Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Source Hydration: WXP 3L & WLPS 3L Review

Left: WLPS 3L OD Green
Right: WXP 3L Coyote
If you reading this article, I'm sure I don't have to tell you how much of an impact hydration bladders have made on our lives. We were limited to canteens and water bottles. This limited the amount of water we carried and how we carried it. Hydration bladders are capable of holding large volumes of water, easy to carry, and makes water more accessible when on the move. No matter if your a mountain biker in Utah or Special Forces Soldier operating abroad- they make life much easier for all of us.

Source Hydration didn't invent the hydration bladder but I will say I believe they perfected it. I used Camelback bladders while forward deployed in the Marines. I grew rather unhappy with Camelbacks and pretty much discounted hydration bladders altogether. Until I found Source Tactical.

The two models we reviewed come from their tactical line up. The WXP 3L and the WLPS 3L to be precise. Both models feature the 3 layer coextruded polyethylene construction with "Glass-Like" liner and "Grunge Gaurd" anti-microbial properties. Both reservoirs has a 3 liter capacity.

Speaking of its anti-microbial properties- during my use I noticed no foul or plastic taste. Even for water that has sat in the bladder for a few days.

Being that they are from the tactical lineup, both bladders come in an OD Green color. You can choose what color hose and mouth gaurd (cap on the WXP model). The color options come in Coyote, Foilage, and Black. A definite plus for a tactical environment.
WXP 3L in Coyote

The WXP 3L ($36.00) model is similar to your standard hydration bladder in form. It has a filling cap that un-screws to fill the bladder up. Around the cap is a lanyard hole that can be used to attach the reservoir to the outside of a pack or however you decide.

All bladders come with a tube cover and as I stated above the color is optional. The hose cover helps insulate and blocks UV light to further protect your water. The Coyote and Foilage come with IRR technology.

Adding to it's awesomeness is the "QMT" (Quick Mate Technology) fittings. This allows the hose and mouth piece to be connected or disconnected with the push of a button. This allows the hose to be disconnected from the bladder even when full of water and still maintaining the integrity of the bladder as a water container.

The reservoir cap is dummy corded to the pack so that it's not lost when refilling.

Widepac opening
Something revolutionary at least to me, is the Widepac design. Both reservoirs have a top opening option. This is good for a few reason: filling, placing ice in the bladder, draining, and cleaning. Also in the case this is your only water container in a survival situation. By allowing you to scoop water to be purified from holes or shallow streams.
To save on precious pack space, Source Tactical developed the WLPS or Widepac Low Profile System ($36.00). It has many of the same features as the WXP but in a slimmer profile. It has a wider footprint but doesn't take up as much room in a rucksack. The split bodied design reduces the depth of the bladder making it more low-profile. It was primary designed to be used with ballistic vest. I carried the WLPS in my GORUCK GR1 and didn't notice any difference in the frame pad. I would definitely recommend the WLPS if you need a hydration bladder and don't want to compromise any space.
Left: Helix Valve
Right: Storm Valve
Another design feature that was simple but made a world of difference, was angling the bite valve at a 90 degree angle with the capability of rotating without adjusting the tube. The Storm Valve comes standard and has a twist and lock mechanism that's quick and easy to use. The Storm Valve will allow water to leak out if not in the locked position. Source developed the Helix Valve to remedy that problem. The Helix Valve ($6) has the same twist and lock design but has a "bite" release function. So no water will leak out unless the valve is bitten. Both valves come with a tethered dust cover.

One item I will cover in a later review is the UTA or Universal Tube Adapter. It's an ingenious design and I felt it needed its own article for that.

I can honestly say Source Tactical has produced the best hydration systems that I've used to date. I'd encourage any of you to check out source-military.com if your on the market for a hydration bladder.

Stay tuned for a video review of these products.

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