When I bought my Salomon running vests they came with Hydrapak 1.5 Liter reservoirs. I had never used any of their products before. In the past my packs have had Camelbak, off-brand, MSR Dromedary/Dromlite, and Blackburn. In Arizona, especially the Phoenix area, hydration is a matter of life and death. Multiple times throughout summer months there are news stories of individuals being rescued, or recovered and often it involves a lack of water. In some places across the county you can get away with just carrying a Nalgene bottle and refilling along the way. The distance between water sources isn't measured by miles in Arizona, but in days. Therefore you have to put a lot of faith in your water reservoir system.
Initial Thoughts- I have been eyeing the Hydrapak reservoir for a few years, so when I found out my Salomon vest came with their reservoir I was excited to check out the material. The first thing that stands out is the zip top opening. I still am in amazement that more companies have not switched to this style. The large sliding bar at the top allows the reservoir to be fully opened for easy filling. The top seal is securely closed using a sliding bar, think heavy duty ziplock bag style. The plastic slider is conveniently attached to the reservoir so you don't lose it. The bite valve of the reservoir is pretty standard, but it does rotate to lock, rather then have a valve which seems to be the industry standard. The hydration tube is a standard length, not quite as long as the MSR hydration kits tube. The tube is connected to a quick release system so removal is rather easy. The body is marked in white so you know exactly how much liquid you have left. One huge selling point is that there is no taste from the reservoir materials. Always nice to have your water taste like water.
Use- I was skeptical of the usefulness of such a small reservoir. In the past, more has been better. Surprisingly the 1.5 liter size is a perfect volume to use in the run vest. It has enough water to sustain me on long runs, but not so much that it feels heavy. On a few warm runs I have needed to supplement with additional water vessels. The bite valve design works great, and the twist lock design is easy to use. I do wish the valve had a magnetic attachment point like Camelbak and Osprey now do. The easy fill zip top makes adding ice a breeze and really makes cleaning and drying really easy. The first problem I had with the reservoir was out on a hot run. The bite valve was in the lock position and I rotated it to open only to have it fall off in my hand. Water immediately began spraying out. Had I been close to home, this wouldn't have been a big deal, but I wasn't. At least two hours from home with no water in the desert is less then ideal. In Hydrapak's defense, they were fast to send replacement parts and validate the warranty. Once again I was back on the trails. But only a few short months later (again out on a long run) the reservoir began leaking again. This time one of the seams that creates the pocket for your liquid began leaking. This was odd because the reservoir lives inside a insulated pouch that resides in a hydration sleeve. I still can not figure out why the seam failed. Once again Hydrapak stepped up to the plate and sent a replacement. The other ongoing issue I had with the reservoir was with the quick disconnect tube. It would often get stuck and I would have to really tug to get it out. There was one point in which I actually broke it trying to remove it. I did later find out that periodic lubrication (out of the gutter, out of the gutter) is required, which helped.
Final Thoughts- The Hydrapak reservoir is a option in a growing pool of hydration products. The big zip opening and quick disconnect tubing create a easy to use product that waste less time to fill and maintain. Unfortunately the product seems to be plagued with some quality control issues which was apparent from the seam failure. Although I still use this reservoir daily for short runs, I am hesitant to rely on it for any high risk adventures. I think that there are more durable options available on the market. Having said that, if your main use doesn't involve crossing vast waterless terrain, then the Hydrapak reservoir may be the ticket.
*This product was purchased for testing.