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Hate to sound like an idiot but...
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Albert C.
(Albsthehiker) - F
Hate to sound like an idiot but... on 08/04/2010 23:47:10 MDT Print View

Hate to sound like an idiot but...

Can anyone help me explain to me, (other than weight concerns) why I should buy a platypus hydration bladder over a camelbak. Specifically, I was thinking about getting either a Platypus 2 liter big Zip or a Camelbak OMEGA 70 fl. oz. reservoir). I'm asking because after doing a little google research, It appears that (correct me if i'm wrong) that camelbak bladders appear to be more durable than platypus bladders.

I've read about a bunch of people having to replace their platypus bladders after about a year. And although i feel like i am trying to make a move towards (at least lightweight backpacking), i am hesitant to buy a product that i will have to rebuy every year.

I was also wondering (for those who have an MSR miniworks), how troublesome or not refilling either platypus or camelbak bladders are. I currently have a miniworks and was just wondering if either product had an advantage over the other (at least in the respect of "re-fillablity").

I've also heard that platypus bladders lack the rubber like taste that is characteristic of camelbak bladders. I was wondering for those who have tried camelbak products, if the taste is very much noticeable or is it just over hyped.

I guess overall, I'm wondering whether i should just go with the weight savings (at the possible cost of durability) or just get a camelbak bladder.

Edited by Albsthehiker on 08/04/2010 23:48:31 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Hate to sound like an idiot but... on 08/04/2010 23:56:36 MDT Print View

Let me play Devil's Advocate for a minute.

Why do you want a Camelbak or Platypus bladder at all?

As an example, on Tuesday I was doing a long hike, and a friend came along. The friend had a Camelbak pack with bladder, and I think it had a 3L capacity. Suppose the friend used it until 1L of water was remaining, and we came upon a stream. What are we going to do? First of all, it is difficult to fill it from a 1-inch deep stream. Second, we would have to refill it to capacity, and then treat the entire 3L with water treatment.

In contrast, I had three 1L traditional Nalgene water bottles. I could refill any one independently and treat it without any bearing on the other two. On a different trip, for weight savings I would carry three collapsible Platypus 1L water containers.


Albert C.
(Albsthehiker) - F
Re on 08/05/2010 00:05:41 MDT Print View

You bring up a very good point,

I myself do currently use a big o klean kanteen 40 oz. metal bottle and was thinking about trying to switch to something lighter. Just from reading some of the past threads on this forum it seems like hydration bladders seem fairly popular and i guess i was thinking that since i should try to lessen some weight, I could start with my method of storing water. But if anyone has any other ideas I'm more than happy to listen to.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Hate to sound like an idiot but... on 08/05/2010 01:15:13 MDT Print View

No, you do not sound like an idiot...

I think the hydration systems started out designed for runners. Small packs that could hold little more than the bladder and hugged the body, to make running easy with it. They had a tube which clipped to a shoulder strap, so the runner could drink without stopping.

For many BPers, the hydration tube is at first glance, a nice thing to have. Hydration systems weigh more than many other options, so for many of us here on BPL, they are not as desirable... many of us are fixated on gram reduction.

As to the practical side and functionality of day after day hiking, Bob brings up some excellent points. Three 1-liter platys weigh 2.7 ounces and provide a lot of flexibility. The 2 liter Platy Big Zip weighs 5.5 oz and provides 1/3 less capacity. That is more than double the weight of the 3 soft bottles. Now a weight savings of 2.8 ounces may not sound like a lot, but to some people it is.

I cannot comment on the durability of the Big Zip, as I have no experience with it. But my platy soft bags have lasted for several years.

For some people the convenience of the hydration tube system far out weighs the weight penalty. 3 platys are going to cost a little more than the Big Zip. Or you can just use 3 Aquafina or similar water bottles, which are almost free and weigh around 1.1 ounce each.

Ah... choices, choices, choices.

Alex Gilman
(Vertigo) - F

Locale: Washington
Re: Re: Hate to sound like an idiot but... on 08/05/2010 03:01:44 MDT Print View

You can use a pump filter to top the bladder off via drinking hose...

I do this when I'm at camp and collecting water for cooking and all around hydrating for the next day.

It all depends on your system but for me having great tasting clean water is a luxury I'm willing to pay the weight penalty for.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
drip... on 08/05/2010 05:44:06 MDT Print View

This may be an atypical experience, but back in 2007 on the LT my hiking partners Platypus Big Zip bladder opened up on top of Mt Ab and we had to spend a couple hours at the top drying out her gear. Was it user error? Yes; there didn't seem to be any defect and it didn't happen again. That said, she was pretty careful with how she closed it (as I said, it never happened before or again), but it still opened up. Thus, I prefer the closer system on the Camelbak, even if it is a bit heavier.

Ken Charpie
(kencharpie) - MLife

Locale: Western Oregon
I prefer the design of the Platypus on 08/05/2010 06:24:45 MDT Print View

I have a 3 Liter Platypus hydration system, but hike with friends that use the camelbak system. I borrow my wife's camelbak often for running, as well. After a year of hiking with my platypus on close to ten weekend trips, I've decided I like the Platypus design better for a few reasons:

1- I for one do feel that there is slightly less plastic flavor imparted to the water than the camelbak.
2- I like the pop-off tubing, this saves me some hassle when filling up on the trail because I can pull the reservoir out of my pack without messing around with the hose.
3- I prefer the soft bite valve of the platypus to the harder camelbak mouthpiece. I also like how the platypus valve comes apart for cleaning.
4- I prefer the zip-type opening when filling on the trail. It seems (to me) to require much less manipulation to fill completely than the camelbak and it's easier to seal without any air inside the reservoir, which helps prevent sloshing weight. The side opening to the camelbak reservoir always feels awkward to me while filling.
5- The slicker plastic of the platypus slides back into a stuffed pack much easier than the more rubbery sides of a camelbak reservoir. I hate having to pull gear out of my pack just to get a reservoir back into it.
6- The wide plastic handle of the platypus is easier to hang on short stubby branches of trees than the camelbak's smaller plastic hook. I like to hang the reservoir when using water to wash my face, clean something, etc

After a year of moderate use I have no concerns about it failing anytime soon. And it has spent a bit of time out of my pack tossed around on the ground or rubbing on tree bark.

Also, in regards to the water filtration and multiple bottles: I carry an empty 1L Platypus bottle that I can transfer clean water into before filling my main reservoir for treatment. This involves a minimal weight penalty and allows greater flexibility or extended water capacity if I ever get out into the desert for some hiking!

chris arvin
(kychris) - F

Locale: Red River Gorge Area
Gatorade bottles on 08/05/2010 06:33:31 MDT Print View

A couple of gatorade bottles are much lighter, dependable, versatile, and cheaper. I can reach mine in my ULA Conduit while walking. The one liter size is perfect for Aquamira.

Mike Whitesell
(madgoat) - F

Locale: Ohio
+1 on the bottles on 08/05/2010 08:18:17 MDT Print View

It all comes down to preference....

I prefer aquafina bottles in my accessible Ohm pockets.

I tried using a camelback for a while, but found that I was overly concerned about puncturing the bag in my pack and disliked the plastic taste imparted to the water. I also disliked the bag cleaning aspect. Too much of a post trip hassle for me.

To each their own though. The guys I go hiking with swear by their insulated camelbacks.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
The real issue of weight savings on 08/05/2010 08:49:01 MDT Print View

Choosing some ultralight items seems to be hair-splitting at times, but the real issue is the aggregate weight savings: an ounce here, two ounces there, and you find that you base weight has gone up a couple pounds. A Camelbak 70oz rig is 6.5oz vs the Platypus 2L Hoser at 3.5oz and an $8 cost savings too.

If you have everything else tweaked to your satisfaction, there's nothing wrong with adding an item that would seem heavy because you like the features or comforts. Sleeping pads are a good example. It's your hike! The bottom line is being conscious of your choices.

IMHO, bladders in the pack work better for day hikes. I do like having the water available on the fly. But they are pain to extract, refill and replace and they do have their weak points. If there is a leak, it's buried in the pack, so something is going to get wet. The best arrangement I have seen is when using a filter with quick-disconnect fittings on the hose, so you can treat and refill without removing the bladder. I don't care for the zip-type closures-- I don't trust them.

Like some others, I prefer a couple one liter containers in side pockets-- recycled wide mouth bottles or Platypus, depending on the treatment system used. With the Platypus it is easy to carry a spare for more capacity

K Magz
(lapedestrienne) - F

Locale: somewhere without screens
anything with a bite valve = less durable on 08/05/2010 10:06:38 MDT Print View

I'd be hesitant to say Camelbaks are more durable than Platypuses. I tried a 2L Camelbak for cycling and backpacking a few years back, and I really liked having a reservoir on the bike for hands-free hydration. However, within one season I blew through two bite valves, and then started having problems with leaky seams on the reservoir itself (not the plastic ridges in the cap, but in the rubber body).

Instead of replacing the whole thing, I just went back to using recycled 1L bottles and Platys, which are way more convenient for hiking, and lighter. The Camelbak is also quite hard to fill at streams, especially if you pump your water, because there is no way to stand it up. With a Platypus, once you get an inch or two of water in the bottom, it'll stand more or less on its own. Also, for $10 (or maybe a little more now) you can get a hydration hose to fit a Platy softbottle--I've ended up with one of those for bike trips, but when I'm hiking I usually leave it at home to save that tiny bit of weight. Bottom line is, find a pack with easily accessible bottle holsters, or fashion a bungee system and loop your bottles onto the shoulder straps (ala ULA packs). Good for the weight distribution.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: I prefer the design of the Platypus on 08/05/2010 10:16:17 MDT Print View

I like having a hydration system. It's just so danged nice to be able to drink on the move, particularly when I'm hiking with a group that keeps up a fast pace.

I've got a Platy 3.0 L Big Zip. I like the Big Zip for a number of reasons:
1. The Big Zip style is easier to fill up all the way.
2. The Big Zip style is easier to dry out (prevents mold).
3. The Big Zip makes a handy in-camp water carrier with its handle and is easy to pour from. Multi-use = good.

Water treatment is not big deal. I carry a "bottle water" bottle with me that I use for making electrolyte drinks. If I need to treat some water while still having some water to drink, I can just do it on the bottle. Or I can carry a filter. Or I can just not treat my water which is also a pretty safe option in the mountains of western N. America despite what filter companies et al. may say.

I've never had a problem with bladders leaking whether they were Camelbak or Platy. You do need to be careful when not wearing the bladder to turn off the bite valve. I have had water come out in my trunk because I set the pack on top of the bite valve, but that's user error not equipment failure. With the Big Zip, I always turn it over after sealing and give it a couple of quick squeezes just to make sure that I sealed it correctly

By the way, I really like the 3.0 L size and prefer it to the 2.0 L size. That extra liter is really handy for peak bagging side trips and such. The weight penalty between a 3.0 L size and a 2.0 L size is minimal and is certainly less than having to carry an additional water container when one does need more water than 2 liters.


Luke Moffat
(alaska_lanche) - MLife
Camelbak vs. Platy on 08/05/2010 11:26:08 MDT Print View

I went the reverse direction than most here. I started with a platypus but after more a couple zipper failures I went with the camelbak. I like it better. I don't have a probably filling in little creeks. I have the 3L, but usually only fill to 2L as I don't usually want or need the extra volume or weight of 3L, but I have found times when the option to do so is nice. So most of the time filling the bladder fully isn't an issue. I just don't trust the big zip seals as much, I know MANY others have had great luck, but I haven't found a real reason to justify changing back to Platypus style for my purposes. If filtering water I have a hiker-pro filter that allows the quick connect to the drinking hose. Also my pack isn't conducive for quick easy access to water bottles to hydration bladders it is for me.

Brian Turner
(Phreak) - F
my $0.02 on 08/05/2010 11:29:08 MDT Print View

I've had issues with every Platy I've owned. Switched back to Camelbak and have yet to have an issue with any bladders or bite valves. I've been using the same two camelbak bladders for 4+ years. Definitely worth the extra ounces IMO.

Paul Burke
(elpeebee) - F

Locale: Too far south of the Pyrenees
bottles not bladders on 08/05/2010 13:30:53 MDT Print View

Another vote for bottles rather than Camelbaks or Platypuses. (Platypi?) Mold in the bladder or tube is a PITA. It's nice to be able to put a bottle in the recycling bin rather than worry about drying, disassembling, cleaning, etc.

Also, a full bag makes it difficult to pull a bladder out of the hydration sleeve, much less put it back in. And if you didn't completely 100% seal it properly you'll get water dripping out all over your gear and won't notice until you feel dripping on your lower back, which means that everything on the inside and the pack itself have soaked through. Not that I learned that by experience or anything...

rexx john
(psychbeat) - F

Locale: SF CA
depends on 08/05/2010 15:29:05 MDT Print View

I switch between my Nalgene 3L bladder
and gatorade bottles depending on how
much water access there is.

the Nalgene bladders have a quick release
for the drinking tube and they dont taste
as rubbery as the camelbaks do.

I notice I drink more with the bladder set up.
not sure if thats a good thing or not.

having a single 3L bag in camp is nice since
you dont need to go back n forth filling bottles

both systems work great.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
hydro v. bottles on 08/05/2010 15:33:24 MDT Print View

There is no correct answer here, either system works well, one better than the other depending on the circumstances. I prefer a MSR Dromedary bag to any other hydro system. No worries about bladder failure there.

It also continues to astound me that bladder users don't secure the hose onto the bladder itself. Heat shrink and/or a small ziptie go a long way towards not soaking your gear when you foolishly yard on the hose. Same thing goes for keeping track of the bite valve.

Jennifer W
(tothetrail) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal.
Re: hydro v. bottles on 08/05/2010 15:40:20 MDT Print View

Heat shrink, love it. Good idea, I'm going to do that, thanks.

I use the zip tie method, but heat shrink is much cleaner, no sharp edges to worry about.

j lan
(justaddfuel) - F

Locale: MN
Re: hydro v. bottles on 08/05/2010 15:46:17 MDT Print View

I actually heat shrunk my whole dromeda bag one morning trying to melt ice for tea, still holding up 3 years later! Bombproof.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
bottles on 08/05/2010 15:48:11 MDT Print View

+1 on bottles

The impression I get is that a lot of people have bought into the urban folktales about hydration (e.g., that "thirst is too late"). Because their fear of dehydration is so exaggerated, they feel like they need to be able to carry a large amount of water and drink from it constantly.