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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bladders > Hydrolight Reservoir > Test Report by Marina Batzke

August 09, 2020



NAME: Marina Batzke
EMAIL: mbbp2013 (at) yahoo (dot) com
AGE: 60
LOCATION: Los Angeles County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 132 lb (60.00 kg)

I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in 2013. My backpacking trips are one or two weekend excursions per month in Southern California. The locations range from Joshua Tree National Park desert areas in the cooler months to mountainous elevations in the summer months. I always hike with a group and like the gear talk in camp. While I am looking for ways to lighten my pack, I am not an ultra-lighter: I like sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag on a comfortable pad. In January 2017, I added snowshoeing to my winter activities.



Manufacturer: Hydrolight Outdoor Gear LLC
Year of Test: 2020
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US$34.99
Listed Weight: 6.5 oz/ 0.41 lb (184 g)
Measured Weight: 6.1 oz (173 g)
Other details:
The Hydrolight illuminated reservoir kit arrived with these parts:
2 L Bladder with its hose and the slide-on seal attached
One adjustable woven black fabric strap at 39.5 in (100 cm) long and 0.39 in (1 cm) wide


The Hydrolight illuminated reservoir is protected inside an 18.5 in x 8.375 in (47 x 21 cm) outer cardboard packaging. This packaging has several cut-outs which allow a buyer to touch the hydration reservoir ahead of the purchase to feel its texture. It feels like bathtub-type nonslip to touch. The packaging promotes a 2 L (70 oz) fill capacity. On the backside of the packaging, the many Hydrolight features and benefits are described. I cut the very top of the packaging open and pulled the reservoir up and out.
the packaging kit
the Hydrolight kit with the extra strap above

The hydration bladder is made of a milky translucent soft plastic, described as 100% BPA and PVC free. BPA stands for bisphenol A and PVC stands for Poly Vinyl Chloride. In the center frontside, the company logo and HYDROLIGHT OUTDOOR GEAR are emblazoned. The bladder outer dimensions are 16 in (40.6 cm) tall and 7.75 in (19.7 cm) wide at the bottom and 6.25 in (15.9 cm) at the top. Near the bottom, the hydration bladder has a black quick connect where the hose inserts. The hose is made of clear plastic and 36 in (91 cm) long. At its end is an all-black hard plastic mouth piece. The mouthpiece arrived securely wrapped in clear plastic. With that plastic protection removed and discarded, I notice the mouthpiece has a bite valve and a half-twist on/off switch.

Near its top, the hydration bladder has a black plastic carry handle on the front side. The handle opening is about 4.5 in wide by 1.5 in deep (11.4 x 3.8 cm). I can comfortably insert four fingers into the handle opening to lift the hydration bladder up.

At the very top, the hydration bladder has a black hard plastic slide-on which allows access to the bladder opening. This slide-on is attached to the bladder by means of a black plastic cord (5 in/ 12.7 cm long).

Now looking at the backside, the hydration bladder has a fill gauge emblazoned in its milky translucent plastic. It shows 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2 L, and 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, 62, 72 oz.
the quick connect and the bite valve
the zipper with my headlight inside the pocket

Near the bottom, the backside has a 5.5 in (14 cm) wide zipper which when pulled open gives access to a water-resistant pocket. I shall insert my headlamp here.

The fabric strap that came separately in the packing unit is intended to hang the illuminated reservoir. The manufacturer recommends I hang the Hydrolight to have convenient access to both drinking water as well as the lantern.


The innovative, patented design of the Hydrolight illuminated reservoir is that I can insert my own headlight into the water-resistant pocket of the water-filled bladder and create a full-sized lantern. The Hydrolight is designed to diffuse light over a wide area. The manufacturer calls the Hydrolight a backpacker's lantern, an item of necessity and luxury in one product. Lumens above 1000 may damage the bladder. By using the fabric strap that came with the set, I can hang the lantern when in camp.

Hydrolight Outdoor Gear LLC states on their website that their products are made to perform to high standards. If one of their products has failed to perform caused by defects in manufacturing, materials or design, I shall reach out to the manufacturer. There is a form on their website that I shall fill in and describe any concerns, then submit. No other statement about the extent of warranty is made.


To fill the hydration bladder with water, I slid the black plastic slide-seal off the top. The bladder plastic is harder and much stiffer up here in the fold-over section than the bladder body. I unfolded (or: folded upwards) the bladder top and pulled the two bladder sides apart. Now I had about 10 in (25 cm) diameter of opening to let water flow in.

Once I had filled in one liter of water (only half full), I folded the firm plastic once over and slid the black plastic seal back on. I turned the hydration bladder upside down and no water leaked out. Perfect. I really like the carry handle: it is very convenient and gives me a firm hold of the hydration bladder.

I inserted my headlamp into the pocket. Seeing that I had only filled the bladder with one liter, it was easy to insert and to close the smooth running zipper. So I filled the hydration bladder to its maximum and still, it was easy to insert my headlamp and close the zipper. I took the water-filled bladder into a dark room and wow: I was impressed by the nice milky white illumination.
the backpacker's lantern

Before I sipped out of the water bladder for the first time, I filled it with tap water once, shook the bladder really well in hopes of cleaning the inside. I just did not feel it was right to drink right out of the first fill ever. No manufacturer recommendations came about any pre-cleaning ahead of first use. I turned the on switch over. Sipping water while biting on the valve was easy. I twisted the on/off switch back to closed. Once the bladder was empty, I inserted my right hand all the way into the bladder, along with a dishtowel and let the opened bladder with dishtowel inside sit to air dry.


The Hydrolight illuminated reservoir is a nifty combination of hydration bladder and white light lantern for camp. Since I always have a headlamp on me anyways, the inventive idea works for me.

Carry handle
Easy slide-seal to close bladder at top
Easy to insert my own headlamp to create lantern effect
Lots of fill gauge indicators in liter and ounces
Extra hang strap




Due to COVID-19, all trails and trailheads, nearby national parks, even the beach near my home were closed the majority of the past two months and I used the hydration bladder on eleven walks through the neighborhoods around my home. These last two weeks, I was finally able to go for walks in the nearby hills. The temperatures ranged from the low to the high 70s F (21 - 26 C). The weather was either sunny with bright blue skies, or a bit overcast.
on a dayhike


I am a big fan of hydration bladders which allow me to sip water whenever I am thirsty. Again and again I have tried to hike and backpack relying solely on water bottles as my source of hydration. Yet I can't walk and drink out of a bottle without spilling water all over. And if my hiking group does not take enough breaks, I don't get enough water to drink.

I have been using the Hydrolight reservoir in my small daypack. The bladder is easy to insert. I guide the hose through the pack top opening and through two elastic loops on the strap. That way I always have the hydration bladder mouth piece handy. It is easy to bite on the mouth piece and suck water. Even though the mouth piece can be switched on or off, I always leave it in the on position to drink without delay. The mouth piece has not once leaked water.
Hydrolight inserted in my daypack

Since the pandemic restrictions prevented me from going backpacking, I have been handling the hydration bladder in a sheltered home environment, like filling with water at home from a home water filter. I remove the slide seal and unfold the plastic fold. With one hand I hold the hard plastic open, with the other hand I pour water out of my home water filter into the hydration bladder opening. I have not spilled once. Once the bladder is full, I close the hard plastic fold-over and slide on the seal. Next I always turn the bladder upside down to make sure I securely sealed it and verify there is no leakage. The Hydrolight has always closed tightly.

To dry the hydration bladder after use, I pour out all water and insert a rolled up cotton dish cloth to dry up water remnants. I let the inside air-dry: the rolled up dish cloth prevents the opening from closing.

Unfortunately I have not had a chance to try the backpacker's lantern function in the field.


The Hydrolight reservoir is an easy to use hydration bladder.

easy to fill and reseal
bite valve




Mt. Pinos to Sheep Camp via Sawmill Mtn, California, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack
Elevation: 8300 ft/ 2530 m
9 miles/ 14.5 km
Temperature: 74 - 52 F (23 - 11 C)
Saturday sunny, Sunday sunny with a strong breeze

10 weekend morning walks around the neighborhood
1 hour each
Elevation: 1400 ft/ 430 m
3 miles/ 5 km
Temperature: 70s F (20s C)
Mornings typically lightly overcast with sun peaking through

Dawson Saddle to Mt. Baden Powell, California, USA
Out-and-back Dayhike
Elevation: 7900 - 9400 ft/ 2400 - 2865 m
9 miles/ 14.5 km
Temperature: 84 F (29 C)

Mt. Pinos to Cerro Noroeste, California, USA
Out-and-back Dayhike
Elevation: 8300 ft/ 2500 C
13 miles/ 21 km
Temperature: 80 F (27 C)


The Hydrolight Reservoir has performed well during the test period. I have used it on one overnight backpack, short local walks and dayhikes.

Sheep Camp (8400 ft/ 2560 m) was an overnight backpack. This wilderness trail camp has a spring which guarantees at least a trickle of water for us to filter. At home, I filled the 2 L hydration bladder with about 1.5 L water for the trail and I was able to fit the bear canister inside my pack in front of the bladder. The next morning, I filled the hydration bladder with about 1 L for the hike out. I like how easily I can remove the black slider and unfold the seal at the top of the Hydrolight hydration bladder. I was able to pour the filtered water into the bladder while it was inserted in my backpack: with one hand I held the firm, stiff bladder top open, with the other hand I poured the water in.
the fit inside my backpack

Southern California nature is bone dry in the summer months, so naturally there is a high fire risk. Even though a metal fire ring was provided at our remote camp location, we did not want to risk any sparks flying. I turned my headlamp to its red light function and inserted it into the Hydrolight reservoir lamp pouch. The red color illumination reminded us of a campfire. We chatted for hours with the red light glowing. I have to say though that I did not use the Hydrolight illumination inside my tent. I simply used my white headlamp function for the few minutes it took me to get ready for the sleeping bag. I do not see the need to illuminate my tent in the evening for an extended period of time.
fake campfire

Over July 4th weekend, I went on a 3 night backpack, yet decided against taking the Hydrolight on this longer outing. When filled to its maximum 2 L, the Hydrolight is a projecting, thick round reservoir. Since I had to take a bear canister and pack more stuff than on an overnight outing, I rather used my 3 L reservoir and only filled it with about 2 L. That made for a more flat reservoir and allowed more room for the bear canister and my other items.

The Hydrolight 2 L reservoir fits perfectly in my daypack. I enjoy using it for walks around the neighborhood, where I would probably not drink any water at all if I had to stop, open my daypack to take a water bottle out to drink a sip. With the Hydrolight tube looped through the daypack left strap elastic guides, I can easily grab the bite valve and drink, even with a face mask on.

The Hydrolight 2 L reservoir also works great for dayhikes. I fill the reservoir with water at home, plus I take a separate bottle that holds water and an energy drink-mix powder. I have not once filled anything with a flavor into the Hydrolight reservoir.

After use - once at home - I pour out any remaining water and wash out the reservoir. I insert a cotton dishtowel and let the half open reservoir dry out with time.

A close inspection of the Hydrolight reservoir at the end of the testing phase shows no damage at all. The reservoir is still in flawless shape.


The Hydrolight is a combination water bladder and backpacker's lantern. I have predominantly used the water reservoir function. I will continue to use the Hydrolight water reservoir on my future walks, dayhikes and one-night backpacks.

stiff slide-seal at top: I like the firmness
carry handle makes is easy I do not accidentally drop the full reservoir
bite valve is easy to drink from, even when wearing a face mask
headlamp pouch is a fun, non-essential idea

3 L fill capacity would allow me to take it on longer outings

Thank you to Hydrolight and for the opportunity to test this nifty water reservoir/ headlamp pouch combination product.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

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