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Have you ever had a Jeepin' kind of idea that floated around in your head for a while....the kind that you know would be a hit with your friends and other Jeepers? Or maybe put another way, a better way to build the proverbial mouse trap? I think it is safe to say that some of us have....and more than likely the idea is still floating around in the back of your mind. But it doesn't have to end like that....it really doesn't.
Let me introduce you to Ken Damico and his improved mouse trap, the HydraTM Water System. Ken is the President and CEO of Rompalicious 4x4, Inc. I found a rather interesting bit of info on the Rompalicious web site when I was researching this review....1% of their gross margin, every year, gets donated to land-use organizations and local 4x4 clubs to help protect responsible motorized vehicle use of public lands. While this may seem off topic a bit, I believe this is something that warrants your attention. If more companies followed this ideology, what a difference it would make! Congrats and thanks for giving back to the land!
OK, back to the product review and the Hydra Water System. In a nut shell, it is an antimicrobial 2.5 gallon water reservoir, surrounded by a very strong ballistic nylon shell. It is specifically designed for JKs, TJs, and late model YJs. If you've ever seen a Camelback or Blackburn personal hydration system, think of the Hydra as a Camelback on steroids, about 2.5 gallons worth, and made just for your Jeep!
The beauty of the Hydra is its versatile mounting configurations (more on that later). It can be attached to the back of the rear seat, attached to the back of either front seat, and also hung on the back half of the Jeep's roll cage. In fact, if you are so inclined, you can connect a pair of Hydras together and mount them "saddle bag style" on the roll cage. This provides you with 4 water bags attached to the roll cage.
Over the years, I've made a few extended Jeep trips which required our bringing water for drinking, cooking, and a shower (unless your friends didn't mind you smelling bad). In the past, I've used 5 gallon Jerry cans, 6 gallon hard poly jugs, and even the big flat ATV type water containers. The ATV water containers are designed to lay flat in the bottom of the rear carry rack on the ATV. They lay nicely on the floor of the TJ too....and then, when you need water, you unpack everything that is packed on top of them (they were a great idea until I experienced that the first time on the trail). I'm not crazy about Jerry cans (I removed and tossed my dual Jerry can carrier as it put too much weight too far behind the rear axle) and hard plastic water jugs as they take up the same amount of room, full or empty. When not in use, do you leave them in the carrier (to get stolen) or store them in the garage (my garage space is limited)?
The Hydra, by design, is meant to be mounted where easy access is the norm and when it is empty, it can be quickly unclipped from its mounting straps, rolled into a compact shape, and stashed in an out of the way spot. It doesn't get any easier than that.
The Hydra Water System comes with 5 attachment straps. Four straps are secured at attachment points on the nylon shell while the 5th is secured via a carabiner through a grommet hole. The attachment points allow the straps to be affixed in the horizontal or vertical position, depending on where you intend to mount your Hydra. I found the carry handle to be a nice feature. While carrying a bag of water under your arm isn't too difficult, carrying that same back via the handle is much easier.
Each strap has a quick release on it and is fully adjustable. I like this feature as it makes for an easy removal and reinstallation when you want to service the Hydra. Leave the rest of the strap attached to the roll cage and just "clip" it back into position when you are loading and getting ready to roll.
The bladder, as I mentioned before, uses an antimicrobial material to reduce the possibility of growing green stuff. It has a nice large opening, about 2.5", so filling it is not a problem. The hose also has the antimicrobial properties so you should be safe there too.
Slipping the bladder into the shell wasn't all that difficult even though 2.5 gallons of bagged water does kind of slip and flop around a bit. Lay the shell on a hard, flat surface (I used my driveway). Start by gathering the bottom corners of the bladder together and place the bladder several inches into the shell.
Lift the end of the shell and let the bladder slide into the
shell. Feed the tube through the hole in the bottom of the shell.
When the bag is fully in the shell, close the zipper. You got it!
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