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by Rob Horne

Platypus Hiker BottleCenturies ago, when I was backpacking in Europe, my pack tipped over in the lobby of the Louvre.  The glass water bottle broke and you never saw so many security personnel appear so fast. That was in 1972 and I’ve been struggling with water bottles ever since.  You’d think I’d have it together by now but I’ve only recently come up with this useful solution.

Hydration System / Hydromedary System – You would think it had something to do with the space shuttle. It’s a plastic bag with a rubber hose attached!  CamelBak Unibottle

There are numerous variations on this theme but the system ( feel silly calling it a system) I use is a 100 oz plastic bottle covered with fabric. It fits in your pack and has a hose that runs out the top to a bite valve that is in a convenient position for access while you’re hiking.  For all purposes, your hands are free and the water is always available with out having to drop your pack. No more bouncing bottles hanging from your belt. It’s an excellent solution to my water bottle dilemma even if it does have the pretentious name of “hydration system”.

I went with a single, separate bag that I can use with my day pack or backpack.  It’s slightly over kill for a short hike but obviously, you don’t have to fill it to the top for every trip. Yes it does add weight to your pack but with a quality pack, you don’t notice the additional load. The water has to go somewhere so it might as well reside in a pack that is designed to distribute the weight evenly. Before now, my method of choice was to have a bottle in one ofMSR Hydromedary Bag the pack pockets and another hanging from a strap for access while walking. It was cumbersome and awkward. As a “gadget person”, I’m already loaded down with superfluous gismos that I like to have within reach while walking. At times, it came down to leaving the camera in the pack so I would have room for the water bottle on my waist belt. Unacceptable.

CameBak Sherpa


Platypus Hiker Bottle $29.95
CamelBak® 100oz. Unbottle $28.99
MSR 2.5-Liter Hydromedary System $28
The CamelBak® Sherpa 100 oz. Pack will run around $130.

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