Author Topic: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder  (Read 40088 times)

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« on: May 18, 2012, 07:10:19 AM »
Hey all.  I've been hearing a lot of good things about these bladder systems, but I've been getting some conflicting information on the benefits and downsides.

I've heard that there are Camelbak, Platypus, and some military systems.

I was hoping that you folks could break down the pros and cons of each system vs the others for me.

I've heard that Camelbak has BPA leaching problems.  Is this true, or was the fellow that was telling me to go with Platypus for that reason being strange and paranoid?

Offline inconel710

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2012, 12:04:31 PM »
Camelbaks are BPA free.  I've got a couple of them and my only complaint is they're a pain to clean.  You might look at Source hydration equipment for another option - they're spendy but they seem to correct alot of the problems with Camelbaks.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2012, 02:31:31 PM »
Alright.  I'll look into source hydration.

Any particular models or features you think I should look for?

Offline KellyAnn

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2012, 03:30:16 PM »
The only thing I would say to definitely buy are some extra "bites" (the bit at the end that you actually get your water out of).  I suggest that because you should always have a spare or two around in case one gets lost or damaged.
I've found that an end cap is also handy, because sometimes the bits dribble a little.  Though I think mine actually came with a cap.

My camelbak has an insulated sleeve it keeps cold drinks cold in the summer and helps keep water from freezing in the winter.
It's nifty, but totally optional.
I think it also helps with puncture resistance, and keeping other things in the backpack from getting cold or moist.
It's also got a plastic buckle type hook that can be used to hang it.

I used mine mostly on long day hikes on hot & humid summer days.
It's also handy to have when going to festivals and street fairs.

Offline 16onRockandRoll

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2012, 03:42:46 PM »
I got one from Costco a few years ago.  It's not Camelback brand, but it has been good.  One complaint is that with an off brand, accessories are hard/impossible to find.  I need a new bite, and instead of a couple of bucks, I will probably end up paying 15-25 for a camelback bladder.  My pack is a bit small, so if I buy a new one, I will look at the Camelback Mule NV.  My brother has one that he uses for mountain biking, and he keeps a pretty good assortment of tools and spare parts in it.  I use mine as a day pack for hiking, hunting, and fishing.  I keep a few basics in it, firestarting, emergency blanket, snacks, water purification etc.  I highly recommend getting one of some sort, especially if you enjoy outdoor activities.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2012, 03:44:44 PM »
Thanks KellyAnn.  I think that any kind of outdoor activity in the summer could use some water that is easy to lug.  I'll look into those features.  Thanks!

You too 16.

I'm wondering how water purification with a camelbak would work though.  Fill it and then use tabs/a filter on the tube/bite?  Filter it before putting the water in?  If so, how?

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2012, 04:02:19 PM »
So, what are the problems with CamelBak that Source seems to fix?

The difficulty in drying?
I could see how the ones where one whole end opens up could be a big help with that.

The packs themselves don't seem all that expensive, but the bite valves seem to be many times the cost of the regular system.

What would you recommend doing pack-wise, if I don't want to buy one of their big winter packs.  Toss it in a backpack that has a slot for the bladder?  Get a Camelback system, and replace the bladder with the source bladder?

Offline Herew

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2012, 04:31:08 PM »
What would you recommend doing pack-wise, if I don't want to buy one of their big winter packs.  Toss it in a backpack that has a slot for the bladder?  Get a Camelback system, and replace the bladder with the source bladder?

As you probably know, CamelBak has many sizes of packs available. The sell a pack that holds the bladder and nothing else all the way up to the military style 3 day assault packs.

I used to have the Trailblazer model and I loved it! It had a large main compartment, a small "pouch" and the bladder compartment. I still regret selling that pack!

I now have the original Menace model. It is one of the winter packs so the tube is insulated and feeds through a zippered slit in the right shoulder strap. Here's a link to a video I made showing some modifications I made to the pack: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqBswiiJGKs&feature=plcp

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2012, 08:32:17 AM »
Thanks for all the info.  I'll watch the video later on.

I have a few existing backpacks that I think I could put the pouch in for now.  And I don't think I'd want a back-pack for one without at least a tiny bit of storage... but then when I'm doing combat-sports, I don't want any more weight than is absolutely necessary.  Hmmm.

Offline Wingman115

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2012, 10:25:12 AM »
I've used a MSR Blader purchased at REI and haven't had any issue's with it. Side note only put water in it. If you put Gatorade or any sweet drink and don't clean it after use you will get mold in the bag.

Offline Adam B.

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2012, 11:30:10 AM »
Camelbaks are good for when you want quick access to water when you are on-the-go. Cycling, backpacking, etc. It is the only water system that lets you drink as you continue your activity.

However, they are a pain to clean. You have to run water with a small amount of bleach through it once in awhile to kill any bacteria from stagnant water, and if you don't clean it often enough the water starts to taste funky.

If you put anything but water in there, like sugary drinks, and do not clean it, its a disaster. You will end up with mold in your hoses and it will be almost impossible to clean. They also make special hangers to insert into the bladders to help with drying when you wash them. I have one of these, but you could probably bend a coat hanger or two around to accomplish the same thing.

Also, some water filters, like my Katadyn have a method of attaching directly onto your bladder's water hose (with some modifications done before hand) and with quick-release fittings, allow you to pump filtered water into your backpack without taking the bladder out).

However, I have limited use for that. The only reason I could find that handy would be in a bike ride where my filter was stored in a pannier on the bike — otherwise I am taking the backpack off anyway. But with a tightly packed backpack on a backpacking trip, it still could be handy to leave the bladder in place without disturbing the contents of your bag to get a water re-fill.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2012, 01:55:56 PM »
Based on all of the input on cleaning the Camelbaks, input on Sourcewater as a superior product, and this article from ITS Tatical, I'm going with Source-water.

I'm still trying to figure out which 3 liter model to go with though, they've got 3 of them, which you can view at http://source-military.com/10-stand-alone.  The ILPS seems to be the lowest profile, but the WXP seems to better fit the "standard" size that was pioneered by Camelbak.

I'm also trying to figure out what to do as far as recreational / day pack carry.  My current main pack already accommodates near-the-back carry of camelbak style reservoirs.

In any case I'm definitely getting the universal fill adapter.

Offline Adam B.

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2012, 02:37:17 PM »
Thanks for the link to those bladders. I am interested in looking at one of those to replace my current bladder when it fails simply for the anti-microbial and lack of cleaning necessary. Do you know how much they run? They don't look cheap.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2012, 03:58:58 PM »
Sure Adam.

According to the Source company website (second link in the post above), they run $36-$50 for a 3-litre depending on which you get.  The WXP is basically a direct replacement for the camelbak, and is $50, but this comes with some upgrade accessories as well, including the universal adapter to let you load water through the hose from a faucet or water bottle, without taking the bag apart, and a higher quality bite.

I don't have a MOLLE/PALS attachment carrier for simple day use, so I may well need to get something like the Tactical 3L, or the Rider 3L, unless I find a good inexpensive MOLLE/PALS carry harness, or a better day pack with MOLLE/PALS integrated.

Offline Adam B.

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2012, 09:12:13 AM »
That's not bad at all considering the cheap bladders are in the $20+ range anyway.

I'm definitely considering one of those now. I am not too sure a 3L would be good for me. A 2L bladder holds enough water for me to the point where if it goes empty then I've done enough exercise to warrant stopping and re-filling the thing.

Those quick-connect hoses seem to be the same kind my new Katadyn water filter uses, so that could be interesting to see what kind of setup I could make from it. I like the idea of being able to refill the bladder without taking it out of my backpack, but the water filter itself will be in the backpack anyway so I don't really know the benefit there! Maybe if I was adventure racing!

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2012, 12:35:15 PM »
Yeah, and for me the total systems are around the same price as the total systems for Camelbak.

I think that the benefit is less fiddling around, shifting stuff in your main pack around, and hauling the bladder up and down by it's own handles.  You just pop an exterior pouch open, swap an
attachment, and re-fill.

I'm currently debating between the Rider 3L and the Diamond 3L as possibilities for the stand-alone system, or possibly getting one of the cargo packs for a day-pack, but they might be a bit big.  I basically need a way to carry the bladder around when playing combat-sports, or hiking in the woods.  I'd like a touch of storage space, but not more than is needed for emergency gear, and a lunch, really.

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2012, 01:29:27 PM »
There is one solution that worked for me when I was using a camelbak almost every day for riding; the freezer.  After I finished a ride, I'd drain my camelbak and toss it in the freezer.  No bacteria grows in a freezer and it's self-desicating process if I left it in there for a few weeks.  Occasionally I'd have a little water freeze in the tube, but a small blast of hot tap water resolved that issue and it was sure a lot easier than trying to clean the damn thing.

It's a cheap solution if you've already committed to any system.  The fact is that most of the problems happen when people leave water or worse yet, sports drink, in their bladders for a month.  If you don't have a very disciplined approach to demobilizing after every use, you're doomed regardless of what brand you buy.  Most folks get home from a long hike, toss their gear in a corner, and forget about it until the next time they need it. 

I've had a fold and slide bladder once and it was finicky and in general I didn't like it.  If you wanted to fill it up beyond about 80 oz. it was very tough to get the clip on without making a mess.  That said, I've had camelbaks that the screw on lids didn't seat right and would leak all over the inside of your pack (usually this is an issue with the silicone gasket being dry.  Usually resolved buy a few drops of water on it before trying to close, but some seals are just finicky, like getting the lid from one camelback mixed up with the lid from another camelback almost always has bad results), so no system is perfect. 

This weekend I'm using a bladder for my 2-3 day hike, but since my water purification system is a Steri-pen for this trip I have to carry a bottle with me to sterilize the water in before transferring it into the bladder.  Otherwise, I risk getting some contaminated water into the drinking tube, not getting sterilized and spending a week on the toilet before the Flagyl starts to work.  Pick your poisons. ::)

Offline Adam B.

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2012, 02:09:24 PM »
Make sure you get one that the lid fits tight on, but that you can also remove. The camelbak bladder I currently use has a VERY BIG opening with a special handle to help you hold the bag upright as you fill it (it keeps the bag held in the shape of a bottle and helps with filling.

However, the lid is SO TIGHT that getting the bladder open when it is empty is not something an arthritic could pull off let's just say. I have let out many an angry roar trying to force the lid open on that bag. Granted, I've never been worried about it leaking, but it is a tad ridiculous, and no special adapters for water filters (like nalgene etc) work for filling it. All my friends who have bladders now have ones that are the same size as nalgene bottles and work with those adapters.

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2012, 02:16:16 PM »
Make sure you get one that the lid fits tight on, but that you can also remove. The camelbak bladder I currently use has a VERY BIG opening with a special handle to help you hold the bag upright as you fill it (it keeps the bag held in the shape of a bottle and helps with filling.

However, the lid is SO TIGHT that getting the bladder open when it is empty is not something an arthritic could pull off let's just say. I have let out many an angry roar trying to force the lid open on that bag. Granted, I've never been worried about it leaking, but it is a tad ridiculous, and no special adapters for water filters (like nalgene etc) work for filling it. All my friends who have bladders now have ones that are the same size as nalgene bottles and work with those adapters.
Looking at the Stand Alone Hydration bag, since you can re-fill it from the tube, could you not also fill it from you water filter?  Though my Sweet water filter has an adapter,.. I've never used it with another tpe of system.  I would think that if you can fill the bladder from a water bottle, you should (in theory) fill it from a water filter directly.

Curious to know,.. I need a better water storage device.

Offline Adam B.

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2012, 02:33:15 PM »
All the bladders, water filters, etc etc are somewhat different so it just makes sense to figure out what works for you.

For me, I just stick the end of the water filter hose into whatever I am trying to fill up. If the container happens to have the same size opening as a nalgene bottle, then the adapter makes it easier to fill it without the assistance of others. 90% of the time when I am actually in NEED of using the water filter, I am with other people who also need it and 2 people (one to hold the filter, the other to hold the container being filled) makes it easier anyway.

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.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2012, 03:49:20 PM »
So what -are- these Nagaline and MSR filters I am hearing about?  Brands?  Processes?  Styles?

How do you work them and where do you get them?

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #21 on: June 15, 2012, 12:14:06 PM »
So what -are- these Nagaline and MSR filters I am hearing about?  Brands?  Processes?  Styles?

How do you work them and where do you get them?

Naglene water bottles are a simple common water bottle



Filters are simply ones that fit the neck for 'ease and convenience of use'.  My Sweetwater filter comes with a rubber stopper that will fit many sized bottle necks for filling.

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #22 on: June 15, 2012, 01:31:50 PM »
Ahhh.  Got it.  I'd seen the standard bottles, but saw no filtration installed in them, so thought I had it wrong.
And I've found some MSR filters including the Sweetwater, so I now understand that MSR is a style.

So while the cap-tops add to weight and bulk somewhat, having a Nagaline style cap would be a convenience for filtering water into the bladder.  Do I understand that correctly?

Most of the write-ups I've seen on these filters seem to indicate that they don't protect from bacteria.  And the steri-pen obviously won't work in one of the larger bladders, and would need a bottle accessory.

Do you think that maybe a Berky water-bottle would work well as a filtration option?




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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #23 on: June 15, 2012, 02:13:03 PM »
I don't know where they say those filters don't protect against bacteria. Most of the ones I have seen at least claim to filter out all microbials to a size of whatever micron they specify.

Put another way — I've never gotten sick drinking out of an MSR or Katadyn water filter (those are just the brand names of the companies who make them).

They are not as good or long lasting as a Berkey but they don't weigh as much either.

I would trust an actual filter WAY BEFORE I would trust some "light pen" for making my water drinkable!

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #24 on: June 15, 2012, 03:54:39 PM »
*Face smack* I must be more tired than I thought.  Most of them that specify say they do protect against bacteria and protozoa, but not viri.  *bonks head on desk*

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #25 on: June 18, 2012, 10:47:45 AM »
I just got back from a three day trip along the Colorado Trail and used a Sawyer in-line filter on my camelbak.  I'm not even sure the model I used is still available, as it had been sitting unopened in my camping gear for about five years before the trip.

Nevertheless, the inline system worked great.  I was able to stop at a stream, put stream water into my camelbak and immediately start drinking.  No delays for pumping, waiting for tablets to take effect, etc.  Super convenient and it allowed me to travel with less water on board for a lighter pack along the way.  When I got to camp I simply removed the bladder, propped it up in the branches of a tree, and took off the bite valve.  In under a minute I had about a quart of pure water in my pan.

After years of pumping this was a welcome change.

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #26 on: June 18, 2012, 03:26:55 PM »
I just got back from a three day trip along the Colorado Trail and used a Sawyer in-line filter on my camelbak.  I'm not even sure the model I used is still available, as it had been sitting unopened in my camping gear for about five years before the trip.

Nevertheless, the inline system worked great.  I was able to stop at a stream, put stream water into my camelbak and immediately start drinking.  No delays for pumping, waiting for tablets to take effect, etc.  Super convenient and it allowed me to travel with less water on board for a lighter pack along the way.  When I got to camp I simply removed the bladder, propped it up in the branches of a tree, and took off the bite valve.  In under a minute I had about a quart of pure water in my pan.

After years of pumping this was a welcome change.

Looks like it might still be available and is part of several 'kits' or options.  Good to know.


Image clickable

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2012, 03:29:26 PM »
Actually, I think it's this one, the SP121

Offline Josh the Aspie

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2012, 03:54:22 PM »
Oooh.  They've got a 0.02 Micron filter for anti-viral!  Too bad you can't buy that separately from their hydration system.

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Re: Considering getting a Camelbak-like bladder
« Reply #29 on: June 18, 2012, 05:54:09 PM »
I have a feeling that if you tried using the .02 micron filter on a camelbak you'd probably suck your cheeks inside out trying to get a drink.  Those are some mighty small holes to get water through and for a drip system, that's fine, but for a vacuum system, well, in my estimation, that would suck. :P