I have a bunch of the orignal Camelbaks (the MULE amongst them), but now that every backpack is hydration bladder compatible and these things get dirty (you want to get a cleaner for them especially the tubes). It’s time to see what a good option is for just getting a new set of bladders. Outdoorgearlab.com these days seems way better than my old favorite Backpacker Magazine for things like this:
- Geiggerig. It’s the most versatile (it is pressuraized so can be a sun shower or something to clean your equipment) but also expensive and heavier than the DromLite (187 grams for 2L). The main thing here is that it is pressurized so you don’t have to suck and you can use it to spray off a dog or use it as a sunshower. The big benefit is that it is dishwasher safe which you definitely want. It is an open top design which makes it easy to open.
- MSR DromLite. This is lightest and best for backpacking (119 grams for 2L). They like the 4L size which weighs just 16 grams more than the 2L. You can use it with its cap open as a Nalgene, there is a flip open spout for rinsing. The main drawback is their optional $20 mouthpiece attachment isn’t quick release but you can combine with the Platypus Quick Disconnect for $9 to get this feature. The accessories include a MSR Dromedary Bag Spigot Cap for base camping, a MSR Shower Kit to turn it into a solar shower. $29 from Amazon at MSR DromLite, $20 for the MSR Hydration Kit.
- CamelBak Antidote. This is the value leader. (184 grams for 2L) with everything included for $30 but does weigh as juch as the Geiggerig.
The main thing is that you definitely want a narrow brush to clean the tubes and althougg the thing costs $10 for the narrow brush, well, who want to get sick?. I’ve used the Camelbak Cleaning Brush Kit and Outdoorgearlabs.com likes it too! Personally, I’d also get the bacteria cleaning tablets as well.
Finally, some other things that they recommend that make sense when you are out there which mainly a spork and a nice cup to eat out of. Amazon has a good list of Top Rated Camp Kitchen Equipment and Camp Kitchen Bestsellers:
- Snow Peak Titanium Spork. Outdoorgearlabs.com really liked this and Amazon has them in sets of four. Neat. For $35 this is pretty cool.
- Light My Fire Titanium Spork. While Outdoorgearlabs.com liked the design of the plastic Light My Fire, it wasn’t super durable. The current titanium version is expensive ($13), but the top seller in the sporks of Amazon. The nice thing is that it is actually a spoon, a knife and fork. Which is way more useful.
- Olicamp Space Saver Cup. This cup fits around a 32 ounce Nalgene. Very clever!
- TOAKS Titanium 450ml Cup for those times you have to have titanium. Put your camp stove in it and it is just big enough for a single serving of Mountain House freeze dried meals