HYDRA Review and Tutorial
HYDRA is a Russian darknet market that also serves as a forum and bitcoin exchange on Tor.
HYDRA is a Russian darknet market that also serves as a forum and bitcoin exchange on Tor. In a manner comparable to Amazon, each vendor has their own independent shop on the site, on which they can sell whichever goods they deem profitable. This contrasts with some of the other major darknet markets, on which all vendors sell goods as part of the main market; it’s more of a decentralized approach.
hydra2web.com (clearnet gateway – redirects to the onion site)
How to Access HYDRA
As with all of the other markets we’ve reviewed so far, you will need the Tor Browser to access HYDRA. If you are new to Tor, please see our tutorial How to Access Tor (.Onion) Sites. While there are alternate ways to access onion sites (like Tor2Web), we advise against doing this, because it will compromise your anonymity and possibly have other negative effects!
Things You Will Need
In addition to the Tor Browser, you will either need bitcoin, QIWI, or токенов (“tokens”), which is a cryptocurrency exclusive to HYDRA.
Though many sites state that you need a VPN when accessing darknet markets, this is not true. It can actually damage your anonymity rather than helping it. This is dependent on your VPN provider – see our article How Safe are VPNs? for more information.
Creating an Account
When you first access the site, you’ll see a CAPTCHA that reads “Are you a bot?” in Russian. Fortunately, these CAPTCHAs aren’t too difficult to complete.
After entering the CAPTCHA, you’ll arrive at the site’s landing page, where you can register for an account. In the upper right corner, you’ll see a link that reads “Регистрация” (registration); Click that.
On the registration page, you’ll see this:
Registration requires both a “username” (which will be displayed after logging in) and a “login name” (which you’ll use to log into the site). It’s best to use two different names for each of these; this is done as a security measure. You’ll then need to create a password as well, and fill out another CAPTCHA.
Even so, HYDRA’s registration process is fairly easy, though it’s a bit simpler if you speak Russian, of course. Once you finish the registration, log in.
Interface and Functions
HYDRA’s interface differs from many of the other major markets. Instead of listing products on the landing page, it first exhibits all of the vendors that have shops on the site. You can then choose a specific vendor and see what items she has for sale.
When browsing a vendor’s page, you’ll see listings for individual items, with prices and extra information, such as where it can be shipped, etc. There will also be buttons you can use to purchase each product in different amounts, usually arranged according to price.
Though this may prove confusing if you don’t speak Russian, the interface, as a whole, is quite useful and self-explanatory (once you get past the language hurdle). One aspect that may help the non-Russian speakers is that if you hover over a hyperlink, the URL will be translated into English; for instance, “магазины” translates to “shops.”
On the landing page, at the top, you’ll also see a link that looks like this:
This roughly translates to the word “catalog,” and is a dropdown menu of the various categories. If you click on any of the categories, you’ll then see listings pertaining to it. On the top, there are also links to a “catalog,” “note” (messages), “forum,” and “exchange.” Above this is a search function, as well as your cart, messages, and balance (of bitcoin, QIWI, or tokens).
Language barriers aside, HYDRA has a fairly intuitive and useful interface. Give it the benefit of the doubt; it’s not really geared toward those outside of Russia and eastern Europe!
Categories and Listings
Instruments and Equipment (Hardware)
Partnership and Franchise
Unlike some of the other major markets, HYDRA does not list subcategories underneath its main categories of items, nor does it list amounts for how many items are in stock for that category. Instead, you need to click on each category and then browse through the listings. You can use the search functions and filters to narrow down the items.
Search Functions and Filters
The search function on HYDRA is also very similar to that of other marketplaces, with one catch: because the listings are all written in Russian, your searches will also have to be done in Russian.
You can also narrow it down by choosing a specific category in which to search, as on most other markets. While HYDRA’s search function is less advanced than on some larger markets, it can still be helpful if you have a particular item in mind. The downside is that it may take some tinkering to find what you’re looking for.
How to Choose a Vendor
Once again, the process of choosing a vendor can be tricky if you’ve never used them before. It helps to join forums like Dread and Darknet Avengers, and then get some feedback from people who have used the market to know which vendors are the best.
Generally speaking, vendors like GangBang Shop and Алхимик (“Alchemist”) Shop have previously established reputations on other Russian markets, so these are probably a good bet. In some cases, you may have to do a bit of trial and error to build a relationship with a vendor whom you trust.
How to Add Funds
Believe it or not, adding funds to your wallet on HYDRA is rather easy. At the top of the page, there is a link that reads “0 BTC” (when you first register, that is). Click this, and you’ll be taken to the “balance” page, which you can also access at http://hydraruzxpnew4af.onion/balance.
On this page, you’ll see a BTC address that refers to your wallet. Send coins from whatever external wallet you use (like Electrum) to this wallet so you can make purchases. Once the funds are in your wallet, you should be able to purchase items normally.
How to Buy Products
Buying products on HYDRA is similar to many of the other top markets. As on these markets, you search for a product that interests you, and then when you find it, click on its listing image. You’ll be taken to the page related to that item.
On the item’s page is a brief description, as well as a listing of where the vendor will ship items. Scroll down, and you’ll see a series of purchase options. These list varieties of the item for sale with prices in bitcoin. Click on the blue button to the right of the description to buy the item.
Note: if you do not have enough bitcoin or QIWI in your wallet, an error message will pop up. Follow the instructions in the previous section if you have not already done so.
Like many of its darknet market contemporaries, HYDRA has a forum, located at http://hydraruzxpnew4af.onion/forum. On the forum, many vendors advertise their products and sometimes offer discounts (which is common on marketplace forums), but it also gives you the opportunity to ask questions and find out additional information about who’s reliable.
Getting to know people in the community can also be helpful for harm reduction and advice on various aspects of using the marketplace. Some also post about experiences with assorted drugs and get feedback from the other members.
The link for support may be hard to spot at first; it’s located at the very bottom of the page under the URL http://hydraruzxpnew4af.onion/ticket. If you have any issues with the market regarding orders or technical problems, this is where to address them.
Give the ticket a detailed title describing your problem, and then select an issue from the dropdown menu below. As with everything else on the site, these subjects are written in Russian; if at all possible, write your question in Russian too (even if it’s not perfect). The support staff may take a day or two to respond, but have patience.
Features a wide variety of listings, including drugs, digital products, etc.
Accepts multiple cryptocurrencies (BTC, QIWI, etc.)
Simple interface that’s easy to navigate
For non-Russian users, there are no alternate language versions
Some vendors only ship to locations in Russia
- Subcategories aren't listed underneath main categories