Carrying your own water bottle while traveling is good for several reasons. In countries where the water is safe to drink, you'll save a bunch of money and avoid using unnecessary plastic bottles. Even if your water source isn't potable, having your own bottle lets you use a Steripen to treat it, or easily carry pre-boiled water around with you.
There is a downside, though. In hot countries, you need a lot of water to get you through the day – which means carrying large, bulky containers.
You don't mind so much when those containers are full, but having them taking up much-needed space in your bag while empty is annoying.
I've covered one solution to this problem in the past, the Vapur Shades roll-up container. Now, Hydrapak has come out with a range of alternatives, including its Stash collapsible bottle.
I put the Stash through its paces on hikes and urban exploration in New Zealand. Here's how it fared.
Features and Specifications
The Hydrapak Stash stands upright, with hard plastic on the top and bottom, and soft, flexible TPU in between. The top has a 42mm (1.65") diameter hole with screw-on lid, and a nylon strap to make the bottle easier to hold or attach to a backpack.
The most interesting aspect of the Stash is its collapsibility. By twisting the top section 180 degrees and pressing downwards, the bottle compresses to about the size of a hockey puck. The top and bottom attach to each other with a solid click, and detach by pressing the marked areas near the lid.
The Stash comes in two sizes -- 750ml (26oz) and one liter (35oz) -- and four colors, and weighs around 2.3oz. It's dishwasher-safe, can be frozen, and will handle both cold and warm, but not boiling, liquids.
Real World Testing
I was using the smaller,750ml version, and found it to be a useful size.
As long as the Stash was around half-full or more, it stayed firm enough to hold easily around the middle with one hand as I walked. When it got emptier than that, I started hanging the nylon loop around one finger and grasped the top plastic section instead.
Going through the scanners at the airport, I drained the bottle, clicked the two sections together and dropped it in my hand luggage. On the other side of security, I just refilled it from a drinking fountain.
Being so small while compressed, I kept the Stash in my daypack at all times. I often forgot it was there, but if I got thirsty while walking around the city, I expanded the bottle, filled it from a drinking fountain or restroom tap, and carried on with my day.
While hiking, I found that while I could sip from the bottle while walking if I was careful, it was better not to. The non-rigid sides and size of the opening combined to make spillage a little too easy – that, combined with needing to screw and unscrew the top anyway, made pausing to drink a more sensible option.
Speaking of the non-rigid sides, they were both a benefit and a problem. Without them, the bottle wouldn't collapse down – but with them, it started to flop around when less than half full.
I'd suggest holding both top and bottom plastic sections while drinking as the Stash approaches empty, if you don't want to accidentally splash water over your face.
I didn't notice any strange taste while using the Stash, and it remained free from mold during several months of use, even when left in a bag for several days. After about a year, though, the plastic started to discolor, and although it didn't noticeably affect the taste, I opted to stop using the Stash just in case.
I'd recommend making sure the container is completely dry before putting it into storage for an extended period, perhaps by leaving it out in the sun for a couple of hours.
The Hydrapak Stash is a handy travel accessory, especially for those short on space in their daypack. When compressed, it's small enough to drop in your bag and forget it's there until you need it -- but it holds enough water or other liquid to be useful.
It's easier to carry and less prone to spillage while over half-full, but remains usable to the last drop if you take a little more care. It's unlikely to last several years, but given it's so small, light and costs under twenty bucks, it's a worthy addition to your travel kit bag nonetheless.
Check prices on Amazon.