Hydrapak Morro Review

by Brian Mullin on January 15, 2010

The new Morro hydration pack from Hydrapak is a glorious and comfortable pack, with a plethora of new features, which are very innovative and incredibly functional. The Morro is part of Hydrapak’s new Pro Series. The Pro Series constitutes their best design philosophy, features, materials and construction.






Features
Surge Valve
The foremost new feature for me as a longtime Hydrapak user, is that they finally solved their heinously leaky bite valve! The new Surge Valve doesn’t leak, has a twist shutoff, an adjustable angled elbow, it bites and draws well, and just plain rocks. They hit the nail on the head with this winner, and they have leaped to the top of the food chain for bite valves by a large margin!
Quantum Clip
The drinking hose also attaches with an innovative system called the Quantum Clip (no more Velcro), which uses a magnet clip on the hose, and an adjoining metal piece on the chest compression strap. It takes a bit of practice to get used to the system, but you just drop the hose clip easily on the proper spot with a distinct snap. It also prevents the hose from flopping around when you are bouncing along on rough terrain, which I had always found a bit annoying with hydration packs, in fact, I used to tuck the bite valve under the compression strap to prevent that from happening. One of Hydrapak’s statements about the Quantum Clip is, “keep your hose in check”, I am not even going to touch that one!

Reversible Reservoir II
The intriguing Hydrapak bladder system, named the Reversible Reservoir II is a variant of what rafters and kayakers use for dry bags. I have used dry bags for many years on the river as a kayaker, and they are a great tool and very functional. Of course they were meant to keep water out and not water in! The Hydrapak bladder is a nifty system that uses a plastic slider closure (the “Slide Seal”) for the top of the unit, and it allows easy fillings since the entire top opens wide. The Morro that I tested came with their largest sized reservoir, with a capacity of 100 fl oz/3L. All of the reservoir components (bladder, tube, bite valve) are made with FDA approved  BPA Free TPU, which means no Bisphenol A (BPA), within the Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) material.
It can be turned inside out, which is a great feature that makes the cleaning and drying tasks a breeze, and it helps keep the dreaded funk from happening! It has a quick connector which they call Plug N Play that attaches or detaches the drinking hose, so it makes it easy to take the bladder out of the pack for cleaning and filling. Their reservoirs are being used in a few competitor packs, which is a great vouch for their innovation and functionality.
The reservoir compartment is accessed on the upper back side of the pack. The whole arrangement of the compartment seems a bit haphazard to me. The zipper that opens the compartment is just a tad too short in length, so it feels a bit squeezed when working with the reservoir. The reservoirs little attachment clip is a royal pain to un-clip from the packs hanging strap, and I much preferred their original quick connector buckle system from their older versions.
Impressions
I found the pack to be very comfortable, and I liked how it sat right in the middle of your back, not putting too much pressure on your shoulders, sternum, nor across your stomach. The hip belt comes off the pack in a large swath of material as it rolls out over your sides, before becoming the usual quick connect buckle. This hip belt system really helped keep the pack stable, and conformable. The shoulder, sternum and hip straps can all be snugged down nice and tight, for those ultra rough riding moments. The hip belt is also stowable if one is so inclined. 

Mesh Back
The mesh back has a nice functional air channel system, which actually does seem to help alleviate some of the usual perspiration issues. The mesh backing is also very resilient and pliable, so the pack really conforms to your torso, which allows plenty of movements, and an all day comfort level. The pack is made from light weight nylon, which has been amazingly durable for the abuse that I have put it through. They use a combination of ripstop and trilobal nylons. The pack comes in all black or the white/orange, which I tested. I found that although the lighter color can pick up a few dirt spots easier, the lighter color reflected the sun in warmer weather, and kept your back a good deal cooler.
Storage Space
The main compartment has a nice long zipper which opens clamshell style. The large opening is nice and wide, so it’s easy to find things, and put them in, making it a breeze to browse for stuff. I found it was pretty easy to let it sit on its bottom while I grabbed things out of it. For my usual rides that I do, the 800cu in/13.1L storage space was more than adequate, and in addition the pack seemed to hold things in a very organized manner, perhaps due to the very rectangular shape of the inner chamber. I could really bring a lot of stuff for inclement weather, in addition to my knee/shin guards and the usual assortment of stuff.

Cinch Straps 
The pack has 2 sets of dual side cinches, that do a great job of balancing the load depending on the current capacity that you are carrying. I do wish that there was some sort of strap that went across the middle front of the pack, so that you could carry a jacket or anything else on the outside? I am not exactly sure what the small nylon strap that goes across the lower pocket is for (I presume a rear night light?), but it worked great for carrying my cutters that I use regularly for trail maintenance.

Lifting Strap
An exceptional feature is the padded lifting strap, which helps you grab the pack with your entire hand. It has turned out to be a simple functional touch to the pack, which has added immense usefulness and just makes it a darn pleasure grabbing the pack to do anything with it.
 
Pockets
Like any of the medium to large packs, it has a lot of pockets. It has the usual couple of front pockets that have the typical functionality, although I wish the key clip was in the lower front pocket instead of the upper? It has two nice side pockets that are made with some elastic material, so it allows you to add larger objects than seems feasible for their size. In the inside front panel are 2 zippered pockets and a nice Velcro pocket that is perfect for a wallet.
Measured Specs
weight (with bladder/hose): 818.8 grams, 28.88 oz, 1.8 lbs
size (approx): 15″ tall x 10″ wide x 6″ deep
Bottomline
I really loved the Morro. It was incredibly comfortable, has a large array of features, that are immensely useful and highly functional. I especially liked the innovations that they brought forth with the new bite valve, the Quantum Clip and the top carrying strap. The pack was light, conforms amazingly well to your torso, and just has a great fit and function.
The main compartment is monstrous and very useful, especially due to the large clamshell zippered opening, which made loading and unloading a breeze. It really needs a strap of some sort to go across the middle to tie on stuff, but that is a small nitpick of an issue.
Hydrapak has the best hydration reservoir bag in the business, period. This reversible bladder, greatly aids in cleaning, drying and filling, and is a simple engineering idea that is a marvel to use.
Strengths
-Oodles of storage pockets
-Clamshell opening with long zipper
-Surge Valve
-Quantum Clip
-Bladder system
-Top handle
Weaknesses
-Bladder hanging clip is annoying
-Reservoir compartment zipper is too short
-Lack of helmet net
-Lack of front top straps or bungees
Morro Specs
-Reservoir capacity: 100 fl.oz. / 3.0 l.
-Storage capacity: 800cu in / 13.1L
-Surge Valve: 45 degree angle bit valve with twist shut-off, the perfect drinking angle
-Quantum Clip: magnetic tube clip, keep your hose in check
-Plug N Play: push-button connector allows easy tube removal and seals off the reservoir
-big Bore: larger diameter drink tube equals a high rate of flow
-Reversible Reservoir: slide seal system create a simple-to-use and effective closure
-BPA free TPU: material used throughout the reservoir, tube and bite valve 
-Colors: Black or Orange
MSRP $109.99

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