Backpackers and hikers in the Sierra sometimes struggle to manage water needs as they balance the desire to trim weight and bulk while avoiding dehydration. Water bottles take up space, but it’s nice to have additional capacity when camping some distance from water sources. Hydrapak Stash water bottles offer an innovative solution to the bulk and weight issue by collapsing down to a small, lightweight disc when empty. If water is consumed early in a trek the soft-sided bottle can be shrunk down for easy storage and transport. For those who use a hydration bladder or hard plastic bottle for their main storage, the Stash makes a convenient backup or extra bottle.
Stash bottles are constructed with soft, pliable thermoplastic polyurethane that is BPA and PVC free for the side walls and a molded hard plastic top and bottom. When the bottle is empty the top and bottom can be twisted together and snapped in place. The flat disc, which measures two inches high and 3.5 inches in diameter, can be slipped into a clothing or pack pocket with minimal bulk. The discs are stackable: the bottom piece has an insert that will accept the lid from another Stash. The bottle comes with a nylon carrying loop so the Stash can be attached to the outside of a pack. The Stash comes in a 750 ml and one-liter size in a variety of colors. It comes with a two-year no-leak warranty.
To open the Stash bottle, place two hands on either side of the disc and push together firmly. When it opens a bit, slide fingers between the two sides to pry them open and pull apart. To close, remove the cap, grasp the top and bottom with two hands, twist and snap together.
The Stash bottle was field tested on hikes, trips to the beach and during air travel. The reviewer was curious about whether the bottle would stand up by itself when empty, partially filled or full. It does stand up in all situations which is curious since the body of the bottle is so flexible. The compact size when empty was a definite benefit, conserving space and taking up very little room. On several occasions the bottle was filled prior to a hike, then twisted down flat after water was consumed. The flat disc was tossed in the pack or slipped into a small side pocket. When traveling to the airport the reverse was done. The flat disc stayed in the pack until security procedures were completed. The bottle was then popped open to fill with drinking water prior to the long flight. At the beach, the full bottle was carried in a small beach bag. After water was consumed it was handy to be able to make it small, allowing for more shopping items to be packed on the return trip. The bottle never leaked and showed its strength after accidentally being used as a head rest at the beach. The soft profile was quite comfortable as a neck support though that is not its intended purpose. It is important to keep track of the cap as there is no leash to tether it to the bottle. This would be a nice enhancement. It’s easy to see how the cap could go tumbling down a stream while filling it.
Drinking water from the bottle is an interesting process. As one might expect, once the bottle is filled with any amount of water the weight pulls down the bottom. Though it stands erect when vertical, when held at an angle it collapses a bit. Therefore, drinking from the bottle was a two handed operation, grasping the rigid neck with one hand while gently guiding the rigid bottom with the other.
The only negative aspect of the bottle was the taste of plastic that was noted in initial use. An internet search on how to remove the plastic flavor revealed several strategies. A soak with a baking soda solution improved the flavor as did an overnight soak with a vinegar solution (three tablespoons of vinegar mixed with hot water).
In addition to the compact design, the Stash water bottle provides substantial weight savings over conventional sports bottles. For example, a one-liter hard plastic Nalgene water bottle weighs 6 1/8 oz compared to 3 ¼ oz for the one-liter soft-sided Stash bottle.
The clever design of the Hydrapak Stash water bottle is innovative and offers significant space savings when empty. Hikers, backpackers, cyclists and others in the mountains and valleys of the Sierra who value lightweight, compact equipment will appreciate the benefits of the soft collapsible water bottle.
Hydrapak Stash water bottle
View video demonstrating opening and closing the Stash bottle.
Available in 750 and 1000 ml sizes in five colors at Hydrapak and Amazon for $16 (750 ml) and $23 (one liter).
Disclosure of material connection: A sample was received for testing purposes but the opinions expressed are solely thoseof the author.