Hydrapak SoftFlask Review
Hydrapak is well known for their bladders and packs, and a few years ago they released a new product: the Hydrapak SoftFlask. This is the equivalent of a bladder on a micro-scale, made with the intention of storing several gels in one easy to carry, mess-free pouch. The SoftFlasks were initially released in 5oz and 8oz containers, and received positive feedback from the outdoor world. More recently, Hydrapak has added larger sizes to their product lineup.
This review will focus on the new sizes, which are offered in 350ml, 500ml, and 750ml. Similar to all bladders, the Hydrapak SoftFlasks collapse as fluids are removed, which is great for two reasons: the bottle shrinks in size as it is emptied, and fluids do not slosh around when it is half-full. When empty, they are about the size (and look) of a crushed soda can.
Design & Features
The SoftFlasks are made of a durable TPU plastic, which also happens to be quite comfortable in your hand. There is a high-flow bite valve, and a locking mechanism on the lid to reduce or completely stop the flow of liquid. A fabric finger loop is attached to the neck for easy carrying. These new SoftFlasks have a larger filling port (42mm) than their predecessors, which allows for small ice cubes to fit through.
The Hydrapak SoftFlasks are both freezer and dishwasher (top-rack) safe. They are also fitted with ‘hooks’ on the bottom, presumably to hang upside down to dry. I am not as worried about mold as some, so I have just let them air dry with the lid off.
Performance of the Hydrapak SoftFlasks
The bottles won an ISPO Award for design, which says a lot since these are just water bottles. I came in with high expectations, and was not disappointed. My favorite part of the bottle is the high-flow bite valve. I have only been using these for about a month, but the valve is one of the sturdier ones I have come across. And it is just about impossible to get them to leak. I tried dropping them, throwing them, and stuffing them in the freezer completely full of water.
Hydrapak outfitted the bottles with a lock to stop the flow or prevent leaking, but I have found no use for this feature as the valve hasn’t leaked yet. I also enjoyed the finger loop, which allowed me to lighten my grip when running.
After spending a few weeks with the Hydrapak SoftFlasks, it is clear that there are benefits and uses for each of the sizes. I found the 500ml bottle to be my favorite, as it is easy to hold on long runs, but still provides enough water for a few hours on the trail. The 750ml bottle is great to throw in a pack for a day hike, especially given the size after the bottle collapses. This size; however, was not as ideal on a run as it was a bit too large to hold comfortably and flopped around awkwardly when about ¾ full. The 350ml bottle is great for mid-distance runs, or to throw in a jacket for a day of skiing.
The Hydrapak SoftFlasks are easy to use, comfortable to hold, and collapse down to practically nothing when empty. They are also less slippery than a traditional plastic water bottle, especially when condensation forms on the exterior. The 500ml bottle is my new go-to for runs of over an hour, and I plan to use the 750ml bottle for each of my upcoming hiking excursions.
For additional information, please visit hydrapak.com. This product is available exclusively through REI.
MSRP: $12.99 – $20.99