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    What can you tell me about hydration systems?
    I have been doing some thinking about investing in a hydration system. However, I have some concerns and I was hoping that people with more experience could give me a few pointers -

1. I have no problems with water bottles and drink a lot that way - would I be inclined to drink even more with one of these?

2. They are costly. I don't really need it to carry anything except water so I could use a cheaper model, but they are still expensive.

3. Wouldn't the black color tend to make the water warmer?

4. They have lots of maintenance stuff in the catalogs. How often and how much of this is needed? I would only be putting water in it.

5. Wouldn't having this centered on your back and the straps around you bother you on high-heat days. I like to wear a loose shirt and let the wind cool me.

6. Does the water slosh from side to side when it is half empty???

7. When it is hot or dry I like to really chug water fast, sometimes (squeeze the water bottle hard while drinking). Will I be frustrated by the flow rate?

8. Do you suck the water out or is it pressured somehow?

Please give me some answers here so I can make an informed decision.

Rox Heath

Let me tell you from experience that hydration systems are wonderful! Back in 1997 on the Davis Double (200 miles in one day), there was extreme heat. I was riding with 2 large water bottles but the water got so hot so fast that I wasn't drinking enough. I didn't realize this until it was too late: a started having severe leg cramps at mile 165. I kept on going though until finally at mile 193, I couldn't go any further. As soon as I was sagged back to the finish, I started vomiting. I was almost a hospital case...and I lost 12 pounds that day.

Didn't mean to bore you with all of those details but...I bought a Camelbak right after that incident...and I have had NO problems since that day! I bought a 40-oz version 'cause I don't like a lot of weight on my back. It keeps the water cool and the tube is so close to your mouth that it's incredibly EASY to drink! Especially on a climb...much easier than reaching for a water bottle. I find that I stay far better hydrated because of this.

I recently retired my 40-oz one for the 50-oz Hydrobak (by Camelbak). I like it even better because it has a screw-on cap and is easier to get the bladder in and out of the cover. I got it on sale at REI for only $22.

I also have a 70-oz model that I use for hiking. It's black but the water stays just as cool as the Hydrobak (blue).

I only put water in mine so maintenance is NOTHING. The only thing I try to do, if I'm not going to be using it for a few days, is to stick a bottle brush in it to help air/dry it out. I've never had anything growing in them at all (of course, if you put Cytomax in it then I think you would grow some interesting things!). And just buy a cheap bottle brush...don't spend the money on those fancy 'drying things' that Camelbak sells.

The Camelbak is very comfortable for me. Granted, it make take a couple of rides to get used to...but pretty soon you just forget that it's there. Of course, folks who get the mongo-version with pockets to carry all kinds of stuff, probably feel the weight more. I've worn it with regular jersey, sleeveless jersey, tank top, and crop problems.

Yes, you will hear the water sloshing around a bit back there...but you get used to it and can ignore it after awhile.

Yes, the water will come out slower than if you were chugging a bottle. But then again, it comes out fast enough for me to swallow...any faster and I'd probably choke, personally.

Yes, you suck the water out...but it's easy.

As you can see, I'm a proponent of hydration systems. An added benefit is that it frees up one of my water bottle cages. I took a old water bottle, cut it in half, and keep it in that 'spare' cage...I can roll up a wind breaker, vest, or jersey and store it there when it gets hot.

Jennie Phillips

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Here is my opinion, in order of appearance - -

1. Based on my experience, you would drink more, and do it more frequently, which is recommended anyway. And, you don't have to reach for it, which likely promotes more frequent drinking.

2. Agreed, most of us have other ways to carry stuff. That extra "capability" is a great way to build revenue for the manufacturer. For me, it has limited differential value.

3. True, black is an absorber of heat, but at least the bag I have is well insulated, keeping the water cooler longer. Be warned, any water in the tube will likely be warmer than that in the insulated bag. They do sell an insulated tube cover, but, having bought one, did not find it satisfactory. I consider it to be a waste of money and now do not use anything to insulate the tube.

4. Originally, I bought a CamelBak with the circular fill cap. And I did not really like it very much. A year later, I replaced the original bladder a Cascade Designs "Platypus" bladder, which has a kind of zip-lock top, big enough to put your hand into, and clean. The hose attaches to the other end of the bag via a screw cap, allowing easier cleaning. In my opinion, all of that cleaning stuff is required by the circular fill cap of the CamelBak. My eldest son still uses the CamelBak bladder, because he is wary of not properly sealing the top after filling it. In the nearly two years I have had the Platypus, I have never sprung a leak. All you have to do is test your sealing effort before taking it out on the road. If it leaks during the test, you fix it by making the seal effective. Also, as the Platypus is made of a harder plastic, there is no plastic flavor to the water at any time. My experience with the CamelBak bladder is that it took a long time to get rid of the plastic taste. Drainage is never a problem. All you have to do is turn it upside down, with the tube cap removed. No "hanger" frames, etc. If you are really in a hurry to dry it, get your dishtowel and do it.

5. I have never been bothered by the bag on a hot day. Just having it on your back does take some getting used-to.

6. The bladder collapses as the water is used, minimizing any tendency to slosh around. Any noise is minimal. Besides if you're deeeef in one ear and can't hear outta t'other, like me, what difference does it make. <g>

7. It is possible you would be frustrated by a slow rate. One reason that you might not experience such a frustration is that these things tend to promote more frequent drinking, thereby avoiding the urge to get a lot of water fast. However, there is at least one manufacturer (Blackburn ??) which makes a valve which they call a "Big Gulp" or words to that effect. Check it out as well as other valve models. Personally, I have never liked the bite valve which opens a nearly invisible slit in the end. I find that type too slow, and I am not coordinated enough to bite it in the right direction on the first try. The valve I use is a one way valve with a spring to keep it closed. I have never found it to be inadequate regarding flow volume.

8. Yes, you suck out the water. I have never found this to be a difficulty.

One likely irrelevant point is that I now use the water bag on my recumbent. It actually straps quite conveniently over the seat posts at each side, and hangs behind the mesh seat back, in the center. The only time I am aware of its presence is when it is completely full. After a few drinks, it reduces in size, and am completely unaware that it is there.

Some (most?) of these systems have a clip for the tube which can be fastened to your jersey/shirt/jacket, allowing you to get hooked up to your "life support system", just like the astronauts. How's that for appeal??

I like it so well that I am considering getting a 100 ounce version instead of the 70 ouncer I now have. I am also sold on the Platypus. I'm one of those guys that guzzles a lot. On CO VIII (all high 90's to low 100's - same area as CO XII) I went through about a quart an hour. This year I will take along salt pills or an electrolyte replacement (per an earlier thread)

Bottom line: It took some getting used to, but now I would not be without it.

Curt Coleman

Since you posted your questions in numerical order I have embedded my responses into your questions below. Just m2c, but I hope you find it helpful.

>1. I have no problems with water bottles and drink a lot that way - would I be inclined to drink even more with one of these?

Yes, I find myself drinking a little more just because it is always so convenient. With a bottle, I usually don't drink unless I am pretty much a coasting state.

>2. They are costly. I don't really need it to carry anything except water so I could use a cheaper model, but they are still expensive.

The one I have is a bare bones model CamelBack, it doesn't have any pockets but it does have a criss-crossed bungy cord that you could put a small wind jacket in. And it only holds 50oz., plenty enough water for me, so I am not carrying all the extra weight.

>3. Wouldn't the black color tend to make the water warmer?

Mine is black and dark blue and the water stays cold. I usually fill it with ice and then add water to the rim. The ice will not completely melt for hours. And I bike in very hot weather (New Orleans).

>4. They have lots of maintenance stuff in the catalogs. How often and how much of this is needed? I would only be putting water in it.

I only use water and I don't use any of the maintenance gear. Just a good rinse with water and a few tablespoons of bleach.

>5. Wouldn't having this centered on your back and the straps around you bother you on high-heat days. I like to wear a loose shirt and let the wind cool me.

The straps are very adjustable so I don't really find it constrictive, but I do tend to sweat more just below the pack from lack of air flow.

>6. Does the water slosh from side to side when it is half empty???

I haven't experienced this at all. It is not like a water bottle that when half empty is half full of air. The pouch basically deflates so no air gets in.

>7. When it is hot or dry I like to really chug water fast, sometimes (squeeze the water bottle hard while drinking). Will I be frustrated by the flow rate?

I think this was a problem with some of the older models, but the newer ones provide pretty good flow.

>8. Do you suck the water out or is it pressured somehow?

This depends on how full my pouch is (water pressure) and my riding position (gravity). If I am down on my aerobars and therefore the water/pouch is above my mouth is all I have to do is bite down the water comes out, if the pouch is completely full it will flow at a very good pace on its own. When I am more in an upright position and the water is below my mouth I do have to suck a little bit. When the pouch is full the pressure from the pack will tend to force some water out. Even when it is low and I am in an upright position I need so suck on it that much. It is certainly not like drinking a milkshake through a straw!

Greg White

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Having completed 2 Cycle Oregons, my experience has been that there are plenty of SAG stations with water, etc. I carried two large bottles in the cages and never found myself out of water.


I bought the Performance brand bladder system, and paid about $40.00 when it was on sale. Got the 70oz version with a small mesh pocket on the bottom. I carry a mini bungee cord and use that to hold on my jacket around the pack. I rode with it empty the first 3 or 4 times to get used to the feel on my back. Then used it a couple of times to carry extra jacket etc. When it felt comfortable, I then added water. I love it now. I do drink lots more. I use only water in it. This one has the zip close top and small screw-on cap on the bottom. Makes for easy cleaning. I tried ice cubes once, but they did slosh around and make lots of noise. Now, when I come home from a ride, I empty and rinse out the bladder, add about 6 inches of water and stand it up in the freezer. Then just add fresh water before the next ride. The ice lasts longer than cubes and no sloshing noises. Water in my pack means my two water bottles hold my Gatorade mixture. The combination works well for me.


I keep my Camelbak bladder in the freezer between uses, so there is no problem with bad stuff growing in it...I use a Blackburn valve that you open by pushing against your teeth. It's leak proof.. I use the 70 oz bladder and do drink more.. especially in the hills than when I use bottles..

Merry Maloney

Here's my 2 cents. I have both a Camelbak Mule (big but not the biggest) and a brand x medium size. Both work fine, but the Camelbak bit valve seems less leaky after time. The brand x had contoured straps which were more comfortable. I definitely stay better watered and am more comfortable on hills because I can sip, sip, sip when my mouth gets dry and my hands are busy. I also carry only water in these packs. I clean them with dilute bleach, and dry well with a hold-it-open device. The hose doesn't appear to dry too well. I got the long brush but haven't used it much. I don't use the backpack in winter when I need less water, and I found myself resisting the backpack as summer came on because it is hot on my back. My solution was to get a fanny water pack. I made one up from an REI fanny pack and a 2 liter shorty Platypus, and this year I bought a Camelbak Go*Be, a 50 oz waist pack I like a lot. I couldn't find it locally, so I emailed Camelbak and got several on line sources. If you go to their website, do spell it right-- I had an interesting detour once with a minor error. There's also a larger waist pack but it was too big for me, with tons of pockets and attachments--good for self-contained trips I guess.

Amy Ream

I keep reading about people using bleach to clean up. Somewhere I read about using an antiseptic mouthwash and that is what I have been using for several years. They sell the "in-store" brands in big containers for several bucks at most discount or discount drug stores.

If you didn't quite rinse all the taste out, its just not that bad.

CO has frequent water stops, I use my 70 oz bladder on the tour (though my pack holds the 100). I've considered a smaller bladder but those after lunch 8 to 10 mile climbs in no wind warrant a reserve.

Don "minty fresh taste" Bolton

At the risk of being redundant, I want to add my two cents about hydration systems. While they were designed for biking, and they work well for that, I use mine for wild land firefighting and for hunting as well. I do drink quite a bit more (easily twice as much), and have found that I feel much better day after day on the fireline when I stay hydrated. When hunting, I use it because it is quieter than a bottle in my fanny pack...

Bill Aney

First, a big thanx for all the info. I am getting Robbin a Platypus for his back pack (they are doing a 50-miler next month) and as soon as summer camp is over (1 1/2 weeks to go) I am going to go find the hydration system that is right for me. I expect the guys will immediately take advantage of my running around comparing prices and styles and just copy me. :-)

Next the question - Some of the hydration systems have a waist strap. I know when wearing a daypack (small backpack) that does not have a waist strap if you lean forward or to the side the pack slips sideways uncomfortably. Does this happen with a hydration system?

Rox Heath

I've not experienced sideway slipping, a little bit over the head if I bent over rather than squat to tie my shoe.

Leslie Howard

My Camelbak MULE has a waist strap that is removable. This is the best of both worlds. I've been using the waist strap because it doesn't bother me, but I think it really isn't necessary.

Jason Penney

I've used a cylcepro for a couple of years and don't use the waist strap and have had no slippage. One of the reasons I don't use the waist strap is because when you lean over and have the container full, the strap acts to compress the contents which then leak out the seal at the top, I found that out one cold November night when I first bought the system and had to go try it out on my mtb....cold, wet fanny resulted, might be nice on a hot day however. Another consideration might be the bite system and whether it leaks, drips. both of the ones that I've tried leak (bite system = mouth piece) and drip on my thigh unless I blow air back into the system and remove fluid from the tube between sips.

Tim McCreary

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I have found that by having a waist strap, I don't have to cinch up the shoulder straps as tight providing not only better stabilization, but eliminates chafing at arm pits and also allows for more ventilation at shoulder strap area. My hydration system is the camelbak "mule" which holds 100 oz. & also has pockets for items. My wife uses a much smaller version that she feels fits her smaller frame much better. A while back someone brought up the problem of water sloshing in their Camelbak bag. I bought a Platypus and when I only filled it part way, I had the same problem. It wasn't the feeling of the water sloshing, it was the noise that was annoying. I cured the problem by holding the bag so the hose outlet was at the high point, then squeezing the bite valve with my fingers, I pushed all of the air out by squeezing the bag under my arm. With no air in the bag, there is no sloshing.

It is not a big thing, but I am submitting it to the Nobel Committee, just in case it is a slow year for them.

Phil Ford

First of all, for sanitary reasons, you want to wash your camelbak bladder out EVERY time...then drain it as well as you can, shaking the liquid out, holding the bladder up and squeezing the bite valve to empty the tube. Then hang it up to dry - you can use a bent coat-hanger, or camelbak also makes a plastic hanger. these keep the bladder open and allow it to dry, which helps to minimize the growth of creepy-crawly bacteria. They are a bit of work to take care of, but it sure helps me to drink more, and to have cooler water on a hot day.

Debi Toews

If it is really hot, it can be hard to get enough water when you have to keep reaching for the bottle.

Craig Bryant

With my Camelbak I carry enough water that I never worry about running out. Plus with a Camelbak you can carry energy bars and or other food (A MUST), First Aid Kit (A MUST), Cell Phone (A MUST)

O.K. I'll fess up I drop water bottles. I grab the bottle, take a drink, drop the bottle on the ground and then go back to get it.

Scott Hoover

Camelbaks are great. They can hold much more water, and they can keep it cooler longer, especially if you get one that can take in ice easily. If you buy one which has other carrying capacity, you can and will use it (you will most likely fill the space you have !!)

Curt Coleman

Camel Backs - I've never needed them & people I've known say that they're a hassle to maintain, expensive, uncomfortable & tend to chafe - others swear by them. I just think they look goofy.

Ken Cregger

I compromise on the camelbak/bottle thing by carrying an aerobak with a 50 oz. bladder for water and one bottle for gatorade/cytomax or whatever. Bottles are easy to clean but camelbaks aren't and can get pretty gross. I find that I never run out of water in the aerobak before I come across more along the road. If I had to choose only one though, it'd be the camelbak in a second.

Tom Spille

Just curious, how does the herd clean their Camelbaks?

Stacey "thirsty" Gray

Stacy, I only put water in mine and drain it after every ride and let it dry out so I don't have a problem. I also use the yellow plastic thing (looks like a coat hanger kinda) that you can buy specifically to keep the bladder open so it dries out. There is also a small wire brush tool on a long flexible metal rod that you can get to clean the tube connected to the bladder, I have one but don't need to use it much as drying it out seems to prevent mold and junk from growing. Hope that helps.

Raul Cardoza

We rinse out the Camelbak after using it and then simply place it the freezer till the next long ride. Not much bacteria and little bug like thingys running around in our freezer (I don't think). Be sure to lay it out flat so it will not be all scrunched up. Works great for us. During CO we just fill it up and keep it full. Don't forget to drink plenty of water when you are riding and you will always have a full bladder. If the weather cooperates and freezes at night and if you go to bed with a full bladder (Camelbak bladder) it will freeze just perfect and you can start out with a full frozen bladder.

Lorren (full frozen bladder) Hughes

Don's already left, and I can't vouch for this method myself (still got my trusty waterbottles), but I know he rinses his out with a mixture of water and Listerine. Likes the fresh, minty taste afterwards. The logic sounds good to me, anyway.

Scott Saulsbury

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I usually don't clean mine out till it turns green ( The rationalization that it's inexpensive Gatorade) but I recall instructions of water and a very small amount of bleach.

Steve Heim

I think some people do the bleach/water thing and someone last year said they cleaned theirs with mouth wash! I just rinse mine out with hot water and then stick a bottle brush inside, to keep it "open" to dry. Although it does have some stains now!!!

Wendi Thornton

Wow!! You folks are amazing!! So many responses in so little time!! Thanks. I think the mouthwash sounds better than the bleach. I'm going to try that right now!

Stacey "no gingivitis" Gray

I replaced my CamelBak bladder with a Platypus bladder. It has a "ziplock" top, and a screw-top bottom, where the hose connects. I just rinse it out and put the ziplock top down over a small cup or glass, with the screw-top open, and it dries out just fine.

Curt Coleman


This may be too late, but I used Listerine in mine and could not get the scent or the taste out of it. Even after bleaching it, mild remnants of the smell and taste lingered. I found it necessary to replace it. Also, mine was the old style [bladder] with the "pop top" lid, which was deteriorating, so buying a new bladder was already the plan. Now all I use is a few drops bleach to 50oz. of warm water.

Hope it's not too late. Let me know how you faired.

Richard Rodriguez

I bought a small bottle of the official Camelbak cleaning liquid at REI this week. I can't vouch for it since I haven't tried it yet, but according to the label it's vegetable-based, so hopefully it's not too soapy or smelly. Apparently you only use a few drops.

Lisa "always looking for the easiest solution" R.

For cleaning Camelbacks, I pour one ounce of liquid laundry bleach into 99 ounces of water in my bladder (1:100 dilution is what is used to sterilize medical countertops). Run a little through the tubing and let it sit for about 10 minutes. (Do not drink).

Then rinse several times and hang to dry with a hanger or spacer device to keep the bladder open.

Doing this once per week or so has worked for me. I still just rinse it most of the time.

Peter Goodkin

Stacy, I have to second Raul's comment. First, I only use water.

Second, after all my rides I drain the thing completely (including the tube), hang it with one of those (blue) hanger thingies, and then fill it right before the next ride. Since the water at my house is mildly chlorinated, I've never had _any_ trouble with any foul taste.

The only problem I _have_ had is that the seal on the bladder is bad. A trip to Falk Hardware and $0.37 for their slimmest O-ring fixed that right up.

Jason Penney

On CO 13 Bob lost the mouthpiece of his Camelbak (who know’s where – it just fell off!) Luckily, he had a spare in his toolkit. Something to think about. I would hate to be riding across the desert with no hydration system.

Rox Heath

What kind of "camelbak" systems do you like? Is there a kind that mounts on the bike, rather than as a backpack?

Jon Balgley

We have Camelbak MULEs and like them a lot. They can carry enough stuff you can go for a hike or whatever with them and they have a 100 oz. bladder. Granted on CO all you are going to need is around a 70 oz., but they weigh practically the same and I just don't fill it all the way. All summer long we take training rides all over the place and sometimes we go for many hot hours with no civilization around. You can go through 100 oz. in 4 or 5 hours on a hot day.

As far as on-the-bike.... on one of the last couple of COs I saw a lady with an oversized waterbottle holder with a liter in it and a hose that traveled around the frame and up her back to act like a Camelbak. I have also seen one on a rear rack. Recumbents often hang Camelbaks off the seat backs. You can get creative with this.

Happy sipping...
Rox Heath

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Is a Camelback de rigueur for CO? I had planned on just carrying two squeeze bottles, but should I "think different"? Inquiring minds want to know.

John Carr

I did my first CO on 2 water bottles (CO 11) and had to sag at the end of day 2 because of the heat. Now, this was definitely not all the water bottles' fault as I had drunk 9 bottles of water and had not concentrated on training for heat. However, I asked the email list what they thought of hydration systems [see above].

It's now been a couple of years and CO 12 had some very hot spots climbing and I handled them fine. I like the Camelbak much better. I don't drink out of waterbottles unless the roadway is clear, smooth, etc. and I can either coast or not pedal as hard. Let's face it, one hand is busy, and your attention and possibly your vision, are split. With a Camelbak (or similar) you have none of that. You can drink anywhere, anytime you want. This means you sip water constantly all day. Not only do you go thru a lot more, your mouth isn't dry and yucky.

CO 14 has a probability of at least 3 hot, dry days. A hydration system is a good idea. So is training for heat!

Some people do just fine with 2 water bottles. As you ride around pay attention to yourself - how often would you take a sip of water if you could, but don't want to grab that water bottle right then (for whatever reason). I have found with the Camelbak I am drinking every few minutes when it is hot.

Tips on getting started - rinse it well first. Then sit down with water in it and watch TV or something and get used to the bite valve and how to drink. BTW, the new Camelbak bite valves can give you far more water than you want, but after a few minutes practice they are easy to use. When you first take it on the road only fill it about a third. A full Camelbak is heavy and the weight turns some people off. Give yourself a few rides to work up to it and get used to it.

Even if you do use a Camelbak you may still want your water bottles. Some people use them for electrolyte drinks. We carry a partially full (with water) water bottle in the afternoons and drip it all over our fronts while riding on those hot days. Downside of Camelbaks - they are hard to use to spray water all over yourself! We also prefer a water bottle to carry around camp rather than wearing the Camelbak all evening. It's hard to lean back in a chair while wearing it!

Good Luck!
Rox Heath

In riding a number of CO's I have used both bottles and a Camelback. I found that I drank a lot more liquids when using the Camelback because it was easier to get to and it stayed cooler longer. Your experience may vary.

Ron Howden

I never ride without my Camelbak. It's easier to drink from, holds more water than I normally require, and my repair kit, tools & spare tubes fit inside the pack nicely. Also, because the bladder is housed within a "pack" the water will usually stay cooler over a longer period.

I also keep a full water bottle handy, for squirting over my head (I've not been able to accomplish this feat with my Camelbak).

Hope that helps...
Richard Rodriguez

Many will opine about camelbacks. I believe one stays better hydrated with the ease of oral proximity of the mouthpiece, i.e., it's a no brainer, so easy to sip sip sip, even going up hill. And then you can keep electrolyte solution in your bottles so you get both H2O and lytes. One can't emphasize enough that one must drink constantly in order to keep up with the body's losses from sweat and insensible loss out there in the heat.

Amy-salty breakfast-Ream

I found that I have become less than graceful with older age. I am lacking the ability to balance a bike and drink from a water bottle. Go figure. I am switching to the Camelbak as we speak.

David Graham

With the expected high temps and possible head winds, you have prime conditions for dehydration. With that mixture, you may not even know that you are loosing fluid, because as soon as you sweat , the wind will evaporate it. Your clothes may be completely dry, but your body is loosing fluid rapidly this way. I have two bottles on the frame and a seat attachment that houses two more bottles. I am looking into a small camel back to add to these. That is the last thing I want is to run out of water on my bike out there.


Oh yeah, and the camelback makes a great on the road bidet, ladies, ;-), or, not to sound sexist, whoever.

BTW, I use a waistline camelback. It keeps the heat and weight off my shoulders, holds less volume (50 cc), but is enough for me, since I stop at all rest stops.

Amy-the fastidious-Ream

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Dave, I have a 70 oz camelbak. Carl has a 100. I LOVE my camelbak. Being able to have the water right there, with just a turn of your head, is fantastic. I've found that I drink a lot more because of it.

I keep that nasty power drink that CO offers (or gatorade, if I have it) in my water bottle on my bike.

My 2 cents...
Wendi Thornton


What is the difference other than volume in the two camelbacks? Are they really minor points? I don't want to carry only a camelback, but feel that even with 4 bottles, another 70 oz's might come in handy if the bottles were used for cooling the noggin instead.

Dave Stranahan

There is more carry space on Carl's 100oz than my 70oz, but not enough to write home about. I carry spare munchies in mine. He can carry sunscreen, some small tools, etc. I love my camelbak and wouldn't want to ride without it.

Wendi Thornton


I would NEVER discourage anyone from carrying the amount of water that he/she feels is necessary for hydration, BUT...

Four bottles of water plus a 70oz Camelback is more than a gallon - a gallon weighs 8 POUNDS. Rather than carrying multiple water bottles to douse yourself, consider carrying ONE spray bottle and misting your skin often. Often, the light mist feels just as good. (Remember the pvc pipe water spraying doo-hicky they had set up on CO??) After all, its not the water itself that cools us when we ride, but rather the process of the water cooling and evaporating off our skin that we feel. A spray bottle of the right size will fit perfectly in your bottle cage.

Just a suggestion. :-)

For what its worth, I like the Camelback for very long, or very hot days, but otherwise prefer bottles. I am very conscious of drinking, so don't find I drink less when using bottles. I prefer bottles because I don't like the weight on my shoulders. And I'm cooler without a pack on my back.

Susan Otcenas

Great idea!!

Let me say this, because it does have relevancy in regards to weight. The amount of performance you get back from weight reduction has to do with a formula that factors in your own weight. At 265, a few pounds here and there, unless it is on the wheels, will not effect my performance. 8+ pounds would make more of a difference to a 150 # cyclist than to a 265# cyclist. Hopefully, that weight will be much less by September.

Dave Stranahan

On CO - in the morning when it is cool I carry about 40 oz. (maybe less) in my Camelbak and nothing in my single water bottle. By the time it gets really hot I am carrying 60 or so in the Camelbak and 10 or 15 in a waterbottle (for getting me wet). Remember you can always get more water from the sag vans, ambulances, and support cars and you see them quite frequently.

I only fill the Camelbak up to 100 oz. when I am training. Not only do I not object to extra weight when training, we usually seem to spend several hours away from possible water stops. It's not unusual to come home pretty close to dry on a warm day.

I like Susan's spray bottle idea for if I were wearing bike jerseys. When I am getting a t-shirt wet I want to DRENCH it and then forget about it for an hour. The only other thought I have on the spray bottle is that I also use that water bottle in the evenings to keep rehydrating. I did one CO with only a Camelbak until day 3 (when I managed to snag a bottle of store bought water with a good lid) and I found I didn't rehydrate near as effectively. Maybe I can find something I can put either top on.

Rox Heath

There is a wide variety of hydration systems and I've already seen some replies to you. Several of us have Camelback M.U.L.E.'s and I'm glad I got steered in to one. The Cool Max layer between me and my back is a definite plus. I was not interested in a hydration system because of the weight on my back and I tend to be quite warm most of the time, the Cool Max layer took care of that. The M.U.L.E. gives you 100 ounces of water and it has so many nooks and crannies to stow just about anything you might put in a trunk pack. It gives you the freedom to load up on juice or an electrolyte drinks in your bottles. AND, heaven forbid that you join Team Crash, but if you do, you'll be especially grateful to have a boat load of water on the spot to wash out your wounds as your first means of first aid! I also got a Platypus bladder for my Camelback because it has the Ziploc style closure all the way across the top, which makes the highly essential need for thoroughly cleaning out the bladder a whole lot easier.

Happy cycling!
Penny Overdier

My husband and I are planning on purchasing camelbaks for this year’s CO, and were wondering which model to get. We are looking at the Rocket 72oz or the New Rouge 70oz. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Which models do you guys use?


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I couldn't resist jumping into this one.

I keep a 100 ounce platypus BEHIND my chair back on my 'bent, with the tube coming up and over the seat to me mug. It works quite well, and is mostly out of the sun, keeping it cooler longer.

By the way, if I know ahead of time that I may have problems getting more water when I need it, I keep an insulated 22 ounce bottle in my rack pack.

Just another way of doing it.
Curt Coleman

Take a look at Platypus. They have a variety of capacities, and mounting styles (although not as many as Camelbak if I recall correctly) One thing I like about my Platypus is that it has a "zipper" top ( like the baggies - not like a zipper on trousers ). This not only makes it easy to clean and dry, you can get all shapes and sizes of household refrigerator ice cubes into it real easy.

I also bought a spring-loaded bite valve (from Blackburn??) that allows a much larger swig at a time. I like it much better than the kind you squeeze with your teeth, opening a small slit in the plastic. The Blackburn valve allows a much larger flow. (for guzzlers like me)

As to style, shop around. There is a super large selection of all brands to choose from. So many in fact that differences may be indistinguishable with out a close look. These bags hold much more than water nowadays.

Curt Coleman

Cindy, I’ve noticed the popular size of Camel Bak that a lot of us use is the M.U.L.E. I love it!!

The MULE seems to be just the right size for me. Not huge, but yet large enough capacity to carry several things. It supports a 100 oz water bladder but you don’t have to fill the bladder up all the way. If I know there is plenty of water stops along the way I usually put about 70 oz in the 100 oz bladder. The extra space in the bladder compartment gives me a cool place to store my Snickers to keep them from melting. Hey, I burn it off. ;-)

As much as I don’t really like the weight of the Camel Bak on my shoulders, but I know for a fact when I wear my Camel Bak I definitely drink more water.

Nanette "A Snickers lover" Hoheisel

I agree that I wouldn't want to ride in hot weather without my camelback, but I have the waist pack, as I've said before, and it leaves my back open to the air, aahh, and keeps me shoulders light and easy. 50 oz. is plenty for me with two bottles. As with bikes, comfort and fit are more important than the exact model.

Amy-sold both my back models-Ream

I'm with Curt on choosing Platypus over Camelback. I had been training with the Platy until my wreck. Unbeknownst to me, the accident caused a small leak which I didn't discover until Day 1 last year. Fortunately the Bike Gallery mobile store had a Camelback to replace, the Platy—fortunately until I began using it. In a word, it sucked. The small opening was a pain to dump powdered gatorade into compared to the ease with which the Platy zipped open and closed. The Platy was easier to clean, a stronger design, and less sticky on the refills too. The only advantage the Camelback had over the Platypus was its cute advertising campaign. Oh, did I mention the Platy has a lifetime guarantee?

Ken Kahn

What is it about the fill holes on the different brands? Is the access hole smaller on some?

Dave Stranahan

Yes there is a big difference. I use a Blackburn hydration , mostly because of the convenience of the large top opening. Blackburn uses a roll top with a very nice velcro closure. Simply roll the sack over itself and velcro. If you use ice cubes they cad be dropped in without stuffing them.

The really nice feature of this type of top closure is that it can be dried out easily, which a Camel Back can't be done easily. I open it up and roll a paper towel and insert it into the bag. Hang it upside down overnight and it dry. If you don't dry them they tend to get slimy and moss starts growing. Don't need any of that. I use the valve that comes with the bag, but Darlene , my wife, took off the Blackburn valve and replaced it with a Camel Back bite valve. Blackburn is a brand that all bicycle shops used to carry, but the last one I bought, I could only find at GI Joes.

Rodger Sanman

Yes. The Camelback has an absurdly small hole that is marginally larger than a standard bike water bottle hole. The hole is plugged by a screw on cap that's sometimes difficult to thread if your hands are covered with gatorade or other powered mix. The Platypus has a zip lock style opening that is as wide as the bag itself making it really easy to add water quickly, add powder quickly without making a mess, or even add a bunch of ice. Then it seals it one quick motion and does NOT leak.

Ken Kahn

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I combine my 70 oz, road version Camelback (can't remember which model) filled with water with a single, 20 oz bottle of sports drink. It's a combination that works quite well. The Camelback allows for the best hydration that I've ever been able to achieve on the bike.

I've even started skiing with a ski specific version, I like it so much!

The important thing is fit. If it doesn't fit, or chafes and rubs you the wrong way, it will be miserable.

Mark "don't be rubbed the wrong way" Ramsby

Here's a different viewpoint on all of this. Just a contrasting opinion, your mileage may vary.

I too have a Camelbak MULE. On the plus side, it has a 100 ounce bladder and plenty of storage. There are two Camelbaks that are larger, but the MULE carries as much as I'd care to put on my back: emergency kit, wallet, contact lens rewetting drops, and all of my extra clothing as it gets hot (it has tie-downs so I can just bungee it all on the outside of the pack). The straps are very comfortable and adjustable, and the back is nice and high-tech so that I never have a sweaty/rashed/chafed back where it sits.

On the downside, you have to completely empty the pack to refill the bladder! Don has noticed this as well; the bladder will not readily slip back in after you've filled it up unless you remove most of the stowed contents in the pockets. He alleges the HAWG does not have this deficiency.

As far as the Platypus is concerned...

My bladder has an annoying leak at the screw cap. I experimented with a gasket on the cap, which was only partially successful. Also, I like to fill the bladder with ice before my long rides, which is a royal pain when you have a hole barely large enough to fit one ice cube through at a time. So, I picked up a Performance 100 ounce bladder and tried it a couple of weeks ago. This bladder is Platypus style, with a zip-lock at the top. It gets failing grades. The weight and pressure of being the Camelbak forces the ziplock open, and the bite valve sucks (so to speak). I'm back to Plan A, which is to upgrade the screw cap on the old bladder with superior gaskets.

I hear people digressing a bit discussing sport drinks. I'm one of these troglodytes who prefers Lemon-Lime Gatorade, half-strength. Full-strength is wayyyy to sweet when you're riding.

Before Cycle Oregon, I put enough powder for a single sport bottle into a baggie, twist-tie, and cut down to size. Repeat until you have enough (seven to ten did me just fine). Put two or three in your Camelbak before each day's ride. When I reach a rest stop after a few hours, I dump the baggie into the sport bottle and top off with water from the rest stop.

I never put anything besides water in my Camelbak. Not only does it keep the water tasting clean, I don't have to worry so much about cleaning the bladder, esp. on Cycle Oregon.

As far as a sport bottle, let me recommend this really cool <ahem> bottle I picked up last year at Performance. It has an evaporative sleeve on it; you just wet it down after you've filled it with cool drink. I had some doubts until I actually tried it, but it works like a champ: with the dry hot days we get in central and eastern Oregon, that sucker keeps the sport drink cool until I've sucked it all down.

I'm doing far too many puns today, I'd better quit.

Hope this helps...
Jason Penney

At the end of last summer before Cycle Oregon, I bought a Camelback Rocket from REI for my long training rides because some of the areas I ride in Michigan don't have drinkable water readily available. On my first ride, I quickly noticed that the water became very warm, almost hot, very quickly, and it wasn't a very sunny day nor was it very hot. It appeared that the open channel and very thin insulation on the portion of the Camelback that touches the shoulder and back area readily transmits body heat which warms up the bladder very rapidly. Some of the other packs such as the Razor have an insulated panel which protects the bladder from body heat.

When I returned the Rocket, the saleswoman said that other customers also complained about this problem, although she may have just being nice, :)

I personally would get the size and type which is the smallest that you will need for water and which fits you the best with it properly weighted. Remember, something that isn't quite comfortable on your back after 5 mins will be a torture after couple of hours. It never gets better.

I personally would also stay away from lots of extra cargo space unless you are also going to use it for "backpacking". Most of the stuff you will ever need on the CO ride should fit in your jersey pockets and a good sized seat bag. If you really need the extra storage room, get a back rack w/ a "top bag" which has a shoulder strap or dual shoulder straps. I have found that a small set of rear panniers also work well if you are the workhorse of your riding group and you always end up carrying everyone else's stuff.

Light and free,
Orest Kawka

My friends and I use the "Razor" model. It is aerodynamic with features such as a "baffle" between the camelback and the user, this can be removed on hot days for more "coolness" It also has a small pocket by the bladder for items. I have used the space by the bladder to carry small clothing, etc. items.


Thanks everyone for all the good advise on hydration systems. I went over to my Mom's today and looked at her Camelbak Razor. After checking it out, trying it on, and talking to my Mom we decided to go for that model.

Cindy & Steve :)

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