Pros:Easy and convenient to use while on the move. I'll never leave home without one.
Cons:Good percentage had pinhole leaks; strong plastic taste.
The Bottom Line: If you're active in a hot climate, it's the only way to carry water. They're standard issue for soldiers now.
Hydration backpacks are a great idea. I can't imagine myself ever going back to a canteen. While in Iraq, it really got up to 130 degrees with the city effect. In the back of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, it would sometimes get up to 140+. Inside the vehicles, there were often coolers with water. But when you were out humping, you only had what you carried.
Recommend this product?
Having a source of water that you could access by simply popping a valve in your mouth and biting is extremely convenient. Compared to having pull out a canteen; unscrew the cap, drink, replace the cap, and then replace the canteen - you have to take your eyes off your surroundings. Not a good thing to do in a combat zone or while even riding a bike.
I've even used mine as a pillow.
There were only a few things I didn't like about the Camelbak. One was the initial plastic taste of the water. If you rinse it out a couple of times, that reduced it but it was still there. If it got warm, that plastic taste got really strong.
Some guys used to put Kool Aid and other juice mixes in their Camelbaks to kill the plastic taste. The down side there was that the sugar caused bacteria growth and they really got ugly after a while.
The plastic taste bothered me enough that I eventually bought a hydration backpack from Tactical Tailer in Tacoma, WA. The bladder had no plastic taste at all and was very durable. The one thing I didn't care for the Tactical Tailer model was that while it did come with a mouthpiece cover, there was no shut off valve.
When we got our initial shipment of Camelbaks, about 1/4 right out of the box had pinhole leaks. Within a few days, a few more developed pinhole leaks. The rest held up fine and I still have mine hanging in my locker.
A shut off valve come with all of the hydration bags. Be sure to use it or you'll eventually "dribble" on yourself. It doesn't take much to accidentally pinch the mouthpiece and leak all over yourself. Sometimes its refreshing, sometimes its embarrassing.
I do recommend that you buy the optional mouthpiece protective cap for $8. It keeps the mouthpiece clean (a good thing) and minimizes accidental leaks.
Camelbak sells cleaner tablets for their camelbaks. I've never used it but the two guys that I know that have, were disappointed. They said it took a lot of water to rinse it out and it left a residue taste too.
If you do decide to flavor your water, I do recommend you buy the cleaning kit. It's basically two cleaning brushes to scrub the inside of the bag and the tube. I will say that cleaning the tube is a pain. I did it once and never bothered again. Crud started to build up inside my tube but we all generally shrugged - that which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger...right?
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