Water bladders, hydrations reservoirs, or Camelbaks. Whatever you call them you know that they can be really handy, and that more and more outdoor enthusiasts are using them. Their popularity is obvious, but they come with unique drawbacks that few think of when they first fill them up. Infuze has spent a lot of time working with these water bladders, so we’ve put together a quick list of pros and cons of these systems.
Camelbaks are considered one of the “must have” items for modern hikers, and they can be seen on nearly every trail. Their popularity is because of their ease of use, and their storage size and packability.
Ease of use
This is perhaps the most obvious benefit of using a water bladder. Camelbaks are quick to fill, and easy to use. Just slid them into your backpack, whether that be a designated hydration sleeve, or just an open space in the bag, and then run the tube along your shoulder strap. Now you have a steady stream of readily accessible water that you can sip from as you move. This helps to keep you hydrated while you’re powering down the trail. Smaller, more frequent sips of water are a better way to hydrate while you’re doing any form of high-intensity activity. They keep your stomach from filling up, and you’ll introduce water frequently into your system.
The popularity and proliferation of water bladders and Camelbaks have actually influenced how outdoor gear companies have started designing their backpacks. Even many small day bags are now fitted with some kind of sleeve to store the bladder itself, and then a small opening at the top of the bag to allow the tube to run through it. A water bladder is typically relatively flat even when full, meaning that they don’t take up any valuable space in your bag that could be used to store food, tent poles, or an extra pair of socks. Plus, a water bladder is a lightweight way to carry several liters of water.
But just because water bladders are popular doesn’t mean that they got everything right. There are some design flaws that make bladders less than perfect. While that doesn’t keep us from using them, it does keep us thinking about clever solutions.
While it’s easy to fill up a water bladder, and even easier to use them, they can be quite tricky to clean out. Many brands, Camelbak included, use a twist off cap type opening to fill the bag. A clever design, but one that makes cleaning difficult. If the bag isn’t cleaned frequently, mold can begin to grow. This is especially true for the tube itself. Many manufacturers sell specialized cleaning kits, but these can be expensive, and it’s just one more piece of gear to keep track of back at the trailhead. Similarly, using a water flavoring or water enhancer in your Camelbak can accelerate the growth of mold and leave your Camelbak feeling sticky and gross.
Hard To Keep Track Of Your Progress
While it’s easy to take lots of little sips out of your Camelbak, it can be hard to track just how much water you have left in your bladder. For a seasoned hiker, all they might need to do to check how much water they have left is to wiggle their shoulders and listen for the sloshing of the water. But for those carrying heavier bags, or new to using a water bladder, they only way to know how much you have is to open you bag, dig out the bladder and look, or simply suck it dry.
For all of their cons, water bladders are popular for a reason. They keep us hydrated, they’re easy to use, and they practically disappear into our bags. When designing our Infuze Hydro, we addressed one of the most common complaints we heard. Using a water enhancer in a Camelbak would just leave sticky syrups in the body of the bag, making an already tedious clean up even more taxing.
Our Hydro, however, acts as a Camelbak Filter. Using a unique cartridge design, you can turn a dial and run water through the enhancer syrup to get a quick sip of flavor. When you’re ready for just water, flip the dial again, and enjoy an uninterrupted flow of water. Make a great design even better with Infuze.