Highlander is a firm that we have all heard of, as they have been going for over twenty years now and their motto of The world, without costing the earth indicates their aim of providing a range of outdoor products that are value for money. The Highlander SL hydration system is their latest product and comes in a choice of two or three litre.
I have tested the two litre version, which is made from a PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate which is a copolymer of polyethylene and ethylene vinyl acetate used in such products as shower curtains and body bags) and TPU (Thermoplastic urethane) construction which is impregnated with Microban and weighs in at an impressive 100 grams when empty for a unit that is 7x12 Inches (18x31 cm) in measurement.
When I first saw the SL hydration bladder, the first thing that struck me, was the fact that rather than having the standard filling hole of most bladders, this is an open top bladder which the top folds over and is locked into place (and made waterproof) by a slide lock closure. I have to say that when I first saw this design, I had concerns on how easy it would be to fill the bladder and also on how waterproof it would be, however I was surprised on both counts, as it was very easy to fill and then seal and after leaving this hanging upside down for ten minutes, there was no sign of leakage around the seal. The biggest advantage of this design is that you can turn the bladder inside out to ensure that you clean and dry it properly in between uses, so with the addition of the microban you should not have to worry about the build up of mildew or odours. Microban is a product that is built into the product at manufacture which becomes an intrinsic part of the product and disrupts key cell functions of bacteria that causes odour and mildew and stops them from reproducing and as such reduces the likelihood of them building up. The slide lock closure also has attachment points for hydration sleeves in rucksacks and the small lightweight design of the two litre version lends itself well to this role.
The integral hose is made from PVC coated TPU and the OMC high flow bite valve has an anti dirt cover which has a flimsy piece of cord as a safety retainer. The anti dirt cover appears to fit well and protects the bite valve well, however I was disappointed on the cord retainer as it mere 2 inches (6 cm) long and does not feel that substantial to the point where I fear would be easily snapped. That said, I did give it a bit of a tug and it held, so this may well surprise me and be tougher than it looks.
In summary this is a well designed and made water bladder and the change from the conventional screw opening to the slide lock fitting works well. Prices seem to vary from around £12-£16, so taking into account that this has the microban treatment, it is well worth a look.