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Water bottle or hydration pouch ('camel back')?


Hi everyone, I have to decide between a 1l very light stainless steel water bottle OR a 2l hydration pouch that goes inside a pocket in my backpack. I haven't used a hydration pouch before so not sure about the advantages or disadvantages. Any tips??
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Personally i preferred just a cheap plastic bottle bought on route, not really any need for a steel type bottle and it just adds weight. I would imagine having a bladder would be a bit annoying having to get out and refill often and i've heard they can start to smell??
We carried 2 Steel bottles each .6Ltr & 1Ltr last year and found that OK.
We had hydration packs but chose not to take them, as we thought the refilling in the packs might be a problem, also there is the issue of needing to clean them . Many people on the Camino just use plastic bottles and seem quite happy, personally we travelled very "light" and didn't find the weight an issue. Now the weight of the water, that's another story.

When we do it again I would still do the same thing, 2 Steel bottles .6Ltr & 1Ltr, one on the hip one on the back.

Buen Camino

Forgot to mention.

With our 2 bottles we did not always fill them every day. As you move along the Camino you soon get to know how much you need to carry to the next village. We would fill our bottles for each stage accordingly throughout the day. The water is the weight not the bottles. Our SIGGS weighed in at 0.6 Liter 108 Gram & 1.0 Liter 150 Gram.

Buen Camino

I used a 750ml Camelbak bottle that I put into a pouch that hung from my waist belt (the pouch is light weight 'sea to summit' brand - can buy them at Paddy Pallin, Scout Shop etc. The bottle is great as it has a straw so you suck up rather than having to tilt the bottle and obscure your view if you are walking along plus it is see through so you can easy see how much water you have left. It's made from very tough, non PBA plastic. Plus you don't have the bother of having to unscrew and possibly loose a cap. I was advised by my doctor not to use a bladder for hygienic reasons and others have reported them leaking onto all their gear which wouldn't be fun. cheers, Jane
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Hi, I swear by Platypus 1 ltr bags. You can get a thermal lightweight pouch for them, which clips onto your wastebelt. Alternatively the bottle fits easily into most outer/side pockets on packs. The bags/bottles weigh nothing, are tough ( I have used the same one for 1600 km and it is as new). They fold down to next to nothing when empty. I had a litre aluminium bottle at first and found it bulky and scary. It was hanging from my pouch and I worried that I might fall and hurt myself on it, being so hard. It also got in the way and I ditched it after a couple of days. Cheers, Gitti
I usually use Camelback bladders. I love the immediate access to water via the valve tube. However, for this trip I too am concerned about keeping the bladder dry and clean as needed for a 5 wk trek versus a weekend of camping.

While at REI last Saturday, I perused the Platypus "water bottles." They look great. However, their benefit is to decompress as they empty but do they need cleaning/drying out as the bladders do? If so, the only advantage seems to be easy access for refilling??

In addition, how clean is the water
? Do people take liquid drops in case of water quality concerns? Anyone out there taking electrolytes to help with the heat and dehydration issues?

Grazie~ Denise
I just refilled the bottles after rinsing them out and washed the top, no problems. I used fountain water throughout Spain, where it said it was drinkable and tap water the rest of the time. It was problem free. I am a nurse and kind of fussy, but felt confident and had no problems at any point. Gitti
I have always used one of those "spritz" bottles with a spray nozzle like the ones you can use for ironing. It isn't too big, doubles really well as a cooler-offer in the heat, and is great for starting conversations. You could probably get rid of unwanted canine attention with one too but I haven't had occasion to try that out.
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I walked with a friend who used a CamelBack and rinsed it out with boiling water anytime we stayed at a place with a kitchen. When the weather warms up they can easily "join the dark side," and they may be the source of some of those "bad water on the Meseta" yarns that go ´round whenever a stomach bug is bothering people.

Aside from that, walking around with that little sucker thing dangling next to your face is just a little weird-looking.

I´m just sayin´
I wouldn't be without my Camelback on long walks. It means that I drink little and often instead of waiting until I'm thirsty and taking off the pack to drink from a bottle. I add an orange flavoured vitamin C tablet to take away the plastic taste and every other day or so I rinse it out with a disinfecting tablet that is sold for cleaning babies bottles, which I get from my supermarket. I use a 2 litre bottle but always carry a spare litre as you can't see when the camelback is nearly empty.

dmmorris said:
Anyone out there taking electrolytes to help with the heat and dehydration issues?

Grazie~ Denise
Hi Denise,
We only took Dioralyte sachets in our water if one of us had a bit of a tummy (due to too much good food and wine rather than any bad water :oops: ). However for much of the time were walking in a bitterly cold and/or soggy April conditions ...if walking in hotter conditions I'd probably take them on a more regular basis as I 'glow' quite a lot when walking in anything other than a snow storm.
The important thing with these products is be sure to get the proportions of fluid to powder correct and don't, as I saw one pilgrim doing, eat it like lemon shebert!
ps I'm a two re-used plastic water bottles kinda gal myself- hate those old pouches and, as I've said before, looking like 'a sucky calf'
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My vote is strongly with the 'camelback' pouch. I bought one specifically for my first Camino in 2006. I'll be using it again when I return for my fourth week's walk in June. Fits well at the top of my pack, in a plastic bag, and the tube can be clipped on your shoulder strap. Low maintenance, but they need a periodic 'flush out' with warm/mildly soapy water. I only ever put water in mine.
Water pouches grow stuff if you include anything in the water on which bugs will feed.

They came into use in sports where speed is vital and people want to hydrate continuously. Once one or two people in a hill walking club got them, then most had to have them as the front runners on the walk no longer had to stop to get out water bottles.

I was really glad that I had a 1.5 ltr on the Meseta where even in September it was very hot with little shade and you need a good amount of water and to take it in as you lose it to sweat. In urban areas with lots of water nearby you might not need them.

they can leak. It is important to have them on the outside of the pack (but that can be hot) or at least on the outside of the liner bag inside the rucksack. It is also important to check the bottom end of the hose where it joins the bladder each time you fill it as they often join in a screw-in arrangement which can unscrew as you use it.

Bottom line, if you ensure that you drink enough water either way, then it is a matter of comfort and whatever you are used to. The real advantage is that you dont have to stop and unpack a water bottle out of your rucksac to get a drink. You can leave it until the next stop when you do and not drink enough.
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My Camelback is years old and with regular flushing, and an occasional dollop of bleach, then hanging upside down to dry, ive had no bad taste, algea,or trouble. ive only seemingly worn out the cover through use.
Ime made to where i have to hydrate early and often, and i don't cramp up until ime in the water discipline stage.

my water regimen is at an hour or so before the effort, ill down a gallon of water. this is for the really warm days. 35 c to 43-44c
then on the walkout i sip often and regularly.
i avoid the sports drinks, too sugary and slow me down
i do supplement when i can with a amino acid mix to combat lactic acid buildup and rebuild muscle
at the end of the trail, i would drink another amino acid mix immediately and continue the water, flushing away the lactic acid and rehydrating.
the continuous wear and tear will add up, rest days let the muscles rebound and rebuild
so hopefully ill remember this on my walk, and behave myself enough to not walk the entire route in one shot... due to excitement!
I have walked Caminos with a hydration system (Osprey) and with bottles. I prefer the bottles because of the filling issues, having to take things out of the bag to get at the bladder and I am a really idle bloke. Then as mentioned there are hygiene issues. I now have two 500ml aluminium bottles (some prefer plastic but I hate it when they are part full and split. I had a 1L bottle but I found it cumbersome. I don't personally have an the issue of not drinking enough because I find it no problem to slip my pack off, have a short break and a glug though I know from previous experience I was not so like minded when I had a big, heavy pack.
I'm like Al. I've used a water bladder but found it a pain to fill. Plastic bottles for a while, now I have two small aluminium bottles.
Ever see the Movie, "Platoon"---"Don't drink water. it will make you sick"--I was in that Army. At that time we were trained to have "water discipline".. I carried 1.5 liters of water in May/June and never opened the 1 liter bottle. Generally kept a 500 ml bottle of water in my pocket and rarely drank more than 250 ml per day. Walked a lot with ex-marine who carried no water at all from SJPDP to Santiago. Must admit that we really had no hot days--very cool and pleasant walking weather.
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The water bladders (made by Camelbak, Platypus, and Osprey) are wonderful for those with less-limber shoulders, improving your chances of drinking frequently enough to stay adequately hydrated. The bladders (also the smaller collapsible bottles), are made with BPA or related plastics-manufacturing compounds, which are endocrine disruptors. The very-thin-walled stainless steel bottles are free from the endocrine-disruptors, but are difficult to fish out of the pack side pockets for some of us. Carried bottles are much easier to refill in the course of the day.

There are pros and cons to any hydration system -- but the most important point is to actually have a system, and to integrate it into your daily routine throughout your training period (the body needs to adjust to more water throughput). So, as with so many other equipment discussions here, the training period is not only for training the body, but for sorting out your equipment choices for best fit.
I'm taking my 2L water bladder (Platypus = BPA free). I just pull it out of it's pouch inside my pack (leaving the tubing in place) & disconnect the tubing, fill it w/water and reconnect the tubing, push the bladder back down into it's pouch designed to hold it(Gregory backpack). A bit of a bother, but I like to get that sip of water when my mouth dries out. Otherwise I tend to wait too long to get to my water bottle, which I cannot reach unless I take my pack off or get my hubby to get it for me. Sometimes, I just need a sip of water, so the bladder works well for me and I don't have to ask for help, interrupt my stride, or need to be taking my backpack off all the time. The top has a 'zip' off top with a string attached and wide mouthed - so easy to unseal and reseal.
I prefer to have the bottles and the space in the pack for the bladder is useful for packing other items. My bottles like Al's are 500ml, Terry carries 2 1lt bottles. They fit his pack and he doesn't have to fill them. On days when we do carry full bottles we drink some fairly soon to lessen the weight :). It does mean that we can see easily if we have much water left. Terry managed his on his own quite happily. Together we stop briefly and maybe have an extra drink, without having to remove a pack, but the short rest is good for us.
I used osprey hidration system 3 L.
I used 1.5 L each day! Maybe 2 L on those large day! Love it! Never been sick! In 15 walking days! Every day fill it up with new tap water! And every night waste the remain water leave it open for the next day fill it up again!
I carried a couple of 1 liter bottles you buy in a market. I bought water every few days to replace the bottles and filled them along the way. By buying new ones, they didnt get too rank. I know I wasnt helping the environment by buying plastic bottles, but it was just easier for me.
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Like Tia I like to leave the space and as my bag is only 25L that matters! Once using a bladder on the long forest trek towards Siguiero in some 35 degrees I sucked and found it dry! :( That is one drawback of bladders, you don't know how much is left.
Have bought one of these:
Blue Desert SmarTube Hydration System
They fit into a shop-bought water bottle which can then be refilled at taps etc.
The bottle(s) will fit into the netting on the front pouches of my Aarn backpack
See link for the SmarTube:
and also available through Amazon
I have used the camelback...I've found that with it that accessible, I tend to drink just out of habit, not necessity.
Water discipline is great, if really needed due to circumstance. Being a Marine, or just a macho kinda guy (or gal) and not drinking, just because you can isn't very smart. Knowing you "don't know" when you will next have access to potable water is true water discipline. Knowing water is plentiful and not using it is just plain idiotic. Of all the things your body needs..water is a necessity for many reasons.

I use a Katadyn water bottle with interior filter. I also carry a used soda bottle and, when in doubt, I put the questionable water in the Katadyn and can transfer to the soda bottle.
There is a reason, deeper for carrying a ready supply of water
in my crossing of the desert land in Arizona, it was around 110 deg with low humidity, i saw a van parked along the highway with two men sitting in its shade.
a Father and Son

i pulled my 18 wheeler over and backed up a ways, got out and stopped
went back and got all my water supply, 2 litres and a Gallon

i gave a litre to the dad and first thing he did was to give it to his son
then the next
i gave the gallon to Dads and he finally took a drink
they had been sitting for literally hours in the direct sunlight
no one would stop.

the son got up and shook my hand
they we on the way to a job a state over and the van had all their tools, their livelihood inside
sadly i couldn't tow them legally
so i went back and got my last of water

I carry more than i need for two reasons
the other reason is in case i find the Peregrino in need
it is my duty to my brother to watch over them as ive been watched over
that is my Camino
Have bought one of these:
Blue Desert SmarTube Hydration System
They fit into a shop-bought water bottle which can then be refilled at taps etc.
The bottle(s) will fit into the netting on the front pouches of my Aarn backpack
See link for the SmarTube:
and also available through Amazon
I got mine here, find it great.

I also use these when walking at home. One unit actually contains three items, so great value.
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