Source Widepac 3L -Tested

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07/04/2009 at 18:20

I have the old version of the widepac 3l. It is a good bladder and has already lasted twice as long as all my other makes of bladder combined (platy and camelback). The only thing is that this winter the bite valve froze and since I was thirsty I just bit and bit until the ice was broken and the water could flow. This introduced holes to the rubber but it still was ok. The only problem with the old bite valve is that the seal was more mechanical, i.e. it was aflexible parallelogram that you bit to open it up. This seemed to relax over time and I now have to blow the water back after drinking and push the rubber housing back firmly onto the internal bite seal mechanism. The new one is different from the photo so I will probably get it to try out.

The removeable tube is great but does leak no mater how hard you try to blow back any remaining water into the bladder. It also makes it easy to feed the tube into your sack through the bladder opening or feed tubes without having to pass the bite valve through. It does not leak. The new version is slightly different in looks but I would guess the old and the new tubes are interchangeable if needed.

I don't look after bladders too well and so far this one has not had any of the usual black, feathery growths in the tube that move when you drink from the bladder. This usually happens because I don't clean it out only give a bit of a rinse to the bladder part when re-filling. This one has already outlasted all other bladders and and still hasn't failed or leaked. If this was not good enough it has not fouled up in any way. The bladder has no blackened bits in the tube or bladder and has no growths or taints in it.

My advice is to replace your old bladders as soon as they fail with this one (or the 1l or 2l as needed). It is currently the best bladder out there in my humble opinion. BTW I have nothing to do with the company or distributers of source. I have just found it to be the only one that works with me. I mean how many of you really clean and disinfect the bladders after use then put in the freezer for storage? IF you don;t do this then IME source is the only bladder for you.

10/04/2009 at 11:56
Just a quck question really about the closure of the bladder. I have a Platypus Big Zip II and find the zip a pain in the 1234 to get closed properly and have had occaisions where I think I've closed it properly, but have then found water everywhere.

I've resorted to using the back of spoon and a hard surface to get the seal to seal, but still suffere. And yes I do upend it to test it. I will admit I have fairly weedy fingers and grip but the fact I can't get it to seal using my bare hands a real pain.

Anyway, my question is - how hard is it to seal the main compartment? And if anybody has experience of both products is it better than the Platypus Big Zip II?

Many thanks.
10/04/2009 at 12:15

The 'seal' is a bit of orange plastic, GggWww, that you just slide along the folded top of the bag. It's dead easy and requires no strength whatsoever, just a bit of aiming is all that's needed, which should be within the capabilities of all but the most seriously hung-over walker in the morning

I have the 2 litre Wide-Pac and wouldn't buy any other hydration system now.

10/04/2009 at 12:19
Thsnks for the reply, usability first thing in the morning when one is perhaps not 100% is key. A few weeks ago my gloves got soaked before a walk in the lakes because the seal was not quite 100% - the thing very nearly went in the bin there and then. Its reprieve may very well be a short one
10/04/2009 at 12:32

I've been using a 2L Widepac for a couple of years now and it is a great bladder. 

It's lighter than either a Big Zip or a Camelbak Unbottle, it's very easy to clean and leaves no taint whatsoever; I used a flavoured water in a Camelbak once and the taste never went away, despite vigorous cleaning.

It is very easy to close, as Kate says, so much so that you wonder why it doesn't leak under pressure but it just doesn't.  Mine is crammed into a tightly-packed backpacking sack and has never leaked.

The only weak point is the bite valve.  The design is great in that you can completely dismantle it for cleaning but the squeezy bit that you bite seems to slacken over time and can leak under pressure.  It's not a big deal, really and I've only found it to be an intermittent problem recently.  You can get around it by blowing the water back up the tube.  The review suggests replacing the Widepac valve with one from Camelbak.  The only drawback is that a Camelbak valve plus a valve cover costs almost as much as an entire Widepac. 

16/04/2009 at 09:32

Have you noticed that Deuter Chose the WIdpac as its bladder for its hydration packs ?

I heard the The North Face are about to do so next summer, after having some major issues with Nalgene bladders that leaked.

for any of you that had a problem with the bite valve, Source has a new one this summer, which is supposed to be better, and they also have the military type, that is more solid, and isn't made of silicone like material.

by the way, Source also makes great sandals.

16/04/2009 at 14:35

Agree on the sandals. Mine are still going strong after about 10 years bought following  Trail and TGO rated them as the best in test. Just can't get that damm green dot to disappear. Just hope my widepac 3l (old model) lasts as long.

BTW-1 - the bite valve is its achilles heel, replace with the new one that came out recently if you can find it.

BTW-2 - a few years ago trail or possibly TGO did a group test on about 30 od bladders. Source widepac came out as the best followed closely by quite a few recommendeds that looked very similar. If you have that issue check it out as the source bladder plastic is different in colour to other makes and you will see just how many other brands are using source bladders and just re-branding. Although source had the removable tube that the re-branded ones did not have at the time.

BTW-3 - I managed to put my whole weight on my 3l source widepac at the weekend. It was half full and I had blown the water back to prevent the risk of the bite valve leaking so it was slightly inflated. I was surprised and relieved to find it did not leak. I am not that light at 90kg or 14 stone. Now that is how tough my source bladder is.

Innov8 also use source bladders in their sacks and in the unique versions where the bladder goes horizontally into the hipbelt and has chamber divides to prevent sloshing when you run. THink the call it Hor1zontal (spotted the replacement of the I with 1? Cool eh?).

16/04/2009 at 14:57
Anyway, my question is - how hard is it to seal the main compartment? And if anybody has experience of both products is it better than the Platypus Big Zip II?

Really easy to seal - the closure just slides over the folded top of the bladder and is simple and very reliable. I have a two-year old, very heavily abused version which leaks very slightly if you put the bladder under a lot of pressure, presumably because the clip has lost a little of its tension with use.

I rate the Source bladder as the best out there, with a Camelbak lockable Big Gulp bite valve on, it works even better in my opinion.

OutdoorsMagic Reviews Editor | 

05/05/2009 at 10:17
Does anyone have one of the new ones to measure it?
05/05/2009 at 10:26

I have only the new bite valve off the new bladders. I personally find it a huge improvement on the old one and also prefer it to camelback and platypus ones (which are more or less the same). It is totally different to the other makes in that the bite valve is 360 degrees bitable. The bite part is right at the end and it has a built in locking mechanism plus a dust cap (extra on most other bladders).

IMO the rest of the bladder is just cosmetic such as the clear window and scale. You should get for the quality, leakproofness, grunge free use and the rather bulky but well designed bite valve. But that is just my opinion, the reviewer didn't like the bite valve. I might be getting one of the liquitainers (bladder style bottles) which is similar style of bladder.

05/05/2009 at 10:41

I was just wondering whether a 3L would fit in the pouch on an Alpkit Gourdon as they describe it as "Pouch for hydration unit (450mm long by 200mm wide bladder)".

I've not owned a hydration bladder before so wasn't sure how much they varied in size.

05/05/2009 at 11:06

Funny you should mention that Dave, I have the 20litre gourdon (excellent sack for £12.50), and I can get my 3 litre bladder into the pouch where the sit mat back pad goes. It does need the top to be folded down but then I use it with the sit mat still in so it might fit better without the mat.

I never fill up my 3 litre these days so I can always fold down the top inch or so to fit under the velcro closure. It does make for a barrel shaped back to the sack though. I reckon fully loaded it would also fit if you didn't fold the top over and allowed it to stick out beyond the velcro. This is not really a problem as it would still be within the pouch, just not fully closed pouch.

To summarise, it can be made to fit. I hope that helps.

05/05/2009 at 11:44
That's absolutely great thanks!
05/05/2009 at 13:30
ttg, the liquitainers are excellent. stand up, don't leak, taint free and pack to nothing if you don't want to use it. i've just ordered a selection of source stuff so i can play with various drink safe eliminator filter combinations.
05/05/2009 at 15:04
Platypus ones have this wierd protuberence at the top. Supposedly to allow you to hold and fill it. I find that once full this just becomes a means to force water out all over you. As I found out when holding someone elses platypus flexi-bottle. Amusing the first time it happens.
05/05/2009 at 18:13
daverave999 wrote (see)
Does anyone have one of the new ones to measure it?

Yes.  I bought a new Source Widepac 3L a week ago and tested it in anger over 3 days last weekend.  It was excellent.  It's reasonably rigid so very easy to fill from streams, where floppier bladders collapse on themselves.  The detachable tube also makes filling easier and means that you don't have to re-thread the bite valve tube through the ruckpack port every time.  It's a doddle to close, even with cold, wet hands and totally leakproof, even when crammed in a packed rucksack.  There's no taint from the plastic whatsoever and it's also lighter than the Camelbak or Platypus equivalent. 

The hole in the top of the closure strip can dig into your fingers so it's worth tying a loop of para cord through it.  You can then also hang the bladder on a branch or something when using it to gravity-feed bottles.

As I said earlier in the thread, the bite valve on old Widepacs used to be a bit of a liability after a while as it could leak.  This problem does not apply to the new Widepacs as the bite valve has been replaced with one that uses a half-turn twist to turn the flow on or off.  I also found the flow to be adequate, particularly as I was having to suck water through an in-line filter.  The Camelbak bite valve may be better (only time will tell) but then a Camelbak valve plus a cover alone costs almost as much as an entire Widepac.

For me there is no other choice.  I'd put my opinion in the Member Reviews section but for some unfathomable reason, no Source products are listed and I can't be ar*ed to write yet another review for a new product, only for it never to appear...  

05/05/2009 at 18:19

Why are source bladders so much cheaper? I mean they are cheaper than platypus which are cheaper than camelback. Why do the other companies think they can charge so much more for an inferior product?

That is just my opinion of course.

07/05/2009 at 18:53

Mine (2L) turned up today and I've got to admit I'm impressed. My only other experience is with one of those things that screwed into the top of a mineral water bottle (Ortleib I think it was) and that leaked all over my leg so I never used it again

Highlights for me are the lockable bite-valve, the fact I can fill the flexible bladder holding it only in one hand, and the quick-release hose. It is very easy to seal the top, almost idiot-proof! Fits fine in the back of the Gourdon too.

Jake wrote (see)

I also found the flow to be adequate, particularly as I was having to suck water through an in-line filter.

Perhaps a daft question, but is the filter because you occasionally fill from a stream?
07/05/2009 at 18:57

I reckon it will be the inline filter from travelsafe systems the makers of travel tap. Their quick release system looks similar to the source one, either the original or the later version I can't remember (just remember it looking like the source connection.

07/05/2009 at 20:11
daverave999 wrote (see)
Jake wrote (see)

I also found the flow to be adequate, particularly as I was having to suck water through an in-line filter.

Perhaps a daft question, but is the filter because you occasionally fill from a stream?

Not a daft question at all and you're right.  I never carry more than a litre of water and if I'm wild camping I obviously need more than that.  The filter was indeed bought separately from Travelsafe and it is an excellent bit of kit.  See the Travelsafe thread for a detailed discussion of its capabilities.

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