Sea to Summit Hydraulic Review
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.
Our gear stayed dry with casual use and when exposed to splashes. Upon submerging the Hydraulic, a fair amount of bubbles escaped, and only a few drops of water entered the main compartment. When put to the rigorous task of being dragged behind a paddleboard through a lake, it was penetrated by water but not enough to leave a sizeable damp patch. We found when you open this bag, there is a tendency for water to drop from the lip back into the bag.
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. Alternatively, if you use a two-bag system, with your gear stored within lightweight dry bags inside this Sea to Summit bag, you will likely have dry gear at camp no matter what transpires.
Ease of Use
The Hydraulic can be attached to a range of crafts with secure lash points. Think SUPs, kayaks, rafts, or even bike handlebars. As the straps are removable, you can streamline this bag, making it even more suitable for particular activities. It is also comfortable to carry, and a robust handle at the top of the backpack makes a great handhold when the pack is off your shoulders. The backpack straps are well-padded and adjustable. Unfortunately, the 35-liter model has a thin webbing waist belt that is a bit painful on the hips with heavy loads.
This bag has a long and narrow design with a single opening at the top. This means you have to pack your gear from the bottom up and stack your contents, which makes reaching things at the bottom of the pack difficult.
This model also comes in 65, 90, and 120-liter sizes. Each of these larger models features a padded adjustable waist belt more like a typical backpacking pack.
Quality of Construction
The Hydraulic 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. We would have no concerns about accidentally ripping this bag on a branch or rock.
The lash points are also made from a TPU material and welded. Even the backpack attachment points are made of sturdy aluminum. Overall this bag shone in this metric, and we would expect the Hydraulic to last for years of adventures.
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 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. It also does not have a double-banded roll down like some of the other more waterproof models we tested.
This model is one of the pricier products in this review. With this price, however, comes equally high durability and versatility. We would expect this bag to serve users for a range of adventures and for many, many years.
The Sea to Summit Hydraulic is a versatile hybrid of a dry bag and a backpack, a great choice for multi-sport adventures. For river trips that also require the occasional use of a backpack or travel to drippy locales, it's a good product. The handy straps can easily be removed to streamline the bag for other adventures. For trips where full water submersion is likely, consider something with more robust waterproofness or double bag your gear, but for excursions with mixed conditions where some water may be on the docket, this is a solid bag.
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More