HYDRO FLASK – Hydration Pack Review

Travis GneitingFirst Look, Reviews

Hydro Flask has just entered the hydration pack market with the release of the new Journey Series 10L and 20L hydration packs. We had a chance to review the Hydro Flask Hydration Pack that was sent to us from Hydro Flask for our unbiased testing. They are similar in some ways to a CamelBak, Gregory, High Sierra, and Osprey offering of hydration backpacks but offer something new, an insulated sleeve and insulated HydraPak water reservoir.

First Impressions

The Hydro Flask hydration backpack feels overbuilt.  It’s extremely rugged, stiff, waterproof fabric with taped seams makes it a bit difficult to manipulate when packing it up.  The zippers are also weatherproof which makes them a bit more difficult to use.  The durability of this backpack stands far above the rest.  Having used many hydration packs for hiking and biking for many years. This is the most over built hydration pack I have ever used.  A lot of design time and thought went into the pack. Additionally, the features, straps and articulated back make it one of the top contenders for the most capable hydration pack on the market.

Using the Hydration Pack

Over the past month I have used the Hydro Flask backpack for my primary hydration pack for both hiking and biking.  There are adjustment points that most large hiking back packs have, that are incorporated into the backpack from shoulder adjustments to waist. I largely felt like this was unnecessary because of the size of the pack it’s hard to pack enough weight into it that these straps become necessary.

A feature everyone seems to love is the articulated back panel that separates the back from the backpack.  This allows airflow and keeps the heat from your back from warming up your water.  Water will stay cold for 4 hours, just fill the water bladder to the line with ice and water. We have had cooler temperatures here in Utah, USA while I have been testing the pack, so I anticipated it would exceed the claims which it did.  I look forward to using this backpack for a few rides in Moab, Utah later this year where temperatures can reach 100F to see how the cold water holds up.  The bite valve is very similar to most and functions the same providing adequate water flow.

20 L vs. 10 L Backpack

The backpacks come in two different volumes, the 20 L and a 10 L.  They also come in two different sizes, a Small/Medium and a Medium/Large.  The difference is that the Medium/Large is about an inch and a half taller to accommodate a taller person.

The 20 L Hydro Flask Backpack offers a few more pockets and organizers that the 10 L Hydro Flask Backpack.  It has a quick stash pocket on top and two separate compartments to separate the bladder from any cargo you are carrying.  They both have the same 3 L water capacity.

Pros and Cons of the Backpack


  • Extremely durable
  • Water stays colder much longer than other hydration packs
  • Multiple color options
  • Webbing and adjustment points all over the pack
  • Articulated back panel keeps your back cooler, and water colder
  • Insulated Bladder and Storage panel inside the pack


  • No tie down points for attaching helmets, jackets, or pads, to the external of the pack.
  • The back pack is very rigid, this makes it a little difficult to install a full water bladder, or fill with other items.
  • Smaller access pockets are a bit small for large hands
  • One of the most expensive hydration packs on the market

The Water Reservoir or Bladder

The stand out feature of the Hydro Flask hydration packs is the insulated HydraPak water reservoir.  It paired with an insulated neoprene sleeve keeps water cold for hours.  The hose exits the pack from the top, and attaches to the shoulder strap by magnet. The hose also easily detaches for cleaning.

A full water bladder can be a bit difficult to slide into the sleeve.  On multiple occasions I had to let some water out to allow it to slide into place.  Once the bladder is in place it is very secure, and you don’t feel water or weight movement when in motion.


Overall the Hydro Flask Journey Series Hydration Pack backpack are great for Mountain Biking and Hiking. I though I would prefer the smaller 10 L, but kept using the larger 20 L for a little added storage. 

I would have like to see some better options for organizing bike tools, pumps, snacks, etc. in the pack.  Also, there are not outside attachments for helmets like many other hydration packs offer.  

This pack has all the major features of a full blown backcountry pack.  It’s much heaver duty that most hydration packs, an adjustable in every direction. My favorite feature is the articulated back panel. It keeps the air moving across your back and your water colder.

Is this backpack right for you?

The main selling point of the Hydro Flask backpack is the insulated hydration system.  If it’s a concern to you, you should defiantly be looking at the Hydro Flask Journey Backpacks.  Additionally, if you are looking for an extremely durable and adjustable pack, I can’t recommend another pack more than the Hydro Flask backpack.  


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