Drying out your Camelbak’s bladder

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Drying out your Camelbak’s bladder


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    Here’s a random question for you long-time riders!

    I use a Camelbak like most folks, and I’m trying to figure out the best way to let the bladder dry out when I’m not riding. Normally I drain it completely, hang it upside down, and stuff paper towels in it to absorb the moisture. Any other recommendations?

    Many thanks!


    There is a product called Zero Goo (Google it) that is basically a drying blower/fan made specifically for the CamelBak. I’ve used it and although I can’t endorse it I would say check it out if you’re interested…


    I read an aricle one time that had a quick fix for cleaning the bladder to make thing’s easy.When done riding for the day,take the bladder out of the camel bak and drain any water in the bladder and put it in the freezer.The cold will kill any microbial’s and when your ready to ride again just pull the bladder out of the freezer and rinse it out and filler er up.
    I’ve used this method dozen’s of time’s and I can say that it make’s thing’s easier for sure.


    Hey, guys…

    I was a microbiologist in a previous life, and I can tell you with all due certainty that freezing will not kill microbes. It will slow down their metabolism and reproduction, but it definitely will not kill them. They’ll resume their normal function as soon as they warm up.

    The only way to actually kill bacteria and mold in your CamelBak effectively is to use one of the commercially available detergents and/or sterilizing agents.


    The only way to actually kill bacteria and mold in your CamelBak effectively is to use one of the commercially available detergents and/or sterilizing agents

    Dude,I beleive you and will never use the freezer again to clean my camel bak bladder.I guess a person just has to say or do somthing backassword’s to get the real deal answer to thing’s somtime’s.hahahaaha.Thank’s alot for your profesional and experienced feedback.
    Now for the dumb question’s because it’s the bart simpson thing to do to bug a professional.wouldnt rinsing out the camel back flush out the microbe’s while there still frozen right after you take the bladder out of the freezer.I’m not being a smart ass,I could swear that was one of reasoning’s behind being able to use this quick and easy way.???detail’s are such a bitch most of the time.hahahahaha.That’s what I could have sworn the article to mention when I read it several month’s ago.Just want to confirm so that any furure lapse of reasoning on my part to use the freezer again can be put to rest.
    Thank’s dude.


    First, let’s understand two important terms. Broadly:[list:1iql6b45]Detergent = something that will help you remove micobes
    Disinfectant = kills the microbes[/list:u:1iql6b45]There is some crossover effect between the two.

    Note that, short of using a high-end sterilizing rig (which might damage your water bladder anyway), it’s nearly impossible to kill or remove every bug. The idea is to do the best you can with what’s available and minimize the risk of contamination. Given the nature of the equipment and how it’s used, 100% decontamination is unlikely, but 99+% is not impossible.

    wouldnt rinsing out the camel back flush out the microbe’s while there still frozen right after you take the bladder out of the freezer.

    What you’re talking about here is the mechanical removal of the bugs. Mold spores and bacteria are covered with proteins that allow them to adhere to surfaces. You can rinse, and rinse, and rinse, and never get every critter. A good detergent disrupts the protein coating and loosens their grip, making them easier to flush. Freezing may do the same thing if you hit them with temperatures low enough to denature those proteins. Your household freezer isn’t nearly cold enough. (This is why cryogenics hasn’t worked, so far. Temperatures low enough to prevent microbial growth end up destroying the tissue you’re trying to preserve.)

    A few common sense exercises will go a long way toward keeping your kit germ-free.[list:1iql6b45]Don’t give the critters anything to feed on (sugars, proteins, etc.). NEVER fill your pack with sports drink or juice.

    When cleaning, pay particular attention to your mouthpiece and water line.

    Never keep the bladder open longer than necessary to fill it. When drying, try to position the opening facing downward. This minimizes the entry of airbornes.

    When filling, do your best not to touch the inside of the bladder cap or the inside of the bladder itself. And don’t set the cap down on the counter. Learn how to keep both the cap and bladder in hand while filling.

    If you are unsure of your water source use hikers’ water purification tablets and clean thoroughly as soon as possible afterwards.[/list:u:1iql6b45]
    I use a shallow plastic pan filled with hot tap water, dish detergent and, every now and then, a few drops of chlorine bleach. (DROPS! Not even a cap full.) Dissassemble every part. Make sure the solution gets inside everything – no big air bubbles. Let it soak for 15 minutes. Thoroughly rinse everything and hang to dry. Don’t reassemble until it is completely dry or you need to use it.


    "steve32300" wrote

    Just want to confirm so that any furure lapse of reasoning on my part to use the freezer again can be put to rest.

    Let’s look at it this way: if freezing was effective for disinfection, you’d hear about it being used in labs and operating rooms, as it would be safer and more cost effective than the current process. Labs and ORs sterilize their equipment using an autoclave – high-pressure steam heat.


    CamelBak tabs work great. I just don’t always have enough around. With me and two kids riding a few times a week, we go through cleaning pellets in a hurry if we decide to be meticulous about cleaning the packs.

    Minimal bleach is the key. Your drinking water may end up tasting like pool water for a while, especially if the bleach permeates the plastic, but every commercial food establishment sterilizes cookware with bleach or other stong oxidizing agent, and the concentrations they use are a lot higher than what I’m talking about. (Yeah, I know. Their stuff is mostly stainless. It does rinse better than plastic.)

    Another really good one to try is hydrogen peroxide. Wash the bladder with soap and water. Rinse. Cap or plug the water outlet. Pour about a half bottle of peroxide, undiluted, into the bladder. Put the water line and the mouthpiece inside the bladder. Swish around, let sit for a few minutes with the bladder cap in place, rinse and let dry. No chlorine taste, no toxic side effects, no environmental issues.


    Thank you all so much for the great info here! What fantastic feedback…


    Honestly, it sounds like you’re already doing more than most.

    I clean mine with dish detergent every two weeks or so, maybe after every 4-5 rides. Bleach soak or cleaning tablets, maybe once a month.

    I can remember just once that I got a mold accumulation in mine – after it laid on the floor of my car for most of a month. Scrubbed it out. Haven’t seen anything similar since.


    Thank’s a million LVolz for the highly insightful information on water bladder contamination and sterilization,cant tell ya how nice it is to have such detailed and elaborate answer’s for somthing we use as consistantly as our camel bak’s. 😎


    My advice,
    forget the complex regime, ditch the bladder and get one of these –


    you get attachments for nalgene, sigg & euro 28mm bottles (U.S. get a gatorade size attachment) and simple cleaning and drying


    So you would put a 3 liter bottle in your camel bak instead of the bladder.Hmmmmmmmm,well it is one less thing to keep clean I guess,but even the microbiologist does’nt clean his camel bak everyday,and you would still have to bleach the mouth peice and hose and cap.And with the arch support in my camel bak,a full water bottle would be a pain in the a$$ to fit into my camel bak.I have carried water bottle’s in my back pack instead of taking my camel bak a couple of time’s,and I’m here to tell you that it is not comfortable until you drink enough water to get the bottle(a gallon size milk jug)to condense down so it is not protruding into your back and causeing the back pack to roll around on your back.Even a smaller size bottle will pretty much do the same thing,that’s what’s so nice aobut the bladder though,it does’nt just hang on you it sit’s comfortably on your back.The camel bak(or other water pack carrying systems)are made just for there intended purpouse of carrying heavy liquid’s in a ergonomic fashion.But,,,,I would think a person could find the right kind of back pack to carry bottle’s instead of a bladder so you could have a disposable bottle you wouldnt have to wash and keep clean.Well,,,,,if your that busy that you cant keep your water system clean,then how are you going to keep the hose,cap,and mouth peice clean???And when upon finding a back pack that hold’s water bottle’s nicely enough,who know’s how big that back pack is going to be.Another point why the camel bak is better,the pack itself is designed to be as small and streamlined as possible where a back pack that could carry water bottle’s would be cumbersome.
    Sorry,but thumb’s down for me as far as riding a mountain bike with it.


    Yeah, I actually wrote about the Sip Stream last year after seeing it at Interbike. The idea is that you can hook it to your water bottle which is placed in your bottle cage. Unless your bottle cage can fit a nalgene or gatorade bottle I’d say using one of these bottles doesn’t make sense. Here’s my photo of the contraption "on bike":



    Is that your ridged sitting there,I like it.hahaha.Obviously there is a use for the convertube for bigger bottle’s like I use when going on longer ride’s than a 3 liter of water will alow.But I do like the fact that I wouldnt have to go down to the hardware store to buy some clear hose to run back to the water bottle sitting in my back pack and drill a hole in the cap everytime I got a new water bottle.I just cant see this thing being good for weekly use.


    Water bladder maintenance is one of the reasons I don’t even bother with one unless I’m doing a ride that will be more than a few hours. Unless it is really hot or I have lots of climbing, I can usually get by with a couple water bottles for any ride that is less than 20 miles. Also, I don’t like wearing a pack, so unless I really need one I just don’t bring one.

    When I do use a bladder I make sure that as soon as I get home I rinse it, disassemble all the parts, and hang them out to dry. I use bladders that either roll at the end or use a zip-loc style closure — no screw cap opening to wrestle with. After I rinse out the bladder I roll up a dish towel, hold one end out of the bladder and shake the rest into the bladder so that the towel reaches to the bottom of the bladder and still protrudes out the end. That acts like a wick, and in our dry Colorado climate the bladder will usually be completely dry in a day or so.

    I have one bladder that I have used for about ten years and I don’t have a speck of mold anywhere in the system.

    Yeah, I know, it is a PITA to clean it every time, but do you really need a bladder every time you ride?

    do you really need a bladder every time you ride?

    Heck no,everyday after work I jump on the highway and head up to mathew/winter and just do a 30 to 45 minute run down a familiar trail.Heck,most of the time for this I just go without a bottle.
    As for the really long trip’s though,I have’nt quite worked out all the detail’s as to the best way to carry as much water as possible,does anyone have any idea’s or way’s already worked out for this scenario???

    "steve32300" wrote

    I have’nt quite worked out all the detail’s as to the best way to carry as much water as possible, does anyone have any idea’s or way’s already worked out for this scenario???

    For desert riding I fill my bladder (100 oz) and carry two bottles. That usually is enough, but even that has been cutting it close on some rides. For the mountains, if there are any streams around, I may carry a water filter to save weight on water, but I usually just do the same thing, that is, a backpack and bottles. I have never done the multi-day treks that some hard-core dudes like to do. That would definitely call for a water filter.

    As the years go by I find I do fewer epic rides, and so I don’t worry about water as much as I used to.

    I may carry a water filter

    All I know about water filter’s is to spend as much money on one as possible so I know I’m getting a good one.Who know’s what the good one’s are?

    "steve32300" wrote

    Who know’s what the good one’s are?

    I may have seen some reviews in a magazine like Outside or something like that. Really, I just trust REI to rate them for me. I have a Sweetwater, which is really easy to use and has been delivering good water for years with the original filter. I think I paid something like $30-40 for it.

    "Mongoose" wrote

    Do you guys & gals in CO actually drink the water directly from the streams, of course after filtering it or boiling.

    Sure. As long as I’m not downstream from a known mine drainage (lots of heavy metals) it should be good. Sometimes it doesn’t taste good, but that is a factor of the mineral content in the water, not the filter itself.

    All of this water treatment stuff is kind of funny to me. I grew up in Alaska and when we would go backpacking we would hang a cup off of our pack. When we got thirsty we would just dip into the closest stream and take a sip. I guess that is frowned on these days, but I don’t recall ever getting sick.

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