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Hate to sound like an idiot but...
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Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Personal Preference on 08/05/2010 15:59:23 MDT Print View

Bottles vs. bladders -- one will never drive the other off the market -- there are pros and cons to both -- and much of it subjective in any case.

As for bladders, seriously, I wouldn't worry at all whether Camelbak or Platy or MSR is better: all of them are extremely dependable -- and yet, all of them will produce a lemon or two as well. Never hurts to double check your gear pieces prior to a trip.

It's pretty hard to go wrong with any of the major brands. But be it bottle or bladder -- I highly recommend that you "pin down" your entire water procurement, filtering, and storage method(s) before you buy any particular container, filter, or hydration tube. Make sure you settle on the whole system first before you buy -- so everything will work together.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Hydration: How Much is Enough? on 08/05/2010 16:54:50 MDT Print View

> 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
Ben, could you say more about this? What is your standard for how much you carry?


Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Dehydration on 08/05/2010 16:54:58 MDT Print View

I would caution against taking dehydration too lightly. It can be a fairly serious event should one get too low on water. And once the symptoms arrive, it's very hard to reverse things.

Last week, my Federal medical response team participated in a an outdoor field exercise in humid Hartford, CT. Temps were 85-90*F, and we were working hard outside in the sun. I probably drank 8 liters a day, and my pee still was always bright yellow. Several responders went down with various symptoms of mild heat exhaustion. Each night, we would all drink another 1-2 liters to try to catch up on our hydration. Since the body can only absorb maybe 1.0 ounce of water every 15 minutes, rehydration is not a quick thing. That's where a hydration bladder/hose setup makes it easy.

The best approach is to fully hydrate 2-3 days prior to your planned physical activity, and then continually sip on the Platypus while you exert (drinking lots of beer the night before the hike is a bad idea). Once you start feeling a mild headache, or feel quite thirsty, it's usually too late. While hiking in the heat, watch for a red flushness on your partner's face, which is an early warning sign. In Colorado, our dry air means we don't breathe in as much water vapor as we exhale, so we lose some that way. Also, I find that I don't get as thirsty at altitude, so sipping sometimes seems boring and silly. We have to encourage each other to drink more water.

So for me, at least, proper hydration is not an urban myth. Your sweating/relative humidity/transpiration/other fluid loss may vary.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: Hydration: How Much is Enough? on 08/05/2010 20:10:10 MDT Print View

Jim Barbour wrote: "Ben, could you say more about this? What is your standard for how much you carry?"
My standard is that I trust my body to tell me whether it needs water. If I can manage things so that I never feel extremely thirsty, then I consider that OK. In the Sierra, water is usually pretty plentiful, so I can usually accomplish that while carrying zero water on my back. In the San Gabriels, for example, I often find that I have to carry much more water. E.g., when I did Iron Mountain in May, I drank 1 liter of water before starting, carried 4 liters, drank 2 liters on the trail, and dumped 2 liters because I ended up not needing it.

The "thirst is too late" myth is discussed in this paper: Heinz Valtin, "'Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.' Really? Is there scientific evidence for '8x8'?," Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 283: R993-R1004, 2002.

Gary Dunckel wrote: "So for me, at least, proper hydration is not an urban myth."
I absolutely agree with you that dehydration can be extremely dangerous. I didn't say that proper hydration was an urban myth. I said that "thirst is too late" was an urban myth.

Dave Myers
(PatientWolf) - F

Locale: South Western Oklahoma
Camelbak on 08/05/2010 21:10:05 MDT Print View

I have a 3L Camelbak with a Sawyer inline filter. I use it in tandem with a 1L Aquafina Bottle. I drink from the Aquafina bottle first and when that is gone I sip from the Camelbak. When I find a water source I use the Camelbak as a gravity filter system and fill the Aquafina bottle and then refill the Camelbak. The bladder has a wide mouth that is set in the side of the bladder not on an end like a water bottle so it is easily filled even in shallow water, though admittedly I have never tried it in only 1" of water as one poster suggested. I have been using the Camelbak for about a year and it still in virtually new condition. So I think the Camelbaks are great and worth a few extra ounces.

Edited by PatientWolf on 08/05/2010 21:11:06 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
camelbak in shallow water on 08/05/2010 21:54:38 MDT Print View

Missed that one the first go 'round. It's actually pretty easy to set up a siphon with a hose system and little pools. When you're digging in the gravel to get water, this works better than bottles or a cup.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Personal Preference on 08/05/2010 23:15:50 MDT Print View

I have two hydration systems that were given to me a long time ago. One is a Platy the other a Camelbak. I use the Platy once in a blue moon for day hikes. Never have used the Camelback, don't even know what size it is and it came with an itty bitty backback, basically just to hold the bladder. Even with these "free" systems, I just prefer smaller bottles/sacks.

But I can certainly appreciate the convenience of drinking while you hike, and there is not a whole lot of weight penalty for the bladder, so pick your medicine. Neither is better than the other, except as Ben mentioned, personal preference.

I don't need a lot of water, and usually drink once an hour. To be honest, I prefer to stop for a minute or two and drink my water. I may take a pee, look at the map or the view. In cooler weather I may hike for a couple hours between drinking. But when I start to feel thirsty, I drink water. I do not time water breaks. Sometimes, when I am pushing to get to a destination, I may drink while walking, and it is easy to grab a bottle from the side pocket of my pack.

To me honest I don't really give hydration a lot of thought when hiking. When I am thirsty I drink. I know how much water I need each day depending on the conditions. When hiking in the desert my biggest concern is reliable water sources along my route, not managing water between sources.

Frank Steele
(knarfster) - F

Locale: Arizona
Nalgene bottles? on 08/06/2010 14:58:52 MDT Print View

Those weigh too much and cost too much. I get a 1L bottle of Aquafina and the bottle weighs less and it comes with "free" water (considering I will re-use the bottle). Plus my steripen fits perfectly in the neck of the bottle and seals tight.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Re: Hydration: How Much is Enough? on 08/06/2010 17:13:34 MDT Print View


I'm not a physiologist or sports med specialist or something, but at least for me, I'm a bit cautious. Note: I've never subscribed to the "eight glasses a day" thing.

I think I'm cautious with good reason: my dad always used to carry minimal water and (according to his M.D.) got kidney stones as a result.

The ideal I've heard about is "normal volume, normal color, and normal frequency." In other words, if you're properly hydrated, you should be peeing about the same amount as you usually do, the pee should be pale yellow (clear = too much water, dark = too little water), and you should be peeing as often as you would at home. To me, this ideal is pretty hard to accomplish on a hot day in a dry climate. I definitely check the color of my pee, and I expect a reasonable volume. To me if all I can squeak out after multiple hours of hiking, then I'm not drinking enough. As to frequency, I expect to pee at least once every three to four hours. I realize my guidelines might not exactly meet the "normal volume, normal color, and normal frequency" ideal, but I think it's a reasonable and practical compromise.

Just letting my body tell me when I need to drink usually leaves me in a deficit and diminishes not only my efficiency but also my enjoyment of hiking.


Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Bladders vs Bottles, etc. on 08/06/2010 17:27:13 MDT Print View

A couple of ideas:

First, I typically take a 1 liter soda wide mouth bottle and a 1 liter Platypus. I like the hard bottle to remove from my side pocket while hiking. I like to Platypus because it rolls up when not in use with minimal weight and storage needs. If I need more water I will take one more Platy or just a 2 liter instead. I like to drink from a bottle.

Second, I have used bladders but found that having 2 or 3 liters of water is just too much. I used a Platy hoser for a few years and now just use the above. For some reason I do not like sipping from a valve. One thing I do miss is the ability to pinch the bite valve and use it like a faucet. That is a nice option when you are using a bladder and a hose.

Third, I have seen many persons take their whole Camelback with them, strapping it to the back of their pack. For lightweight this makes no sense. I also do not like the idea that my bladder is in my pack upside down. I have seen user error (mine included) cause a leak. Usually, this is not a problem because the bladder is outside my plastic pack liner.

To each his own.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
YMMV on 08/06/2010 17:33:22 MDT Print View

“I've never subscribed to the "eight glasses a day" thing.”

I’m sure it really depends on the individual. For my wife, that would be a woeful inadequate amount for a day indoors. Her normal amount for a day spent indoors is about one gallon. For me it’s a little more than I need.

“To me, this ideal is pretty hard to accomplish on a hot day in a dry climate.”

We both had that problem in Yosemite. No matter how much I drank I was dehydrated and I just couldn’t seem to drink enough water (always had plenty). I’m sure the wine in the evening wasn’t helping...

Everyone is different and needs to drink enough to fulfill their needs, not what someone claims they may need. One interesting thing we both discovered is that we drink more when using a bottle vs. a hydration bladder. It’s back to basics for both of us!

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Hydration: How Much is Enough? on 08/06/2010 17:38:27 MDT Print View

Jim Barbour wrote: "The ideal I've heard about is "normal volume, normal color, and normal frequency.""
The paper by Valtin gives this as #2 on his list of myths:

Yeah, kidney stones are miserable. My wife has had them. No fun at all. Of course, nobody can give advice about hydration that will be appropriate to every person with every possible medical problem.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Hydration: How Much is Enough? on 08/06/2010 18:26:46 MDT Print View

From the link provided by Ben:
"Dark Urine Means Dehydration
Whether or not this statement is correct will depend on how dark the urine is, because the depth of color in urine will vary inversely with the urinary volume. Although the volume varies greatly among individuals, in our student laboratory (see above, under Other Data Since "8 × 8") the mean value was 1,520 ml/24 h (Table 3), with a mean urine osmolality of 590 mosmol/kgH2O. Both values are those generally cited as being "normal," namely, 1,500 ml/24 h and 600 mosmol/kgH2O, respectively (73, 92). At a urine osmolality ~600 mosmol/kgH2O, the concentration of solutes in the urine is such that the urine has a moderately yellow color, which might be interpreted as "dark," especially when contrasted against "pale yellow" or "clear," which is specified in most of the lay literature (26). Yet, at the above-cited normal urinary volume and osmolality, the plasma osmolality will be well within the normal range and nowhere near the values of 300 mosmol/kgH2O and higher, which are seen in meaningful dehydration. Therefore, the warning that dark urine reflects dehydration is alarmist and false in most instances."

My subjective feeling is that I've got a good sense of what normal urine color is for me and that I don't "go off the deep end" when there's some moderate yellow color. I can see and feel a difference when the urine is truly dark. I don't try to shoot for the (supposed) ideal of "normal volume, normal color, and normal frequency," but I do look for excessively dark color, unusually small volume, and odd sensation while urinating, and try to have a general idea of how often I'm peeing.

On the whole bottles vs. bladders thing, one advantage to a bottle is it's easy to monitor how much your drinking. I have to pull the bottle out anyway to drink, and I can visually determine how much water is left in the bottle. With a bladder, it's kind of a hassle to yank it out my pack and check the level, and stopping and pulling it out kind of defeats the whole convenience of using a bladder. I haven't ever had a Camelbak or a Platy leak on me, but I do consider a bottle more secure. I'd never take a Camelbak or Platy into my sleeping bag with me, but I do it all the time with a bottle.


Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
How much water is left on 08/06/2010 18:34:26 MDT Print View

"one advantage to a bottle is it's easy to monitor how much your drinking."

That is my big reason for wanting a bottle. When I use a bladder I take very small sips and typically worry that I will run out (even though I never have). With the bottle I always know exactly how much I have. Interestingly, this was NOT a problem for my wife. She never worried about how much was left (I guess that was my job ;) ). It's just much easier for her to drink out of a bottle, and the water doesn't get as hot as it does in the tube.

Albert C.
(Albsthehiker) - F
Thanks everyone on 08/07/2010 11:28:07 MDT Print View

Thank you everyone for your well thought out advice.

I've read every post and spent some time thinking about my whole hydration system. I've thought about bladders vs. Bottles and at the moment, I figure that I'll stick with the system that i've been using for the past couple of years and just stick nalgene bottles.

I thank everyone again for their two cents and any other information anybody has concerning their hydration system with much greatly be appreciated.