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Every year I’m excited to visit the Camelbak booth because it seems like there’s always something new and this year was no exception. The Camelbak hydration system has been around for more than 20 years but it’s been a while since the venerable blue bladder has seen a major update. Camelbak’s newest bladder, the Antidote, improves on the design in a number of ways.

The oversized screw cap that Camelbak introduced with the Omega reservoir several years ago was a big improvement over the smaller inlet but for many it was prone to leakage if not tightened properly. The new cap tightens with just a quarter turn, much like the gas cap on your car for a leak-proof seal every time. Camelbak claims the new cap is also 20% lighter and even lower profile than the previous version. The icing on the cake: built-in, retractable dryer arms attached to the cap.

A new quick-link system makes it a cinch to remove the hose from the bladder for cleaning and installing accessories (like an inline water filter called the Fresh – wonder if it filters out the taste of plastic?). But the feature I’m most excited about and which seems so simple it’s hard to believe no one thought of this before is the addition of a stabilizing baffle within the reservoir itself. The baffle serves to stabilize the water and minimize sloshing while making the bladder itself flatter and therefore easier to pack. In the photo above you can see the baffle the line running down the center of the bladder is pretty much as simple as it gets.

Camelbak has also improved packs like the Lobo by adding easy access to the fill cap so you don’t have to take the entire bladder out every time you refill. Freeride packs have been redesigned as well with hot graphics, cool colors, and refined pockets and straps (top photo).

Some riders still prefer frame-mounted water bottles to heavy, awkward hydration packs so the company is working on better methods of distributing water weight to improve comfort and stability. The Octane LR pack (above) wraps an Antidote reservoir around the waist and lower lumbar which places water weight closer to the hips where it’s much more stable for XC and all-mountain riding. I got a chance to put on a fully loaded Octane LR pack and it felt surprisingly natural, almost like I wasn’t wearing a hydration pack at all.

This year Camelbak has gone way beyond adding more pockets and new color choices to their packs by rethinking and refining the core hydration bladder at the heart of their products. Look for the new Antidote and Octane LR bladders to make appearances in the full line over the next year. If dehydration is what ails you, Camelbak has the Antidote.

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