Review: When You Don’t Want a Big Water Can, Go With Soft-Sided Storage

When it comes to collapsible water storage, MSR’s Dromedary line has been the standard seemingly forever. Available in four-, six-, and 10-liter reservoirs, the Droms have been mostly bombproof, convenient, and reliable. But Sea to Summit launched its own line of soft water storage in 2020, the Watercell X, and I’ve found it to be superior to the Dromedaries-so much so that I gifted my MSRs in favor of the Sea to Summits.

It’s not that I’ve had any specific issues with the Dromedaries. MSR switched to a new cap design and new BPA-free lining not so long ago, and user reviews on the company’s site report lots of leaking and taste issues. I never experienced problems with mine-it’s just that the Watercells are smarter and easier to use in just about every way.

The MSR Dromedary. Good, but we like the Sea to Summit Watercell better. Photo: Casimiro

Let’s start with the shape. Sea to Summit’s products look like rectangles with rounded corners and, importantly, they have vertical sidewalls (picture a Cordura box). These sidewalls allow the Watercells to maintain a flat top, which lets them be stacked. The Dromedary form looks more like a traditional hydration pack reservoir-a bulbous tube.

These sidewalls also enable Sea to Summit to place the cap and nozzle at the end of the container, rather on top like the MSR, which means you can set your Watercell flat on a picnic table, open the spout, and fill your bottle or cup. The Dromedary, by contrast, needs to be hung vertically or the water squirts all over the place. Over the course of a day involving coffee, coffee #2, breakfast, breakfast cleanup, bottle fill-up, coffee #3, dinner, and dinner cleanup, the convenience of the Watercell adds up to a lot of convenience.

Lying the Watercell flat is a huge advantage over other soft storage systems. Photo: STS

I’m not bashing the MSR reservoirs. They served me and lots of other campers ably for many years. Their 1000-denier exterior promises to be more durable than Sea to Summit’s 400-denier. But if you’re in the market for a new set, the Watercells deserve a close look. They’re easier to use, easier to fill, and they come with a small shower nozzle. Other than the two-stage cap closure, which is a little fiddly, they’re better in every way. They’re also a bit more expensive-$55 for the 10 liter vs MSR’s $50-but I think it’s worth it.

Note: Both brands offer light-duty bladders, which I did not test. MSR’s are called DromLite and come in three sizes (2-, 4-, 6-liter), while STS’s are the Watercell ST (4-, 6-, 10-liter).



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