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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralRehydration  bladders vs CanteensRehydration bladders vs Canteens
New Post
4/13/2013 5:38 AM

  Good'day Ladies and Gents.

Currently in all my packs i use bladders for hydration, i recently chatted to a guy that was totally against it, majority of his reasons for being against it is hygiene purposes which included points:

1. Cannot or difficult to clean bladder.

2. Dark, wet / damp environment perfect for bacterial growth.

3. You cannot see what you drink

4. Difficulties in cleaning the bladder if you add eg rehydrate solution

I need to keep a Gobag that keeps 2.5 L of water, I do not change the water on a daily basis.

Whats the general concensus concerning practicality, one of the main reasons is im interested in the HPG packs but the fact there is no dedicated pocket for a bladder system has gotten me thinking that im missing something somewhere??

Thank you for sharing.


New Post
4/13/2013 6:15 AM

 To reply on my own post, i just read now there is hang loops for bladders, are these in dedicated compartments for hydration?

New Post
4/13/2013 6:03 PM

I used to use bladders but found them to be more trouble than they were worth.  The canteen for me is much simpler, I typically carry two which is enough to get me to a stream or lake.  But I live in Western Washington and water supplies are never far away, just carry a filter.  If I know I will be several hours from a supply I will throw in an extra canteen or two.

I have both the Ute and Tarahumara.  I checked my Tara and cannot find a hanging loop for a bladder.  In the main compartment there is no loop on mine.  There is the carry handle above the back slot pocket you could use.  The Ute does have loops and you can put your bladder in the sleeve where the framesheet goes.

Hope this helps,


New Post
4/14/2013 7:36 AM

I am anti-bladder as is Evan, we do add in hang loops for those folks who use them, but we feel that they are a poor choice for the back country.  Hydration is a critical component of staying healthy and mobile. Evan and I both have had failures with every one of the bladders we have tried. One to many times we have opened a pack to find the bladder empty and the interior of the pack soaked. There is nothing quite like needing to hydrate and having water available, but not that you can use. Think Ryhme of the Ancient Mariner, or at least I do.  In my opinion it is not a matter of if, but when the bladder will fail. I am just not willing to use an item that I know will fail. I have never had a hard water bottle fail on me. I take that back I did crack a lid on one of the FS issue ones after 3 summers of use, when I tossed it and the lid hit a rock, and I was able to field repair it long enough to finish the trip. That is it, and it was my mistake. When you add to that the difficulty with monitoring water level in a bladder, having to darn near completely unpack a pack to refill it, and the hygiene issues they are just not worth it.  I know there are folks out there who have never had and issue, well I am not one of them.  I suspect the have their places, but for sustained use and relying on having water when I need it bladders are a no go for me. I am sure that Evan will be along as he has a ironic story to relate on this topic.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
New Post
4/14/2013 10:57 AM

 I am using Camelbak right now, my wife also, havent had equipment failure yet,  i think my concern is still the hygiene aspec, so far it looks as if theres more negatives than positives on this one.

Thank you gents for your input.

New Post
4/14/2013 2:22 PM

These days I use a bottle most of the time, but in Western Montana the only time I need to carry more than a liter is way up in the late summer alpine, or in deep winter when it's all frozen and I don't want to melt snow too often.

That said, when I lived in UT and AZ I used an MSR Dromedary with a hose.  When you need to carry 6-10 liters bags take up much less space, and let you place the water weight in a more efficient spot.  The only failure I've had with a Drom was pilot error; not screwing the lid on tight.  They're just as if not more durable than nalgene bottles.

I don't use drink mix in a bladder.  Doing so requires vigilant cleaning, which I'll eventually forget to do.  Use plain water, rinse occasionally, and replace the hose and valve every year or so and you're all set. 

New Post
4/14/2013 2:57 PM

I am a bladder user May-Oct and use bottles Nov-April. The reason for not using a bladder in winter are obvious but these are some reason I prefer a bladder to bottles in the summer:

1. I find I get easily dehydrated if I use bottles. The reason being is that I do not want to stop to take a drink all the time. With a bladder I can just keep sipping my water on the go. My Doc says its better to drink small amounts of water as you go rather than stop and put down a whole 32 oz Nalgene at once every hour.

2. I hate warm water! if the water is warm I do not want to drink it and I get dehydrated. My camelbak bladder is insulated and keeps my water cold for hours. A Nagene on the outside of your pack will get warm quick and I just cant drink it after that. (Hydroflasks solve this problem but are too heavy for backpacking)

3. Its seems I can pack more water in a smaller amount of space. I know that sounds stupid because water is water but a bladder makes your water into a more "packable" shape.

I have never had a bladder fail, this is because of two things most likely. I use a camelbak unbottle which is a insulated sleeve for the water bladder. It protects the bladder from harm and keeps your water cold. I have used a cuben fiber bladder sleeve a couple times that attaches to my packs top lid and it also protects the bladder but is not insulated.

I also replace my bladder before I need to. I use a bladder for two years and then buy a new one to replace it, on my thrid one now. I do this even though its perfectly fine, its not dirty, smelly, worn out or on the verge of failure. I just do it because I never want to have one fail on me when I really need it.

As for keeping it clean its really simple. I regularly clean the bladder with camelbak cleaning tablets and never leave old water in it. If its not going to be used for some time I clean it, empty out all the water, remove the bite valve, use my air compressor to blow out the tube and get the bladder completely dry. It will be good to go in the spring.

New Post
4/14/2013 7:39 PM

 Hi all,

Long time lurker first time poster, I use an MSR Dromedary bag as well. Where I am located, Western Australia, we generally have to carry all of our water for a day sometimes even an entire trip. That can mean anythng from 3 litres up to about 9 litres which is the most I've carried. Never had an issue with the dromedary and have done over 2000kms with the current one. One cool tip for storing bladders is to wash them out when your done and put them in the freezer, that way no bacteria can grow at all. 



New Post
4/15/2013 9:05 AM

If memory serves the dromedary held up the best, but we have both had one fail. Maybe we are just to hard on gear.


You are right regarding it is better to always be sipping, and that is the huge advantage to the bladder. If I am wearing a waist belt it isn't an issue, but without a belt it becomes more of an issue.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
New Post
4/15/2013 11:27 AM

The Cascade Designs Platypus bladder works great for my needs.  I carry a 70oz platy and tube and usually two quart gatorade bottles.  The Platypus bladder gets little hairline cracks in the outer layer with heavy use.  I retire it at that point.  I have a Platypus patch kit, it is unused.  I just lay the bladder in the very top of my pack horizontally.

New Post
4/15/2013 1:07 PM
I use both bladders and bottles. Never had a problem with either one. Maybe I'm weird. I like both.
New Post
4/15/2013 1:27 PM

scothill wrote

If memory serves the dromedary held up the best, but we have both had one fail. Maybe we are just to hard on gear.


How'd the Drom fail (professional curiosity)?

New Post
4/15/2013 1:41 PM

DaveC wrote

 scothill wrote


If memory serves the dromedary held up the best, but we have both had one fail. Maybe we are just to hard on gear.



How'd the Drom fail (professional curiosity)?

I don't remember to be honest.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
New Post
4/15/2013 1:43 PM

My dromedary had a seam failure. I think I used it for a couple of years before it failed. It was a gallon or gallon and a half that I used to carry large amounts of water in dry areas. It replaced a 1.5 gallon Clorox bottle that I used for 2 or 3 years before that. I was thinking about this last night, and I think I may have had it and been using it before any of the drinking tube stuff came out. Was MSR making bladders before Camelback?

The funny story that Scot was referring to is that I haven't used a bladder in about 3 years. A couple of weeks ago I thought "it would be cool to use one inside of the Tara". So I got out a new generation camelback, filled it up, stood on it and observed no leaks, and loaded it in my pack. By the time I got to the trailhead there was a big wet spot that had soaked through to the outside and of course gotten everything inside wet. When I pulled out the camelback, I couldn't find where it was leaking, but leak it most certainly had!

I do carry an empty 2 quart platy right now for times when my standard 3-4 quarts might not make it. I'll probably replace it with an MSR bladder just because the MSR is probably tougher. Using bladders seems safer if you don't use them to drink from, just carry water to fill bottles with. The whole hose and bite valve system is the most failure prone part of it in my experience.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
New Post
4/15/2013 11:14 PM

I definitely notice that I don't drink as much when I'm just carrying bottles that I have to unsling my pack to get to. That said, I often hike locally with just the bottles in the side Tara pockets and am just fine. When I'm working hard or on the fireline, the camelbak really helps me drink as I need it. I've used the camelbak stuff for years under heavy use and only had one bladder go bad, and that was my own fault throwing my back down hard. I would say that about ten percent of my coworkers have had their camelbaks fail inexplicably. It's a tradeoff- better hydration under stress, but higher chance of failure than rigid bottles.

I always carry spare nalgene or KK bottles when I'm on the line or on an overnight. I would never rely on only the bladder unless I was within reach of civilization.

I have found that the big lid on the newer ones can sometimes be hard to seal right and will leak even when it feels tight - perhaps thats what happened to you, Evan.


forumPoster is not the actual poster. If you are the actual poster, please make another quick post claiming this post. Sorry, too much moderator overhead to change the attribution on this post.
New Post
4/16/2013 2:39 PM

 That was me! Don't know what happened. Peace. 


New Post
4/17/2013 5:52 PM

I converted to bike bottles from Nalgene bottles after seeing them in HPG photos. They are easy to drink from on the trail, no unscrewing of caps needed. I have not used a camelbak in years for the same reasons Scot mentioned.

New Post
4/17/2013 7:56 PM

I hate bladders for every reason posted, I can never keep on together.  It doesn't help that I am also rather clumsy and fall quite a bit.  I am also hard on equipment, so take a second point away from me for the bladder.  I didn't see anyone mention how hard they are to refill, at least for me.  I can't quite marry up the MSR water filter to it like I can on my Nalgene bottles.  I am opposite of most people in the getting water aspect.  Unless I stop, I won't drink water.  Having bottles makes me stop and enjoy the reason why I am out in the woods in the first place.

New Post
4/21/2013 10:05 PM

I've gone back and forth over the years.  I like the bladders for ease of use en route, especially when moving out light and fast. Hated the whole pack-puke thing everytime I needed to refill the bladder.  Never had a Camelbak, Platy or Drom bag rupture.  The failures I experienced were mostly related to the tube attachment point on the bladder, particularly with Camelbaks, or the bite valve apparatus somehow managing to get squeezed just right while under a pile of gear on the way to or from a trailhead.  That always made for a neat surprise.

Bottles/Canteens.  I cannot stand the sloshing water thing.  So, they are out for trail running.  Canteens, particularly the GI types you can't see in, are a non-starter.

And so, I roll with a hybrid system of sorts....two Nalgene bottles inside Outdoor Research insulated covers, and use the uber-nifty newish Sawyer in-lin water filter in combination with a couple large bladders.  The Sawyer makes it easy to keep the Nalgenes topped off, thereby reducing the annoying sloshing sounds. The bladders weigh nothing and take up zero space when empty, or can be filled if you know it's going to be a good long while before the next water source.

A couple full Nalgenes and the accompanying bladders are generally just the right amount of water around camp for the evening and morning.  The insulators weigh little, serve as handy bottle holsters for virtually whereever I want to mount them on my pack(s), keep water cool during the day and will keep a Nalgene filled with boiling water toasty warm all night.  Makes for a couple nice heat sinks in the sleeping bag when the temps get cold in the fall of if I'm intentially rolling with a bag or quilt that's marginal for an unexpectedly cooler summer/fall night. 


New Post
4/22/2013 9:44 PM
Anyone use the Platypus water containers and are they good to go?

United States Air Force Security Forces Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran.
HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralRehydration  bladders vs CanteensRehydration bladders vs Canteens