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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bladders > Hydrolight Reservoir > Test Report by Brian Hartman

March 28, 2020



NAME:Brian Hartman
EMAIL:bhart1426ATyahooDOT com
LOCATION:Westfield, Indiana
HEIGHT:5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT:160 lb (65.80 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 20 years throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and most recently in Western USA. In addition to backpacking I enjoy family camping with my wife and kids and being outdoors in general. I would describe myself as a mid weight backpacker. I use fairly light weight equipment and gear but still like to bring more than the bare essentials with me while on the trail.


Product Information

Manufacturer: Hydrolight hydration
2L Illuminated Hydration Reservoir
Year of Manufacture: 2020
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: $34.99 US

The Hydrolight 2L water reservoir (hereafter called Hydrolight) is a multi-functional hydration reservoir that doubles as a backpacker's lantern.

Material: Ultra-durable, abrasion resistant PEVA with RF welded seams for durability and elasticity
100% BPA and PVC free
Capacity: 2L (70 oz)
Dimensions: 15.75 x 7.75 in (40 x 19.7 cm)
Listed weight: 6.5 oz (0.41 lb)
Measured weight: 6.5 oz (0.41 lb)

Patented water-resistant pocket transforms the water reservoir into a capable lantern
Simple to use: the slide lock and foldover top opens wide for quick filling and closes tight for a leakproof seal
External capacity gauge lets you track hydration intake or measure out the contents
Hydration bite-valve self seals after each sip and features a smooth switch on/off tab to prevent leaks when not in use
Wide working temperature range.  Can be frozen.  Maximum temperature 140 F (60 C)
Front handle makes the reservoir convenient to carry and access in backpack.  It also provides a secure grip when filling and pouring
Quick connection system lets you easily disconnect the drink tube and remove the reservoir from your pack for convenient refilling.  
An auto shutoff valve prevents leaking.
Dishwasher safe; reservoir turns inside out for easy cleaning and drying


2L Hydrolight reservoir
Leakproof slide lock
Flexible 36 in (91 cm) drinking hose with bite valve
Versatile, adjustable woven nylon strap and buckle

tent      tent2      bite valve

Initial Impressions

I really like the dual-purpose design of this product.  The idea of integrating a headlamp pocket into the bottom of a hydration sleeve to create a backpacking lantern is quite clever.  Although I don't see myself hanging 2L of water from the roof of my tent, I would certainly hang 0.5 L.  The Hydrolight has several other nice features, which I'll discuss in more detail below.  Beyond that, the Hydrolight appears to be well built and it looks and feels durable.  The hydration sleeve is constructed of non-chlorinated vinyl (PEVA), which is a popular, non-toxic alternative to PVC and BPA.  The material feels sturdy and the welded seams and slide lock look like they should hold up over time.  

Going into more detail, the top opening of the sleeve is 6 in (15 cm) in diameter which should make it easy to fill and clean.  From what the manufacturer says, it can also be run through the dishwasher and/or turned inside out for hand cleaning and drying.  The top opening is encased in hard plastic that folds in half to form a watertight seal.  The opening is then secured by a slide lock which slips over the fold to keep it secure and prevent leaks.  The slide lock is attached to the sleeve by a thin cord to prevent it from getting lost.  The Hydrolight also has a built-in carry handle which is made of hard plastic and big enough four of my fingers.  It's a nice feature that should come in handy when refilling the Hydrolight in the field or when carrying it around.  The drinking hose is 36 in (91 cm) long and is connected to the hydration sleeve via quick disconnect.  This allows the hose to be detached so it's not dangling around when the hydration sleeve is used as a lantern.  The bite valve is self-sealing, but it also has a 1/2 twist on/off switch which I like because it guarantees that water won't leak from the valve.

Moving on, the outside of the hydration sleeve has markings in 0.5L and 8 ounce increments.  Having fill marks on the outside of the sleeve is a great idea as it'll allow me to measure out the right amount of water for oatmeal or when reconstituting freeze dried meals.  The headlamp pocket is 7 x 4 in (17.8 x 10 cm), just large enough for my headlamp to fit inside.  The zipper on the headlamp pocket also appears to be waterproof.  

As a quick test of the lantern feature, I put 0.5L of water in the hydration sleeve, turned on my headlamp, put it in the lantern pocket, then proceeded to a dark spot in my basement.  Finally, I hung it from the ceiling and stepped back.  How much light did it give off and was it diffused?  How does one dry out the inside of a hydration reservoir?  How do I turn this thing inside out?  Please come back in two months to find out the answers to these and many other probing questions in my Field Report.   

IMAGE 3        stuff      closure



This concludes my Initial Report for the Hydrolight 2L illuminated hydration reservoir.  



During Field Testing I took the
Hydrolight on three day hikes and a backpacking trip.  My pack weight averaged 14 lb (6.4 kg) while hiking and 29 lb (13.2 kg) while on my backpacking trip.

Charles Deam Wilderness, Hoosier National Forest, Indiana
I hiked approximately 9 miles (14.5 km) on this trip, mostly off-trail 
Temperatures were in the mid 50's F (13 C)
The terrain was rugged and heavily forested

Hoosier National Forest, Indiana
On this trip I hiked around 7 miles (11.3 km) both on and off-trail
The weather was overcast and breezy with temperatures in the upper 60's F (20 C)
The terrain was hilly and forested

Franklin County in Southeastern Indiana
I hiked approximately 8 mi (12.9 km) on this outing
The daytime high was 67 F (19 C)

The landscape here was scenic with rolling hills, deep valleys, and multiple creeks

Backpacking trip
Oldenburg, Indiana
This was a two-day backpacking trip.  I hiked approximately 14 mi (19.3 km) on and off-trail
Skies were overcast and rainy the first day with temperatures approaching 70 F (21 C).  The second day was sunny and much warmer at 82 F (28 C)


The Hydrolight performed well on all four of my trips.  Below are the things I looked at during testing and a summary of my findings.

Fit: The Hydrolight fit well in my backpack.  At 15.75 x 7.75 in (40 x 19.7 cm) it was just the right height and width to fit in my backpack's hydration pocket,  If it was any taller it would have reached the top of my pack lid and if it was more than a few inches wider it wouldn't have slid into the pocket.

Fluid capacity: The Hydrolight held 2L (68 oz) of water, which was plenty for my day hikes and just enough for my overnight trip.  I filtered additional water on my overnight trip since I was running low after dinner.  A larger 3L (101 oz) reservoir would be nice for longer trips and places where fresh water isn't available, but I think 2L (68 oz) is adequate for shorter hikes and/or fewer days on the trail, and it certainly weighs less.  Water isn't light at 4lb (1.8 kg) per 2L (68 oz) so the less I have to carry the better, as long as water is available locally and can be filtered.   

Ease of use: Drinking from the Hydrolight was simple.  I simply put the bite valve in my mouth and bit down on the fitting.  The valve worked well and never leaked.  Before having this hydration reservoir, I carried two 32 oz (0.95 L) water bottles, but using them meant stopping and taking off my backpack every time I wanted a drink.  Refilling the Hydrolight, at home or in the field, requires some effort because the foldover top doesn't want to stay open on its own.  Rather its design is such that it wants to snap closed.  The quickest way I found to keep the top open was to stick my left hand inside the opening and press my fingers against either side of the two rigid top pieces to pry them open.  That was easy enough to do at home, pre-trip, in my kitchen sink, where I could turn on the faucet, but it wasn't as simple to do or as sanitary in the field with no running water.

Durability: The Hydrolight has held up well so far.  I've flipped it inside out numerous times.  I also dropped it, accidentally, and have stuffed it into my pack, set it on rocks and logs, and hung it from tree limbs numerous times, with no ill effects.  The reservoir, slide lock, handle, and bite valve are all still in good condition.  The welded seams, which I was initially concerned about tearing while trying to turn the reservoir inside out, have been fine, and the zipper on the light compartment continues to work well.  



Leak proof: The bite valve sealed well, and I didn't notice any drips during testing.  The same was true for the foldover top and slide lock; they sealed the main opening of the water reservoir, so no water ever leaked out.  I even turned the Hydrolight upside down, away from my pack of course, and no water came out!  Finally, I paid careful attention to the quick disconnect to see if it ever leaked, but the most water I ever saw come out was a few drips when disconnecting the hose.  All in all, I would say the Hydrolight did an excellent job of keeping water inside the reservoir.

Cleaning and storage: The first two times I tried cleaning the Hydrolight were difficult because I couldn't get the reservoir flipped inside out.  So I was left sticking my hand inside the pouch to wipe it down and dry it out, which didn't work well because the opening was too tight for me to get my hand plus a washcloth inside.  Finally, I stopped worrying that I would rip open the seams, and forcefully pushed the bottom out the top.  After doing that, this and subsequent cleanings went a whole lot faster and were way easier!

Lighting: The Hydrolight worked well as a lantern.  It gave off a nice even glow when I turned the headlamp on high but when using it outside my tent there wasn't enough light for me to work around camp at night, unless I positioned the reservoir a few feet from where I was working.  I didn't get any photos from inside my tent because I wasn't keen on hanging 4lb (1.8 kg) of water from the roof over top my sleeping bag.  Plus, when I crawl into my tent at night, I'm usually asleep within a few minutes.


The Hydrolight hydration reservoir is easy to use and durable.  I've enjoyed testing it so far and look forward to using it throughout summer.



During Long Term Testing I took the Hydrolight on two backpacking trips, both in Southern Indiana (IN).  My pack weight was right around 36 lb (16.3 kg) with food and water.

Franklin County.  This was a two-day, one night trip where I set up base camp near a 3 acre pond and wandered out from there to the forest and surrounding hillsides.  I hiked 5 miles (8 km) in total, electing to spend most of my time near the pond.  Daytime temperatures reached a high of 72 F (22 C) and nighttime temps dropped to the mid 60s F (18 C).  This was a welcome change from the hot humid weather earlier in the month.  When I arrived at camp there wasn't a cloud in the sky and that continued through the second day.  The area where I was had lots of hills and valleys with creeks running through them. 

Hoosier National Forest.  I hiked approximately 14 miles (22.5 km) on this two-day / two-night backpacking trip.  The weather was hot, but not excessively humid, and skies were partly cloudy with a breeze that picked up on the second day, making things more comfortable.  Daytime temperatures were in the low 80's F (28 C), dropping to the mid 70's F (24 C) at night.  The terrain was heavily forested, and the underbrush was thick, so I stayed mostly on-trail in my shorts.


The Hydrolight remained water-tight throughout Long Term Testing.  In fact, I saw no drips come from the bite valve, slide lock top, or the drinking hose disconnect on any of my trips.  I'm fully confident that this reservoir is leak-proof and have no reservations putting it into my pack or bringing it into my tent at night.  I still find that filling it up is a challenge, not so much at home where I can turn on a faucet that provides clean water and use both hands to keep the top opened, but in the field where things aren't as simple and I need at least one of my hands to hold something else.  

The bite valve worked wonderfully while backpacking and I found I drank more water from the Hydrolight reservoir while hiking than I ever did from my Nalgene bottles.  The Hydrolight was just so much more convenient to use when hiking on the trail as it was immediately accessible.  Being able to disconnect the drinking hose when I wasn't using it was also nice, so it wasn't flopping around.

Cleaning and drying the reservoir remained tedious because of the tight corners and crevices.  It typically sits on my kitchen counter for several days after each backpacking trip before I resolve to flip it inside out and clean it. 


The Hydrolight performed well during Long Term Testing and throughout this test series.  I'll continue to carry it in my pack except in winter when I resort to carrying wide mouth Nalgene bottles because of freezing temperatures.  This concludes my Long Term Report and this test series.  
Thanks to Hydrolight and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to review this hydration reservoir.

Read more reviews of Hydrolight Outdoor Gear gear
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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bladders > Hydrolight Reservoir > Test Report by Brian Hartman

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