What do we look for in a hydration pack:
How much gear space do we need in it? How snugly will it hold to your body with the high-density weight of water filling it up? Is it comfortable enough to use for trail running? How much water can it hold for us? How easy is the reservoir to clean? Does it have a high-flow bite valve? These are all questions we need to keep in mind when looking at hydration packs for the trail.
The Hydrapak Moro has filled a lot of roles for me. The 800 cubic inch gear pocket is great for long day hikes with a lot of gear. I filled the Moro up with generous lunch portions and camera gear as well as an extra layer for a good day hike through the Red River Gorge and it carried like a champ. For the size, this pack is middle of the road for dry weight, coming in at 1.3 lbs. With its 3L water bladder full, you'll be hauling 7.9 lbs.
The number of compartments on this pack is astounding. There are four outer pouches, two "bottle" pouches, although I don't know why anyone would carry extra water with a 3L reservoir, one MP3 stash pocket with headphone port (center zipper in above photo) and one trinkets pouch at the bottom of the pack for miscellaneous small gear. Inside the main pouch are two "hidden" zippered compartments for more small odds 'n ends storage, two pencil holders, and a calculator/cell phone/MP3 pouch. Really there are redundant pouches on this pack to carry multiples of things you probably didn't even need to take one of. On the back, right behind the back padding, is the dedicated water bladder compartment. This is where your water reservoir goes, and it's probably my only complaint with the pack.
The water tubing is designed to come out of the pack right where the shoulder straps are sewn to the pack. From there the tubing follows the shoulder strap down and is held in place by elastic bands. Pretty standard hydration pack design. It took me forever to figure out why Hydrapak had not done this with the Moro. Finally I realized that they intended to do just that, however, on the Moro pack that I recieved from Hydrapak, the seamstress had accidentally sewn shut the port on my right shoulder and partially sewn shut the left one as well. Now I can barely get the tubing through the left shoulder port and the right side? Forget about it. That's a thumbs down. Instead of having the tubing run smoothly along my shoulder, I have to leave the reservoir zipper open a bit and run the tubing clumsily out, through the carry handle, and along the strap that way. Very shabby, but functional. Not a mistake I would be happy with if I paid the fill $110 price tag on this pack, though.
The bite valve its self, however, is wonderful. I've used the old school CamelBak bite valves and let me tell you, they don't allow enough water flow. It's like trying to drink a thick milk-shake through a small straw. The Hydrpak Moro bite valve is great though. It comes standard with a twist-lock (I can't tell you how many times my CamelBak has leaked all over) which is a life saver. This valve lets out all the water you could want easily, so no extra effort to get enough water through the valve!
The water reservoir its self is awesome, too! It has a large opening for filling and cleaning and it closes with a simple slide-lock so it's super quick to take in and out of the pack. The water tubing connects with a quick-snap valve that won't leak and feels solid. According to Hydrapak one can turn the bladder inside out for cleaning and washing but that scares me a little since I feel like it will put undue stress on the plastic of the reservoir closure and lead to accelerated damage to your reservoir. I opt to clean it without turning the bag inside out, but it's up to you!
There are four cinch straps on the sides of the Hydrapak Moro to secure your load so that it doesn't move around and throw off your balance. I found these to work great while scrambling over rivers, balancing on logs, and climbing rough sandstone in the Gorge. These straps have velcro to take in the extra webbing when you're not using the straps fully extended. Keeps the pack looking neat and no dangling cords to mess you up.
The sternum strap is elastic, keeping the pack always tight but never uncomfortable. I chose to put the magnetic "Quantum" clip here for the bite valve. This is a neat addition Moro made to the Hydrapak to keep the bite valve from flopping around freely when not in use. The hip belt is very lightly padded but sufficient for this pack as it won't be supporting any weight, simply holding the pack tightly to your back so that it doesn't move around while you're trying those technical moves.
Scraping against sandstone, scrambling over logs, and crossing rivers this pack never let me down. It performed like a champ in the field. It's a big day pack, but Hydrapak offers smaller versions if you don't need as much gear space. The pack hugs you tight on every move and even with tripods strapped on, a full water bladder, and cameras in the pack I never had a scary moment. This pack is great for days when you need to haul a lot of gear comfortably through the bush. I would recommend the Hydrapak Moro to anyone and it instantly replaced my old CamelBak as my primary day pack and hydration pack for it's superior quality and great durability. Watch the video to see in detail all the aspects of this pack!