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 Hydration Bladders 
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Flatfoot
Flatfoot

Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2015 3:32 pm
Posts: 23
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 Hydration Bladders
I've been fairly stubborn about not giving up my water bottles and converting to a bladder. All my packs have bladder pockets in them (which I have used for storing other things). Over the past couple of years I have been doing more and more solo hiking and I find taking the pack on and off to get to my water bottles to be a pain in the keester. I've decided to give a bladder a shot.

It's temping to run in to Walmart and grab a cheapie bladder and give it a go but something tells me that this is a piece of gear that could be a disaster if it doesn't hold out. I'm looking at a Source Tactical bladder. It appears to be easy to clean and it has a push/pull valve (not a bite valve which I've heard mixed reports on). It's a little on the pricier side but with the features it has I believe it may be worth it.

I'm looking for feedback on this subject. I've done some reading online but I'd like to get some input from the local hiker community instead of some faceless reviewer on a gear rating site. What are the "must haves" you look for in a bladder? What brands have you tried and what brands are you happy with? What are the pros and cons of the different aspects of bladders?

Thanks!


Fri Jun 17, 2016 9:52 am
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Peak Bagger
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Joined: Wed Mar 15, 2006 8:40 pm
Posts: 184
Location: Brutasaur on Franconia Ridge
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 Re: Hydration Bladders
I'm partial to Camelbak, and eventually moved up to what they call their "Tactical" series. Apparently they sell these to the defense complex and other paramilitary organizations. They cost a few $$ more than what you'll find at EMS/REI, but last much longer and in the end cost less. The one I use is a "LONG-NECK WATER BEASTâ„¢ RESERVOIR 100 OZ/3.0L" and an Amazon reference is at the bottom. Regardless of the make/model, get the 100oz version which is about 3 liters. Not all hikes are 3 liter versions - simply add as much/little water as you need.

https://www.amazon.com/Camelbak-3-0L-Lo ... +OZ%2F3.0L

Am not sure what the issue is bite valves. I've never had a problem with them, and frankly never seen a bladder that didn't use one, but ... that's not to say some are made without them.

The above Camelbak uses a valve ahead of the bite valve, which is essential for turning water on/off. If you don't have one, they can and will leak. For example, if you accidently set your pack over the bite value, the pressure will open it and your water will ebb away.

I put a small 'biner in the top loop of the cap, and attach it to the little dongle inside my pack which acts like a hanger. That keeps the bladder nice and vertical.

Finally, if you use only water, and are careful not to backflush, you rarely need to clean your bladder. I just fill mine up, and the first full mouthful I spit out. That's it - easy peasy. In the spring I put a mild clorine solution thru it, and it's good for another season.


Fri Jun 17, 2016 6:10 pm
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Master Mountaineer
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Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:04 am
Posts: 914
Location: Worcester, MA
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 Re: Hydration Bladders
Kevin Rooney wrote:

Finally, if you use only water, and are careful not to backflush, you rarely need to clean your bladder. I just fill mine up, and the first full mouthful I spit out. That's it - easy peasy. In the spring I put a mild clorine solution thru it, and it's good for another season.



Ditto. I can't rave enough about the $15 cleaning kit, which includes hangers so that it can dry inverted.
I have some CamelBaks that are YEARS old.

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Fri Jun 24, 2016 8:37 am
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I Spend All My Time on This Forum
I Spend All My Time on This Forum
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 8:52 pm
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 Re: Hydration Bladders
You can have the best of both worlds. Get this:

http://shop.camelbak.com/eddy-1l/d/1038_c_755_cl_333

and replace the nozzle with this:

http://shop.camelbak.com/eddy-handsfree-adapter/d/1259

I use this set up for my packs that don't have convenient water bottle pockets on the side. Never had a problem. Works great. And Cleaning the bottle is easier, plus you get the peace of mind no leaks will develop over time.

Brian


Sun Jun 26, 2016 8:46 pm
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Flatfoot
Flatfoot

Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2015 3:32 pm
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 Re: Hydration Bladders
Thank you for all the input....

The Camelback Eddy bottle system is very interesting.

I ended up purchasing the Source Tactical bladder. It's similar to the Camelback Tactical bladder. I guess Source supplies the military with hydration systems (as well as Camelback). They are both 3 liter and from what I can gather, these tactical bladders are much more rugged than the ones I've seen in the stores.

The big difference in the Source bladder is that the top of it folds open so you can reach inside. When I got it I rinsed it out and I was able to reach inside and dry it with a paper towel. It's a nice feature that not many bladders have.

The valve is not a bite valve but a push/pull valve system. I've heard several complaints form people about the bite valves so I decided to go a different route.

I tested it out this weekend and I am extremely happy with it. It does take up room in my pack as expected but not having to stop, take off my pack and get a drink was great. I wish I had gone this route earlier.


Mon Jun 27, 2016 8:50 am
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Sovereign Woodsman
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Location: south of the notches
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 Re: Hydration Bladders
plankeye wrote:
not having to stop, take off my pack and get a drink was great. I wish I had gone this route earlier.

I once arrived, pretty dehydrated, at my high mountain campsite on an overnight backpack despite the fact that I was carrying plenty of water. I was too lazy to stop, take the pack off, hydrate, pack back on, repeat.
Image
I bought a camelback shortly thereafter

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Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:41 am
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Sovereign Woodsman

Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:40 pm
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 Re: Hydration Bladders
Haven't moved on to the bladders yet, but to avoid taking our packs off to take a drink, one of us takes the other's bottle out.


Tue Jun 28, 2016 9:16 pm
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Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:37 pm
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 Re: Hydration Bladders
I hate the bladders. Useless/frozen in winter, leaking in summer. Taste like rubber no matter how much I clean them. I do like the Camelback bottles, although they will leak too if temp/altitude/pressure changes much. I can reach the side pockets in my pack with it still on and drink from it on the go so that works for me most of the time. And really, the bottles water comes in are the lightest option when weight matters and easy to crush/compress for space saving when finished so I often just leave them in those too.


Tue Jun 28, 2016 9:21 pm
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 Re: Hydration Bladders
Granite Guy wrote:
I hate the bladders. Useless/frozen in winter, leaking in summer.

Hiking all winter these past 4, I have had a bladder freeze only once. I carry it - albeit with an insulator - almost all winter. The only time I have had a leak was with a bottle. So, YMMV but I think it's whatever works best to keep you hydrated.

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Tue Jun 28, 2016 9:26 pm
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 Re: Hydration Bladders
YMMV for sure. I use the insulated wide mouth Nalgene bottles in winter. Good for 8-10 hours if the stuff is room temp to start with. I've never tried the insulator for the bladder, but on longer day hikes the tube almost always froze, and for backpacking, forget about it. I sleep with the bottles in the bag to keep them thawed and wouldn't trust the bladder not to soak me based on my experiences with them.


Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:12 pm
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Location: Worcester, MA
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 Re: Hydration Bladders
Granite Guy wrote:
YMMV for sure. I use the insulated wide mouth Nalgene bottles in winter. Good for 8-10 hours if the stuff is room temp to start with. I've never tried the insulator for the bladder, but on longer day hikes the tube almost always froze, and for backpacking, forget about it. I sleep with the bottles in the bag to keep them thawed and wouldn't trust the bladder not to soak me based on my experiences with them.


It was Monadnock on a 15 degree day with 20 mph winds at the top. I had the insulated bladder, was blowing the tube clear after each stop, and ran the tube under my arm for warmth. It still took about ten seconds to freeze once I hit the summit. Froze while I was actually drinking. I've done Nalgene's ever since in winter.

This last couple of summers, I've carried bottles. I use a beaner to fasten the bottle to my hiking pack so I don't have to fish it out.

_________________
Nothin' on the top but a bucket and a mop,
and an illustrated book about birds.
You see alot up there, but don't be scared:
Who needs actions when you got words?


Wed Jun 29, 2016 5:57 am
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Sovereign Woodsman
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 Re: Hydration Bladders
I always use a bladder once I can switch over in the spring, I vastly prefer the convenience. Usually if it isn't going to be much below freezing at the summit it works fine. Winter I use the wide-mouth Nalgenes, but I know several people that use bladders year-round. Generally the trick seems to be to blow the hose clear after each drink, and no matter what you do the angle where the mouthpiece/bite valve comes out of the hose will eventually freeze up, but the tube will often still be usable. So then it's pull out the mouthpiece, drink, blow back, re-insert mouthpiece. Too much work for me. But I also don't drink enough in the winter, even with the bottle being easily accessible by my hip :?

I've yet to have my bladder spring a leak (knock on wood - I do my best to be careful to not beat them up, so it doesn't happen, hope that trend continues to work for me), I thought my 5-year old Osprey one finally did last week, but it turned out to be operator idiocy. I still have a 15-year-old bare bones Camelback that works great, actually just used it last weekend for the first time in a while. I never put anything put straight water in mine, and do not blow back into it, so growth of anything nasty stays limited to the mouthpiece area, which I clean after every trip to keep it from doing so. At the end of the "bladder season" (so c.a. late October), I fill it and put in a drop or two of bleach, let it sit for an hour or two, flush a few liters through to get rid of most of the bleach, and hang open. I have a hanger that keeps it somewhat opened so no water gets trapped for those 5-6 months and thus gets nasty. Come Spring, I flush a couple liters through to get rid of any remaining bleach trace and dust accumulation, and off I go.

I've only really used the 2 bladders I have, but both have a ton of use on them. The Osprey is much easier to fill, owing to a larger opening (which I think the newer Camelbacks have anyway), and the holding handle so I can really get it full. The Camelback I have really is nothing more than a bag with a screw cap on one end and a hose coming out the other, very barebones and thus very light. I like the Camelback bitevalve better, I've gradually bitten through several Osprey ones, but still have the original Camelback bite valve. The Osprey valve has a built-in shut off if you turn it 90 degrees, so even if something sits on the valve in the car, water doesn't leak out. There are valves available for the Camelbacks that accomplish the same thing too.

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Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:02 am
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