Water bottles or bladders?

1:34 p.m. on April 27, 2008 (EDT)
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Has anyone switched from carrying water in bottles to using one of the Camelbak bladders who can tell me it was a good move? If so, is it better still to buy the pack too or just a bladder to carry in your daypack? thanks.

1:57 p.m. on April 27, 2008 (EDT)
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I have a camelbak. I use it while hiking but in camp, I still find a water bottle/platypus more convenient because I do not like having to carry around the tubing and big bladder when I can just carry around a water bottle/platypus. So, it really just depends on personal preference in campsite but i can definately say on the trail its amazing because it keeps my hands free for other purposes and its alot more convenient than having to pull out the water bottle and put it away, instead of stopping for water i can now just drink as i hike.

3:32 p.m. on April 27, 2008 (EDT)
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I use both, but bottles way more often than bladders.
No matter how you look at it, bottles are more convenient to clean. Bladders are great, but you have to keep after them to eliminate fungus etc. Hanging them properly to dry is pain as well.
I love the Camelbak bottle lid with the bite valve and straw - the best of both worlds. I AM switching to stainless steel bottles too.

10:38 a.m. on April 29, 2008 (EDT)
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I like both.When hiking in warm weather i find i drink more water when that bladder tube is right there in my face.But in camp and when refilling with a pump/filter the bottle works out better.The only real drawback with the bladders is that on winter tours they like to freeze up.Try both and make your own choice.

12:12 p.m. on April 29, 2008 (EDT)
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I have the platypus hoser.

I got tired of the bite valve dripping on me.

I do love the collapsible containers, but I find that just putting it in the top compartment of my pack and taking a drink during breaks is just as convenient as having that hose hanging on me. Sometimes it got in the way of me getting the pack on.

I carry a rolled up container in my pack to fill when I finally get to camp. Sure takes up much less space in the pack then the bottles do.

Nalgen makes a great 96oz flexible canteen with the wide mouth. Perfect fit for filters.

12:25 p.m. on April 29, 2008 (EDT)
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I've used a bladder for mountain biking but really didn't like the water being heated both by the sun and my body in hot weather. Being a ludite my backpacks aren't designed for modern stuff like bladder drinking systems, so I'm pretty much a water bottle guy. Being cheap I also tend to recycle water bottles (I'll use liter soda bottles with wide mouths, for example, or a 2liter if water availability is going to be an issue). For camp use I keep a big ziploc style freezer bag rolled up in my pack - and yes - you guessed it - I still use water purification tablets rather than a filter (although I have been giving a filter consideration ... maybe I'm coming around!)

1:10 p.m. on April 29, 2008 (EDT)
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For some of the reasons mentioned (cleaning problems, freezing in cold weather, etc), I avoided hydration bladders for many years. I still avoid "hydration systems" and "hydration packs", those "packs" with miniscule capacity. They aren't large enough for use as a daypack or small enough to carry the few things needed for a 20-30 mile bike ride.

However, I eventually learned how to keep the bladders clean with as little effort as keeping a water bottle clean and how to keep them from freezing (I have used them with no problems in high mountain and Arctic/Antarctic conditions, in measured temperatures in the -35 to -45 range). Like any piece of gear, it just takes learning a few techniques, some of which don't make a lot of sense when written down, but become obvious when demonstrated.

I have tried several different "systems", and keep going back to the Camelbak 72 and 100 ounce bladders, the 72 ounce (2.5 liter) in an original "Classic" bag. While I like BCA's bite valve, it is hard to clean. I have several problems with the Platypus with no satisfactory solution, despite changes they have made in their design over the years. A couple people mentioned that they have leakage problems with Camelbak's "Big Bite" valve. The simple solution to this is to use one of the linear or right-angle shutoff valves.

The big advantage to hydration bladders is that the water (or hydration mix) is right there to take small sips all the time. This is much more efficient for staying hydrated, especially on hot days. On bike, you don't have to worry about retrieving the bottle from the cage, tilting your head (and hence looking away from the road and the riders around you in the peloton), then trying to get it back in the cage. This is especially nice on a steep climb (or fast, steep descent). I find when hiking or climbing, if I have to haul a water bottle out of my pack, I don't drink nearly enough, whether it is hot days or in a blizzard (I actually have more problems with icing in a water bottle in sub-zero weather, even with a cozy, and in the inner part of the pack than using a bladder the right way for subzero weather).

One significant problem with bladders in bicycling, at least during long races, is that you can't hand up a new bladder, where you can hand up water bottles and discard the empties (your team should be picking up the discarded empties, of course). If you are on a tour, and if you stop for a rest when you drink, then it doesn't matter whether you use bottle or bladder.

A problem with bladders in climbing is that they get in the way in cracks (especially off-widths) and chimneys. I use one of the bottles with the pivoting bite valve for those climbs, clipping it on the back of my harness with a minibiner.

Fred, don't worry about specially designed packs for bladders. When I put it in the pack (3-season, not winter and subzero), I just stick it in the main compartment with the hose routed out the top and over the shoulder. I have an ancient Cairn rucksack (bought in the late 1960s) that I do this with (the Cairn is the best-designed all-around mountaineering pack that was ever made - too bad no one has made this design for some 20-30 years now).

How to keep a bladder from freezing - that's a topic for another thread and another season.

2:26 p.m. on April 29, 2008 (EDT)
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Bill, off topic, but anyway to post or email a picture of the Cairn? Who made this pack or was Cairn the brand?

3:02 p.m. on April 29, 2008 (EDT)
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The Cairn was designed by Don Whillans, Tom Patey, or someone else in that crowd, made in England. In those days, you didn't see the huge logos like you do now, so I'm not sure who actually made them at this point. If it were to be made these days, you would use more modern fabrics.

Basically, it is a lot like some of the summit packs, but about 2700-2900 cu in in a heavy canvas fabric (substitute cordura these days). Like many summit packs, it is a single, load from the top compartment with a top flap pocket. And here is where it starts departing - leather bottom, inner fold-out liner to form a lower body bivy sack, crampon straps on top, ice tool loops with tie-downs for the tools, haul rings (can be used as a pretty durable haul sack of the "rapid alpine ascent" size), side attachments for skis. Typical of the Clogy/Scottish Ice rucksacks, it has heavy straps with leather ends and metal buckles.

Combined with a cagoule and a down parka with wool clothes, the sack is intended for bivying in a Scottish ice storm. These days, substitute synthetic cordura-type cloth for the body and foldout, both with a heavy durable coating to be fully waterproof, one of the modern plastics or webbing for the attachment loops for the ice tools, skis, and crampons.

My Lowe Alpine Attack 40 and my Lowe South Peak Centro 40 have some similarities, but are smaller and do not have the foldout for the bivy foot-sack. One nice thing the Alpine Attack 40 has that would be nice for a modernized Cairn is that it has a folded closed cell foam pad that acts as a frame, and when removed can be used as a pad to sit on when bivying or as a splint for an injured limb (BD had a summit pack with the same idea).

The main thing that the Cairn has that I haven't seen in current packs is how it all works together to do the job of a pack for alpine-style ascents with a possibility of getting caught in a storm. In other words, much more multipurpose with what you need but nothing extra, and unlike many pretenders to the multi-purpose gear item, it really does all it is intended for quite well.

5:51 p.m. on April 29, 2008 (EDT)
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Quote:

Being cheap I also tend to recycle water bottles (I'll use liter soda bottles with wide mouths, for example, or a 2liter if water availability is going to be an issue).

Bad deal. When heated by the sun or left in a vehicle, soda bottles leach chemicals into your water that are just as toxic, if not moreso than the BPA in lexan Nalgene-type bottles. Some elements, like antimony, leach into water from old PETE(polyetheleneterephthalate) bottles and have been proven to cause cancer. Others are hormone interupters.

8:41 a.m. on April 30, 2008 (EDT)
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"Bad deal. When heated by the sun or left in a vehicle, soda bottles leach chemicals into your water that are just as toxic, if not moreso than the BPA in lexan Nalgene-type bottles. Some elements, like antimony, leach into water from old PETE(polyetheleneterephthalate) bottles and have been proven to cause cancer. Others are hormone interupters."

Yech! Looks like it's time to move up to a couple Sigg alloy water bottles!

10:12 a.m. on April 30, 2008 (EDT)
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Bill, the pack sounds like something Karrimor would have made. I've got a Karrimor 'Joe Brown Extendable' in my collection as well as a Karrimor day pack. I've seen similar British climbing packs as you describe, but have yet to snag one. Someday perhaps. Does your pack have a webbing hip belt? I've seen several with metal loops to attach a hip belt, but the metal loops allow for the belt to be removed if you wish.

Back on topic, I've never gotten around to the hydration bladder thing. I don't know why, to me it seems like the one piece of gear I can live without.

August 20, 2014
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