Gear Closet: Hydrapak Jolla Backpack

For my money, the hydration pack is amongst the greatest outdoor innovations of all time. The ability to conveniently and comfortably carry water while we hike, bike, run or do just about anything else can not be overstated. Over the years the options for hydration packs have expanded dramatically and these days its nearly impossible to buy a backpack that isn’t at least hydration-ready.

But one company that has has stayed razor focused on providing hydration solutions is is Hydrapack, which makes some of the best bottles, reservoirs and of course, packs, in the industry. One of their newest packs is the Jolla, a spacious and versatile bag that is lightweight, comfortable to wear and features plenty of extras that outdoor enthusiasts will most certainly appreciate.

The Jolla is listed as weighing in at 2 pounds, six ounces and having 18 liters (1100 cubic inches) of storage, but thanks to its numerous pockets the pack actually feels much larger – and I mean that in a good way! The pack features a fleece-lined top pocket with a removable tool kit bag, a large main compartment with a velcro sealed internal pocket and additional storage on the exterior. In addition to the dedicated zipped hydration pocket on the back panel, the Jolla also has two water bottle holsters (also with zippers!) and small mesh pockets on the hip belt. With all those options the Jolla makes it easy to keep all of your gear well organized.

Made of soft, but durable, ripstop nylon, the Jolla is comfortable to wear for a variety of activities. I’ve used it hiking, trail running and mountain biking, and once I adjusted the fit properly, it was surprisingly easy to wear for extended periods of time, even while carrying a full load. I was especially impressed by the well padded back panel and shoulder straps.

Of course, no matter how well designed and comfortable a hydration pack is, if it doesn’t work well at it’s primary function than it isn’t worth owning. Fortunately the Jolla performs exceptionally well in that area as well, thanks in no small part to the included 3-liter reservoir. Hydrapak was generous enough to add one of their excellent Shape-Shift reservoirs to the package and it one of the best bladders I’ve ever used.

Not only does it’s wide mouth make it easy to fill but the sliding seal locks the reservoir up nice and tight, preventing the water from leaking all over the pack itself. In fact, it worked so well that through my testing of the bag I never had any issues with leakage at all.

One of the worst things about most water bladders is that they can be nearly impossible to get completely dry or clean. Over time, as you use them, a bit of moisture gets left behind and that moisture can facilitate the grow of bacteria. But the Shape-Shifter is designed to be able to be turned completely inside out, which makes it easy to get all of the water out at the end of the day and a breeze to keep clean as well.

The reservoir also happens to be very rugged and durable and the bite valve and water hose are just as high in quality. That means that you won’t have to replace the bladder as often as you would on similar packs, which is another plus for the Jolla. That said, the Shape-Shift reservoir is so good that it is definitely worth purchasing on its own. That’s why Hydrapak offers it separately for just $32.99.

Both the Jolla and the Shape-Shift bladder are individually great products, but when put together they make an unbeatable combo. If you’re in the market for a new pack for your upcoming summer adventures, than look no further than the Hydrapak Jolla. It carries a price tag of $144.99 which is a bargain for a pack that is this comfortable and versatile.  Considering the fact that it also comes with one of the best hydration reservoirs you’ll ever find and I think you’ll find that Hydrapak has delivered a winner that is worth every penny.

Kraig Becker