HYDRAPAK MORRO HYDRATION PACK
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
September 18, 2011
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
130 lb (59.00 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a week long. I carry a light to mid-weight load, use a tent, stove and hiking poles.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Photo courtesy of Hydrapak|
Manufacturer: Hydrapak LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.hydrapak.com
Listed Weight: 1 lb 13 oz (0.82 g)
Measured Weight: 1 lb 12 oz (0.79 g)
Pack only: 1 lb 7 oz (0.65 kg)
Hydration Reservoir and hose: 5.3 oz (150 g)
Reservoir only: 2.9 oz (82 g)
Drink Tube with Bite Valve: 2.4 oz (68 g)
Reservoir Volume: 100 oz (3 L)
Pack Volume: 800 cu in (13 L)
Color Tested: Orange
Also Available: Black
Pack: Made in Vietnam
Reservoir: Made in China
The Hydrapak Morro is a 100 oz (3L) hydration pack with 800 cubic inches (13.1 L) of gear storage.
The pack portion is made of 210D baby ripstop nylon and 100D trilobal nylon construction. There are multiple pockets. On the back panel there is a zippered pocket for the water reservoir along with a clip inside for holding the top of the reservoir. The main storage area unzips about 3/4 of the way down both sides of the pack. There is a small zippered pocket inside this main pocket along with an expandable pocket with hook-and-loop closure and two long thin pen pockets. On the outside of the pack at the top there is a zippered pocket with two mesh pockets inside and an interior clip for holding keys. This pocket has a three-way slit at the top which acts as an audio port for routing headphones. The port (the black disc on the outside) is marked with a headset logo. There is an outer lower zippered pocket that has two compartments and elastic straps. These are the size to hold energy bars or gels. On each side of the pack there are zippered side pockets which are made of a stretchy fabric. These pockets seem useful for holding water bottles. There are two compression straps on either side for lashing on more gear or simply for decreasing the size of the pack when it is not full.
The shoulder straps are nicely cushioned with thick foam. Between the shoulder straps near the top is a cushioned lifting strap. The sternum strap attached to the shoulder straps is adjustable. The waist belt is also cushioned with foam and can be stowed away when not in use. The back panel features wicking material and is also cushioned.
The 100 oz (3 L) reservoir features a reversible bladder for easy cleaning. There are graduation marks in 10 ounce and 0.25 liter increments along with a max fill line. The reservoir is folded over at the top and has a separate piece of plastic with a channel that slide over the top to seal it. This top piece has a cord with a loop which can be attached to the clip in the hydration pocket to keep from losing it.
The drink tube attaches to the lower part of the reservoir with a 'plug and play' connection. This makes it easier to fill the reservoir without having the hose attached. The bite valve can be twisted 180 degrees to close it in an off position. The tube has a magnetic clip that attaches to the tube and the other section attaches to the strap which allows the bite valve to be positioned wherever it is desired. The magnet is easily moved but is quite strong; it holds with my finger between the magnets.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING IT OUT
My first impression was that I like the orange color much better than how it appears on the website. I expected a bright orange and white pack with black trim, but it actually is more of a burnt orange and grey-white with dark grey trim. It is quite stylish.
|Bite valve new|
While exploring the pack features on the first evening that I received the pack, I was attempting to thread the drink tube through the shoulder strap. The hole from the reservoir pocket to the strap was easy to find. However, while I was threading it the bite valve separated into two parts. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to come apart, so I pulled everything out and looked at it under good lighting. I was not able to connect the two pieces again. There was no phone number on the packaging and it was after normal office hours, so I went to their website and filled out a warranty form. It said that they would respond in 1-3 days. Since it was a Friday evening when I submitted it, I wasn't expecting a response until Monday. When I didn't get a response by Tuesday, I called their contact phone number (not a toll-free number). The Customer Service representative wasn't in yet, but the person I talked to was knowledgeable and took my information to send out a new bite valve. They indicated that the valve is ultrasonically welded together and that they had a bad batch which was failing like mine did. They also took my phone number in case Customer Service needed to contact me but I did not receive any phone call so I'm assuming they just sent out a new one. As of this report, I haven't received a new a package, so I'll have to follow-up with that in my Field Report.
|Bite valve broken|
I really like the comfort and fit of this pack. It sits higher on my back than some packs and feels very compact and balanced. The waist belt is as its name says since it fits around my waist and not my hips.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
There were two hangtags on the pack: one showed features of the reservoir/tubing and one showed features of the entire hydration pack. The hangtag for the entire pack lists the weight as 1 lb 6 oz (0.62 kg) which is really misleading since I found this to be the weight of the pack alone. The weight on the website was more accurate (see above).
Printed on the reservoir are instructions for turning it inside-out for cleaning, squeezing the sides to open it for filling and how to attach the drink tube to the reservoir.
The Hydrapak Morro hydration pack seems to be well-constructed (except for my problem with the bite valve) and has lots of interesting features and multiple pockets.
Padding on shoulders and back
Sits higher on my back for great comfort
Lots of pockets
Reservoir turns inside-out
Bite valve easily broke into two pieces
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Over the Field Testing period, I used the entire pack for 5 day hikes, 7 mountain bike rides and one 4-day boat camping trip. I used the reservoir alone for one 3-day and one overnight backpacking trip. I also used the pack for air travel and just around town.
All hikes and mountain bike rides were in the Sierra Nevada of California. Some examples of my typical use are:
Ohlone Trail, Diablo Range, Northern California; 30 mi (48 km); 390 to 3,800 ft (119 to 1,158 m); 36 to 60 F (2 to 16 C); clear to cloudy with breezy to windy conditions
Loon Lake Rubicon Trail, Sierra Nevada, California; 10 mi (16 km); 6,327 to 6,700 (1,928 to 2,040 m); 38 to 65 F (3 to 18 C); clear conditions
Western States Trail, Sierra Nevada, California; 6 mi (10 km); 3,520 to 1,820 ft (1,073 to 555 m) elevation; 60 to 70 F (16 to 21 C); cloudy breezy conditions
Buck Island Lake, Sierra Nevada, California; 6.5 mi (11 km); 6,327 to 8,500 ft (1,928 to 2,591 m) elevation; 60 to 80 F (16 to 27 C); clear conditions
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
First, as a follow-up to my Initial Report, the failed bite valve was replaced very quickly and arrived in the mail shortly after that report. It has performed without issue during the entire field test period.
On my first use, I hadn't closed the bite valve before I threw my pack in the back seat of the car. When we arrived at the trailhead, there was some water on the seat. Despite this first experience, I find the bite valve does a pretty good job of closing off the water flow even without closing the valve. I have since mainly used the twist closure only for storage and not during hikes or bike rides.
Initially I found the outer pockets to be pretty small. Even with small hands I have trouble accessing the mesh pockets inside the upper outer pocket. The upper and lower outer pockets can only fit smaller items which at first I found annoying since larger items would not fit such as a camera or map. However, upon continuing to use the pack, I now really appreciate these small pockets. All of those small items like lip balm, a pocket knife, a gel packet or a lighter always manage to get lost in my pack. With lots of places to put small items, the Morro provides easy access to all of these things. I have figured out what will and will not fit in the small pockets and just throw those larger things into the roomy main compartment. The photo shows what I typically carry in the outer pockets. The upper one contains a bar, some gel blocks, a gel packet and my very-thin wallet. The lower pocket contains a lighter, lip balm and a knife. The side pocket contains sunscreen and a bike tire pump. There is still room in all of these pockets for more small stuff.
I swapped the reservoir between the Morro and my backpacks to get use on the reservoir while backpacking and found the removal/reinsertion of the bite valve with the Morro pack to be tedious. It seems that just a slightly larger opening in the pack shoulder strap would make this much easier. I didn't have any problem routing it in my backpacks.
I love that the reservoir top opening is large so that I can easily fit it under the refrigerator door ice dispenser while filling my reservoir. This really helps to keep my water much cooler throughout the day. I have several other reservoirs that cannot do this except by inserting cubes one at a time. I typically carried 50 - 90 oz (1.5 - 2.5 L) of water in the reservoir and about half the time added electrolytes to it. I had no problems fitting the reservoir into the Morro pack or into my own backpacks.
I found the reservoir easy to clean. I typically dried it with a reservoir hangar slipped inside. This held it open enough to air out. Without the hangar it wants to close up. I haven't yet tried drying it inside-out.
I had trouble finding a good spot to locate the magnet for keeping the bite valve in place. It was hard to find a place where the magnet would hold well enough and that was any better than just having the end routed under the pack strap or hanging freely in front of me. Also, the tubing had a coiled set in it as-received so the tube wanted to stay in this shape which didn't allow it to clip to the magnet very easily.
I wore the pack on a cooler day but climbed 1,700 ft (518 m) in 2.5 miles (4 km) and found the back panel completely soaked from my sweat. As summer hit and temperatures climbed, I consistently had a wet back but didn't find the pack to be any warmer (or cooler) than any other daypacks I have. The shape being shorter than my other packs does keep the lower part of my back from getting as sweaty. And the pack seemed to dry quickly so the moisture never bothered me.
Overall I found the Hydrapak Morro hydration pack to be a very versatile, comfortable and nicely designed day pack.
My favorite things:
Sits higher on my back
Lots of pockets for smaller items
Large reservoir with large opening (for adding ice)
Great customer service (to replace bite valve)
Not my favorite things:
Original bite valve broke
Threading bite valve/hose through pack strap is difficult
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the Long-Term testing period, I used the entire pack on six day hikes and one mountain bike ride and used the reservoir on three backpacking trips. I again used the pack as my carry-on bag for air travel. For hiking, I typically carried 70 oz (2 L) of water and often added an electrolyte mixture to it.
Shadow Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 2 days, 15 mi (24 km); 40 to 75 F (4 to 24 C); 6,560 to 7,940 ft (2,000 to 2,420 m) elevation. I carried the reservoir in my Black Diamond backpack water reservoir pocket.
Sequoia National Park, Sierra Nevada, California: 6 days, 60 mi (97 km); 38 to 84 F (3 to 29 C); 6,700 to 11,600 ft (2,042 to 3,536 m) elevation. I carried the reservoir in my Granite Gear backpack slipped between the pack and the back pad.
Bucktail Path, Elk State Forest, Pennsylvania: 2 days, 15 mi (24 km); 55 to 70 F (13 to 21 C); 2,100 to 2,700 ft elevation. Again I carried the reservoir in my Granite Gear backpack slipped between the pack and the back pad.
Muir Grove, Sequoia National Park, California: 5 mi (8 km); 75 to 80 F (24 to 27 C)
Mid-State Trail near Poe Paddy State Park, Pennsylvania: 6 miles (10 km); 60 to 75 F (16 to 24 C)
Tower Trail near Poe Valley State Park, Pennsylvania: 3 mi (5 km); 70 to 75 F (21 to 24 C)
Ole Bull State Park, Pennsylvania: 4.5 mi (7.2 km); 65 to 70 F (18 to 21 C)
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I have come to really appreciate this hydration pack. At first I thought that the pockets were a bit small but I now love that there are small pockets for organizing small things and large pockets for fitting larger things like extra clothing. I can jam a ton of gear into this little pack not to mention being able to strap more things on the outside if I need to. The fit is outstanding and rides perfectly for active sports like mountain biking while being extremely comfortable for that easy walk in the park too.
I haven't become attached to the magnet feature (no pun intended) for holding the hose to the pack strap. I used it quite a bit but I didn't find it to work that well unless I had the magnet and hose in just the right spot to hold it in place. For more vigorous activity, it seemed to get knocked away. I didn't mind this at all really. The bite valve was always easy to find due to the curve in the hose so I guess I never found a need to get the magnet to work any better.
The durability has been superb with no signs of any wear at all. The zippers and buckles all work as they did when new. After 4 months of use, the white mesh is getting quite dirty especially on the shoulder straps. But it still looks great.
I continue to love being able to easily add ice to the reservoir. The big opening makes it easy to clean and to dry. One odd thing I noted about the bite valve was that it leaked when I was hiking above 10,000 ft (3,048 m). I have become accustomed to only locking the bite valve for auto transport, so on our Sequoia backcountry trip I noticed water leaking while heading over Black Rock Pass (11,600 ft/ 3,536 m). I shook it and bit it and made sure that the valve wasn't stuck. After several steps it was leaking again so I locked it. The bite valve continued to leak up and over the pass when I didn't have it in the locked position. The leaking stopped again on the other side of the pass at about 10,000 ft (3,048 ft). Other than this one incident, the bite valve has worked flawlessly.
The only negative I have with the entire pack is that the bite valve and hose is difficult to thread through the pack strap. I often swapped the reservoir back and forth between the Morro pack and my backpack. It usually was frustrating for me to get it back into the Morro pack.
The Hydrapak Morro is a high-quality extremely functional hydration pack. I love the features on the reservoir just as much as I love the features of the pack.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
Smaller pockets for organizing smaller items
Perfect shape for a great fit
Reservoir is easy to fill and clean
Bite valve is difficult to thread through strap
This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to Hydrapak and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.
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Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith