Price: $ 200
How much is it worth to have a bag that is 100 percent waterproof? How many features can be sacrificed on a modern bag? When checking the Hydro 20 I ask these questions.
What we like
- Amazing waterproof design
- Simple zippers
- Floats for most cargo
And what we do not
- Missing organization  Slim body material
- Removable sleeve is chunky
In terms of pure design, this is a remarkable backpack made possible by the new toothless TruZip plastic zipper. During my tests, I discovered that the Booē Hybrid 20 meets all the promises made in its Kickstarter campaign. It is fully waterproof, submersible and offers floating protection for everything you put in it. If this is your main concern, buy with confidence.
By focusing on waterproofing materials, Booē has dropped the comfort features you expect from a modern backpack. Their protection (beyond water and dust) is minimal and the internal organization is at best cumbersome. It's unlike anything else on the market right now, but those who want to invest in a waterproof bag should better wait for a second overhaul of the design.
… Off the Duck's Back
I have been using "water-resistant" shoulder bags from Timbuk2 and Peak Design for 15 years and find them reliable. These designs use a durable fabric with a sealing treatment to keep rain and water out of the inside pockets. With the Hybrid 20, however, this approach is a shame in terms of water and dust protection. With the TruZip zippers and sturdy plastic coating, you can fully immerse this backpack in water without any dripping. Really.
The promotional materials show that you can immerse the Hydro 20 completely in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes, and no one can get past the zipper closures. I put a lot of printer paper in the main pocket and some folded paper in the smaller front pocket (I confess, I was not ready to risk my laptop during the test). They were bone dry in my tub after half an hour. Success!
The bag is as resistant to dust and mud as tested at my local park in Creek. The Hydro 20 would be great for campers, kayakers or anyone who spends a lot of time in or on wet spots. As a bonus, sealed nature means that it (in general) floats – as long as you leave some air inside and do not put a brick in your main pocket.
One of our concerns with the TruZip waterproof zipper seal when we saw it at CES was how much power was needed to completely close it. Booē has solved this with a small improvement in the quality of life. The zippers have large, generous finger rings that allow you to apply a lot of torque so you can easily bring them into this important, fully sealed position. You can safely close the bag with just a little more force than a conventional toothed zipper requires.
I'm not a designer, but I'm assuming a little tweak would improve usability. The zipper must be completely closed so that it is reliably waterproof. However, it is hard to tell when he is. A dot or line on the fabric that is completely covered to indicate that the zipper is fully sealed is helpful.
It lacks protection
Just like the Hydro 20, to protect its contents from water and dirt offer much protection in the traditional sense. Apart from a comfort pad on the back and an inner cover for laptops and tablets, the TPU-coated material is the only thing that lies between the inside and outside of the bag for the rest of the contents. And this fabric is in most places only a single, rather thin layer.
I doubt the bag would survive a major impact (for example, if you fell off a bike or hit it from a cargo bed). I did not believe enough to put my mechanical keyboard or camera in without a second protective cover. My cheap Chromebook felt safe enough in the laptop bag, but if it was my only computer or a MacBook Pro for $ 2,000, I'd probably want a second layer of protection for it.
If you want to use the Hydro 20 for heavier loads like camping supplies or groceries, this is not a real problem. But for anything that is a little trickier, it leaves much to be desired.
The organization is on the easy side
For your water protection, the Hydro 20 offers only two pockets: the main compartment and the front pocket, which is just big enough for a large, bound book. All further information about your freight is up to you.
The main bag has a detachable sleeve with three compartments for laptops and tablets as well as some organizers for smaller things. Wide pockets and single stitch points give little confidence in the durability of this insert. The removal and replacement of the sleeve is also so cumbersome that it is better to keep the Velcro fastener in place for extra back cushioning. The only other inside pocket is a small zippered mesh that's big enough for a phone or a pair of sunglasses.
Externally, the bag has some very generous water bottle pockets on both sides. But even this net material is so thin that it is hard to trust, especially for my high quality metal bottle. A few straps over these pockets (suitable for attaching carabiners) complete the lean organizational features.
The bag has a small chest strap that you can set up and down about seven inches. However, it is so thin and rides so high that if you use it for more than an hour, it gets seriously uncomfortable. I would say most people would probably remove it.
Are you waiting for the second round? The layout and features of the Hydro 20 are simple and out of line with other standard bags in the $ 200 range.
The waterproof material and zippers are phenomenal. If you attach particular importance to water and dust resistance, it can be worthwhile to sacrifice in other aspects of the design. Outdoor enthusiasts, who need a bag that reliably shakes off permanent and prolonged submersion, will be thrilled.
If you're looking for a waterproof bag that also offers comfort, impact protection and organization – something that a regular commuter or cyclist might want – or? If you like the material design of the Hydro 20, but do not like the rest of the model, you might want to wait for an updated model. With the TruZip zipper system, you can also check other providers.
I am curious to see what Booē is doing with future models in this product line. The Hydro 20 Kickstarter campaign is ongoing, so some of these issues may be covered in the retail version.
Early Birds get the bag for a $ 40 to $ 50 discount in bright orange, white, and gray. or black.
What we like
- Amazing waterproof design
- Simple zippers
- Floats for most goods
And what we do not do
- Missing organization
- Slim body material  Removable shell is chunky