Long Term Review: CamelBak Antidote Reservoir
There comes a time in every hydration reservoir’s life, and they do live long lives, when you just cannot get rid of that stupid carcinogenic plastic taste…or you crash really hard and it rips open (leaving you sore, a little bloody, and wet all over). In my case, it was a combination of the two which lead me to purchase a set of the new Camelbak Antidote reservoirs. There are numerous aftermarket bladder options, but after reading about the new functionality Camelbak was introducing – I just couldn’t resist owning the new new. After all, the company claimed that with the Antidote they had “resigned and reinvented every key performance feature of the reservoir.”
So did this upgraded bag live up to the hype?
SARIS: The Antidote introduces a plethora of new features intended to increase the efficiency and usability of built in hydration systems, and they’ve succeeded. In the past I’ve been loath to use my hydration pack, and preferred to tote around metal Klean Kanteen bottles in my riding bag, but new features like the quarter turn closure system, internal baffle, and quick link system have altered my habits. This bag is incredibly easy to use. The new closure system, requires only a quarter turn to close, and features arrows to assist in lining up a tongue and groove design inside of the lid, to prevent from over tightening. This system works really well for the most part, but on occasion I didn’t push the lid all the way in, and end up drenching myself. It’s usually apparent when the lid isn’t adjusted properly, but there has been more than one instance when I’ve been mistaken.
ZACH: One of the most important aspects of the new closure system for me, is how much easier it is to open and close the bladder. Admittedly, it has been awhile since my last Omega reservoir, but I remember struggling at times to get it open after I had probably over tightened the cap. The new system is extremely easy to use regardless of the situation. I did put the cap on wrong once or twice, but it was easy to figure out I had installed it wrong, and fixed it before it ever became an issue.
SARIS: In conjunction with the new lid design, CamelBak increased the size of the fill port opening, and it is finally wide enough for me reach in and clean the bag properly. After cleaning, the bag incorporates built in dry arms to allow the bag to easily hang dry. Unfortunately, the bag only has a clip on the top of the bag so there is no handle to hang dry the bag with the fill port open and facing downwards (unless you purchase the additional cleaning kit). The outside of the bag is labeled with different volumes, which enable you to determine exactly how much water you’re bringing, and how much you drank. The inside features a “center baffle” which decreases the width of the bag. This makes the bladder easier to slide into my backpack and increases the storage capacity of the main compartment when the bladder is full. Water is also distributed more efficiently across the back, consequently improving weight distribution, and comfort.
TYLER: The bigger opening is fantastic for shoving in ice or pouring pre-mixed sports drink in without it splashing out. The baffle does prevent using their original drying inserts unless you cram in two of them, one in each side.
ZACH: In all honestly, I am very bad when it comes to cleaning out my hydration bladders. I tend to leave them filled with water, sometimes for months after I have used them, sometimes only to put more water in without emptying it and going for a ride. I haven’t actually used the incorporated drying arms, but if you are into that kind of thing they seem like they would be useful. The plastic currently used for the bladder itself seems to not take on any undesirable flavors over time, even with poor cleaning and care. I have quite a few of the new bladders and tend to switch back and forth, and they all deliver water without that plastic taste. The new baffle design works extremely well, and prevents the bladder from “sausgaging” on your back.
SARIS: Unfortunately, when the hydration bladder is full it tends to leak out of the quick link hose attachment. Occasionally, the amount of water is significant enough that when I pick my riding pack off the ground there are clumps of mud attached to the bottom. You also need to be careful when disconnecting the hose from the bag as any liquid in it will pour out unless plugged with a finger.
TYLER: I have way too many Camelbaks and haven’t experienced any leaks from the quick disconnect port, so this could be a limited problem.
ZACH: I have to side with Tyler on this one. With 3 different new Camelbaks and even more new bladders, I have yet to experience any leaking at all. This is after packing full bags and bladders in duffels for trips, stuffing empty Camelbaks in all too crowded suitcases for long flights, and carelessly throwing them into my trunk after a ride. Of all of the bladders I have used, this seems to be one of the most durable.
SARIS: The antidote also features several extra accessories which can be purchased separately such as a bite valve cover, flow meter, and fresh water filter. The flow meter digitally measures water consumption, but due to the measurement on the bag, I found the accessory redundant and frankly a little silly. The accessory is definitely targeted toward a market segment I don’t belong too.
TYLER: Yeah, the Flowmeter’s cool for a minute, but not really something I found myself using after reviewing it. If you were doing a super long event, as in multi-day, and really had to monitor fluid intake, maybe. One thing that it does show is just how much or little you actually consume, which can be revelatory and might help determine the culprit of frequent cramping or bonking if you’re prone to such things.
ZACH: I have not used any of the accessories, though if I had a choice, I think the water filter would be the only thing that would appeal to me.
SARIS: The fresh water filter, which fits between the hydration reservoir and quick link hose, is intended to provide better tasting water. The filter wasn’t, and is still not available through major shop suppliers like QBP and BTI, but the bite valve cover was available for purchase. The cover is rather difficult to install because it fits between the mouthpiece and the hose. The mouthpiece must be pushed rather forcefully into the hose and removing it is very tedious. The benefit of the cover is that the bite valve does not come into contact with every surface I toss my bag onto. The cover also prevents any residual moisture on or in the mouth piece from spilling or dampening my riding gear. The only downside is that if not carefully washed the valve cover is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and can soon develop mold.
TYLER: I’ve tried the inline water filter and it works as promised, improving the taste of tap water, particularly when it has a bleachy smell, but it does inhibit flow a bit. If you routinely fill your bottle from hotels or public water sources, it’s not a bad investment. It’s only for taste, though, not to purify the water.
SARIS: The new antidote hydration reservoir introduces an innovative but flawed feature set. The new internal baffle and quarter turn closing systems are major improvements over past designs, but the quick link hose should have been better executed. Due to the leaky bladder my riding bag developed mold when it sat untouched during two weeks of rain storms. The antidote has a lot of great features which make it a pleasure to use, including being BPA free, but the leaking bladder is a real turn off…although it could have just been the two units I purchased. Aside from the leaking issue (which is kind of a big deal) this is the best reservoir I’ve used to date. Its a vast improvement over the Nalgene and previous iterations of CamelBak bladders, but until the leaking issue is resolved I can’t recommend this product.
TYLER: While actual pack design from other brands are competing at Camelbak’s level in terms of features, pockets, comfort, etc., I still think their reservoirs are hands down the best. I haven’t had any problems with leaking, and the new baffled design definitely makes them flatter and fit better in the packs. Given my lack of problems, I’d recommend them in a second. Discuss.
ZACH: Again, just like Tyler, I am very happy with the new Antidote bladders. There was a time that I would have rather used other bladders that had quick release hoses to aid in filling the bladder, but now that Camelbak’s includes the quick connect, it is back on top of the market. For me the bladders have been extremely durable, and improved on all the areas where the old Camelbak bladders needed improvement.
Have you tried the new CamelBak reservoir? Did it leave you drenched in disappointment, or soaked in sunshine? Let us know in the comments…