It’s the small things that make a difference sometimes. The good products that take the little niggles out of our day. Often offering solutions for things we didn’t realise we hated until they were gone. Think about how often we use our hydration packs, constantly sipping through the day; filling in the mornings; removing and cleaning each night. Also think how much hassle it is when you find your hydration bladder is leaking… in the best case you get a horribly wet and sticky back and in the worst case you find yourself deep in the desert with nothing left in your bladder. I have been using several bladders this year, from Dakine, Camelbak and Osprey… read on to see how they have performed during my season of mountain biking.
I’m going to run through the bladders in reverse order in terms of performance. So, starting with the worst:
Dakine Reservoir Description: The Dakine bladder has a full width opening at the top which closes with a slide. The bite valve features a rotational valve to lock it off.
Dakine Reservoir Weight: 172g
Dakine Reservoir Pros: Light weight.
Dakine Reservoir Cons: The bite valve drips constantly which means you need to lock it off using the valve. Unfortunately the rotational lock off valve can’t be operated one handed so you can’t do it while you are riding. This leaves two choices, you either get wet from the constant dripping or you can’t drink while you are riding. In addition, the plastic for the hose is too thin meaning it continually kinks.
Dakine Reservoir Summary: For me this bladder is nearly unusable. It is a real pity because I really like lots of other Dakine stuff and their bags are good as well.
Camelbak Antidote Reservoir Description: The new Camelbak reservoirs are a big improvement on the old ones. The lid now closes with a 1/4 turn, making it easy to open and close. Why did we put up with the old ones which need superhuman strength to open and close? The bite valve closes with a little turn of a lever, which is very easy to operate. There are also a couple of legs that fold out from under the mouth of the reservoir which helps to dry it out. The hose can be disconnected to help removing it from your pack.
Camelbak Antidote Reservoir Weight: 200g
Camelbak Antidote Reservoir Pros: The opening and closing of the reservoir lid is fantastic. It opens quickly and easily and it is obvious when it is fully closed. The bite valve is well designed, doesn’t drip and can be locked off easily.
Camelbak Antidote Reservoir Cons: The 1/4 turn is great but if you find the pack leaking you can’t just tighten it a bit more. This happened to me a few times and it was very difficult to get the pack to seal again. On two occasions I ended up having to empty the reservoir and could only get it to seal again after removing all the seals and cleaning them in the sink at home.
Camelbak Antidote Reservoir Summary: This is a fantastic reservoir and a huge step forward from the older style of Camelback reservoirs. There are occasional (and annoying) leaks from the lid of the bladder which are very hard to fix on the trail.
Osprey Reservoir Description: The Osprey bladder is very different from any I have used before. There is a substantial plastic “backbone” which runs the length of the bladder. This keeps the shape of the bladder and stops it folding over on itself. It also makes it very easy to push the bladder into a full backpack, something that is difficult with all the other bladders I have tried. The hose is very substantial with a fantastic bite valve which turns through 90 degrees to lock. The bite valve also has a magnet on the end of it which attached to another magnet on the Osprey pack, meaning the hose stays put and doesn’t bounce around. This works amazingly.
Osprey Reservoir Weight: 340g including the magnet.
Osprey Reservoir Pros: The plastic backbone really makes a huge difference when you try to put the bladder into the backpack. The lid seals very effectively and without excessive force. The bite valve is easily the best on the market.
Osprey Reservoir Cons: With all these features you have some extra weight and cost.
Osprey Reservoir Summary: This is the best bladder I used. All my other reservoirs are now in the freezer in case of emergencies but I only use the Osprey one day to day. I really liked the hydration pack from Osprey too, you can read the review here.
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