The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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MSR 2-Liter DromLite Bag: Adaptable Functionality
Posted on: January 2, 2008
Size: 8 x 16.5 inches (20 x 42 centimeters)
Weight: 4.6 ounces (130 grams)
This summer while wandering around Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, I had a new item in my backpack. Although the two-liter Mountain Safety Research DromLite bag may not have had the glamour or intrepidness associated with a rope or cams, it seemed functional—and I was curious. Many of my climbing partners have long sworn by their MSR hydration bags. Would the DromLite be a suitable "fast and light" successor to the time-tested black Dromedary Bag?
For being so light—thirty percent lighter than standard Drom Bags, made with rugged "MSR red" 200D Cordura—it's tough! Moreso than other reservoirs made from different materials, the Cordura takes extreme abuse yet keeps its integrity. This summer I used the DromLite as my water cache on several Grade III routes in the Tetons and Sawtooths. The Cordura proved durable for hanging or stashing. It packs super small when empty. And the DromLite's ability to operate without a cumbersome outer pack yields adaptable functionality and easy transport.
The DromLite was also right at home cragging at the City of Rocks. When the day called for drink mix, I'd carry a rigid bottle (as with any hydration unit, placing anything other than pure water into the bag can promote bacterial growth, is difficult to clean and generally affects the flavor of liquids subsequently placed in the bag). But the DromLite was great for carrying extra "refill" water.
The little spout offers enough water pressure for hand and face wash. This personal hygiene feature was a big hit among my climbing clients.
Another feature is the optional Hydration Kit ($20), which converts the MSR DromLite or Dromedary into a hands-free hydration system. It includes the leak-proof MSR Bite Valve and shutoff valve affixed to a 42-inch (107cm) tube that resists freezing.
And a new handle design made carrying, and filling from a spring, well or faucet, simple. I pulled my water from fresh springs and did not use any water treatment this summer. No filter. No tablets. Therefore I cannot report on how the DromLite bag was to fill with a water filter. Also, I cannot report on any complications or staining with the Cordura material and water treatment tablets.
For the most part the DromLite has been a great vehicle for transporting water. However, it would be nice if MSR made a camouflaged color option for more covert stashing.
Pros: Light; rugged; packs small; spout provides adequate water pressure for washing hands and face; optional hydration kit; handle.
Cons: Only comes in bright red color; like any hydration unit, one should only put water in the DromLite.