Coordinated by LEONG SIOK HUI
Is a hydration pack a practical solution for outdoor jaunts? And how do you keep it clean? Is there a nifty device to bring along on a trail to charge electronics? Get clued-in here.
I’ve recently been introduced to the concept of hydration pack systems. I find it an innovative way to carry water while allowing one to have regular sips without disruption to the activity. However, how do you clean the reservoir, especially if you fill it with “100 Plus” or similar drinks? While the salesperson says there are chemical tablets that can do the cleaning, I am concerned about taking in remnants of the cleaning agent. Are such cleaning agents safe?
Quenching My Thirst, Klang Valley
You can find quite a variety of brands and variations of hydration packs in the gear market today. Some notable brands include Camelbak, Platypus, Hydrapak and MSR.
Although they work the same way by using gravity to deliver water from the reservoir storage through a tube to your bite valve, not all hydration systems are created equal.
Water carrier: Hydration packs are a great way to keep outdoor buffs hydrated on the trail.
The reservoir, tube and bite valve are usually made from materials that are certified safe for food storage and consumption. If the quality of the reservoir material is compromised, harmful chemicals may leach into your beverage during storage or the reservoir will deteriorate during the cleaning process.
Hydration systems from trusted brands will usually state the product’s safety standards on their packaging. The brands are legally bound to ensure their products are tested, for example, according to American, European Union or Japanese health certification standards.
To be safe rather than sorry, do opt for the trusted brands.
Hydration system brands from the United States like CamelBak, Platypus and MSR are highly durable and their reservoirs/bladders are made from Food and Drug Administration-approved polyurethane/polyethylene that are rated Bisphenol A (BPA)-free.
Companies like CamelBak produce cleaning tablets made of salt solutions like sodium chlorite and sodium hydrogen sulphate. If diluted according to the manufacturer’s instructions, these tablets are safe to use, just as you would trust your dishwashing detergent.
Other cleaning options include using hot water and two tablespoons of baking soda or bleach. Mix the solution inside the reservoir and hold it up above your head while you pinch the bite valve, allowing the bleached water to run through the tube.
Let the cleaning solution sit in the reservoir for about 30 minutes. Remember to rinse the reservoir and dry it thoroughly to prevent mould, which grows on water. (It’s worth investing in the reservoir brush and tube brush, especially when you need to clean hard-to-reach places like the narrow tubes and reservoir insides. Hydrapak make reservoirs that are reversible to allow fuss-free cleaning and drying while Platypus’ SlideLock closure ensures an easy, leak-free closure and opens wide for easy cleaning)
But if you are uncomfortable with using baking soda or bleach, fill up the reservoir with lemon juice as citric acid not only helps clean the insides, it improves the taste of your drinking water. One tip by CamelBak: to prevent mildew and/or mould build-up when you are not using your reservoir, empty the reservoir and store it in the freezer.
Platypus and MSR reservoirs use food-grade inner polyurethane/polyethylene film that is BPA-free and treated with an all-natural SlimeGuard™ anti-microbial treatment. The SlimeGuard™ prevents organisms like mould from sticking to the inner surface of the reservoir.
Like any reservoir, you can use hot soapy water or baking soda/bleach or lemon juice to clean the Platypus if you store sweet beverages in them. Rinsing with hot water (not boiling temperature) helps prevent any bacteria build-up. Most importantly, always rinse, clean and dry your hydration reservoir after each use. Drink in peace.
Leong Dee Lu
Adventure buff cum outdoor retailer
Hydration packs are sold at bike shops and outdoor retailers like Corezone (www.mycorezone.com), Tel: (03) 7873 5560 and Lafuma in Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur (www.lafuma.com.my), Tel: (03) 2287 1118.
* Any gear queries? We have free goodies up for grabs for the best gear question – from a stove, hydration pack, Original Buff to a nifty outdoor toilet roll holder (prizes courtesy of Corezone outdoor retailer, www. mycorezone.com).
This month, writer Quenching My Thirst wins a Platypus Insulator Hydration System 3L, courtesy of outdoor retailer Corezone.
Drop us an e-mail at Star2.gear@thestar. com.my, subject: Gear Query. Gear Up is a monthly Q&A gear column.