Item: Source Widepace Hydration System aka Bladder
as found in the Source Whistler 20L pack
Purchased From: Source - Webstore
Purchase Price (approx): Can't remember
Usage: +3years

Pros - the claimed Bladder Tech is for real
Cons - pack material isn't as robust as other packs I've owned.

I purchased Source as I was curious ... I'd had 3 camelbaks, 1 Salmon(sp), a couple of no names.

This review is mainly about the bladder and not so much about the Pack. That said, I'm happy with the pack, the waist pockets are cool, the volume is big enough that I can carry some tubes, my pump and a shock pump. Can stuff a soft shell in if needed and other small tools and some food. After 3 years, there are some little tears / holes in the pack material, but it's still fairly water resistant and nothing dropping out whilst in use. The Cordura or whatever other packs are made off is definitely more robust and abrasion resistant compared to the material Source uses. That said, it's a bit lighter I think (insert weights later) and I like the storage design and utility of it overall.

The bladder.
There primary reason I opted for Source was the bladder.
Camelbak is obviously the benchmark, and my 1st gen pack lasted a bloody long time ... 7years from memory. That was the original Hawg.

by the end, the cap was busted. If I over filled it, it would piss out the top. The bite valve always leaked on me, down my chest or back, and frack there was a lot of shizzle growing in there by the end. Lots of black stuff in the bite valve, green stuff in the hose and the once blue plastic of the bladder was definitely tinged in green. Obviously 7 years is a good stretch, and over this time I rotated 2 bladders semi regularly cleaning and airing the puppies, between use. The younger of the 2 was in slightly better condition before retirement. But overall the same issues appeared in both bladders.

i think I may have used the original bladder with a sports drink once. But quickly learnt that wasn't a good idea. Anywho, aside from that I only ever use water in the bladders. I'm not across what changes if any Camelbak have made other then a wide filling hole and some bite valve changes? You Camelbak experts feel free to jump in below.

Moving on to Source.
the "Glass Like" technology I thought was a bit of wank initially. But, the Military background of Source, and the Biological contamination considerations they had incorporated into their military product was intriguing. I purposely set out to grow shizzle in this bladder because of this. Stopping short of adding any sugar or minerals via sports drink or other, I think I gave it every opportunity to grow shizzle somewhere in that system over the last 3 years.

What I did from day 1 for the first 2 years was never empty the bladder completely, I just refilled it when it needed it. I also never removed my pack from the car other than to ride or restock it with shizzle. I never dried it after a wet ride, never took it out of the pack other than to fill it, never completely emptied and dried the interior of the bladder? So it was kept in the dark in the widely fluctuation temps or the mighty RAV in pretty much complete darkness of the pack. In the 3rd year I got a bit more organised and hang it in the shed usually out of light. I also started to completely empty and refill more often, more out of habit then anything.

Being busy with work, the pack has often sat unused for several days and at times a weeks before getting used, refilled or even moved other than through the motion of the car. After several months I stopped checking it before drinking out of it, which still has a feel of Russian roulette about it :) let's call it FILO Roulette.

I haven't been scientific about this test ... Hell with the amount of chlorination Sydney water gets, it could prolly sit in a closed system for several years. But in my mind I treated this bladder worse then my other bladders with little to no effect in either the health of my stomach or the materials of the bladder system itself compared to very noticeable deterioration of the bladder material, hose and valve of the other bladders I've used.

in hindsight ... One potential difference in treatment relates to my rotation of my other bladders. I use to wash and air them dry after every ride ... As I didn't want to be drinking any seaweed or muck !!! Maybe this exposure to more light contributed to it degrading over time, where the Source bladder has been kept in the dark pack? Something to factor in I guess.

lastly, I haven't allocated much space to the bite valve and the holder/dust cap. But these are also other strong positives of the system. The sucker doesnt leak, opening and closing the valve is intuitive, the rubber bite piece hasn't degraded noticeably and is still clear and unstained.

I Had thought the bite valve was a generic catalogue item, as I had seen them on Katmandu packs, but I found out Katmunda get their Bladders, from Source so maybe that's a cheaper way to get a bladder if you are in the market. I haven't compared pricing.

Anyway to conclude, the bladder and the tech Source use has been impressive. Definitely fit for purpose, and I reckon a very underrated brand and product. I'm currently comparing it to the Osprey bladder, but only about 6months in and that my sons hydro. Stay tuned For a separate novel in 2 years or so.

Rating: Source Widepack 2L => Whistler 20L pack
Pack => 3/5 thumbs ... If material was a bit more robust I'd mark it higher.
Bladder system => 5 thumbs ...