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For an incoming trip, I am considering buying a camelback hydration system. There are two options available at my local preferred dealer, and I would like some advice on which one to choose. The main concern is to be able to drink while biking. The two models are at the same price. Here they go:

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FWIW, you may want to look at the "military" versions of camelbacks. I've found them to be slightly sturdier than the ones they sell at REI. You can also buy a military version bladder / drinking tube, and put it in a regular "civilian" pack. –  DavidR Jul 15 '13 at 21:13
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2 Answers

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Both models are just fine. If either one of them has a detachable hose that's a nice feature to have. But not worth a big price difference.

If you already have a backpack with which you bike you can just throw it in there. Get the hose out and tie it to one of the shoulder straps.

If you don't have one there are at least two options for buying a backpack.

One is a backpack with a special camelback pocket and a nice hole through which to take out the hose. I use this one. Note the inside water bag pocket.

The other one is to have a dedicated, very light, camelback-only backpack. I don't really have a use for those but I've seen a lot of people using them. I prefer the extra features of a day-hike backpack.

My favorite water bag is the one from Source. It never leaked and I have it for years now. Very robust.

Stay away from Ferrini models. They leak and are very volatile!

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Thanks for the advice. I am actually mostly concerned about the "mouth-end" of the hose. The first one clearly has a cover, that needs to be opened with hands. Also I have heard that there are some "bite"-type systems, where there is no cap, but biting the hose enables the water flow. Any thoughts? –  Vorac Jul 7 '13 at 17:30
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All the models I've seen are bite-type. The cap is only to protect the thing that put your mouth on and bite from bacteria and the environment in general. –  Paul Irofti Jul 8 '13 at 10:04
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Another brand is Platypus. I have their "Hoser" line, which has some differences from the models you show:

  • The hose is detachable. The bag has only one opening, with a screw fitting. You fill the bag through this opening and then attach the hose. This makes it simpler and there are fewer joints to leak. You can also get a cap for the bag (with no hose), which is nice for carrying extra bags of water while only needing a single hose.

  • The opening has a narrow mouth and is at the top of the bag. I find the Camelbak design with a wide mouth on the side of the bag is awkward to fill, in my experience, especially if you are trying to fill from a spring or filter. Also, the wide mouths are usually sealed with detachable O-rings, which are easy to lose or damage. On the other hand, with a narrow mouth it's not so easy to scrub inside the bag, though they do sell a long narrow brush for this purpose. Personally I haven't ever found this necessary; I rinse it after using and sterilize with bleach periodically. And you can't easily put ice cubes inside, but I don't care to do this anyway.

  • As with the others, the valve on the hose is bite-type. It can leak slightly if crud gets inside, or if the bag is under high pressure (e.g. it is under a bunch of heavy gear in your pack). I've found I can work around this when necessary by blowing air into the hose after each drink.

  • The bag is designed to stand up by itself when full, which is often convenient.

I have no connection with this company except as a customer.

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