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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bladders > CamelBak Antidote Reservoir > Test Report by Andrea Murland
I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.
Description & Initial ImpressionsI received the CamelBak Antidote Reservoir inside of an insulated UnBottle sleeve. A hangtag attached to the UnBottle indicated that it was a sample and that it was “Assembled in Mexico of US and Imported Components”. There was no further information or tags on either the UnBottle sleeve or the Antidote Reservoir. This test will focus on the Antidote Reservoir, but I will describe the UnBottle sleeve, as I may use the two items together occasionally during the test period.
The CamelBak Antidote Reservoir is made of a flexible rubbery-feeling material that appears to have welded seams. It has an internal baffle which connects the front and back walls. A press release from CamelBak (Aug 3, 2010) indicates that the baffle is intended to create a more streamlined and flatter shape when the reservoir is full. The exterior of the reservoir is stamped with the company name, volume graduations in ounces and litres, patent information, and instructions to “rotate arms down for drying” (more on that later).
The fill port of the Antidote is about 9 cm (3.5 in) in diameter and closes with a quarter-turn clockwise. The cap is stamped with an arrow and the fill port ring with markings showing “open” and “closed” to indicate the position of the cap and where it should be positioned. The cap can also be positioned in several other locations on the circumference of the fill port and closed with a quarter-turn, but I find the marked position the easiest to use.
A 100 cm (39.4 in) hose connects the reservoir to a bite valve. The hose disconnects from the reservoir by pushing the yellow button on the quick connect. The bite valve has a yellow locking mechanism, which can be turned to prevent accidental discharge of water. There is no cap or cover on the bite valve.
An interesting feature of the reservoir is a set of lightweight plastic dryer arms. When not in use, they sit along the edge of the fill port. When flipped down, they prop open the top of the reservoir to allow drying between uses.
There is a small hard plastic hang loop at the top of the reservoir, which I assume is for hanging up the reservoir to dry. The press release mentions a “handle drop slot”; I’m not sure if this is the small hang loop or another feature that I haven’t figured out yet.
The UnBottle sleeve is a padded nylon sleeve for the Antidote Reservoir. The front of the sleeve has 4 clips for attaching the sleeve to a pack. The fill port of the reservoir fits through a hole on the front of the sleeve, so that the cap can be accessed without removing the reservoir from the sleeve. As well, there is a small zippered access flap at the bottom of the front of the sleeve to access the hose quick connect. The back of the sleeve has a two-way zipper across the top edge of the sleeve to allow insertion or removal of the reservoir. There is a small drain hole at the bottom of the sleeve on the back. The top of the UnBottle sleeve has a webbing strap with a buckle, which I assume is to use as a hanger or as part of an attachment system to a pack.
The UnBottle sleeve appears to be well constructed. There are no loose threads or missing stitching.
Trying It OutI was able to easily remove the Antidote Reservoir from the UnBottle sleeve, though the fill port is a snug fit into the hole for it on the UnBottle.
I have never before had a hydration reservoir with a fill port, hose that disconnects, lock on the valve, baffle, or drying arms. Actually, about the only similarity between the Antidote and my previous reservoir is that they both hold water.
Filling the Antidote Reservoir at a kitchen tap was straightforward, as was operation of the cap on the fill port. I found the quarter-turn to be very instinctive. I found no leaks in the reservoir. I am interested to see how easy it is to fill the reservoir in a creek through the fill port. The baffle inside the reservoir does seem to hold the walls together so that it doesn’t balloon out at the bottom.
With no instructions, I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to figure out how to disconnect the hose, but the big yellow button was the first thing I tried, and it worked smoothly. There were a few drops of water from the quick connect and a bit of water came out of the hose when I disconnected it, but the seal seemed to be fine. The lock on the bite valve was also easy to figure out and operate. The bite valve provides a steady stream of water at what seemed to be a good volume.
I did have a couple of puddles to clean up from my initial testing of the reservoir, mostly from fiddling with the fill port while the reservoir was full and laying down. Oops!
I tried the Antidote Reservoir in all 3 of my packs, which are all hydration compatible. The Antidote is twice as big as my previous reservoir but to my surprise it fit into the reservoir sleeve in all of my packs. It was the worst fit in my 65 L (4000 cu in) pack. The bite valve was tough to get through the hydration port on all of the packs, but with the quick connect hose I can always feed the end of the hose through and re-connect it to the reservoir once in the pack.
SummaryThe CamelBak Antidote Reservoir is a hydration reservoir with a ton of interesting features for me to test! So far, I really like the baffle construction and hose quick connect, and I’m looking forward to trying out the features in the field.
Field ConditionsI have carried the Antidote reservoir anytime that I’ve been carrying a pack over the past two months. Here’s a summary of my use during the Field Testing stage:
ObservationsThe Antidote Reservoir has been easy to use and certainly large enough for my needs over the past two months.
I have found the fill port to be easy to open and close, and have had no trouble getting the cap lined up in the fill port. I have found it a bit awkward filling the reservoir from a tap without getting water everywhere (I’m used to a top-filling reservoir), but I’m learning how to hold the water bladder so that it doesn’t collapse on itself. The baffles do appear to help the reservoir keep a more streamlined shape, especially in such a big reservoir.
I have had the hose and valve freeze several times in cool weather, but have found it fairly easy to unfreeze it and then keep it that way. I can thaw the valve by tucking it inside the collar of my jacket, and keep the hose clear by blowing the water back into the reservoir. The only problem is remembering to do it... I haven’t used the reservoir yet in cold weather, so I’m curious to see if that strategy still works at lower temperatures.
Drinking from the valve is a pleasure. The flow of water is excellent and doesn’t take much effort. The valve lock works well, and I have not noticed any leakage from the valve, as I always keep it locked when I’m not drinking. I did have the locking lever pull out once, but it wasn’t too hard to put it back in, and I haven’t had a problem in the times that I’ve used it since.
The quick connect is a great feature. I noted in the Initial Report that it was difficult to get the bite valve through the hydration ports on my pack. However, I can disconnect the hose and pull out the reservoir end instead, or disconnect the hose to fill the reservoir if I’m not switching packs. It’s way less frustrating than fighting with a bite valve! A few drops of water leak when I disconnect the hose, but nothing major.
I have noticed a bit of a rubbery taste to the water, but it’s no worse than I’ve had from any other reservoir that I’ve used in the past, so it hasn’t been a problem. As well, I do tend to leave water in the reservoir longer than I should, so that probably contributes to funny-tasting water.
I have rinsed and dried the reservoir three times. Each time, after rinsing, I have popped out the dryer arms and hung the reservoir from the hook at the top of the fill port. After a day, the reservoir is dry except for in a few crevices or where the layers of rubber were stuck together. The fill port is big enough to easily get my hand inside to dry the last few drops if necessary. The dryer arms do a good job of propping the reservoir open for it to dry. I have no previous experience with drying reservoirs, as I can count on my fingers the number of times that I’ve emptied, cleaned, and dried my previous hydration bladder, and I’ve had it for five years. Having a special feature intended for drying is encouraging me to clean the reservoir more frequently than I might otherwise.
I have noticed that when I take off my pack or put it on, the bite valve catches on things, especially when taking my pack off. I notice that it seems to hook onto my sleeve or arm as I swing the pack around. A very small nitpick, but it has been a bit annoying. I’m not sure whether it’s due to the shape of the bite valve or the material that it’s made from.
SummaryI’ve enjoyed using the Antidote reservoir over the past two months and look forward to seeing how it performs in colder weather over the next two. So far it is performing well, and certainly seems capable of holding and delivering water!
Field ConditionsI have continued to carry the Antidote Reservoir when out snowshoeing or ski touring over the long-term testing period. Here’s a summary of my use in January and February:
ObservationsI have continued to enjoy using the Antidote Reservoir over the past two months. The 100 oz (3.0 L) bladder is certainly big enough for my needs. I usually only filled it to about 70 oz (2.0 L) before putting it in my pack, sometimes less for a short hike.
I’ve gotten more proficient with filling the bladder, and finding it easier to fill from a tap than I did at the beginning of the test. I tried to pour water out of the bladder into a bottle once during the test, though, and made a big mess. I think once the water’s in there it’s better to get it out through the valve! The baffles do seem to keep the bladder from ballooning too much at the bottom, though when the reservoir is partially empty it collapses on itself vertically.
The quick connect continues to work well. I think this is my favourite feature of the Antidote.
The valve is easy to drink from and provides a good flow of water. I have had some trouble with the valve lock. While ski touring, the valve caught on my jacket and the locking lever pulled out. By chance, I saw the yellow piece fall into the snow and was able to retrieve and replace it before I lost much water. However, on the next snowshoeing trip I was on, I lost the lever twice while still in the parking lot and the entire reservoir emptied out into a puddle on the ground (and down the front of me) before I could find the pieces and get it put back together. Since then I’ve been very careful with it and haven’t had a problem, but it’s definitely something that's on my mind when I’m using the reservoir.
Tucking the valve and hose into my jacket seems to allow it to remain unfrozen, as long as I remember to blow out the hose after every time I drink. The strategy worked well when I was ski touring, though with the valve inside my jacket I usually got myself tangled up when I was taking my pack on and off to find my skins.
I have rinsed and dried the reservoir two more times in the long-term testing period. The drying arms work well.
The Antidote Reservoir looks as good as new. It spends all of its time in my packs, so it isn’t showing any signs of wear yet.
SummaryI’ve really enjoyed using the Antidote reservoir over the past four months. It’s easy to fill, has a fantastic quick connect feature, and is easy to drink from.
Water flow through bite valve
Valve lock lever has fallen out several times
Valve catches on sleeves/arms
Thanks to CamelBak and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test the Antidote Reservoir!
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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bladders > CamelBak Antidote Reservoir > Test Report by Andrea Murland
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