Quick access link (please use Tor Browser to navigate Hydra market)
In this article we explain everything you need to know in order to connect to and explore the Hydra darknet market.
Hydra is the longest-running darknet market to still offer its services and bigger than all other darknet markets combined. Its name comes from a multi-headed mythical creature, sharing its ethos of distributed leadership and framework, so in the event that “one head is cut off, two will rise to take its place.” Hydra is a Russia-based market and serves mainly former Soviet bloc era nations, including Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and a handful of others. Apart from digital goods (of which the selection is small), it is unlikely that you will find vendors willing to ship outside of these countries.
The market places a lot of emphasis on vendors as opposed to categories of products or individual listings. Vendors are given a great deal more control over their operation on Hydra than most other markets, and as such the market’s layout can be a bit confusing for those visiting for the first time. Another big difference is the way orders are delivered as well. Instead of relying solely on postal carriers and delivery services, over half of all Hydra orders make use of the dead drop system. Basically, instead of getting a delivery via mail, buyers receive instructions on where they can pick up hidden “treasures,” AKA orders concealed in bushes, under park benches, in ditches, etc.
Hydra has been the focus of a lot of negative media attention over the last year or so. It is now notoriously associated with BTC transactions from ransomware group payouts and the subject of intense monitoring by law enforcement groups worldwide. It is suspected that the reason why Hydra is not only succeeding – but growing – in the face of such scrutiny is the apparent lack of investigatory efforts by law enforcement in Russia, the likely home of Hydra’s servers and admins.
For whatever actual reason(s), Hydra has suffered little downtime in its 6+ years of operation. Its dependability and consistency have allowed it to attract a huge userbase while remaining free of competition. It has now grown to the point where it is more than just a market, but rather an ecosystem of products and services. In addition to the usual assortment of darknet market products, Hydra offers access to a few different BTC cashout services. They also have a portal for legal advice and run a Telegram bot that provides “operational information support to drug addicts.” The market has a lot going on that isn’t necessarily covered in this guide but worth checking out on your own.
When using a 3rd party tool to perform translations of Hydra content (such as Google Translate), we recommend that you do not access it when logged into an account associated with your other online identities. This may seem paranoid but is considered appropriate behavior for OpSec maintenance purposes. To save you the trouble, we’ve translated many of the important terms found in the site.
A good mixer to use before Hydra Market is ChipMixer.
Disclaimer: The content of this guide is meant to be used for research purposes only and should not be construed as literal instructions or advice. The act of accessing a darknet market may be illegal in your jurisdiction and we recommend knowing what your local laws are regarding this issue before moving forward.
Before Getting Started
There are a few things you should have some experience with before attempting to connect to Hydra:
- Tor browser. This is what will allow you to connect to the Hydra URL and any other darknet site.
- Bitcoin. BTC is the only method of payment accepted by Hydra so you will need to know how to send and receive Bitcoin transactions.
- OpSec. Short for operations security, this involves engaging in practices online that allow you to maintain your anonymity. A good example of this would be never sending BTC to your Hydra deposit address straight from an exchange.
- PGP. You will need to know how to generate a PGP key pair as well as encrypt/decrypt messages. This is necessary for all communication on darknet markets like Hydra.
- Links. Links to any darknet market can be found on DarkFail or TorTaxi.
Also keep in mind that Hydra does not cater to users outside of the following countries:
It is still possible to order digital items from other countries.
Hydra Market Link
Creating an Account on Hydra
Except for being written in Cyrillic (as opposed to the international standard of English), the sign-up process for Hydra is pretty straight-forward. After entering the URL, you will first need to solve a captcha before reaching the login page, which is default for most darknet markets.
1. To get to the account creation tab, press the text that says “Регистрация”. You will see the following:
As the title says, your Login name will be the name you use to login; whereas a Display Name is the name that will be displayed to other users (and vendors when placing an order).
2. Fill in the fields using unique credentials, meaning a username and password you have never used before and cannot be tracked back to your real-life identity. It is recommended that you choose a password at least 8 characters long, preferably a random combination of letters, numbers and special characters. When ready (after creating a login name, username, password x2 and entering the captcha), press the blue button to continue.
3. If everything goes according to plan, you will be transferred to the initial welcome screen, which looks something like this:
In effect, the top text roughly translates as, “To continue, you must adopt Hydra’s rules…” followed by a lengthy disclaimer about how Hydra can’t be held liable for any damages, etc. Using the site means that you understand the rules, so if in any doubt be sure to translate and read the entirety of the text for yourself.
Listed beneath this is a further explanation of the rules, which are probably the most exhaustive and thorough of any darknet market; the result of seven years’ experience operating a market. Among these rules are:
- Prohibited items (poisons, services offering violent crimes, anything that could be used to assault someone physically, any type of pornography, and several others)
- No links to third-party resources or social media pages
- No doxing or hidden advertising
- No dealing with vendors outside of the Hydra marketplace
- The site administrator has the right to cancel your account, without warning, at any time
Also included are product listing standards, arbitration rules, and even fine causes and amounts (yes, Hydra issues fines to vendors and buyers alike for breaking their rules).
Press the blue button at the bottom of the page to proceed to the main market.
4. From this screen you will set your country of residence from the list of those serviced by Hydra:
After selecting a country and a city, press the blue button to continue (it is irrelevant whether you leave the “remember my selection” box ticked or not).
You will now be transported to the Hydra market main page.
Setting Your PGP Key
To set your PGP key, click on your username in the upper-right corner of the screen. This will bring you to your account settings page.
You can see the PGP entry box is in the bottom right of this screen. This is where you will enter your PGP public key. We do not recommend adjusting the other settings unless you want to change the UI from light to dark mode (“Темная” and “Светлая”). After you have pasted your entire PGP key into the box, press the blue box to continue. Note that you can only enter your PGP key one time so if you mess it up, you will never be able to receive encrypted messages for this account.
Note there is also no PGP verification process on Hydra. They expect that you understand PGP enough to the point where you can get things right with the first try.
Making a Deposit
Hydra is a BTC-only market that uses the old school, centrally-controlled account wallet system. This means that you will need to make a deposit to your account before placing an order. To find your Hydra deposit address, click on the BTC balance to the immediate left of your username.
Here you can see your current balance (zero) and BTC deposit address (starts with a “3”). The text under the address clarifies that deposits will be credited to your balance after 2 deposits. Unlike many other markets, the buyer deposit address is fixed, meaning buyers are not assigned new addresses. The blue button is for buying Bitcoin, and we do not recommend attempting to use this option (it is out-of-service at the moment anyway).
Browsing Hydra Market
Hydra’s layout is somewhat different from most other markets, and this is because it operates a bit differently, as well. Although products can be viewed by category, the website itself is much more vendor-focused, giving vendors a lot more control over their presence on Hydra. This can be seen right away as popular vendor pages are prominently displayed on the main market page. We have provided translations of the menu options for your convenience.
Instead of having the usual, multi-panel layout, Hydra has everything in one screen. You can access individual categories by hovering over the word “Категории” in the upper-left corner of the menu area. There is also a search box toward the top of the screen where products can be searched by metropolitan area. Hydra divides product listings into the following categories (along with their English translation when appropriate):
- Марихуана (Marijuana)
- Cтимуляторы (Stimulants)
- Эйфоретики (Empathogens)
- Психоделики (Psychedelics)
- Энтеогены (Entheogens)
- Экстази (Ecstasy)
- Диссоциативы (Dissociatives)
- Опиаты (Opiates)
- Химические реактивы/Конструкторы (Chemical reagents / Precursors)
- Аптека (Pharmaceuticals)
- Обнал BTC (Cash out BTC)
- SSH, VPN
Clicking on a listing category brings up the top listings for that category, as well as a list of subcategories:
Clicking on the product name brings up the details for that listing:
Here you can see all the relevant information for the listing, including the overall feedback rating, an expanded description and bulk pricing info. In the menu area you can see links to the following pages:
- Витрина (Store)
- Форум (Forum)
- О магазине (About the store)
- Отзывы (Reviews)
- Работа (Work)
- Правила (Rules)
- Раздел Покупателя (Buyer’s Section)
Below this you will see detailed information related to delivery options, which we will explain depth.
Pre Order (предзаказу) vs. Instant (моментальный) Delivery
The traditional delivery method is referred to as Pre Order delivery. This involves providing the usual shipping address encrypted with the vendor’s PGP key and waiting for the order to arrive via post. Occasionally vendors will supply additional shipping options that do not use traditional carrier services, but for the most part vendors support the same options as traditional darknet markets (at least, as they would in those particular countries).
Rather than the usual, postal-based delivery options, more Hydra orders than not make use of the “dead drop” system. The market refers to this as Instant delivery. This involves the vendor leaving a purchased order (referred to as the “treasure”) at a highly-specific physical location, where the buyer can find it but still hidden out of plain sight. Often times, exact GPS coordinates are given to the order’s location. This is made possible as the market organizes itself around metropolitan areas where the majority of its customers are located. It is also made possible thanks to Russian law enforcement’s reputation of non-involvement with Hydra-related affairs.
In any darknet market, vendor selection can really make or break a market. After years in the business, Hydra recognizes this and has designed their market with a “vendor-first” approach. As Hydra is pretty much the only game in town, the application process is somewhat rigid, and vendor operations are subject to several rules. Failure to comply with these rules can result in huge fines and removal of the vendor from the market.
Vendors are organized by country, region, and city. Hydra makes ongoing efforts to recruit vendors in high areas of demand, frequently offering newcomers perks for agreeing to provide certain services in certain areas. Several of the most popular vendors (displayed on the main page) make deliveries and drops to many popular areas and are almost like mini-markets that operate within a larger market. Clicking on a vendor will bring you to their homepage on Hydra.
Moving from top-to-bottom and left-to-right we see:
- Vendor name (1GoghTM)
- Vendor average feedback rating (5 stars, or 10/10)
- Completed order count (750+)
- Add vendor to bookmarks (heart symbol)
- Showcase tab (shown by default)
- About the Store tab
- Reviews tab
- Message vendor button
- Product listings
Beneath this is a section for some text directly from the vendor. It’s always a good idea to give this text a thorough read-through as it often contains specific information related to order placement. It’s also smart to read the vendor’s reviews before placing an order, because after all, this is all you really have to go on when trying to determine if you are working with a competent vendor. Reviews can be conveniently sorted by city of delivery and product, and a breakdown of the reviews can be seen on the right.
Vendors also frequently provide responses to reviews and tend to be chatty with their customers. Reading through these reviews and their responses can provide a tremendous amount of insight into what to expect when placing an order with a vendor.
Placing an Order
After you have clicked on an item to purchase, selecting the delivery option you wish, you will be brought to a screen to specify your preferences before the order is placed. This is an example of an Instant order checkout:
Here we see the Deal type (Instant purchase), Location (Dzerzhinsky district), quantity (1), “Treasure type” (two options are displayed, “any” and “Earthen ditch”). Below this is a box for a promo code and a button to recalculate the order price. Below that is the total amount of BTC owed (0.00059483 BTC) and the amount in your account (0 BTC).
As Hydra used to support non-crypto payment options (such as QIWI), their checkout process still displays them, although they are no longer functional. You will still have to select BTC as your payment option. After doing this, press the blue button at the bottom to confirm your order. At this point, the order funds will be deducted from your account and the vendor will get started processing the order.
After an Instant order is received by the vendor, they will send the buyer an encrypted, one-time link providing the address at which the “treasure” is hidden, or else specific instructions on how to find the order. In Hydra’s given example, the order address instructions read as follows:
“Brick House 7. Tractor tracks to the left of the wall.”
Upon finding the “treasure”, the buyer then marks the order as “Received”, and payment is released from the market to the vendor.
Hydra’s vendor feedback system is also a little different from most other markets. If a buyer does not leave feedback for an order within 24 hours after it has been marked as received, the vendor automatically receives a 10/10 feedback rating, which is the highest score.
Hydra does have a dispute system that seems to be fairly well thought-out, but as with any darknet market, we recommend taking all the proper steps to avoid getting to that point in the first place. This involves:
- Only ordering from well-established, highly-reputable vendors.
- Remaining in communication with the vendor.
- Attempting to resolve the issue before bringing it to dispute.
Quite often vendors are reasonable and will perform re-drops or re-deliveries for free or a 50% discount. Most of the feedback we observed was cordial and polite, even when things didn’t go according to plan.
Being the biggest darknet market on the internet by far has its positives and negatives. In terms of positives:
- Top-notch selection of products and vendors
- Well-developed infrastructure keeps things running smooth
- Admins have several years of experience running the market
In terms of negatives:
- It is the most highly-watched darknet market
- It caters to and services only a handful of countries
- It only accepts BTC, which makes transactions traceable
Regardless of whatever reasons critics give when speculating about Hydra’s eventual downfall, the market remains up and running, and has only stopped once before (during the height of shipping disruptions caused by covid). Hydra works for those who use it, actually contains a fair amount of innovation, and isn’t likely to go anywhere any time soon.