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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bladders > MSR 4-liter DromLite Bag > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

MSR DromLite Hydration Bags
By Raymond Estrella
June 03, 2008


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.

The Product

Manufacturer: Mountain Safety Research (MSR) part of Cascade Designs Inc
Web site:
Product: DromLite bags and Spigot Cap
Year manufactured: 2004
MSRP (US): 2 L, $24.95; 4 L, $26.95; Spigot Cap, $21.95
Volumes reviewed: 2 L (2.1 qt) and 4 L (4.2 qt) Also available in 6 L (6.3 qt)
Listed weights: 2 L, 4.6 oz (130 g); 4 L, 5.1 oz (145 g); Spigot Cap, N/A
Actual weights: 2 L, 3 oz (85 g); 4 L, 3.9 oz (111 g); Spigot Cap, 1.1 oz (31 g)
Dimensions listed: 2 L, 8 x 16.5 in (20 x 42 cm); 4 L, 10 x 19 in (25 x 48 cm) verified accurate.


Product Description

The Mountain Safety Research DromLite Hydration Bags (hereafter called the DromLite or bag) are collapsible, roll-able fabric water reservoirs. They are made of "MSR red" 200-denier Cordura which is welded together to seal the edges creating the envelope-type storage containers seen above. The fabric has a thick plastic-feeling coating on the inside. The MSR logo is applied to the face of the DromLites.

At the top of the bag is metal grommet that can be used to hang the bag on a nail or hook. As can be seen above, a small carabiner, piece of cord or webbing can be placed through the grommet too. I have a hang strap from MSR on my 4 L bag.

At the lower end of the bag is the 2.15 in (55 mm) ID (inside diameter) threaded opening used to fill or empty the DromLite. Please note that the newest version has a low profile handle at this spot that mine do not have, otherwise they are the same. The opening closes by way of what they call a 3-in-1 cap. This is a big cap (one) that fits the threaded opening. A smaller cap (two) unscrews to reveal a half-inch ID (13 mm) opening that will allow a reduced flow. In the small cap is a flip top valve (three) that gives a fine squirt of liquid. It can be seen here.

3-in-1 cap

Another option is the Dromedary Spigot Cap that fits all the DromLite and Dromedary bags. This cap screws on to the bag and then the center swivels to let the spigot be aligned straight up-and-down. A flat 1.25 in (32 mm) handle turns 180 degrees. When pushed to the right side of the cap the valve is off and says so on the flat side of the handle. When rotated to the left side it opens the valve to the on position. A small clear dust cap snaps over the end of the spigot, and is attached by a 2 in (51 mm) tether to keep it from being misplaced.

Spigot Cap

MSR makes a few other optional pieces for use with the DromLite, such as the Hydration Kit seen in my top picture.

Field Locations

I have used the DromLites from San Jacinto State Park to Kings Canyon National Park and many places between. Most use was in summer with temperatures that were over 100 F (38 C). I have carried them to 12,000+ ft (3650+ m) elevations.

Here are the data from a trip where I used just the 4 L DromLite: Jenn and I went to Limber Pine Bench in the San Gorgonio Wilderness for an overnighter. The trails were fine, dirt and rock, until just above 8500' (2590 m) where we started hitting lingering snow. Temps were from 67 F to 40 F (20 to 4 C) with enough wind to keep the mosquitoes away. We had 3680' (1122 m) of elevation gain in 6 miles (9.6 km) and a total of 12 miles for the trip (19.2 km). I started with a 41 lb (18.6 kg) pack weight.


I have been using MSR's original Dromedary bags since they came out in the early 1990s. In the early 2000s they introduced this lighter version which I jumped all over as I was just starting my great weight-reduction program. MSR says that they are 30% lighter which I just verified as I have a 2 L Dromedary bag here too.

I have always been a bottle user for my water, although the past three years has seen me switch to more and more hydration bladder use. The DromLites were bought for just two very specific uses for me.

The first is for extra water hauling. Some hikes have to be done in multiple days with no reliable water sources. In fact some just don't have water period. And since most areas like this tend to be desert type locales the added heat factor makes it necessary to carry even more water than I might need otherwise. The shape of the DromLite bags works very well for me to put the extra water weight where it works best. I will either place it in the pack tight to my back sitting vertically, or I will put it flat on the top of my pack right below the top lid.

Because the filled bag is like a water-pillow it does not dig into my back like a bunch of extra Nalgenes might. And the best thing is that when I have used the water up they take a fraction of the space all the empty Nalgenes would once they were depleted, plus weigh less.

The ability to collapse and pack flat is the reason for the second way I use the DromLite bags. Occasionally I have a camp that is far from a water source like the one with Jenn described above. I knew that water was 0.3 miles (0.5 km) and another 300 ft (100 m) of elevation gain from the camp site. So I brought a 2.5 gallon (8 L) REI watersack for wash water and the 4 L MSR Dromlite bag to supplement our two 2 L Platypus Hosers.

By filling the DromLite with filtered water I was able to hang it in a tree and use it for all of our in-camp water needs. When we were packing up the next day I just rolled up the empty DromLite and toss it in my pack. Here is a picture of it in use.

Hard drinking man

I use it the same way for trips that see me making a base camp that I will spend more than one night at. Using the optional Spigot Cap (seen above in action) makes it very easy to use to get just what is needed. The ease of using the handle to control the flow is much easier than messing with the squirt offered by the 3-in-1 cap that the DromLite comes with. Otherwise to use the center cap the bag must be sitting, not hanging, or it is very easy to end up with water everywhere. I always bring the Spigot Cap for in-camp use.

One of the best things about the DromLite is filtering water into it. I have the original MSR WaterWorks filter in Minnesota and a Katadyn Vario filter in California. Both attach directly to the threads of the openings on the DromLite bags. This makes it very convenient as the bag can just sit in my lap or on a rock while I pump. Once the bag is full I hold it by the opening, remove the filter and replace the cap. Ta-da! I now have a full bag of water. Here is a picture of Jenn filling one in the San Gorgonio Wilderness at Pine Bench Spring.

Hard working woman

I tried to use the DromLite as a hydration bladder using the Hydration Kit but did not care for it. I find that purpose-made bladders work much better.

They are very easy to clean and rinse out. I shake as much water out of them as I can then pull the sides away from each other and hang it from clips I have in my gear room for the purpose of drying water reservoirs. Even my oldest Dromedary bag still smells fine.

I have never had a leak in any version of the bags. I tried using a 6 L older version (which is in Minnesota now) as a pillow, but it did not work well for me as I like my arm under my pillow. 12 lb (5.4 kg) of water on it does not feel good…

For the uses I bought them for the DromLites work very well and I plan on keeping them around for some time to come.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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