My new hydration setup.
I don’t know about you all, but I am definitely a CamelBak-type hydration fan. I don’t like to stop that much on the uphills, so I find being about to drink on the go helpful instead of waiting for a break and then guzzling water. Yeah…occasionally the tubes freeze, but filling them up with hot water in the morning helps avoid that problem. Many of the packs these days also have hydration sleeves build into the shoulders straps to further help insulate the tubes and keep the water flowing.
As I used hydration bladders more and more over the years, I got tired of leaks that would occasionally happen with the standard ‘rubber’ bladders that came with the traditional CamelBaks. Every once and while I would find some water dripping of the bottom of my pack or find my down jacket a little soggy…usually right when I needed it most. I found that replacing the regular bladders with a dromedary bag from MSR was the answer to my prayers. They are much more durable than their rubber counterparts, come in a variety of sizes, and are compatible with the CamelBak tubing. I find this a bonus because I like the CamelBak locking systems and bite valve.
My old hydration rig.
One aspect of using hydration bladders that I don’t necessarily like that much is in regards to winter camping. At times, one must sleep with it close to the body in order to keep them unfrozen during the cold of night and there is always the chance of rolling over it while asleep…and blowing it up. Also, it can be a little more cumbersome filling them up from a pot of melted snow…not impossible…just a bit annoying since they don’t stand upright on their own. Over the years, I found hanging the bladder from an ice axe or ski pole to help, but you’re still dealing with a floppy bag of water all the time.
At this past summer’s Outdoor Retailer, CamelBak was showing off a new hydration kit that was going to able to transform their water bottles into hands free drinking tools. Introducing the Hands Free Bottle Adapter which also fits on Nalgene bottles. I’ve been anticipating the arrival of these at the shop and they just recently arrived. I picked one up and did some modifications that I thought would help it work better. First off, I fitted the tube with a thermal control kit from my old drinking rig for added protection from the cold. I’ll be using a Black Diamond Covert and Anarchist pack a lot this winter. Both of them have hydration sleeves in the shoulder straps, but a little extra protection never hurts. The hands free kit comes with an Ergo Valve, but I find that the straight valves fit better in the BD shoulder straps, so I switched the bent valve for a straight one.
Modified bottom tube reaches the bottom
and works with different size bottles.
Most of the time, on longer tours, I like to carry about 100 oz. of water, so I’ll be using big 48 oz Nalgenes. The Bottle LID Kit kit comes with a short and stiff tube that reaches into the bottles, but often not the bottom to reach all the water inside…and definitely not to the bottom of the 48 oz bottles. I had an old hose lying around so I cut one long enough so it would bend when it hit the bottom, ensuring full access to what I’m drinking. I think it will also work with smaller 32 oz. bottle as well, since it will just bend and twist as needed to fit inside, but I might trim it don’t a little bit more.
Defined ridge holds drinking tube on,
and nozzle can be folded and locked closed.
The tube is secured to the bottle lid by a grove that seemed to fit pretty darn tight and I’m not anticipating any problems there. One of the best things about the system though is that I feel you have the best of both worlds at your finger tips. Hand’s free drinking out of the tube on the go and more civilized drinking out of a bottle at camp. Also, in the event that the tube does freeze, you’re left with a regular water bottle. What could be better?
What do you use?
Read about this guy’s epic the other night in Jellystone! 😯
Yup…going skiing today! 😀
Looks like a versatile setup. I have a Covert w Avalung, so tips on use and modifications would be appreciated.
Enjoy your trip!
I am a big fan of the Platypus bags, I like how they compress down and you can interchange every thing from having just a cap on the bag to having a hose on it. My only gripe about the bags along with all the other bags is that they are hard to clean especially if you put a sports drink in them. I have gotten around this by using the zip lock bag because you can clean it out a lot easer but I have always been afraid that it would come unzipped some how and I would smell like fruit punch and have no water.
I work at a university here in Colorado and I think its part of getting into school you have to go get a Nalgene bottle from the mountaineering shop to get onto campus or something like that, anyway, people leave them in my office all the time giving me a good collection I think that I will try this new system out for the sport drinks see if I like it. I have only had a Nalgene blow up on me after leavening it in the microwave to long.
I learned a trick from a guy I met skiing, about how you can burry a bottle of water in the snow upside down and it will not freeze. You put it in the snow upside down so the ice that does form where you drink from. I have only done it two times and it worked but it’s kind of counterintuitive and body warmed water always tastes better!
I tried to drive over Opher pass one time in the winter from Telluride to Silverton because Google maps told me to. I did turn around, it was a ten point turn and I had to dig out two times and broke part of my cars bumper off on a tree. Maybe I should have grabbed my skis and skinned over.
Alright, alright, I may revisit the goddamn drinking systems, again. I don’t mind them in the summer but all of the short-comings you mentioned steered me away years ago. I’ve become a “stop and chug” hydrator for skiing. With the new insulated shoulder rigs and now a hard bottle that works, I will have to give them a ride. Thanks for the beta!
Stevo – which MSR dromedary do you use – specifically of the variety MSR makes – does the cap have to be changed to compatable with the CamelBack tube/bite valve system?
Hydration systems are great when its warm out but when the temps drop… they seem like a huge ‘what if?’
I’ll take a 48oz. Nalgene for all the reasons you quoted. Plus, wide mouth only as the smaller mouth size will freeze up.
That being said, the new ‘lid kit’ does look pretty trick and and might be another great inovation. Looking forward to your report on how well it holds up to Teton abuse.
Might want to pack a spare lid though… just in case.
I think it was a 100 oz (3L) Hydromedary bag and held up well. No modifications necessary to make it compatible with the CamelBak tubes and valves.
I have had way too many bad experiences with “hosed water systems” to trust them anymore. If my Camelback hose wasn’t frozen solid, then inevitably it was leaking. Then Trackhead showed me the light……the Jetboil.
I am a huge fan of carrying one 32 ounce nalgene, and a Jetboil. You have gallons of water for the weight of a quart, and it only takes a few minutes to melt a fresh bottle full. Just be sure to bring an extra lighter or matches, just in case.
I have one of the Camelbak bottles with the flip up straw thing picture above. Something to be aware of, thew will sometimes leak if not placed vertically in your pack. They have a one way valve on top to let air in (otherwise you eventually can’t suck water out of them, because you are creating a vacuum inside), and the valve isn’t always just “one-way”.
I drink my own blood, or if I’m really thirsty, my partners.
Man, that is just what I need!! I tried looking around on the Camelback website but I can’t find the bottle or the drinking tube:( If you would have a link to where I could buy this set up and the prices that would be great. I’ve started riding my bicycle again and that would work great in a bottle rack instead of a bag hanging off my back or in my backpack (which I tried and the condensation got to papers in my bag).
Looks like they may have discontinued this item. I’m not using it anymore because it leaks out of the top when not completely vertical. Might not be a big deal for a bike…but not cool in a pack. We still have some at the shop…FYI.