Jun 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm #1318276
I'm having Joe add a hydration sleeve to my Arc Blast. I like to keep my water in a 2L inverted Platypus bladder so I can hydrate while I'm hiking and keep the center of gravity near my back. Is it better to have it higher, centered between my shoulder blades? Or lower? I thought higher would be better for two reasons: (i) weight is taken off my low back, reducing pain/stress in that area, (ii) it's easier to get my hydration bladder in/out with my sleeping bag and other items filling the bottom of my pack.
For Arc Blast users, I was thinking of having the bottom of the hydration sleeve be placed right at or slightly below the bottom horizontal cross piece. Since I have a short torso, this places the water at the level of my shoulders. Thoughts?Jun 23, 2014 at 1:12 pm #2114000
I would think center. I actually remove the bladder bag thingy because over the last year or 2 I have stopped using the bladder. Just use my water bottle and bring 2 soft sided platy bottles. Much easier. I found the water bladder to be a hassel..I can shoot a number of reasons. .but for one..The problem you are already inquiring about for starters. .hmmmmm..Jun 23, 2014 at 2:05 pm #2114015
I just stick mine flat and on the top of everything in the pack. Easy access and works well. I also only carry about 1.5 liters at most in the 1.8l Hoser/inline sawyer setup that I use, so wherever I shift the weight in the pack it's not real noticeable, if at all.Jun 23, 2014 at 4:02 pm #2114053
Hydration sleeves are uterly pointless and even stupid. The idea of putting a bladder in one is just farcical as all the other gear will squash it flat and possibly burst it as well. FAR, far better is to simply put a bladder on TOP of all other gear under the hood. Mind you, I prefer rocket-base bottles because they NEVER leak, and are free and very light.
On the other hand, the sleeve makes an excellent place to store flat maps on a long trip. High security stuff like passports and money can go right down the bottom as well.
OK, I am biased. We know that! :-)
CheersJun 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm #2114061
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
The thing that I don't like about a hydration bladder is that if it gets one tiny leak, then it is worthless. Nevermind the replacement expense. Assuming that the leak is on the bottom, you have to invert it to get the leak on the top in order to minimize the leakage damage.
The venerable Gatorade bottle works fine for me. On a long, hot day, I will carry two, one liter each, and those always fit into the side pockets on my pack. The plastic is a little heavier than a disposable water bottle, but they are more durable. I'm currently using bottles that are about ten years old, and I don't know if I will get more than 15 or 20 years out of them.
I led a trip one time with a guy who started with a hydration bladder in his pack. Then on Day One, it got a leak. From then on, half of our effort revolved around accommodating him with the bladder.
–B.G.–Jun 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm #2114063
Well…I know many aren't a fan of hydration bladders, but all things considered, nary a one of my Platypus bladders has burst or leaked on me over the last 7 years of backpacking. If it does, my sleeping bag is in a pack liner and has a good chance of staying dry. Additionally, I've never been able to reach back and extract a water bottle/bladder out of a side pocket while hiking. Hydration bladders just work best for me, and I accept the 1-2 oz penalty of the hose.
Back to my original question: Is it best to load the heaviest/densest items at the top of one's pack or more towards the middle? Again, I'm leaning towards placing my bladder up high behind my shoulders (vertically, not horizontally), but just wanted to get input regarding load balance, etc.Jun 23, 2014 at 4:33 pm #2114064
@alexherronLocale: Front Range
Currently I am pretty smitten with my bladder and how well it distributes the weight. I have not had a leak but carry a good deal of duct tape now as well as two 1 liter bottles. Not always filled mind you, one can be simply for other fluid management ;).
Bladder defense complete.
But to the question I would say that when I didn't have a sleeve and carried it very low it worked quite well to distribute weight to the top of by butt, which is where I was trying to carry weight at the time due to a lack of hip belt. But now that I am using a burlier gg crown the sleeve in the middle has me quite satisfied as well. I don't know the feel of the blasts frame very well but I would try to test it out with something temporary before committing to you bladder placement.Jun 23, 2014 at 4:45 pm #2114068
@rosyfinchLocale: the mountains
center high and near your back
billyJun 23, 2014 at 4:52 pm #2114071
On top. Easiest to live with there all around. Skip the sleeve. Dead weight.Jun 23, 2014 at 5:45 pm #2114090
@yakLocale: IN, USA
"I prefer rocket-base bottles because they NEVER leak, and are free and very light."
Roger, may I ask what a "rocket-base" bottle is?Jun 23, 2014 at 7:24 pm #2114122
@johng10Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Are the bottles that come with carbonated drinks. The bottom is dented inwards to allow for expansion. Bottles for carbonated drinks are also made from stronger plastic than water bottles.Jun 23, 2014 at 7:36 pm #2114129
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Gatorade bottles have that shape, and Gatorade is not carbonated.
–B.G.–Jun 23, 2014 at 7:40 pm #2114130
@johng10Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
I just shove mine into the pack horizontally, and along the back panel. This puts the weight behind my shoulder blades.
Why ? Because putting it in vertically requires some unpacking of the pack, and is too much trouble to fill at water sources.
No pocket is needed, because the packs contents hold it in place. In fact, it's hard to cram into place…
However, my favorite method is to use a canteen instead of a bladder. I put a pop-top spout on a water bottle, and tie a cord to a water bottle's neck and sling it over my shoulder. It's easier to drink from than a bladder, and I can't reach the side pockets on my pack easily enough to do it every 5 minutes when it's hot and humid :)
An insulated open topped water bottle pouch that fit on a hip belt near where it connected to the pack would be even better – but I haven't found one yet.Jun 23, 2014 at 9:01 pm #2114156
@nerrek2000Locale: North East Ohio
When I was in the Infantry in Hawaii, I usually had a hell of a time drinking from the 1 qt canteens we were made to carry even though they were on our hip belts. We were regularly climbing from gultches at or below sea level to the peaks of the mountains. The travel route was always muddy and steep. We regularly had to hold our weapon in one hand and pull ourselves up the hill grabbing onto small trees with the other. You couldn't let go of the trees for any length of time or you might slide hundreds of feet down the mountain side.
I, as well as a lot of the other guys bought Camelback bladders that were made specially for the military. The problem was that they had to be strapped to the outside back of the ruck sacs we carried. It pulled badly against your shoulders, especially when carrying the 1 gal versions, and sometimes would even make your arms go numb. You could drink easily on the move in any environment though. Just pop the bite valve in your mouth and you're set.
My first civilian backpack (Osprey) came with a bladder. It slid into a compartment in the bottom of the lid of the pack. It was comfortable and worked well until the bladder was about half empty. At that point, it slid and sloshed around which shifted the weight. I would have to take the pack off at least twice while the water level diminished to tighten the straps for the lid.
All three of my lightweight packs (Deuter Speedlite) have the internal sleeve that centers on your back. It's kind of a pain to get them in and out of my loaded packs when refilling (need to remove a few items) but they're very comfortable. Also, they don't shift and slosh around as they empty. As they empty, I just pull on the side compression straps and it tightens the load right up. In my experience it hasn't mattered if they were higher or lower in the sleeve, just that they were in them so that they were kept centered and against my back.
An other 2 reasons I chose that setup is that I have slightly limited range of motion in my right arm which made it harder to get to the pocket on my right side while wearing the pack, and because of the thorny overgrown trails around NE Ohio and Pennsylvania that I frequent that would poke holes in the bladders if they were in the mesh side pockets.
One final thing. I've never had a Camelback bladder or a Platypus bladder spring a leak or burst because of the pressure of gear on it. I've even sat back against rocks and trees with the pack on when resting without a problem. In the case of the Camelback bladders, remember that they were strapped to the outside back of military ruck sacks that weighed up to 100 pounds + my weight lying back against trees and rocks.
Everyone's different so I'd also suggest that OP borrow a pack with an internal sleeve and try different heights in the sleeve and also horizontally under the lid to get a better idea of what will be best for them.Jun 24, 2014 at 1:41 am #2114189
> what a "rocket-base" bottle is?
As John said, they are used for carbonated drinks, ie fizzy water etc. They are NOT used for 'still water'.
Typically they have 5 bulges at the base, are indestructable, and don't leak. I tested some with drops onto rock of 6 m – zero failures. I tend to use a bottle for several years for many trips before discarding it.
They are made of PET, and if they can safely store Coca Cola for months on end, they can store drinking water for a few days! Washing the threads after a trip is always a good idea, to remove contaminants left by your mouth.
The labels on some may forbid you to reuse them – hohoho. Much mirth.
CheersJun 24, 2014 at 5:53 am #2114201
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
Roger…..Could you provide a picture of the what a "rocket-base" bottle is you use for the group to compare our bottles here in the US to?Jun 24, 2014 at 6:03 am #2114204
Google is your friend hereJun 24, 2014 at 6:20 am #2114207
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
You have two competing factors here – one, the best place for the heaviest item is in the middle of the pack, towards your back. You want the heaviest things to be closest to your center of mass, which in a man is basically your belly button.
However, putting a water bladder that low tends to make it difficult to access…so pick which is most important to you.
And I really like bladders by the way – the only way I drink enough is if I have the hose…….Jun 24, 2014 at 8:02 am #2114233
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
Ken…..Totally agree with Rogers & Bob's comments on the subject of hydration bladders. This ""rocket-base" bottle ' terminology is new for me in this arena of backpacking light. My wife, granddaughters and I have used the Gatorade bottles below for many years AND yes there are many types of these "rocket-base" bottles out their but have found these to be the most "bomb proof".
Thanks for the clarification.Jun 24, 2014 at 4:06 pm #2114360
The really good bit about rocket-base bottles is the cap. It is designed to take the pressure of fizzy water really reliably. I have NEVER had one of those caps leak, either against water or against kerosene – and the latter really does get out of some (other) threads. Larger diameter necks may be useful, but I suspect they might be a bit less secure.
CheersJun 24, 2014 at 4:48 pm #2114370
terry a thompsonParticipant
I would have him place the hydration bladder sleeve high. Mine takes a 100 oz. bladder and works perfectly for me.
With the quick release connectors from Camel back, I have no problem filling my bladder with out taking it out of the pack. I have a male connector on my out flow side of my Sawyer and i just disconnect the bite valve and connect the Sawyer and squeeze.
Hope this helps.Jun 24, 2014 at 5:25 pm #2114379
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Heavy stuff should be loaded in the center, tight to your back. Higher is for midweight items. Lower is for midweight items.
Gatoraid bottles work well for water. I have 4 more old style ones, 2 are 10 years+ old. The newer ones have a smaller cap. This did not used to fit the older Steripen Adventurer. The newer Opti model will work with the newer bottles. These are half liter and 1 liter sizes. The Steripen is why I cary a larger mouthed bottle, mostly. A Coke bottle can be difficult to fill in some cases, on the trail. Wider mouths fill a lot easier. A bandana can be rubber banded over the top to remove floties. I carry a 2 liter platty, but it is always empty. I fill it at night/evening to make supper and for breakfast. The half liter bottles slip easily in and out of the side pockets.Jun 24, 2014 at 6:24 pm #2114387
David, I have another possibility you may want to explore. I just got my new Arc Blast and personally will be moving away from a bladder approach, but to your question…
The Arc Blast has a feature that isn't very common in the world of backpacks, a trampoline suspension that leaves a cavity between your back and the back of the pack. This provides airflow etc, but one of the criticisms of this design is that it moves the pack weight out away from your body, which affects center of gravity, centrifugal force when you turn/spin, and overall carry such that it feels "heavier" than the same weight closer in.
My old pack also has this trampoline suspension approach, and it was sold at the time as having the ability to hang the water bladder inside the cavity between the trampoline and the back of the pack. This moves your densest, and often heaviest, item in towards the spine and stabilizes the carry, negating some of the negative weight-distribution effects of the trampoline design. You could consider this approach with the Arc Blast as well.
This will cut down on airflow across the back, obviously. With my old pack, generally the bladder hung in the deepest part of that cavity, which on me was shoulder blades to middle back. When the bladder was full it laid against my spine, so no ventilation there at all, but it was a much narrower point of contact (because of the bulge of the bladder), so still allowed airflow to the sides of my back to the left and right of the contact area along the spine, as well as straight across above and below the bladder. And as I drained the bladder it flattened and loosened away from my spine and allowed a lot more airflow. So all in all I thought it worked pretty well.
I haven't tried it with my Arc Blast yet, but I have noticed a few things that will impact. First, my old pack was specifically designed for hanging the bladder in the cavity and has a loop at the top inside of the cavity to hang the bladder from. With the Arc Blast to hang the bladder you could just tie a bit of cord to the haul loop and hang the bladder from that, at whatever height you want. Or, if your pack is still in production you could ask Joe to sew a small loop for you, somewhere under the haul loop (you should measure your bladder first so that the loop allows the bladder to hang at the height you want).
Compared to my old pack the Arc Blast has a smaller trampoline and thus less of a gap behind your back. So the cavity will be tighter for your bladder, especially if you get the lumbar pad. But another thing is that the frame on my old pack was an hourglass shape, so in the center the frame was narrower, more in along the sides of the back, and that held in the load from the pack better and held that cavity open. The Arc has a straight frame and thus doesn't hold back the pack load as well. Depending on your load and how you pack it, you are more susceptible to the pack load bulging out into that cavity, which would press the bladder more firmly up against your spine. You could help this by packing your pad against the inside back of the pack, and/or you could tie some cord taut across the vertical frame pieces, in between the two horizontal pieces, which could hold back the load some.
And, of course, another factor is how much "arc" you decide you like. On my old pack the arc is fixed (not adjustable) and is out about 2.5" in the center, which happens to be the same amount Joe suggests for the Arc Blast.
Just another avenue to explore.Jun 24, 2014 at 8:24 pm #2114424
Thanks for the input. I see what you are suggesting, but I think it would be best, as you pointed out, to have the bladder inside the Arc Blast due to its construction. I'm just wondering if having the bladder too high in pack will result in a tendency for my pack to feel top heavy. Most of my other gear is significantly less dense than water. Anyway, I think it may be a moot point since it is pretty hard to retrieve a bladder from the bottom half of one's pack. Pretty much here's my packing strategy:
(i) Fold inflatable mattress into a rectangle and insert in pack along spine help give the pack shape and prevent pointy objects from pointing through (not that there are any)
(ii) Shove pack liner into bottom of pack and stuff insulation in there (sleeping bag, down jacket, pillow, etc.)
(iii) Insert tent in stuff sack on top of insulation
(iv) Insert filled hydration bladder between sleeping pad and spine (this is where have a sleeve is handy to keep the bladder in place)
(v) Add food bag and anything else on top, such as cookpot
Pretty much I reverse these steps when making a rest stop for water. It's really not that bad–just pull out the cookpot and food bag which I need anyway. (My cookpot is used to fill my Sawyer squeeze bag). My insulation and tent stays at the bottom of my pack until I reach camp. The bladder doesn't go all the way down into my pack. If I put it down there, it would never come out! :)Jun 28, 2014 at 3:30 am #2115392
I have been using hydration bladders at least a few times a week for the last 20 years or so, for me i find it best to use the sleeve provided in many rucksacks as it prevents the bladder moving around.
Osprey rucksacks have a shaped sleeve that holds their bladders extremely well.
Not sure if the neigh sayers have had any experience with modern hydration bladders, perhaps if they had they wouldn't be as frightened of them.
In over 20 years of cycling, running and hiking i've never once had a bladder leak.
I did have one explode one time when i crashed my MTB, to be fair though my aluminium pump (in my rucksack as well) also broke in that crash so i'm certain a plastic bottle would have popped as well.
Biggest disadvantage with hydration bladders is NOT their reliability, it's the fact that you cannot see how much water you have left easily.
I have walked/cycled past a stream thinking i have plenty of water left, only to run out 20 mins later.
As i live in Greece a place where water is extremely rare to find in many higher wilderness areas i now carry a 1 litre evernew bladder as well as my full hydration bladder, that way if i run out i know i at least have some water.
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