Reviews

6

I really wanted to like this product as I think the…

Rating: rated 3 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $18

Summary

I really wanted to like this product as I think the concept is great, but the bite valve included with the system has very poor flow when compared to other hydration bite valves currently available from other manufactures.

Pros

  • Great concept and adapters are well designed
  • Reasonable cost
  • Adapters allows the system to be used on many different type of containers

Cons

  • Bite valve has very poor flow and requires way too much sucking for the water you get

I have been very focused on trying to whittle away at excess weight in my pack and I came across this product and thought it might enable me to eliminate the bladder I currently use to carry water. I like drinking from a tube/bite valve system when I am hiking, so I have always carried a bladder based system in my pack, but since I switched over to the Sawyer Mini water filter which I like, I have also been carrying a couple of Smartwater bottles to use when I am filtering water and for when I hit a longer dry section where I want to carry a little more water than my bladder holds. With the SmarTube hydration system I am thinking I may be able to just carry two one-liter Smartwater bottles alone.

The picture below shows what came with the SmarTube system that I purchased.

IMG_4249.jpg
The system includes a tube with a bite valve, a primary cap that retains the tube and has a one way air valve, and then two adapter caps for something like a Smartwater bottle and for a standard Nalgene bottle, and a set of instructions that includes information on other adapters that can be purchased.

The real heart of the system is the primary cap with a one-way air valve that enables the system to use noncollapsible containers. The concept is as you drink water from the container being used the one-way valve allows air to enter the container so a vacuum isn't formed in the container.

IMG_4251.jpgIMG_4252.jpg
The one-way valve in the above pictures is the darker blue feature that looks like a plug. The valve appears to be made from a silicone material and the most simplest description on how it operates is that is somewhat similar to the outlet of a whoopee cushion. The other hole in the primary cap accepted the tubing provided in the system and allows the tube to be repositioned depending on the container being used.
IMG_4264.jpg
Two adapters come with the system for use with Smartwater type bottles and Nalgene style bottles. Each of these adapters as a threaded feature on top that mates with the primary cap and then a threaded feature below that mates with the respective bottle. In my use of this system I have not experienced any leaks at these threaded interfaces.

IMG_4253.jpgThe adapters installed on their respective bottles.

IMG_4254.jpg
And here is a picture with the primary cap and tube assembly installed on each bottle.

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At the end of the tube there is a simple valve that works well and has the On (open) and Off (closed) positions clearly labeled.
IMG_4262.jpgIMG_4263.jpg
Up until this point I think the concept of the design is five stars and the the individual components as produced, assemble easily and don't leak, so they would rank four or five stars, but the achilles heel of the system is the bite valve, which literally sucks, because you really have to suck to get any water through it.

The following picture is an end view of the bite valve when it is closed (you're not bitting on it) and it works as intended and doesn't leak.
IMG_4265.jpg
The next picture shows the basic issue I have with this design in that when you do bite on the end of the valve only a small opening is produced that allows minimal flow of water and you have to suck noticeably more then you would on the other name brand hydration systems currently available.
IMG_4260.jpg
Again, I really like the concept and design of 90 percent of what comes with the system, But I will probably have to take a razor blade and try and increase the opening on the bite valve to make it to where I'll want to bring it on future hikes.
IMG_4217.jpg
I think that the SmarTube is a great concept and value, but the bite valve needs to be improved so that it is on par with the other hydration systems currently available.
IMG_4235.jpg

Jake W

This is a really neat sounding product that I'd never heard of. Thanks for sharing Mike! I'd love to know if the modification solves the problem. Also, how long is the hose from the bottle to the mouth piece? It looks a little short but its hard to tell in the pictures. I think I'm gonna pick on up.


3 months ago
Mike Mineart

Hi Jake, the length of the tube that I have is about 41 1/2 inches long from the end of the bite valve to the end of the tube. The length has worked well for me and doesn't seem much different from the other bladder hydration systems I have. Once I do a little surgery on the bite valve I'll post how it turned out.


3 months ago
G00SE MODERATOR

This is a great review. Looks to me like the real design flaw is how it fits on the bottle. Your bladders are gravity fed. Yeah, you have to suck, but the tube is at the bottom of the bladder. So the weight of the water is pushing down. Sucking on the tube, give release to that pressure. With this device, you're sucking up. So could you remove the inner tubing, and flip the bottle upside down?


3 months ago
Alicia TRAILSPACE STAFF

Nice review, Mike! I've wondered how well this works, so thanks for taking the time to share a review.


3 months ago
rpjr

Hi Mike,


3 months ago
rpjr

I have used this system for quite some time. One of the first things I did was to remove the bite valve and replace it with an Osprey bite valve, since I like their bite valves. I also added the Osprey magnet clip so I could clip it to my pack as well.


3 months ago
Mike Mineart

Hey Goose, This system actually is just like a bladder based system because you insert the tube through the top cap and make sure that the tube goes all the way to the base of your container which results in the same amount of water pressure at the end of the tube as a bladder system. I do think that a bladder when it is packed deep in your pack get squeezed which results in higher pressure within the bladder making it so you don't have to suck as much as a system like this one.


3 months ago
Mike Mineart

Hey Jake, I did modify my bite valve and I am now getting acceptable flow and I am content with the system for now.


3 months ago
Mike Mineart

Hi rpjr, It's nice to hear the system has been working for you and in the long run I will most likely go down the path you did and just change out the bite valve. I have not owned an Osprey product, but will take a look at their bite valves and I like the idea of the magnetic clip.


3 months ago
DonP

Hi Mike! Nice review. I've got one of these systems and like rpjr, I got rid of the bite valve that came with it and replace it with a Camelback valve which has the same On/Off valve capability. Flow rate is great. I've gradually gone away from them on anything but a day hike or overnight since it's hard to know how much water you have left (just like with a bladder system).


3 months ago

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SmarTube The SmarTube

previously retailed for:
$15.95

The SmarTube The SmarTube is not available from the stores we monitor. It was last seen October 10, 2007 at US Outdoor Store.

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