Hauling bladders, treating stream flows, or melting snow…. however you source it, having enough water is one of those endless trail chores.
The challenge for me is not usually finding water so much as storing it along the day. Hit camp after a long hike, melt down snow for dinner and then what? Do you haul up extra Nalgenes for everyone in the group? Wake up early to melt again before setting out again? Sip light to try and avoid needing more? The answer: water containers (obviously.)
It’s not a rocket science product clearly and I’ve used water bladders of all sorts over the years. They all help but usually come with their own drawbacks (water can’t be hot, the container doesn’t pack well, it’s too narrow to fill, whatever) so when I saw the HyradPak Seeker 3L at REI last year, I figured why not give it a try. Since then, I’ve added two more to my gear closet so if you’re looking for a bottom line review, I’m telling you this is the way to go. Why you ask? Well read on…
The Seeker 3L is my go to container for storing water on the trail:
Since I picked my first one up, the Seeker has proved to be well worth the investment for me. It packs down to a negligible size and yet expands out to hold plenty making it helpful across trails and long drives alike. It’s just a water container and yet it’s full of little features that make it so worthwhile:
Light weight and collapsible but durable. Bringing extra waterbottles for everyone in the group is a lot of bulk and yet most soft containers seem ready to burst as soon as you start to fill them (unless you get into like an actual hydration bladder but good luck pouring from those.) The HyraPack product is indeed tough and yet tiny when empty (and just 3oz.) Mine starts out pushed down into the a small gap in my pack and ends up clipped outside, inches from my crampons and axe. Thus far, no issues, no wet bags.
Wide-mouth design. Before I picked up these, I used another popular container with a soda-bottle style head and damn, getting water in required a painful amount of precision. While the wide-mouth is not Nalgene sized wide to work with my MSR filter directly, it’s wide enough to be plenty easy to fill from a waterbottle or filter hose and pours quick too.
Ready for hot or cold. One of the best thing about the Seeker container is its versatility. I’ll pour liquefied snow melt from my stove right (not boiling though, max temp is 140) or warm up some water as a bottle for anyone feeling the cold. On a hot day, yet the opposite is equally true so before a weekend away, I’ll freeze one or two down and use them as ice blocks in the cooler or a couple hours in the freezer for a chilled bottle to beat beat the heat (wrap them in a bag if you do this to collect the condensation.)
Clip friendly tie-down points. HyraPak did a great job in thinking about how to carry their containers around without having to find space inside your pack. Several secure clip anchor points make it easy to attach them to a backpack, hang them at camp with a gravity filter, or attach them anywhere else you may need.
Dishwasher safe. I trust my filter well enough but I’m not sure it’s perfect. Plus, stuff can get on the outside of a container easily enough. Being able to throw these into the dishwasher, hit run and be ready to take them back out without endless soap / water fills is just plain handy (though I do rinse them out a few times post wash.)
And what I don’t love:
Of course, not everything is perfect and the Seeker is no exception… there are a few things the flexible / packable design introduces that also hold it back:
First, the wide-mount is not wide enough to work with Nalgene type accessories directly which is understandable but does make for some adjusting (HyraPak makes their own accessories but cross compatible is always a win.) Thus filtering water is usually a two step for me.
Second, since the bladders are completely soft material, pouring water out is a bit of an art. Filling to the very top really does not work well for pouring later on and so having the 3L size really helps.
The bottom line: It’s a buy
At $22 for the 3L size, these are a no brainer investment whether you just want a way to carry more water on a car camping adventure (/ desert road trip) or to have something to stash plenty of extra water in on the trail. That the Seeker has so many features makes it well worth the few extra dollars you’ll pay over a more basic container.