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What hydration system do you use?
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Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
What hydration system do you use? on 12/21/2006 07:30:47 MST Print View

None of the UL Packs described at this site are "Hydration Compatible". What system do you use? That is, how do you carry water? How much do you carry as you start hiking? What is your hydration routine? Do you sip often or gulp larger quantities, drinking more, but, less often? (for average 3 season hiking, not running or desert hiking)

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: What hydration system do you use? on 12/21/2006 08:48:25 MST Print View

can't say that i have a hard and fast, settled system for hydration. depending upon the whim of the moment and/or the type of water purification i'll be using (chems, UV-C, gravity filtration, or pump filter) , i'll use one or more of the following methods for any particular trek

a) Platy hydration bladders (real cold weather can have problems, but there are solutions to those problems)

b)Platy bottles or Nalgene Cantenes in below freezing weather.

c)other poly bottles made into "sippy" bottles for ease of use and are bungeed to pack straps AR style

d) a large 1.8L spring water bottle converted into a hydration system.

e) a 1L Nalgene either Lexan (rarely) or Cantene to facilitate UV-C purification and used in conjunction with a big-zip platy into which all but the last liter of purified water is transferred.

f) Katadyn ExStream filter bottles

as far as hydration bladders with L/UL packs, i don't find lack of a hydration pocket or a tube port to be overly limiting.

for example, if i use a 2L hydration bladder with a GG G5 or GG G6 Whisper pack, i merely stow the bladder inside of the pack at some desired vertical location closest to my back, and exit the tube out the roll-top closure of the pack. The rolltop simply rolls around the hydration tube and then velcros securely just as if no tube were exiting the pack. i've also used them with other packs as well - just get slightly creative in stowing the bladder and exiting the tube.

some other L/UL packs do have tube-ports.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: What hydration system do you use? on 12/21/2006 09:05:31 MST Print View

I am a bit different in that I rarely use a bladder while backpacking. I just don't like them as much anymore. Part of the reason is I don't know when I am running out.

I carry 2 quart bottles (usually Snapple ice tea bottles) and an empty 2L Platy bladder without tubing for camp. Often I toss in a small platy bladder (20 oz size or so) for camp washups.

Seems to work well! The bottles fit in all my mesh pockets on my packs. And if needed, and we are dry camping, I can fill up the bladder and stick it in the bladder holder inside.

As for drinking, I am a constant sipper. I have gotten very good at walking and drinking. The mesh pockets on 3 of my packs are easy to grab out of.

Edited by sarbar on 12/21/2006 09:07:23 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: What hydration system do you use? on 12/21/2006 09:17:29 MST Print View

Sarbar's post reminded me.

I often have a 16-24oz bottle of various sorts w/me if i'm using hydration bladders. this is for the same reason she stated - viz., you don't always know how low your water supply is when the bladder is out of sight inside your pack.

i prefer sipping every 10min or so, hence my conversion of many types of containers into hydration systems or "sippy" bottles to facilitate hydration while on the go.

sometimes i'll through a small reservoir or bottle in a small fannie (sic -- chg'd -y to -ie to get by the profanity filters; interesting, fann-y is a 'no-no' word, but fart is 'ok'- it's the otherway around in my household; come to think of it, doesn't a fart come from a fann-y?!!) pack which i'll wear in front of my lower abdomen for easy access (also might have Clif bars in there and/or a small bag of GORP or a "honey bee" squeeze bottle; plus bug dope, Rain-X Anti-fog for my glasses, AqM if using that for water purification, etc.)

Edited by pj on 12/21/2006 09:19:46 MST.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: What hydration system do you use? on 12/21/2006 09:22:34 MST Print View

I use a hydration bladder on day hikes since I use my Camelbak pack. However on longer trips I just use 1 liter soda bottles. Its a lot easier to keep track of how much water you have left and are a lot easier to fill in streams. I normally carry about 2 liters of water when I'm on the trail and will pick up an extra liter just before I stop for dinner if I know I'm not going to be near a water source. I just sip the water, but do it regularly.


Neil Johnstone
(nsjohnstone) - MLife
Hydration system on 12/21/2006 09:50:42 MST Print View

I normally use a bladder system, as with one I actually drink something before I'm thirsty. Probably sheer lazyness, but pulling a bottle from a side pocket is just too much of an effort compared to the handy hose.

The difference with a bladder is that I sip little but often, but with a bottle it's a large amount at very irregular intervals.

I've not had any problem with sacks without custom bladder features - to the extent that it's often easier to refill the bladder when it's 'loose' in the pack.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Hydration System on 12/21/2006 10:40:29 MST Print View

I carry two 1L size Platys -- one each in my pack's side water bottle pockets. One of them is placed upside down and connected with a hydration tube. I used to use bottles, until one jumped out and escaped into the deep ravine below. It's basically impossible for platys to break free of the mesh pockets.

If I need more water, then I pack additional Platys inside my pack.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: What hydration system do you use? on 12/21/2006 10:50:13 MST Print View

>None of the UL Packs described at this site are "Hydration Compatible".

The Gossamer Gear Mariposa and Mariposa Plus, at least, have a hydration pocket and dual hose ports. The REI Flash UL also has a hydration pocket. I usually use a 3L Platypus Hoser with these. I use a Camelbak UnBottle 3L with my LuxuryLite pack; with a pair of small cord loops through the buckles, it lays nicely on top of the cylinders. For my packs without hydration sleeves I generally pack the Unbottle and stuff a larger item (usually something big like a quilt) at the same time, which stabilizes it sufficiently, or clip the Unbottle to the outside or top. (The Unbottle is insulated, which is useful when it is outside the pack.)

I supplement with 1L Platypus or Nalgene Cantenes as necessary (or 2L soda bottle if I have room). I rarely carry less than 2L to start because I don't like to stop even if water is anticipated to be plentiful. (Oh for the days when all I carried was a sierra cup.) I carry as much as 6L for a waterless day hike. The experience of running out of water has left me shaken, so I'd rather carry an extra few pounds than not have enough. I like to sip steadily, and I generally know how much water I have left. I estimate 2 miles to the liter in Hawaii, 4 miles to the liter in Wyoming, and 6 miles to the liter in Washington, then adjust a bit for weather.

>I used to use bottles, until one jumped out and escaped...

Yes, be sure that your bottles fit securely, i.e., either are entirely enclosed by mesh or, if they have lids like Nalgenes, that you can clip the lid hanger. I found somebody's nice Nalgene bottle way off-trail in the Olympics...

Edited by Otter on 12/21/2006 10:53:05 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Bottles jumping for freedom on 12/21/2006 11:31:00 MST Print View

Oh, I understand that one only to well! On my LLBean Celia pack they have shock cord that goes over the neck of the bottle. Even shaking my pack upside down they don't come out easy. Love that feature! My Kelty Illusion pack also has a similar type of feature.
On the PCT here in WA, there is the famous stream crossing from Mt. Daniel's glaciers. We counted quite a few bottles, plus other flotsam laying around ;-) The stream it seems does a great job of helping bottles get to freedom ... hehheh!!

Laurence Daniels
(GNR) - F

Locale: Boston
Re: What hydration system do you use? on 12/21/2006 11:36:56 MST Print View

I use a 48oz Nalgene flask, with MSR hydration cap and tube, which fits the Nalgene. I place it right-side-up, as once the air is out of the flask, it collapses as I drink. It is just enough for me to hike a good distance, not too heavy and I can see how much I have left if it is in an external side pocket. If I am hiking where water is scarce, I take along either another 48oz flask or a 1L one.

Edit: Reread your question.

I also have a habit, for better or worse, of taking no water to start, and obviously, having a sure source within a reasonable distance toward which I am hiking. I drink a large amount at the trailhead, probably Gatorade or something before I start. Not sure how this developed, but I like starting the hike and getting warmed up without having my pack at it's heaviest weight, even if it means going from 12 to 15 lbs . I haven't gotten dehydrated doing this and don't get cramped up either drinking so much at the start of my hike.

Edited by GNR on 12/21/2006 11:58:07 MST.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: What hydration system do you use? on 12/21/2006 11:47:32 MST Print View

For a time I used the internal 2 or 3 liter bladder approach to hydration. But on a long hike where I thought I would find water on the way in sufficiency to fill the bladder, I found none until the end of the day. I ran out and cound not fill the bladder from the few meager sources I did find. That cured me of the bladder approach. That and the space that they take up in the pack and the difficulty in getting access to them and filling them. A real pain IMO. So, now I use the following:
I carry one Nalgene 1 quart canteen that really holds 40oz. I also carry a folded up 1L platypus and a emergency filtration straw that would allow me to sip water of any quality from the most meager source. ( I have used it only once for this purpose but really found it indispensible and at less than 1oz in weight it is now an irreplaceable item in my EM kit.) I use micropur tabs most of the time and Aqua Mira the rest of the time as my preferred purification method. I drink as much as I can all of the time.

Just remembered another reason why I use the Nalgene canteen and not a water bladder. I enjoy the brief stops that are necessitated by accessing and drinking from a bottle. Just this momemtary pause allows me to refresh myself with H2O, listen to the sounds of the wilderness around me, do a 360 taking in the beauty around me and often empty my bladder. This does not apppreciably affect the pace I have set but does improve the quality of the hike.

Edited by mitchellkeil on 12/21/2006 11:58:43 MST.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: What hydration system do you use? on 12/21/2006 12:15:13 MST Print View

I have used an internal bladder, usually a 2 L platy, for most of the last 6 years. I also haul a 1 L wide mouth collapsable Nalgene for filling convenience and camp use. On group trips, I take a 2 ounce silnylon bag with tube and nozzle that allows me to dip and fill huge amounts (maybe 6 L) at once. All purification is done with Aqua Mira.

I am leaning towards getting rid of the internal bladder in favor of two plastic bottles for my pack straps. I am thinking it would be nice not to have one more thing to pack up...and I also think the weight on the front of my body would act as a small counterbalance to the pack.

Can anyone speak to switching from a bladder to a bottle system and some of the unexpected benefits they found?

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: What hydration system do you use? on 12/21/2006 12:51:57 MST Print View

AR-style bottles have a lot of pluses. However, 20-24oz each is about the LARGEST bottles that i personally would want to put there. If one is used to carrying 2L of water, then another bottle will be needed.

A secure AR-style mount needs to be fabricated - at least two bungees are typically req'd to keep secure and to reduce swaying. If bottles have necks, then sometimes one will keep secure, but bottles will sway as one moves. Elastic/bungee is the way to go as the bottles will "walk" out from under non-elastic lashings as one hikes.

Another nice point, besides a bit of counterbalance improving longitudinal, i.e. fore-to-aft, CG (though this is usally not req'd at L/UL pack loads, IMHO, and may raise vertical CG a bit vs. carrying heavy water lower on body; raising vert. CG is NOT a good thing by my way of thinking, but probably 'ok' since it's only 2x24oz water bottles) is making the bottles "sippy" bottles so that they don't need to be removed from the pack straps to drink. Just place flexible tubing straw into your mouth and suck.

Reusing lightweight Spring Water bottles (other other types of bottles) is inexpensive (if one was going to purchase the original beverage/water anyways). These bottles are also robust and are also easily repaired in the field with duct tape.

Edited by pj on 12/21/2006 12:53:30 MST.

Stephen Eggleston
(happycamper) - F

Locale: South Bayish
RE: What Hydration System Do You Use? on 12/21/2006 21:48:30 MST Print View

I currently prefer carrying a 1 liter plastic bottle for drinking on the trail. I also pack a 2 liter(or larger) Big-Zip platy for extra water at camp or on the trail.

I like the simplicity of a clear plastic bottle. Easy to use, refill and clean. A 1 liter bottle also provides a simple measure for Aqua-Mira.

A hydration bladder with drinking tube makes sipping easier but is not my favorite except for day hikes.

I prefer a 1 liter glaceau smart water bottle because it fits perfectly into the side pockets of my Golite jam.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
Platys and Pocari Sweat,re:What hydration system do you use? on 12/22/2006 00:15:08 MST Print View

pj, you mentioned:

"..a large 1.8L spring water bottle converted into a hydration system."

I assumed only bladders would work with hydration systems because non-vented bottles would not collapse as water is consumed, and would thus form a vacuum above the water line? Have you tried that bottle configuration yet?

To answer the original question, I carry 0.5, 1, and 2 liter Platypus bladders(called 'bottles' by the maker). One for drinking, one for cooking, and one for reserve/treatment. I have the Platypus drinking tube as well. This being the first winter with Platypus, I found they freeze easily, so Im going to buy foam tubing for the tube and make reflectix cozys for the bladders.
I also carry a 500ml PET bottle with electrolyte sports drink. (I prefer "Pocari Sweat"*)

What I don't use: My Camelback is heavy, and leaks at the bottom tube connection. Similarly, the only Platypus 'Reservoir' I bought leaked at the neck weld; so I stick with their 'bottles'

After having a bladder take a screamer out of my side pouch once, I took a hand-held hole punch and made holes in the upper and lower corners of each Platypus seam for a micro-biner/leash belay. Also helps identify "mine" since they all look alike.

*No Pocaris were harmed in the making of this sports drink.

carlos fernandez rivas
(pitagorin) - MLife

Locale: Galicia -Spain
different options on 12/22/2006 02:10:45 MST Print View

During the last 20 years I tried almost all hydration systems possible (plastic and aluminium canteens, aluminium sigg-type bottles, all the camelbacks, water and soda bottles, platypus hoser, big zip, and plain bottles, nalgene type bottles, nalgene cantene…….
None is perfect, and finally I use different options.

-MTB I use a camelback, because I like the design and im not worried about the weight.

-For general backpacking use I carry a 2 lt platypus big zip, because is lighter and easy to clean if I use sport drinks. (never had leak problems with platypus, the camelback is heavier and I experienced leaks in the “omega” closure) sometimes I add a 0.5 sports drink bottle (Aquarius) for back up and cooking.

-For sub 5 backpacking, one 2 lts platypus (the lighter option)

-Mountaineering and climbing, in summer: I use the platypus big zip

-Winter mountaineering: I use platypus or plastic bottles ( sometimes I carry one small 0.5 bottle in my front pocket that I refill in the belay stops) I tried collapsible nalgenes but some times are difficult to use with gloves or wind,

-Altitude mountaineering…. I use to carry one o two nalgene bottles in my pack combined with two small (0.5 Aquarius) bottles in the front pockets of my jacket, (I refill the small bottles in the stops)

I use different options because I had the stuff but to be honest, my personal opinion is that the best option is the clear plastic bottle… cheap (free) light, easy to use, clean……

carlos fernandez

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Platys and Pocari Sweat,re:What hydration system do you use? on 12/22/2006 05:06:22 MST Print View


making any bottle into either a "sippy" bottle (smaller 16-24oz bottoles typically mounted AR-style on one's pack straps) or a hydration system (1.8L to 2L bottles typically) is really not very difficult.

even a klutz like me can fabricate one.

here are three suggestions for doing so. i've done the first two, and one long time Forum participant swears by the third, though my first thought was the same as your observation, viz. "How does that work again???" (since the bottle is semi-rigid and doesn't collapse, thus drawing a vacuum which "fights" water flow).

1. buy a hydration conversion kit containing various size caps for many, many popular bottles (1L Lexan, Gatorade, various poplular smaller Spring Water & Soda Pop bottles), hydration tube and bite valve. The caps are vented with a self-sealing vent so leaking when the bottle isn't upright does NOT occur. Sorry, i don't remember where i purchased mine (Brigade Quartermaster's, maybe??? - i'm thinkin' on it and will clearly edit this post if i figure it out - it was a very nice, relatively inexpensive kit).

2. get some hydration tubing sold separately on this website originally intended for Platys (Anyone, is that spelled "Platties" in Oz?) and...

bore/drill a hole the size of the hydration tube in the original bottle cap. Sometime i wrap some duct tape around the tube where it will mate to the bottle cap, so the hole needs to be a little larger. However, even when i don't do it, i smooth the bored/drilled hole edge and since there is little relative motion b/t the tube and cap, not much wear takes place. then,...

starting small, and if required, working up to successively larger holes to obtain desired flow for desired suction-effort, bore/drill a vent hole in the bottle cap (this takes care of the issue you were envisioning of a non-collapsible, semi-rigid plastic bottle). A small piece of duct tape is used to cover the vent hole and prevent leakage when the pack is stowed in my bivy at night. And, yes...

i use a 1.8L Spring Water bottle in my Hunter's Lumbar Pack - it has a water bottle pocket that i can just fit the 1.8L bottle into by inserting while twisting/screwing the bottle into the pocket - that sucka' ain't ever fallin' out - biner or no!). A 2L bottle has just slightly too large a diameter for this water bottle pocket which was originally intended for 24oz SportTop bottles (it came with one) and has a cord-locked bungee at the top of the pocket to secure smaller bottles (unecessary w/the 1.8L bottle).

i've tried it a lot and this works fine. Sure the bottle is upright and i have to draw the water up, but this really isn't that difficult, IMHO, even after a steep ascent and HR is up and breathing is consciously being controlled.

3. the long time Forum participate i mentioned earlier uses an inverted rigid plastic bottle with a leak-proof cap. he claims that he just sucks (THIS IS NOT meant as a double entendre!) and draws a bit of a vacuum until the semi-rigid bottle starts to collapse. i've never tried this, but i would imagine that the water in the tube is probably sucked back into the bottle when he no longer is drawing water from the bottle (unless the bottle deforms and remains mostly in that deformed state). BTW, this might be nice for below freezing weather if it really did automagically draw the water in the tube back into the bottle. Furthermore, wouldn't it be a simple matter to also just bite on the valve to keep it open for a brief time after drinking so that some air is drawn in also? This would prevent a cumulative build up of negative pressure as more and more water is drawn from the semi-rigid bottle.

Anyways, again, i've never tried #3, but he swears by it. In my case, the bottles are stowed and used upright and vented to prevent collapse or a vaccum from being drawn.

Main downside to spring water and soda pop bottles is filling them. Two issues: small opening and shallow water sources. Using a bandana as a pre-filter, in deep water it's not too difficult, but takes a while due to the small opening which is further impeded by the bandana pre-filter. In shallower water, the bottle is manually crushed to some degree and then filled as much as is possible. My 450-600 ml Ti dual-use heating/drinking cup can be used to scoop water and pour through the bandana pre-filter which i've placed over a small lightweight funnel to facilitate fillng the water bottle by pouring when water is too shallow to finish filling the bottle (the funnel is one of those small alcohol/fuel funnels in a different color fr/my fuel funnel and also clearly marked with a 'Sharpie' water-proof marker in two locations on the funnel; the funnel also has a mesh filter, but i don't know the pore size). If i use my Ti cup for scooping water, I don't use the Ti cup again w/o heating the water to make sure any little bugger on it which is still viable is killed. Generally, i don't use my cup in this fashion however.

Best way to fill small mouth plastic bottles, IMHO, is either a pump filter or a gravity filter.

Perhaps this is too much detail and probably more than an experienced L/UL-er like yourself requires? Hopefully, the verbosity will prove helpful to any 'newbie'. If i failed to answer your question, or muddied the waters, so to speak, w/my extraneous verbosity, if you are daring enough for a second dose of verbiage, just post back and i'll attempt a clearer, more succinct reply.

Still searching for source for the conversion kit. REI sells one to convert an inverted Nalgene Cantene into a hydration system. REI also sells a "sippy" kit to convert an upright Nalgene Cantene into a "sippy" bottle.

Edited by pj on 12/22/2006 05:34:16 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: different options on 12/22/2006 05:17:19 MST Print View

I'm w/Carlos on this one. Diff. approaches for diff. expected conditions (water sources - both distance b/t and depth and clarity of water or dripping/flowing spring/cascade vs. standing water, air temperature, etc.) and/or the pack i'll be using on a particular trek

Brett, i should have mentioned this earlier (Carlos' Post jogged my memory), i've never had a problem w/a Platy leaking. Had one show wear and used some duct tape on it as a precaution before it started leaking.

Stephen Eggleston
(happycamper) - F

Locale: South Bayish
Leaking platypus on 12/22/2006 07:57:10 MST Print View

One of my platy hydration bags started leaking after a while. It was one of the older versions with a trapezoidal piece of plastic at the screw top. It leaked from the weld between the bag and the harder plastic. I called up cascade designs and they told me to return it for a replacement. They quickly sent me the newest version of that particular design as a replacement...quite an improvement.

Benjamin Tomsky
(btomsky) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Leaking platypus on 12/22/2006 10:05:00 MST Print View

The first time I relied on a Platypus for hydration, it failed at a seam and soaked much of my gear. REI replaced it, as it was barely a few weeks old, but since then I've never been able to trust platties completely. I still often use them as my primary hydration source, but usually bring a backup. A no backup scenario would be: a SUL weekend where could manage without water (or drinking straight from source) for awhile.

Personally I really like the Sigg bottles and am willing to take the weight penalty (4.7 oz) for the following reasons:

1. Security/durability: they are pretty much indestructible
2. Ease of filling, especially compared to a platty
3. Aesthetics: I like how they look and feel
4. Shape/size of top: big enough to drink from while walking but not so big it will spill all over
5. Shape of inside of cap: works well for mixing AM