea to Summit... Watershed Colorado... eVent Compression Sea to Summit Big... Outdoor Research...
Weight (pounds) 2.3 lb 0.3 lb 3.2 lb 0.5 lb 0.3 lb
Size We Tested (liters) 35 L 75 L 20 L 35 L 20 L
Closure Type Roll-top ZipDry Roll-top Roll-top Roll-top
Included D-Rings? No Yes No Yes No
Style Roll-top backpack Duffel Roll-top w/ lid and compression straps Roll-top Roll-top w/ compression straps
Material 600D TPU laminated nylon Polyurethane-coated nylon 70D nylon 420 Denier heavy duty nylon 70D with TPU-coated nylon

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sea to Summit Hydraulic measures 13-inches wide x 8-inches deep x 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.

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 paddle board 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.

This product may serve well for casual river days or to store gear that you would rather stay dry, but it won't be a total deal breaker if some moisture gets in. 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.

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. It's also difficult to reach to the bottom of the pack.

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 your hips with heavy loads.

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

Padded Waist Belt
This model also comes in 65-liter, 90-liter, 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 competitors.
The ridged lip helps provide a tighter seal than many of the other competitors.

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.

The backpack straps are held on by metal clips that quick to pop off.
The backpack straps are held on by metal clips that quick to pop off.

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.

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, it's a good product. For more serious backpacking, stick to a traditional backpacking pack.


Maggie Brandenburg & Leslie Yedor