MATADOR HYDROLITE BACKPACK
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Matador Hydrolite Backpack | Review & Experience

A bag is an investment. I cannot stress on this enough. But I don’t just go out and buy a costly bag but I do research before buying one.

Here is what is I was looking for when I wanted to get a day bag – It needs to be a small & compact bag to carry my camera, a small jacket, phone, wallet, power bank, and protein bars.

In the past, I have tried sling bags and other bigger bags but they were either uncomfortable for long journeys or the bag was too big to carry.

And hence began a journey, the search for a new bag.

I started by looking into hydration packs, which can also be used to carry all the other things I need. As I have a mirrorless camera, a bag that is around 8-10 liters would be more than sufficient. On one of my many good searches, I came across an image of that looked strange at first with the bag from Matador next to another image of a cylindrical pouch. I was intrigued, as I haven’t seen anything like this before. It then dawned on me that the bag is packable (can be rolled up) and can be used for travel. This was simply brilliant.

MATADOR HYDROLITE BACKPACK | FRONT & BACK
MATADOR HYDROLITE BACKPACK | FRONT & BACK

Why Matador Hydrolite Backpack

I then set out to do more research on this bag and I looked up the company website of Matador where they sell the backpack. I am going to be honest, as much as I consider bags a good investment I was initially set back by the price tag. But this bag was so unique and packable and I have not come across anything like this.

The bag has a roll-top 8-liter main compartment made up of waterproof Cordura Fabric with YKK water resistant Zipper pocket and an interesting inflatable back panel. Additionally, the bag comes with a water filter and a 2-liter reservoir. Matador has partnered with Sawyer for this setup, which is neat. Matador offers free international shipping for orders over 100$. I scoped other products like the droplet, Nano dry towels (Large and small), packable 30 L duffle – I will explain about the add-ons later.

Ordering the bag was easy, however for since my order was international I had to wait 20 days to get my bag. Buyers outside of USA might have to pay customs. If you are in India do remember that with customs and GST you might end up shelling quite a bit to get your product.

Using the Matador Hydrolite Backpack

I had planned a trip to Jammu and Kashmir where I knew this bag would be handy and I couldn’t wait to get it. When I received the bag I was blown away by the look – it definitely looked very unique and unreal. The packaging is cylindrical and it was neatly packed with all the necessary warranties. Basically, this can be thrown in a bigger backpack and will not take too much space.

MATADOR HYDROLITE BACKPACK | HOW TO PACK & COMPRESS
MATADOR HYDROLITE BACKPACK | HOW TO PACK & COMPRESS

To use the bag all you got to do is blow air in the inflatable back panel, insert it into the bag and you are good to go.

MATADOR HYDROLITE BACKPACK | INFLATABLE BACK PANEL, HYDRATION & FILTER UNIT
MATADOR HYDROLITE BACKPACK | INFLATABLE BACK PANEL, HYDRATION & FILTER UNIT

The bag has an outer small zipped compartment for keeping small things like your phone, wallet or keys. The rest of the bag is simply one big roll-top bag.

There is also an open compartment on the front side of the bag where you can dump in a wet rain jacket or a snow jacket when not in use.

Items I carried in the bag during my trip.

  • Leica Q
  • A beanie
  • 2 granola bars
  • 2 energy protein bars
  • Phone
  • Wallet
  • Power bank with charging cable
  • Along with the 2-liter water reservoir integrated with Sawyer filter.

Items clipped outside the bag

  • Droplet
  • Nano microfiber towel
  • Columbia gloves
  • Jacket on the expandable stash pocket (Jacket size M – basically jackets that get compressed really well fit here)

There is another cool feature in the roll top of the main compartment where the strips on top of the roll top stick together when you seam it, feels magnetic which is neat. So basically I don’t have to clip sides and the contents in the bag will still remain safe and intact.

MATADOR HYDROLITE BACKPACK
MATADOR HYDROLITE BACKPACK

Once packed and the roll top is synched I was all set to start my trek in Gulmarg, Kashmir. The bag is very comfortable. I used the sternum strap whenever needed but I liked the stabilization straps that run down from the shoulders. I found a small difficulty finding the straps to pull down for a snug fit as they kept moving behind the bag but you will get the hang of it once you start wearing and getting used to the bag. During the 4-day travel in Gulmarg and Pahalgam from cold snowy days to warm sweaty weather the bag performed really well.

I used the loops on the front of the bag to clip my carabiners.

Keep an eye on the wear and tear as shown in the pics below. This is probably expected as the bag is rolled up a lot and also I don’t baby it, but I guess this can be improved in the next iteration.

MATADOR HYDROLITE BACKPACK | DAMAGES SEEN NEAR ZIPPER
MATADOR HYDROLITE BACKPACK | DAMAGES SEEN NEAR ZIPPER

Packing Hacks

  • I think you can fit a 3-liter reservoir – give it a whirl.
  • You can leave the roll top, as it is without clipping it on the sides should you chose to do so at your own discretion.
  • You can fit a 10-inch Tablet in the main Roll-top compartment.
  • Tethers can be used to attach trekking poles or carry sleeping bags etc.
  • If you buy the Camera base layer or the lens layer from Matador you can carry a camera and lens/drone by clipping them on the outside. so you get more space to keep something else in the bag.

Overall this bag is fantastic to use. Looking forward to taking this on my next trip.

Price: $150 available on matadorup.com

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