As you already know MSR has a reputation of making bomb proof gear. They have introduced products into the industry that have left the competitors scrambling. The MSR Dromedary (and more recent Dromlite) was a new take on an old idea. Early explorers of Australia reported seeing Aborigine people transporting water in kangaroo skins, deep into the dry deserts of the country. Clearly someone at MSR recognized the value of water hauling in otherwise dry environments.
Fast forward a decade or so and the MSR Dromedary bag still has it's place in a much more crowded hydration market. There are plenty of bells and whistles on competitors hydration solutions, but MSR has stayed true to their design.
Use- The first bag I purchased was the 4 liter Dromedary version. I also purchased the hydration kit the use with the bag. The hydration kit screws onto the smaller of the two caps (on the stock Dromedary) and includes a hose, bite valve, and hydration tube clip. When screwing the kit on the bag it does pultrude out from the bag farther then most hydration bladders on the market. This was only ever an issue when trying to fit a full 4 liter bag into a hydration sleeve designs for 3 liter bags. None the less it can be done or simply clipped to the pack and allowed to hang free. The hydration kit tube is larger then most on the market and is clear allowing for easy identification of the amount of grime. The bite valve has a on off switch that has never been unintentionally turned on. The bite valve seems superior to the Camelbak and Hydrapak versions I have used. The Dromedary bag itself is tough and has been tossed to the Arizona ground unintentionally with no issues. The bag's exterior is easy to clean and the dark color makes drying in the sun slightly faster. The opening of the bag is adequate for cleaning the inside of the bag, though larger openings are easier.
Since purchasing the original bag I have picked up an additional 6 liter Dromlite and a used 10 liter Dromedary. The Dromlite is my go to hydration system for Arizona trips. Although I normally only use 3 liters, the ability to fill an additional liter is very convenient. I have similar confidence in the Dromlite's durability, but tend to be more cautious with the bag. The 10 liter Dromedary bag is a beast. It is not particularly light, but at 1oz per liter of water (10oz total) the weight is not bag. I have also found the bag to be an excellent pair to the Out There! AS-2 pack. The Dromedary fits well into the external sleeve and can be filled with water. The placement of the bag creates a cushion, and adds stability to the pack. By using the larger Dromedary bag I can fill it with the standard 4 liters and take up less space in the pack. Rather then create the giant bulge (mind out of the gutter) that most hydration bags create when filled to capacity. This bag has also been filled and is excellent for storing water on those dirtbaging road trips.
Although near perfect the bags come with some flaws. The first aspect is the small cap lacks an attachment point. After removing the cap for the hydration kit, there is no way to store the cap so you don't lose it. On multiple trips I have left the cap at home. You might be wondering why it matters? With the added capacity of the Dromedary bags you can fill the bag at camp and have a large supply available for cooking and chores. Having the small cap allows you to hang the bag and easily extract water. Another aspect of the bag that is frustrating is the amount of distance that the cap with the hydration kit attached sticks out. If MSR designed a cap that had a lower profile this would easily eliminate the issue.
Initial Impressions- I can't remember why I decided to purchase my first Dromedary 3-4 years ago, but I do know it is still used to this day. The Dromedary has a durable Cordura exterior that is designed to resist punctures and abuse. The interior of the bag is coated with a food grade polyurethane. The bags have one Nalgene style opening that has a three way cap. The cap allows for full removal of the large opening, a twist off of the smaller opening and a flip down 'trickle' tab that creates a stream. The caps seem built from a durable hard plastic. On the newer models there is a plastic handle that the cap screws onto and provides a place to hold the bag while filling. On the older model I have the area does not have this feature, and suffers slightly because of it. On the Dromedary bags there are numerous grommets around the perimeter. Through these grommets there is a piece of thin webbing that allows the bag to be hung, carried in hand or even strapped to anything. The Dromedary bags come in a 2 liter, 4 liter, 6 liter or 10 liter style and use slightly thicker Cordura depending on the size. The weight varies by size but is anywhere between 6.3oz-10oz.
The Dromlite bags are very similar in design but MSR focused more on cutting weight when designing these. These bags use a thinner Cordura to help cut weight, without sacrificing durability. The Dromlite model only has one grommet at the top of the bag. There is no included webbing like the Dromedary bags, allowing the user to select their hanging preference. The Dromlite bags come in a 2 liter, 4 liter and 6 liter version. MSR states that the Dromlite versions weigh 30% less then the Dromedary bags. The Dromlite weighs between 4.6oz-5.7oz depending on the capacity. All other features of the Dromlite bags mirror the Dromedary ones.
Final Thoughts- It is really hard to come up with solid flaws for a well designed product. The MSR Dromedary bags have been around for some time and will probably continue to be. The combination of their durability, and versatility has mad them a staple in many outdoor activities. Seriously try using your current hydration kit for a shower, then try connecting your water filter to pump water, and finish up by tossing it on the ground a few times. How did it fare? Yeah I thought so. If you are looking for a highly durable way to carry a wide range of water volume then the MSR Dromedary or Dromlite bags are the ticket.
Find out more about the bags through MSR