1,570 forum posts
Howdy folks, just wanted to take a moment to let everyone know of a camelbak failure that I had recently which resulted in a fairly bad situation.
So I will start off by saying that I have been using camelbaks for probably 10-11 years now. I started out using them in the military and they were a godsend. I have been using the black military issue heavy duty camelbaks until recently when i bought a new camelbak pack which came with one of the new blue omega water beast resivoirs. Esentially the same item from what i can tell except its blue.
I used this new pack and bladder probably 10-15 times and had no issue. On my last night hike this past Wed. I was about 8-10 miles away from a road following fairly rough terrain. I had been dropped off by my wife and she was going to pick me up 12 hours later in the AM when she got out of work.
I was roughly 8 miles into my hike and it was around 1 or 2 am, and all of a sudden I start to get really cold but couldnt really tell why(i was still actively moving). I kept on moving for another 10-15 minutes and all of a sudden I could feel water running down my legs. The stupidest thing i did was instead of dropping the pack i swung it around my front to investigate, at the same time a huge deluge of water came out of the bottom of the pack and soaked alot of my front side as well. I dropped the pack and investigated and sure enough my camelbak was leaking badly.
I have already returned it and wish I would have taken a picture to show yall but i forgot. The plastic ruptured/tore/failed however i should word it at the top of the bladder on the left hand side of the main opening. If you look at the main opening just past the threaded area you will see a small section of plastic extending out maybe 1/4in that goes around the entire opening area. I assume this is some sort of reinforcement for when you are carrying the bladder by the handle. In any case the bladder sprung a leak right there on that line where the bladder material meets that plastic. The leak was about 3/4in-1in in length and only very thin like a typical tear etc would be.
With every step i would take water would come out of the top of the bladder, and spray out into my pack, which eventually soaked through to my shirt and ran out of the drain holes in the bottom of my pack and thoroughly soaked the back of my pants.
Ok so it was about 0F outside, with a 15-20mph wind. AKA bloody cold. Being a "day hike" I did not have too many supplies with me. Basically all i had was a map, compass, headlamp, camelbak w/3 liter water, knife, fire starting kit, few snacks, thermos with 4 cups coffee, first aid kit, hard shell jacket and a nano puff.
Ok so there I am with soaked clothes(the entire back side of my pants is soaked, as is the back and front of my wool sweater and shir, as is my gloves)t., its freezing cold, and I can rapidly feel the feeling in my hands and legs going away, and i am starting to shiver violently. No one knows where I am really except for my wife, but she isn;t expecting me for another 5-6 hours when she gets outa work and will meet me at the TH. I have no cell phone signal. I quickly strip down and put on my nano puff and hardshell. I quickly prepare an area for a fire, and get one going in short order thanks to my emergency fire starting kit. By the time my fire was going well enough to be self sufficient and provide enough warmth I was really nearing the edge of hypothermia i believe, and my entire body was shivering violently and my hands were very very numb. Like so bad you cant even use a handheld item bad, i broke probably 6 matches before i was able to successfully light one, and there was no way i was going to be using a lighter.
I was able to dry out all of my clothing with the fire, and warm myself back up and still get to the TH for the appointed time, but it sure turned out to be an interesting night!
So the lesson learned here, is to always have the appropiate gear with you even if only on a day/night hike. I never usualyl carry spare clothing on a day hike, but think i will carry a spare set of baselayers from now on during the winter as I do on winter overnight backpacking trips. The reason i was reluctant to take off my pack earlier when i first started to feel cold on my back was because i had the camelbak tube run under my shirt to keep it warm. So if i would have taken it off at the first sign i could have prevented getting soaked, running the hose under the shirt is good to keep it warm, but makes getting the pack off more difficult and time consuming.
Also, i strongly urge any of you that use camelbaks to thoroughly inspect them for this wear around the main opening. A total of about 2 1/2 liters leaked out in my case i am guestimating and it really made an impact! And no, nothing in the pack poked a hole or rubbed a hole in it. This was purely a failure of the bladder material itself.