Author Topic: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder  (Read 39859 times)


Offline charles

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #31 on: June 19, 2012, 03:51:48 PM »
When I was deployed I would fill my camelback with ice and the coolness on my back was awesome. The water would stay cool for a while too. I have 4 of them and I use them often, I just rotate through them and let them dry out when not using them. The camelback brand is pretty durable im 6'4 270lbs and I can roll on it,
and I have stepped on it and It held up. The mouth pieces do like to come off though, I have lost 5 or 6 of them. I would recommend getting one.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #32 on: June 19, 2012, 04:07:18 PM »
Endurance:  Good point, and good pun.  :P

tekayfotuwan:  Thanks for the product link.  It looks like a good product for moving clean water to the pouch.

Hmmm.  It says it has a 0.2u filter, but it also says it's not effective against viruses.  I thought that .2u was good against viri.

Do you attach the filter directly to the nagaline?  Or pour it from the nagaline into the bladder?

Charels: Thanks for the recommendation to get one of the systems.  I think I'm going to go with the source brand, though.  It seems like a strict upgrade from the camelbak.

endurance

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #33 on: June 19, 2012, 04:46:34 PM »
The camelback brand is pretty durable im 6'4 270lbs and I can roll on it,
and I have stepped on it and It held up. The mouth pieces do like to come off though, I have lost 5 or 6 of them. I would recommend getting one.
A buddy of mine had a catastrophic mountain bike wreck a few years ago.  Landed about as wrong as he could, flat on his back after launching at probably 35mph.  Knocked the wind out of him, bruised him up pretty badly, and blew up his camelbak bladder.  I shudder to think of what would have happened to him had it not been for the bladder absorbing most of that impact.  It served as a great improvised airbag.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #34 on: June 19, 2012, 04:49:29 PM »
One of the guys at a local bike shop had a similar experience, save that he smacked his back up against a tree.  He's certain that his bladder saved his life.

Offline charles

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #35 on: June 20, 2012, 12:55:43 AM »
Those look like quality units, My bladders are all 3L and that usually lasts me a good while, usually about a half of a day. I only have experience with the Camelback brand but I think the everyone should have a hydration bladder of some sort.

Take Care

Charles

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #36 on: June 20, 2012, 01:35:37 AM »
My one friend has an MSR filter that literally screws onto a nalgene sized opening directly. Mine has an adapter but can be configured several different ways.

I have one of these, it fits my Nalgene, half liter fanny pack bottles, and the hydration bladder cap.  I also picked up a MIOX, which complements the pump system.  In a pinch, either system will probably stand alone, but together they catch most all pathogens.

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Offline heliotropicmoth

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #37 on: June 20, 2012, 09:03:05 AM »
One benefit of the Camlebak, and probably other systems, is you can take the mouthpiece off and put the tube directly onto the water out nipple of a MSR water filter. We did the 8 day Thunder Point loop canoe trip in the boundary waters of Minnesota. While my friend and I were paddling my fiance would lazily pump lake water directly into the bladders. Works like a charm!  8)

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #38 on: June 20, 2012, 09:59:45 AM »
I'm liking what I'm hearing about a lot of these options.

I may pick up a MIOX.  Though I'm a bit concerned that it takes 5 hours for viruses.  Anyone have knowledge of any water-filters that work faster?

Offline heliotropicmoth

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #39 on: June 20, 2012, 10:11:17 AM »
Hey Josh,

I have the MSR miniworks:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BBF2RY/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B001BNPJK6&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0M9TM7QHSVPWANK624MY

This is a great filter. As soon as you pump the water through the filter you can drink it. I have used the Miox. The Miox works well for base camp applications where you can collect a bunch of water and treat it without needing it immediately.

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #40 on: June 20, 2012, 10:31:09 AM »
I'm liking what I'm hearing about a lot of these options.

I may pick up a MIOX.  Though I'm a bit concerned that it takes 5 hours for viruses.  Anyone have knowledge of any water-filters that work faster?

The theory is you either filter out or kill pathogens.  What doesn't get filtered needs to be killed.  Adding a little poison (chlorine) will kill the pathogens over time, or you can add a lot of poison and kill them much faster.  Which water would you rather drink?

I carry the "fast" tablets in my BOB as an emergency back-up in addition to the MIOX unit.  I struggle with carrying the MIOX at all, it's the weight of a two battery (CR123) flashlight.  I think a few Katadyn tablets surely weigh much less, and also take that same 4 hours to work.  But the MIOX is a cool toy, and I've heard the solution it makes can also be used to clean out a wound.

But I see the MSR pump filter and MIOX working together as a team, not separate.  I can't see the military going with only the MIOX, but who am I to second guess safety.

http://www.miox.com/miox-solutions/MSR-MIOX-Purifier-Pen.aspx

Or military...


~TG

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #41 on: June 20, 2012, 10:36:47 AM »
I generally have very little concern about viruses.  If I was filtering downstream from a third world village, my attitude would be quite different.  That said, of all the options out there right now, the MIOX seems like it might be the best for long-term use.  For short term, I guess I'd be content with iodine tablets if I was really that concerned (which I'm not).

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #42 on: June 20, 2012, 10:53:37 AM »
Oh, definitely.  I'm not going to use the MIOX by it's self.  I'm pretty certain that I'm going to get a mechanical filter that screws onto a Nagaline as well.

I'd love to learn the earth-skills needed to get clean, pure, healthy water, but I've still got a lot of basic skills to learn, and in the mean time I'm preeeeety sure that using some quality gear is a good idea.

endurance

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #43 on: June 20, 2012, 01:35:14 PM »
... in the mean time I'm preeeeety sure that using some quality gear is a good idea.
As someone who lived with Giardia for two years while I didn't have health insurance, I can assure you, some form of water purification is a good idea. ;)

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #44 on: June 20, 2012, 01:40:19 PM »
Thanks!

So, what are these lighter Katadyn pills I am hearing about, that work just fine without batteries in the same period of time?

http://www.katadyn.com/usen/katadyn-products/products/katadynshopconnect/katadyn-micropur/ Is this them?

If these are as effective, lighter, and cheeper, I'm thinking I'd prefer these to neat and gadgety.

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #45 on: June 20, 2012, 02:00:16 PM »
One form of tablets or another has been around for years.  The military was using iodine tablets back in Vietnam and probably before that.  I still carry iodine for a backup if my filter fails for backpacking and I carry aquamira tablets in my pocket kit when day hiking or trail running (kit pic).  About once or twice a year I need them. 

The reason I don't like them long term is that they're expensive and they make your water taste funny compared to a good filter.  To me, $15 for 30 quarts of clean water is a rip off compared to a Sawyer filter that costs $59 and treats 500+ gallons.  But if you want light and compact, no doubt, tablets are the way to go for the short run.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #46 on: June 20, 2012, 02:09:13 PM »
And given your lack of concern over viri due to not being down-stream from many other humans that's understandable.

However there are enough animal to human infection vectors, and enough unknowns about what's upstream any time you take up water that I'm presently cautious.  I'm still gathering data.  While I intend to go multi-day packing later this fall, I'm still in the stage of acquiring gear and solutions a few bits at a time, and learning more as I go.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #47 on: June 20, 2012, 02:15:52 PM »
That said, any input on the carry option from more experienced 'packers?

Should I get a hydration carrier only like the following: http://source-military.com/13-hydration-packs to put into/onto my larger pack?

Or should I get a day-pack of some kind, and stuff the smaller pack into my bigger one when I'm taking all of my gear from point to point?

endurance

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #48 on: June 20, 2012, 03:42:45 PM »
For the most part, Hepatitis A is your biggest viral risk.  Most other viruses don't do well in water for extended periods of time.  Since you can get immunized for Hep A, you can reduce your risk permanently and more effectively without any pills at all.

I have about a half-dozen camelbak variations, from fanny packs (which suck because they bounce too much) to a 34 liter pack that I use for trips up to three or four days when fastpacking.  Personally, I want enough space for the basics, like rain gear, small survival kit, and a lunch when hiking (the Mule is about the right size for me; or I want light and lean for trail running (Wingnut Assault); or I want the smallest, lightest pack that will allow me to carry all the essentials for 3-4 days (Osprey Exos 34). 

There's definitely many ways to skin this cat.  It all depends on your needs.  I started out with traditional backpacks, went very gear heavy, and therefore, struggled to cover more than about 9 miles a day in mountainous terrain carrying a 40-50 pound pack for 4-5 days.  Last weekend on day two of a three day hike I did 25 miles with my Exos and brought home over 4000 calories of uneaten food because I overpacked.

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #49 on: June 20, 2012, 08:01:39 PM »
I also use an Osprey as a go-to trail pack.  I found a Stratos 24 on clearance when the colors were changed years ago.  Mine is lemon yellow!  Yeah, I know, it's supposed to be a guy's bag, but it fit my torso size, and at that price...!

So the Stratos has a mesh webbing support system that is incredibly comfortable.  It also allows a hiker to either hang their water bladder inside the pack pocket, or between the pack and the mesh webbing.  I like options.

~TG

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #50 on: June 20, 2012, 09:38:48 PM »
At present, I am working with an existing and limited gear set, and want to buy up slowly over time., while also building my cash and precious metals reserves.  I've already got a ruck-sack that goes from hips to shoulder, and a little ways up behind the head, but can't fit everything I want in it.  I'll probably pack lighter over time, but for now, 1/3-1/2 of the pack or so is taken up by a -40 sleeping bag.  This precludes my packing my cot inside, as it would need the height of the bag to fit it in, so the cot is reserved for car camping.

The bag already has a space for water reservoirs, and that's where I'll keep it when going multi-day packing.  I'm planning on getting a 3-litre reservoir.  I'd like to be able to hike from my car-camping location, or from a parked location with the water on my back, and enough space for a lunch, a water filter, and an emergency medical kit, as well as perhaps a few minor tools like binoculars, a camera, and a folding pruning saw.  It looks like the mule, or an equivalent might work out for me.  It sounds like a pack of approximately 10L volume would work for me there.

I'd also like to just run around with water on my back in the case of the combat sports I play.  Having water on my back would help me stay far more hydrated... though I might want to get a smaller, lighter system for that, and trail running, and just fill up while others are hydrating... maybe something similar to the wing-nut.

I probably can't afford to go after everything at once unless I save up, and I'd like to get the gear a bit at a time so that I can learn, and find my likes and dislikes anyway.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #51 on: June 21, 2012, 12:35:12 AM »
Also, endurance, why do you say that Hepatitis A is the main concern water-wise?

Offline heliotropicmoth

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #52 on: June 21, 2012, 06:49:38 AM »
That said, any input on the carry option from more experienced 'packers?

Should I get a hydration carrier only like the following: http://source-military.com/13-hydration-packs to put into/onto my larger pack?

Or should I get a day-pack of some kind, and stuff the smaller pack into my bigger one when I'm taking all of my gear from point to point?

Hey Josh,

I wouldn't waste the money on any of the hydro bags you linked to. Check this out:

http://www.camelbak.com/Sports-Recreation/Packs/2012-Unbottle-100-oz.aspx

I have been using this type of hydro kit attached to my pack for years. I don't think it makes sense to have a hydro pack for serious backpacking or bugging out. They are great for day hikes and biking. I would go with what I linked to with the addition of the insulated sleeve for winter backpacking. One trick in the winter is to make sure you blow air into the tube pushing the water back into the bag. If you do this you will never have a frozen tube when you want a drink. Two cents from a life long backpacker.

Patrick

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #53 on: June 21, 2012, 09:20:29 AM »
Also, endurance, why do you say that Hepatitis A is the main concern water-wise?
The largest water-borne diseases in the world are:

Cholera- caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae
typhoid fever- caused by bacterium Salmonella typhi
dysentery- caused by Shigella species (bacillary dysentery) or Entamoeba histolytica (amoebic dysentery)
e-coli- caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli
Cryptosporidiosis- Caused by the protozoa Cryptosporidium parvum
Giardiasis- caused by the protozoa Giardia lamblia

hepatitis A- caused by the hepatitis A virus (immunization available)
Polio- caused by the Poliovirus (most people are immunized in the US)
SARS- caused by Coronavirus
BK virus*- (It is thought that up to 80% of the population contains a latent form of this virus)
JC virus*- (The virus is very common in the general population, infecting 70 to 90 percent of humans; most people acquire JCV in childhood or adolescence)

*These two are unlikely to ever effect a healthy individual and become significant if the individual has an organ transplant and must go on immuno-suppressant drugs or acquires HIV.  They are diseases of opportunity in the immuno-suppressed, but most individuals are already carriers.

There are also countless parasites, all of which are treatable by filter.  This is why a filter will do 99% of the heavy lifting in 99% of the water you'll come into contact with here in the US, assuming you have some basic immunizations and have a normally functioning immune system.

As for pack selection, it sounds like you currently have a beast of a pack if you're putting a -40 bag in it.  A modern 25F down bag from Western Mountaineering is smaller than a football and weighs under two pounds.  Three seasons of the year, it's my go-to bag.  I've used my North Face Inferno (-35F rated) only a handful of times.

You're wise to build up your gear slowly and deliberately, keeping your needs in mind as your activities change.  A 50 oz. bladder is perfect for active sports and trail running, but not the best choice for backpacking or all-day efforts.  That's where the 100oz. bladder belongs.  The Wingnut I have is the best pack I have for staying in place and not moving around no matter what I'm doing, but there's only enough room for the bare essentials.

plus an emergency poncho or 30 gallon trash bag and perhaps 1000 calories of gels, bloks, and bars.  My purpose for buying it at the time was for mountain bike racing where all I carried was the most basic tool kit, two tubes, and a couple CO2 cartridges for tire inflation. 

It should be noted that I've camped at 10k' with this kit plus a pocket knife and pocket chainsaw quite comfortably.  The more experience you acquire in the woods, the less stuff that you'll consider necessary and the more multiple use items you'll incorporate.  You start to do silly things like my hiking partner and wrap your trekking poles with duct tape, which you use on your hike to fix a blister on your heel (and could potentially use to fix your tent, too).  You might carry a 1 oz. alcohol stove because it's light and you can get more fuel for it in any town in the world.  Your utensils come down to your pocket knife and a plastic spoon.  You eliminate the cup from your kit with an insulated cozy that goes around your cook pot (which is a 600-700ml titanium unit).  No matter what, three socks and underwear are always enough, since every day is laundry day at dinner time and one pair is always drying and one pair is always ready to go.  You cut the handle off your toothbrush to save weight and space.  You phase out 550 cord in favor of 130 pound bank line or 150 pound reflective cordage you can also use for signaling and marking dangerous things around camp that you don't want to stumble into with your headlamp on low.  Your headlamp weighs less than the batteries to the headlamp you used five years ago (mine is 28 grams).  The minimalist approach takes time to perfect, but I assure you, it's every bit as addictive as crack and will make you a more resourceful person in the field.  That said, may you never adopt Chad's eating habits and mix Top Ramen, potato flakes, and soy sauce in a ziplock bag and consider that an excellent dinner... that's just wrong. ;)


Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #54 on: June 21, 2012, 11:05:45 AM »
Thanks heliotropicmoth.  I like that tip for keeping the tube from freezing in winter, and an insulating sleeve sounds like a great idea for winter packing!

That said, I prefer to buy quality gear a bit at a time, and slowly customize it up.  From everything I've seen Source is the top of the line, not that much more expensive, and solves the problems people grumble about when it comes to camelbaks.  The easy cleaning/drying and the anti-microbial properties seem worth the cost to me.  I also like some of the available accessories.

endurance:  Thanks.  I've been meaning to find a general practitioner in the area and get a check-up.  I think that having my records reviewed to make sure I'm immunized against polio, and getting a hep A shot may well be a good step in getting myself ready for either camping, or SHTF.  That said, I'll probably get some purification pills to cover both a broken filter situation, and the situation of needing to purify water for others who aren't immunized.  I want to make sure I can take care of my family, not just myself, and due to powdered butt, it's unlikely they'll get hep A shots, even if I do a bunch of research.

And yeah.  I got the sleeping bag as a Christmas present one year.  I tend to get nerd-toys and survival gear as presents on that side of my family, because I'm known for caring about preparedness, and being a smarty.  I give folks preparedness gifts (car cits, stuff that allows a dad to take care of his family in case of an emergency like a tornado, etc), and such whenever I can't come up with a customized gift.  My dad got me the -40 bag.  It's nearly as big as my torso, and difficult to re-pack, but I wouldn't want to go packing in winter without it.  In fact, I was chilled to the bone even with some closed-cell foam under it in the summer.  Which is why I now understand the importance of getting my body off of the ground somehow for sleep.  I'm seriously considering getting a compression pack for this bag, to help reduce it's vertical height, so that I can fit more than one change of clothes into the top of the pack.

My pack goes from slightly below my hips to above my shoulders when the top of the pack is pushed into the lower pull-chord, and synched, with the compression fanny pack on top, and is wide enough to take the bag.  If I use up it's full space the top of the pack is visible over the top of my head.  :P It's also heavy when fully loaded.  I could do an 8-hour hike with it if I needed to (I think), but I'd be slow, and exhausted by the end of the hike.  That's why I've been trading out my gear a bit at a time to save on room, and weight.

I think that for my running I'll go with http://source-military.com/stand-alone/26-kangaroo-1l.html to start.  It should give me enough water for my runs, and would still be helpful on longer trips, until I get a bigger one.  It'll also let me try the product out for less.

As far as small harness systems, I think my biggest problem is that I've got big bones, big muscles (which are going up), and big fat (which is going down), so most things designed for "average" don't fit me.  I need 2x-large from shoes, to pants, to shirt, to hat to gloves... and that's American sizes.  Well, except for the shoes.  Those are typically 16, with some number of Es, or a 46/47 as far as vibrams go (toe width is the issue).

Think that wingnut would fit a big guy like me?
« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 11:23:00 AM by Josh the Aspie »

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #55 on: June 21, 2012, 11:30:02 AM »

Think that wingnut would fit a big guy like me?

I really don't have a clue.  It has a lot of adjustability in it, but like many products that are designed to fit you in an almost intimate way, so much comes down to the individual.  The old external frame packs were a lot easier to figure out sizing because they fit everyone equally poorly, but the closer a pack fits the contours of your body, the less adjustments on the pack matter and the more the individual matters.

You might want to try on some 50 and 70 oz. camelbaks at your local bike or sporting goods store and see how they fit you.  If they all seem about the same, you're probably safe getting the wingnut.  Wingnut custom makes each order, so it's not like you're going to find one to try on anywhere.  When you call, you usually get a hold of the owner/manufacturer.  I have two packs from him and there's no doubt, the guy wants each unit going out the door to be perfect.  That said, don't expect overnight delivery.

On the water purification, I agree, having tablets available is essential because everything in life fails eventually.  For the SHTF, remember that bleach can also be used for water purification and there has been a thread on using some pool chemical (a form of powdered chlorine) that preserves well and can treat tens of thousands of gallons for under $50.  I know a gallon of bleach can treat something like 10,000 gallons of water!

A pack that's over your head and heavy as hell is also going to put an enormous amount of added stress on your knees and ankles, so it's more than just comfort to consider as you gradually upgrade equipment.  Products from Go-lite are fantastic for the backpacker and often they close out the 2XL gear at bottom of the barrel prices because so few big fellas are into hiking.  You might want to keep your eye out for such deals.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #56 on: June 21, 2012, 11:46:42 AM »
And given that I got heavy because of a bum knee, and I'm loosing weight for my knee, reducing pack weight seems to be a big priority before I go out with a ruck-sack, rather than a day-pack.  So far it's been car camping, hiking out for a bit at a time with a fanny pack, and I have yet to even get more than a bit winded due to pacing myself.

Well, if the guy is going to make it custom, I order over the phone, and I can get extensive measurements taken, and sent over the phone to him, I'd hope they can make one to fit.

It looks and sounds like a really high quality product.

I can do some equipment sewing/building myself, but not knowing what kinds of systems are out there and for sale, how they work, etc, I'd rather not fly in the dark on a project like this.

I think I'd prefer the yellow, or silver-reflective material on the wing-nut, for visibility in case of emergency, like falling off the trail while running.  If I'm using this while also bugging out, it's probably stuffed into my darker bag.

endurance

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #57 on: June 21, 2012, 02:14:34 PM »
And given that I got heavy because of a bum knee, and I'm loosing weight for my knee, reducing pack weight seems to be a big priority before I go out with a ruck-sack, rather than a day-pack.  So far it's been car camping, hiking out for a bit at a time with a fanny pack, and I have yet to even get more than a bit winded due to pacing myself.

At some point you might want to buy yourself a cheap heart rate monitor (some are under $50).  They're a great training tool. 

Short of that, learning to really understand your breathing can help with pacing a lot.  There's several transition points that you can use to understand how much you're demanding from your body.  Once you go above the ability to hold up your end of a conversation because you must focus on breathing, you're starting to push into a tempo pace.  Once your breathing hits the point where you avoid any talking whatsoever, you're beginning to go anaerobic and you're unsustainable.  The sweet-spot is in between for most folks.  You want to be able to comfortably get out a complete sentence, but not be able to hold a full conversation.  If you're cutting sentences down to five words each, you're at your upper limit of sustainability.

Also, whenever you hear your heartbeat in your ears, you're pinning redline and you can't sustain that pace for any meaningful distance.

As for building your own gear, that's great for modifying and improving packs, building roll up kit bags, etc., but the advancements in modern pack suspensions make sticking with a reputable designer like Osprey or Wingnut worth it.  The developments since I bought my last full-sized pack (an ArcTyr'x 70 liter) in the mid-1990s and today is unreal.  My Osprey cost me $100, which to me is the steal of the century.  I almost feel guilty buying a pack of that quality at that price.... almost... ;)

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #58 on: June 21, 2012, 02:35:09 PM »
Heh.  Yeah.  Getting good gear from good companies is a good idea, generally.  :P

I'm almost able to get all the way around the building twice for our "warm up" at martial arts.   I really want to do couch to 5K to get me up to a good jog for that warm-up period, but between already having 4 days out of the week filled with exercise (if I can make it to those), my appleseeds, etc, I'm not sure when I can start.  x.x

As for the heart monitor, what makes it such a great tool?  I've never really gotten that, especially since none seem to work on me.

endurance

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #59 on: June 21, 2012, 03:11:21 PM »
As for the heart monitor, what makes it such a great tool?  I've never really gotten that, especially since none seem to work on me.
The ability to listen very precisely to your body and set alarms for various zones of intensity can a) force you to maintain a specific effort no matter how much you want to slow down, b) keep a steady pace in a specific zone so you build true endurance, not just the ability to go hard for 20 minutes, then pack it in, c) the ability to learn how your breathing transitions from zone to zone and how those transition points are critical for understanding what is going on in your own body.

Understanding the concepts and application of lactate threshold-based training is one of the greatest tools I've ever used.  It takes the randomness out of training and makes it a science.