Name: Fuzzy Monkey (David)
Date of Review: August, 2012
Photo Album – Platypus Big Zip SL 2L Hydration Reservoir
BACKGROUND: I’ve successfully thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. I also have numerous other backpacking experience. The weather conditions I’ve dealt with range from the desert heat to higher elevations in the mountains. I’ve dealt with thunderstorms, hail, extreme winds and most weather conditions in-between. I brought a Platypus Big Zip SL 2L reservoir as part of my hydration solution for my attempted 2012 CDT thru-hike. I also used this for my 5 day Isle Royale trip this year.
DISCLAIMER: I was employed by a local retailer at the time I purchased my Platypus Big Zip. Subsequently, I was able to take advantage of an employee discount to acquire my Big Zip.
Manufacturer: Cascade Designs
Product Information: Platypus Big Zip SL 2L Hydration Reservoir
DESCRIPTION: This is a 70oz / 2 litter capacity hydration reservoir. The reservoir is collapsible and made of flexible plastic material. The main opening is large and opens similar to a ziplock bag. The “SlideLock” both secures the opening and serves as the handle for easy transport. The tubing is long and disconnects easily from the bladder. The mouth piece contains a locking features allowing the user to stop the flow of liquid.
REVIEW: I carried the Platypus Big Zip reservoir for over 100 miles so far. This was my primary hydration option for my attempted 2012 Continental Divide Trail hike. Prior to attempting this hike, I also carried it for a 5 day backpacking trip to Isle Royale.
The main reason for choosing the Platypus Big Zip was to try another brand and product. I heard good things about Platypus so I wanted to test one of there products. Since I was in the market for a new hydration solution I choose the Big Zip SL. The large opening does make the Big Zip easy to fill and clean. But not just because of the zip feature, but because the opening is directly from the top. When you want to empty or dry the bladder all you need to do is turn it upside down. This is a big plus if you have ever used other hydration bladders that don’t allow this method of drying or “airing out” so to speak.
Another option I really is the full mouth piece locking mechanism. This becomes important when you are putting on your pack. At least for me it never seems to fail me, when I go to put on my pack the tubing always gets stuck behind my back. When this happens if the bite valve is not off then the pressure from the pack against my back causes the water to start dripping down my back. This has happens quite often even though I try to think about it for some reason I seem to always end up forgetting. Another reason I like this particular switch mechanism is that it is easier to turn the entire bite valve. Some other locking mechanisms require turning a little switch which is harder to grasp if you have gloves on or your fingers are really cold. Having the ability to grab the entire bite valve and turn it is a much better design.
I’m sold on the quick connecting hose on the Platypus Big Zip SL. This becomes more apparent when you are out filling your water on a trail someplace. Water sources are most often downhill some place or in some from of difficult place to get too. Also speaking from experience when you are backpacking most of the time your breaks are centered around water sources. Since most hydration bladders are kept inside a back, this requires you to open the pack to get to the bladder. With my older model hydration bladder this required me to un-do the tubing if I wanted to bring the bladder to the water source.
With the Platypus Big Zip quick connecting tubing I no longer need to un-do the tubing from my pack in order to carry it to the water source. When I get to water source, all I need to do is pull the bladder from top of my pack and carry it with me. The tubing can stay fixed my pack and does not need to be re-threaded through the tubing outlets of my backpacks. See photos for more on this.
PERFORMANCE: One thing that came up a few times during my Appalachian Trail hike was how people carry their water. I was surprised to have spoken to several hikers who had issues with their hydration packs leaking. I don’t remember what model or brands they were using, but it seemed to be a common issue I noticed and remember to this day.
I’ve used the Platypus Biz Zip on two separate hikes and over 100 miles. The first time I used it was during a 5 day hiking trip on Isle Royale. Since this was the first time using the Big Zip there was a short learning curve, but I quickly became familiar with the use and function of it. The Biz Zip also fit well into the REI Flash 65 Backpack that I carried with me for this trip. I’d also like to mention I did not use the hydration sleeve inside the Flash 65 pack. What I did was filled the pack with all my gear first then I placed the bladder directly on-top of the gear. (see pictures) This method served two purposes, first this made accessing the bladder much easier when I need to fill it, second forcing the bladder around gear already in the pack made it difficult to fill and pack appropriately.
The second time I used the Big Zip was in Glacier National Park. This involved hiking a higher elevations and in cold weather. I never had an issue with it during this hike. I used the Big Zip along with my ULA Catalyst backpack for this hike. The Biz Zip worked well with the Catalyst tubing outlets and connected well to the shoulder straps. I also did not use the bladder sleeve in the ULA Catalyst. I used the same method as the REI Flash, and that was to just place the bladder on top of all the gear after filling the pack.
The only two drawbacks I have which are minor in my opinion is the ridged zip opening and the “SlideLock Part”. The zip portion of the bladder is a stiffer plastic material and holding it open and trying to filter water directly into it was awkward. The “SlideLock” part seemed bulky but then it also doubles as a handy way to carry when its full. The handle is cumbersome to disconnect and uncomfortable if carrying a full load for any distance. Because of the thin plastic ridge it digs into your hands pretty easily. Minor drawbacks but no review is complete with out a few drawbacks or noticeable dislikes.
CONCLUSION: I’ve used Platypus Big Zip SL 2L water hydration reservoir for over 100 miles. Yes, I’m satisfied with the performance. Pluses include the large top loading opening, locking bite valve and the quick connecting tubing. I’ve been satisfied with the Platypus Big Zip SL and plan on using it for future trips. Thank you, Cascade Designs.
Fuzzy Monkey Likes:
Large top loading opening
Quick connecting tubing
Fuzzy Monkey Dislikes:
SlideLock part is bulky
Fuzzy Monkey Approved: YES