camelback or water bottles?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum camelback or water bottles?

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This topic contains 31 replies, has 21 voices, and was last updated by  Frank79r 1 year, 1 month ago.

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  • #114296

    i recently saw a hydration pack on walmarts website that carries 2 liters of water and a storage compartment. do you prefer camelback pack or water bottles? is it hard to use while riding? is it comfortable to ride with?

  • #114297

    A pack will keep the weight off the frame and keep the handling crisper. A Camelbak is well sectioned to hold several tools in seperate compartments. To me it’s more important to be cool so living in hot AZ I use a pack with mesh suspension to keep back sweat to a minimum. Pack will also all you to carry spare tube, tools, jacket and more.
    Vaude, Deuter, Osprey and Gregory hydration packs do this, High Sierra has a cheaper version. Lots of riders carry a bottle of liquid with nutrients or electrolytes. Took me years to learn to eat and drink more on longer rides.

  • #114298

    I ride with a water bottle in a holder on the frame and always wear a camelbak. I have a few different sized camelbaks depending on how long I am going to ride. I’ve never mastered drinking from a water bottle while riding but drinking from the camelbak is really easy. It’s essentially hands free while a water bottle is not.

    I’ve spent a lot of time wearing different types of backpacks and such, so I may be a little biased; however, wearing a pack while riding has never been uncomfortable for me. The packs can bounce around some while riding if it’s a really rough section or if you don’t get them fairly tight. They also hold in sweat on you back.

  • #114299

    im starting to think a pack is the way to go especially for more storage as food or tools or both and the bottles run kinda low..ive gotten use to hurrying and spraying the water in but you have to be quick after all this is mountain biking not riding on the road..so i think the pack would be better…its a 2 liter pack for 23 bucks..how big are the packs you use?

  • #114300

    I carry a pack with me on every ride even if it is ten miles. Two liters is going to only last you about a couple hours on the bike. I personally don’t care for camelback brand of hydration packs. I had a couple of them. One ripped out after only a couple months and I still have the second one, but I like my Fox brand pack much more. It has a 3 liter hydration pack and is still light and stable on my back. Three liter packs are pretty much what everyone I know carries. It will still only last you a few hours on a mediocre temperature day, but at that point I generally start carrying water in bottles and/or making sure I can stop somewhere and refill.

  • #114301

    Iv been using a water bottle so far and finding myself going through it with ease. Iv been researching camelbak packs and it seems to have sold me. I will be directing my wife tomorrow in the purchasing of one for me for Xmas at REI. 😉 They are pricey though… i hope there "got your back" warranty is solid!

  • #114302

    MTITrailblazer

    I don’t go anywhere without my Camel. I do have a water bottle rack and if I am going for a long ride I use it for an energy or recovery drink. I have a 70oz that I have had for probably 10 years with no problems. Just keep it clean! I bought a 100 oz last year and like the extra storage so now I can carry my Co2’s, tire repair and most importantly, my snacks!. I think it is a Camelbak MULE. The only problem I ever had with a Camelbak is I was riding with my 70 oz on a well known trail and ducked for a tree that had fallen in a storm. I just made it. I got used to how low I had to get. Then I bought the bulky 100 oz. I was riding down the trail, ducked down to my normal level not taking into consideration that that needed at least an extra 2 inches clearance and I slid off my bike but the bike kept going. My fault not the pack!

  • #114303

    I have both. Really depends on my ride. If I can do it without a camelbak I will. I can usually get about 2 hours on the bottles, around twenty miles. In the summer months it may be a little less then that. Tools, tube, etc. goes into a saddlebag all the time and when not wearing a pack my phone, keys, maybe snack in the jersey pocket.

  • #114304

    I use both, depends on the ride. If I only go for a quick 1hour ride in flat area, the bottle is enough. For longer rides, I’ve got a 2L bladder on my back.

  • #114305
    "brianW" wrote

    I have both. Really depends on my ride. If I can do it without a camelbak I will. I can usually get about 2 hours on the bottles, around twenty miles. In the summer months it may be a little less then that. Tools, tube, etc. goes into a saddlebag all the time and when not wearing a pack my phone, keys, maybe snack in the jersey pocket.

    +1 on all of this. I love the freedom of not having a pack on my back. There’s only two reasons I’ll use a camelbak:

    1 – if two bottles (50oz, about 2hrs worth) wont be enough, or I wont have a way to refill them part way through the ride
    2 – if I wont have time to take my hands off the bike to drink from a bottle. Really technical trails require both hands on the bars at all times, as does racing. So for those I’ll wear the smallest and lightest pack that will hold enough water for the ride, or enough to get me to a SAG stop where I can refill.

    I rarely use a pack.

  • #114306

    Camelback, almost all the time. And mainly for the reasons that Dustin just mentioned above… most of my rides are way more than 2 bottles can handle, and usually I’m out in the middle of nowhere with no easy water source (only option being taking the time to treat water out of a stream).

    Also, additional benefits of a pack (which may have been mentioned above already) include plenty of room for food, extra layers, tools, spare parts…

    I also find that where I’m riding dictates how heavy I need to pack. If I’m hitting a quick little suburban trail or a heavily traveled trail system, fine, I will only pack the basic necessities. But if I’m heading out for a long ride in big mountains (such as in Colorado, Montana, or Pisgah in North Carolina) where the weather can change rapidly or a broken part could dictate a long walk out or even an unexpected overnight stay in the wilderness, I’ll wear a bigger pack and carry more gear.

    Also, on really long rides I’ll do BOTH: 3 liters of water in the camelback, and one waterbottle of Gatorade.

  • #114307
    "mtbgreg1" wrote

    Camelback, almost all the time. And mainly for the reasons that Dustin just mentioned above… most of my rides are way more than 2 bottles can handle, and usually I’m out in the middle of nowhere with no easy water source (only option being taking the time to treat water out of a stream).

    Also, additional benefits of a pack (which may have been mentioned above already) include plenty of room for food, extra layers, tools, spare parts…

    I also find that where I’m riding dictates how heavy I need to pack. If I’m hitting a quick little suburban trail or a heavily traveled trail system, fine, I will only pack the basic necessities. But if I’m heading out for a long ride in big mountains (such as in Colorado, Montana, or Pisgah in North Carolina) where the weather can change rapidly or a broken part could dictate a long walk out or even an unexpected overnight stay in the wilderness, I’ll wear a bigger pack and carry more gear.

    Also, on really long rides I’ll do BOTH: 3 liters of water in the camelback, and one waterbottle of Gatorade.

    How much do you drink? I ask because:

    I used to ride with a pack all the time (my older full suspension only had room for 1 small bottle) and could drain a 3L (100oz) bladder in two hours easily. Since switching to bottles I’ve discovered I don’t need to drink nearly that much, I typically try and get down around 25oz per hour. I ride just as well and don’t feel as full, and don’t need to stop to pee as often either.

  • #114308
    "dgaddis" wrote

    Since switching to bottles I’ve discovered I don’t need to drink nearly that much,

    For me, it’s exactly the contrary. I drink way more with a bottle

    "mtbgreg1" wrote

    Also, additional benefits of a pack (which may have been mentioned above already) include plenty of room for food, extra layers, tools, spare parts…

    I was going to….

    On my weekend rides, I’m usually ride 4 or more hours. So I use my backpack anyway for the stuff you said

  • #114309

    Another vote here for the Camelbak. I use a North Face hydration bag, 1.75L, and on top of the water, I use it to store my phone, car keys, a trail saw, tire pump, three spare tubes, tire levers, multi-tool, and GUs, ShotBlox, and other snacks.

    It’s the Boy Scout in me – "be prepared!"

    I also have a cage I can throw on, but for New England riding, you’re ALWAYS ready to flat out that tire, so not having tubes and a pump are out of the question for me. I don’t anything getting in the way from me having a great ride.

    And not for nothing, but for when you end up on your back, it’s nice to act as some light body armor. 😃

  • #114310

    I have seen that small hydration pack in Walmart in the hunting/sports section. That one looks like a good one for the price that they have it listed at. It should work well for you.

    As my road cycling coach in high school used to say: "Always drink a good amount of water 1/2 hour before you start your ride. It takes 20 minutes for that water to get to your body." If you do it this way, a few small drinks along the way is all that you need to keep up with your hydration needs (unless it is Arizona desert hot). I pre-hydrate myself so I only use an oversize water bottle on my frame cage now-a-days. For longer trips, I put another water bottle in my saddle bag.

    Other things that I bring with me:
    Avenir Big Mouth saddle bag (large)-cell phone-spare tube-keys-multi tool-pressure gauge
    Frame mounted air pump
    Sometimes also carry a Camera Sling bag
    *This is a small back pack that only goes over 1 shoulder with a strap around my mid-section.

  • #114311
    "dgaddis" wrote

    [quote="mtbgreg1":27xrlwom]Camelback, almost all the time. And mainly for the reasons that Dustin just mentioned above… most of my rides are way more than 2 bottles can handle, and usually I’m out in the middle of nowhere with no easy water source (only option being taking the time to treat water out of a stream).

    Also, additional benefits of a pack (which may have been mentioned above already) include plenty of room for food, extra layers, tools, spare parts…

    I also find that where I’m riding dictates how heavy I need to pack. If I’m hitting a quick little suburban trail or a heavily traveled trail system, fine, I will only pack the basic necessities. But if I’m heading out for a long ride in big mountains (such as in Colorado, Montana, or Pisgah in North Carolina) where the weather can change rapidly or a broken part could dictate a long walk out or even an unexpected overnight stay in the wilderness, I’ll wear a bigger pack and carry more gear.

    Also, on really long rides I’ll do BOTH: 3 liters of water in the camelback, and one waterbottle of Gatorade.

    How much do you drink? I ask because:

    I used to ride with a pack all the time (my older full suspension only had room for 1 small bottle) and could drain a 3L (100oz) bladder in two hours easily. Since switching to bottles I’ve discovered I don’t need to drink nearly that much, I typically try and get down around 25oz per hour. I ride just as well and don’t feel as full, and don’t need to stop to pee as often either.[/quote:27xrlwom]

    A lot… I sweat a lot too. Plus, I’d rather have a little extra water than not enough water, because I’ve run out too many times. Again, thinking about being in a wilderness setting here…

  • #114312
    "dgaddis" wrote

    I’ve discovered I don’t need to drink nearly that much

    says the guy who doesn’t ride in the desert at high altitude … 😆

    Not sure if it was mentioned or not, but having the pack there is nice when landing on your back from a crash. It’s not as much protection as actual armor, but it helps.

  • #114313
    "maddslacker" wrote

    [quote="dgaddis":2tzp67yo]I’ve discovered I don’t need to drink nearly that much

    says the guy who doesn’t ride in the desert at high altitude … 😆

    Not sure if it was mentioned or not, but having the pack there is nice when landing on your back from a crash. It’s not as much protection as actual armor, but it helps.[/quote:2tzp67yo]

    This is true. One of my favorite packs actually features a built-in spine protector too. It has come in handy before!

  • #114314
    "mtbgreg1" wrote

    This is true. One of my favorite packs actually features a built-in spine protector too. It has come in handy before!

    Same here. That’s an added bonus. My main reason for using packs is for the storage. I use a pack on any and all rides, even sometimes when I go trail running. I don’t think anybody mentioned carrying a first aid kit…that has also come in handy more than once. I also have an OCD thing where I pick up any trash I see on the trail and I’ve come out with a pack full of trash on several occasions.

  • #114315
    "maddslacker" wrote

    Not sure if it was mentioned or not, but having the pack there is nice when landing on your back from a crash. It’s not as much protection as actual armor, but it helps.

    That reminds me on my latest crash, when I landed on my back and the pack with the bladder in it, protected my shoulders and spinal from any damage. To bad it didn’t cover my butt too 😆

  • #114316

    thanks for all the replies!!! what’s the best way to clean them and how often do you clean them?

  • #114317
    "lovemountainbiking12" wrote

    thanks for all the replies!!! what’s the best way to clean them and how often do you clean them?

    Water bottles or camelback?

  • #114318
    "lovemountainbiking12" wrote

    thanks for all the replies!!! what’s the best way to clean them and how often do you clean them?

    If you empty the camelbak bladder after using it and hang it up somewhere, you shouldn’t have too many issues. Camelbak makes brushes and tools to clean the tubes and other parts, and I’ve used diluted bleach to kill off some mold that grew after not using my 2L for a few months.

    I have a 2L basic pack for running and short rides, but I’ll use my 3L pack that has plenty of space for tools, spares, food, clothing and other things for longer rides. I picked that up a couple of months ago and I haven’t run any bleach or cleaner through it yet. I do hang have a drying "rack" for the bladder, which certainly helps keeping it clean. Just take a quick look before each use and clean it if you see any black/green spots.

  • #114319

    If you only use water you will not have too many problems if you keep it dry. If you use other liquids which contain sugar etc you will need to wash it from time to time. I use dish soap and just rinse it thoroughly. Never have any problems. If you dont wash it rather soon after you use it you will get mold. The wire brush that camelback makes is very useful to clean the tubes and reservoir. I like to keep the reservoir in the freezer which helps immensely in between rides.

  • #114320
    "Johneblz" wrote

    If you dont wash it rather soon after you use it you will get mold. The wire brush that camelback makes is very useful to clean the tubes and reservoir. I like to keep the reservoir in the freezer which helps immensely in between rides.

    +1 to all of that.

    If just using water, empty it, and put it in the freezer till next time, or hang it up (there are kits that will let you hang it up while keeping it open so it’ll dry out). If using a sports drink mix, clean it as soon as you get home. I ruined one bladder when I forgot to clean it till the next day, it got funky, too funky to get rid of the funk.

  • #114321

    I use it only with water, empty the bladder after each use and once in a while I clean it with a sponge, water and some detergent. A bottle can be cleaned with denture cleaner

  • #114322

    Oh yeah, and be sure to empty the feed tube from the reservoir. Their new bladders disconnect from the feed tube quickly and easily, and all you end up needing to do is open the bite valve and empty the residual water out of the tube.

  • #249783

    This is a good question. I use Camelback, Hydroflask and water bottles that are designed for bikes–it all depends on the context. With a Camelback bladder, it’s important to keep the bladder clean. Sometimes, I don’t fully wash the bladder and it tastes like soap. You can find a helpful list of recommended water bottles for bikes at Bicycle New England.

    • #249805

      Camelback for me.

  • #249834

    Dual bottles for me.

  • #249956

    I like riding without a pack but I’ve found that I can’t do it and have what I consider necessary to carry. As far as cleaning; if you only put water in there I only clean it if it sits for a bit. I guess my southern California tap water has enough residual chlorine to keep it from getting funky. When washing I just rinse with hot water and make sure to flush a good amount through the tube. Sometimes I soak the bite valve in mouthwash too, it adds a lovely mint flavor while sanitizing.

  • #250129

    First thing, holy crap this is an old thread.

    I don’t like back packs of any sort I find it hinders my ability and throws balance off. Thankfully I live in an area where I can be done with the ride in 1-2 hours. One bottle of water does the trick. But that’s only if I been hydrating all day.

     

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