SmarTube The SmarTube
I really wanted to like this product as I think the…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $18
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.
- Great concept and adapters are well designed
- Reasonable cost
- Adapters allows the system to be used on many different type of containers
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
The adapters installed on their respective bottles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.