Owner's Review - Platypus Big Zip 4 Hydration System
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Platypus Big Zip 4 � Owner's Review
April 30, 2003
Tester: Andrew Claus (andrewclaus �at� yahoo �dot�
I am a 45-year-old male. I am 5�9� (175 cm) tall, and
weigh 150 pounds (68 kilograms). I live and play in
the Colorado Rockies. I have section hiked the entire
Colorado Trail. I hiked Mt. Washington to Mt.
Katahdin on the Appalachian Trail in �02. I have been
backpacking, backcountry skiing, and bike touring for
the past twenty years. I have climbed all 54 of
Colorado�s �14ers� (14,000'/4,260m peaks). I get out
on day trips into the high country at least once a
week, year �round, and on backpacking trips several
times a year, including at least one in winter. I
also do a lot of outdoor travel as a wildland
Product: Platypus Big Zip 4 Hydration System
Manufacturer: Cascade Designs
Volume: 130 ounces/4 liters
Weight: 6 ounces/170 grams
Year of purchase: 2002
The Platypus Big Zip 4 is a hydration reservoir sold
with a drinking tube and bite valve. The reservoir is
clear flexible plastic. Its namesake feature is
plastic zipper on the top, which works like a very
heavy-duty version of a zip-lock food bag. The
drinking tube attaches to a threaded outlet on the
bottom of the bag. There are two rivets above the
zipper to attach a carrying handle.
I used this product on a section hike on the
Continental Divide Trail, from Las Palomas, Mexico to
Silver City, NM (100 miles, 160 kilometers) in April
2003, and on one day hike in the Front Range foothills
of Colorado in April 2003.
The hydration bag performed very well for me as a
large-volume water reservoir. The zipper system
worked easily and stayed secure. The zipper system
was a great advantage in cleaning the bag in the
field. It was very easy to wipe out the bag with each
The reservoir fit well into the mesh reservoir pocket
inside my pack.
The drinking tube connection at the threaded reservoir
outlet developed a very slight leak on the first
trial. But this was easily fixed by retightening the
drinking tube cap.
The bite valve gives a high flow for drinking, and is
very easy to operate. It is very simple, with no
mechanical parts. I didn�t have any problems with
dirt or debris clogging the valve.
But I did have a major problem with the bite valve. I
experienced a near-catastrophic loss of all four
liters of water at a rest stop in the desert. I laid
my pack on the ground, and the pack squeezed the bite
valve open against the ground. Since the bite valve
is designed for high flow, all four liters were lost
in minutes. (As luck would have it, this was at a
rare water stop. But I had a �moment of clarity�
considering what I would have faced if it had happened
ten miles down the trail.)
This was not an isolated incident. Despite being very
careful with valve placement at stops, I had two other
losses of � liter or more. Once, I cautiously placed
the valve inside to pack to prevent loss during a car
transport, and I lost over 1 liter inside the pack.
I contacted the manufacturer via their website. I was
hoping for a different bite valve, because I really
like the reservoir. They didn�t have one, but they
suggested using a bite valve cover, which they sell as
an accessory. They were very helpful, and were
willing to ship one of these for free. But after one
more incident of water loss without the cover, I
stormed back to my retailer, who happily refunded my
Plusses are: a) easy to clean, b) easy to fill, c)
light weight, and d) lifetime replacement guarantee.
The only minus is the problem with inadvertent bite
valve operation. I would recommend using this
reservoir with a secure, threaded cap.
I reflected that I probably made a mistake in taking
only one reservoir into the desert (this was my first
open-desert, multi-day trek). On future trips, I will
have at least two smaller reservoirs. One will have a
secure cap, and the other will have a drinking tube
with a secure bite valve.
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