User Review: Osprey Hydraform 3 Liter Reservoir
Price Paid: $30
Do you ever feel that you do not drink enough during your hikes? Is constantly stopping to remove your bottle from your packs side pouch a bit annoying? Is your pack space used up by too many water/Gatorade bottles? A hydration pack may be just what you need!
I love hiking, and try to hit the trails near my home in Montreal as often as I can. I tend to hike in the Laurentians, Adirondacks and especially the Green Mountains and the fabulous Long Trail. My hikes tend to be between 5 and 10 miles, and I am working up to a few overnighters next season. I love tackling any summit I can, the challenge is rewarded by breathtaking views and an incredible sense of accomplishment.
I was looking for a new way to carry my water. I felt I was not hydrating enough as it was a bit of a chore to get my bottles from my side pouches. I am not quite flexible enough to get the bottles with my pack on, so every time I was thirsty I had to stop walking, remove my pack drink and put the pack back on.
I browsed the racks at a few stores and saw the options by CamelBak, MSR and the newest offering, the HydraForm by Osprey.
The other products looked good, but what drew me to the Osprey is the fact that it was the only one I saw that is rigid. This is a great feature as it lets you easily put it into a loaded pack pretty easily as it doesn't fold up on you. The added benefit is that you can easily use it in a pack without a dedicated reservoir holder and it won't move around too much. I used to have an old Blackburn reservoir system (mid 1990's) for mountain biking, and it was terrible...sometimes I felt as if I had a pack full of wet noodles!
The reservoir is available in 2 or 3 liters, and I picked up the 3. I actually recommend this to everyone as you can always put 2 liters in a 3 liter bladder, but you can never put 3 liters in a 2 liter bladder! I always prefer to carry more water than I think I will need anyways... At 2 pounds a liter, the full reservoir adds about 6 lbs to your overall pack weight. The empty bladder is very light, so weight is not an issue.
In the field, it is great! As the weight is in the middle of your pack against your back, it does not throw you off balance at all, and I have never been bothered or even noticed any sloshing around in the pack.
The hose goes over your left or right shoulder (depending on where your pack's outlet is, mine has one on both sides) and attached to your sternum strap by magnet. It is actually a pretty smart design by Osprey. The bite valve is omni-directional, and can be put into the closed position. At first, I didn't ever close it as I experienced no leaking, but I did so this weekend on Mount Mansfield in Vermont. My pack had a bit more in it that usual and when I bent over I compressed it enough to make a bit of water trickle out from the bite valve.
I clean the HydraForm after every hike with either a bit of dish soap and warm water, or Nalgene cleaning tablets. To dry, I hang it upside down and stuff some paper towels into it to absorb any remaining water.
I have used the HydraForm around a dozen times now, and am staring to get a bit of the plasticky taste associated with reservoirs. I am starting to suspect that this is unavoidable, and I will have to start filling the reservoir with Gatorade to mask the taste.
On one occasion, I filled the reservoir the night before heading out on a hike and put it in the fridge to cool the water down and woke up to find that the pack had leaked and emptied into the fridge. This only happened once and has not happened since, so I suspect that it was user error and not a problem with the reservoir. I only mention it to remind everyone to make sure the cap is properly screwed shut to avoid any on trail accidents. Also, since I started using the reservoir, I always make sure to put my critical gear into SealLine drysacks just in case the bladder happens to leak.
My biggest complaint is related to water reservoirs in general, not Osprey's specifically. We need a way to easily tell how much water we have left! I ran out on a hike in high heat/high humidity! I now carry a 500ml Nalgene in the bottom of my pack as a back-up! I know CamelBak has something like this available, but it still isn't perfect.
Over-all, I find the Osprey HydraForm to be an asset, I cannot imagine hiking without it!
Hopefully you found this review helpful!