TEST SERIES BY CHAD EMERSON FIKE
INITIAL REPORT - September 14, 2010
FIELD REPORT - December 28, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - March 01, 2011
Chad Emerson Fike
Oakland, Maryland USA
5' 10" (1.78 m)
150 lb (68.00 kg)
I have gone camping, usually very close to home, since my teens but only started seriously backpacking around age 30. I do mostly weekend trips and often take dayhikes. My backpacking experience has been mostly in West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, including parts of the Appalachian Trail. Each trip has been a learning experience about techniques and equipment. I try to balance weight, durability, and cost with my gear choices.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: www.camelbak.com
Antidote MSRP: $35.00 US
UnBottle MSRP: Not Provided
Listed Weight: Not Provided
Measured Weight (UnBottle): 5.5 oz (156 g)
Measured Weight (Antidote Reservoir): 7.1 oz (201 g)
UnBottle Color: Frost Gray/Turkish Sea
Capacity: 100 oz. (3 L)
PRODUCT DESCRIPTION & INITIAL IMPRESSION
The CamelBak Antidote reservoir arrived inside an UnBottle reservoir holder. Officially this test only pertains to the Antidote reservoir but I will be providing some supplemental information and comments about the UnBottle. At the time of this initial report, the Antidote does not yet appear for sale on the CamelBak website, while the UnBottle appears to be an updated version of the product currently shown. A small hangtag attached to the UnBottle indicates it is a "CamelBak Salesman Sample" that is "Assembled in Mexico of US and Imported Components". No information was included about the Antidote. The CamelBak website features an August 3, 2010 press release that provides some information about the Antidote and claims the following: "With Antidote, CamelBak redesigned and reinvented every key performance feature of the reservoir".
The Antidote reservoir has a rubbery feel and features "a radio frequency welded seal for durability and strength". The reservoir measures 17.5 inches long by 8 inches wide (44.5 by 20 cm) when empty and flat. The reservoir is stamped "HydroGuard" and the website reveals that this feature "inhibits the growth of bacteria that can cause odors, discoloration or deterioration of the reservoir and tube surface" but "does not protect user against disease-causing organisms".
The exterior of the Antidote is stamped with 16 ounce and .5 Liter increments to aid in filling. Inside the reservoir, a baffle measuring about 5 inches long by 1.5 inches wide (12.7 by 3.8 cm) connects the front and back of the reservoir. CamelBak claims the baffle is intended to provide "a flatter and more streamlined shape when full; the baffle also minimizes sloshing and barreling when the reservoir is in the pack."
The Antidote fill port has a diameter of about 3.5 inches (9 cm). A quarter turn of the cap is all that is required for opening and closing. The cap itself is marked with a small arrow while the fill port is marked with indicators to show where to start and stop the quarter turn. Once removed, the cap remains connected to the fill port by a short retainer. The top of the fill port has a built-in hook for hanging. Along each side of the fill port is a dryer arm that can be rotated for drying.
The Antidote drink tube measures about 40 inches (101.5 cm) long. The tube connects to the reservoir itself using a push button quick link system. The opposite end of the drink tube features a
|UNBOTTLE TOP ACCESS|
"Big Bite Valve with new Ergo HydroLock. The patented and proven Big Bite Valve has a high flow rate for easy sipping on the move".
|UNBOTTLE BOTTOM ACCESS|
The UnBottle reservoir holder appears to be constructed of nylon and has a thick padded feel. Four clips attached to short pieces of webbing along the sides and webbing with a quick release buckle at the top provide options for hanging or attaching the product to other packs. Zippered access can be found along the top of the back of the UnBottle. A small port is provided for the drink tube to exit at the top of the product while a small drain hole is found at the bottom. The bottom front of the UnBottle features a zippered compartment. I assume this is for access to the quick link system. The front of the UnBottle has a round opening that corresponds to the fill port of the Antidote. The UnBottle has a couple of short loose threads but otherwise the stitching seems well done. All of the zippers and buckles seem to function properly.
TRYING IT OUT
The redesigned fill port is easy to use. There is no second guessing about whether the cap is closed tight enough since it locks securely in place after one quarter turn. The start and stop indicator marks on the fill port provide an easy reference for lining up the cap for closing. Even though it is not marked as such, the cap will also close with a quarter turn if the arrow on the cap is started at the twelve, three, or 6 o'clock position.
After filling the Antidote with water, I did not find any leaks. I squeezed the reservoir with my hands several times to apply some pressure but still found no leaks. The interior baffle does change the shape of the reservoir by limiting the amount that the center of the reservoir can expand.
The Quick Link System works very smoothly. The drink tube can be removed with a gentle amount of pressure to the yellow release button. Likewise, only a moderate amount of pressure was required to snap the tube back into place. When I removed the drink tube a few drops of water dripped out. A vacuum effect held the rest of the water in the tube until I squeezed the bite valve and drained the tube. No water leaked from the reservoir part of the Quick Link attachment. The yellow Ergo HydroLock open and shut easily with my thumb and plenty of water flows through the Big Bite Valve.
The dryer arms are a helpful feature of the Antidote. The arms fit flush against the sides of the fill port and are not very noticeable until extended. When rotated downward they pinch the sides of the reservoir to keep it open for better air drying. The picture shows how the empty reservoir stays expanded when the arms are extended. I first had to reach inside the Antidote to push open the reservoir, but the dryer arms then kept the interior open. The fill port was wide enough that I was able to reach all the way inside the Antidote.
The Antidote slides easily inside of the UnBottle via the top zippered access. The Antidote fill port fits very snugly inside the round hole in the UnBottle and it takes some effort to get a proper fit.
The CamelBak UnBottle and Antidote both seem to be of high quality construction. The features and functions of both items seem to work flawlessly. The Antidote in particular seems to have several well thought out features and improvements.
This concludes my Initial Report on the CamelBak Antidote and UnBottle. Thanks to CamelBak and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Field testing of the CamelBak Antidote reservoir took place in the forested terrain of the Appalachian Mountains including Herrington Manor State Park, Potomac-Garrett State Forest, Fork Run Recreation Area and Swallow Falls State Park in Maryland, and the Canaan Valley Institute National Recreation Trails, Blackwater Falls State Park, Coopers Rock State Park and the Canaan Mountain, Roaring Plains West Wilderness and Dolly Sods areas of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. Elevations ranged from around 2500 to 4800 ft (762 to 1463 m). The Antidote was used during 8 dayhikes totaling 55 miles (89 km), 12 mountain bike rides totaling 111 miles (179 km), 10 cross country ski trips of about 1 to 2 hours duration each and once while kayaking on a lake. Testing occurred under a wide range of temperatures and conditions ranging from early fall mountain bike rides during sunny 70 to 75 F (21 to 24 C) days to cold blustery skiing at temperatures as low as 11 F (-11 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The CamelBak Antidote has performed well during field testing. Leakage is one of my main concerns with any hydration reservoir but I have had no such problems with the Antidote. The Big Bite Valve allows easy sipping but seals well and does not drip when not in use. The Valve has frozen a few times while skiing. This only happened on the coldest trips and was avoided if I remembered to blow the water back out of the tube and to tuck the valve inside my jacket. I do not consider this a flaw of the Antidote; it seems to be a common problem when using any hydration system in cold temperatures. I have not had any leakage problems with the quick link system on the drink tube. The quick link allows the tube to connect and disconnect very easily but still locks securely in place. A few drops of water will sometimes come out of the tube if it is disconnected while full of water. It is nice to be able to easily disconnect the drink tube and not have it flopping around when trying to fill or clean the reservoir.
The redesigned fill port is one of my favorite features of the Antidote. I have had some issues with leaking from the fill port of previous CamelBak reservoirs. I often had doubts about whether I had tightened the cap enough, or would find out that I had over tightened and made the cap hard to reopen. In contrast, an easy quarter turn locks the redesigned cap securely in place. The simple design and indicator marks remove all guessing and I have had no leaks whatsoever from the fill port.
The foldable drying arms are a very practical feature. They alleviate the need to search for some item (I usually used a soup spoon) to prop open the reservoir. The dryer arms seem to facilitate drying of most of the interior but water does accumulate in the bottom of the reservoir making it difficult to get it completely dry. Although I can get my hand inside the fill port, the interior baffle creates a barrier to sliding a towel inside to help drying. I have not yet noticed any real benefit from the interior baffle. The baffle does give the reservoir a flatter shape but since it is usually stuffed in my pack, the shape of the bladder is not really a concern. I have not really noticed if the baffle "minimizes sloshing and barreling". This was not something that I felt was an issue with previous bladders.
I have not had any problems with mold growing in the Antidote even though I did not wash the reservoir after every use. Sometimes I put it into the refrigerator or simply forgot about it and left it in my pack overnight. The first time I used the Antidote I detected a slight taste of plastic but that quickly abated. Since then I have not noticed any aftertaste. I filled the Antidote with sports drink a few times but the majority of the time I have only filled it with water.
I used the Antidote in four different daypacks and did not have any problems with fitting the reservoir inside the packs. The reservoir has plenty of capacity and I rarely filled it up all the way. I only used the UnBottle reservoir a handful of times. Even though it was not necessary, I tried it out a few times by using it inside a regular daypack. The UnBottle did provide an easy way to use the Antidote while kayaking. It fit beside my kayak seat and I was able to use the quick release strapping on top of the UnBottle to connect it to the kayak seat.
I have had no problems with durability. I do not see any damage or real signs of wear and tear. For the most part the reservoir is only removed for filling at home and has stayed inside a pack during all my activities.
I have been very pleased with the CamelBak Antidote reservoir during field testing. I have found the integrated dryer arms, redesigned fill port and quick link system to be very useful features. The reservoir has been durable and, most importantly, has had no leaks. I have had a few problems with the Big Bite Valve freezing during cold weather, but I blame this more on cold temperatures than any design flaw.
This concludes my Field Report on the CamelBak Antidote Reservoir. Thanks to CamelBak and BackpackGearTest.Org for the opportunity to test this product.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Long term testing of the CamelBak Antidote reservoir took place in the forested terrain of the Appalachian Mountains including Herrington Manor State Park, Swallow Falls State Park, Mt. Nebo Wildlife Management Area and Potomac-Garrett State Forest in Maryland and the Monongahela National Forest and Whitegrass Ski Touring Center in West Virginia. Elevations ranged from around 2500 to 4400 ft (762 to 1341 m). Cold and snowy winter conditions were prevalent during most of the test period. The Antidote was used cross country skiing 24 times and during two dayhikes of 5.2 and 3.8 miles. Most of the ski trips were after-work evening trips of about an hour in length while some longer trips were taken on the weekends. Nearly all of the skiing occurred in temperatures well below freezing with a low of 10 F (-12 C). The dayhikes and a handful of late season ski trips occurred in warmer temperatures as high as 50 F (10 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The CamelBak Antidote continued to perform well during this final phase of testing. I really like the redesigned fill port. It takes all the guess work out of closing the cap: once I lined up the arrows and gave the cap a quarter turn I was confident I would have no leaks. Even if the Antidote had no other new features, this redesign makes the Antidote much better than its predecessors. The bite valve and push button quick link system that connects the drink tube to the reservoir also remained leak-free.
I still have not experienced any problems with mold or aftertaste with the Antidote even though the reservoir sometimes sat for a few days between cleanings. I continued to carry mostly water, but occasionally used sports drink. I used a long handled brush from a reservoir cleaning kit to clean inside the reservoir and on one occasion I removed the bite valve and used a small flexible cleaning brush inside the drink tube. I like the small foldable dryer arms but the reservoir rarely dried out all the way before I used it next.
I have not experienced any durability problems during the course of testing. The only real sign of wear is on the keeper that connects the cap to the main part of the fill port. Although worn, the keeper still holds the cap in place. Otherwise the Antidote still looks nearly the same as it did when it arrived.
|AREA OF SLIGHT WEAR|
Here are some other random observations: I found the angled bite valve to be somewhat tricky to maneuver through the small hydration ports of some of my packs. By disconnecting the tube I found it much easier to guide the opposite end through first and then reconnect it to the bladder. I still had some problems with the bite valve and tube freezing in cold temperatures. I did not test this, but with the detachable tube it would now be possible to remove the tube to try and thaw it out if necessary. I never needed to fill the reservoir all the way; at the most I filled it with 2 liters. The ounce and liter increments stamped on the outside of the Antidote were easy to read and helped when filling the reservoir. I did not use the UnBottle reservoir holder during this phase of testing.
Overall I have been extremely pleased with the Antidote. Most importantly there were no leaks. Additionally, the redesigned fill port and detachable drink tube are well thought out improvements. I did not notice any real difference from the interior baffle. The integrated dryer arms are a clever feature but I still had a hard time getting the interior of the reservoir to dry completely.
I expect to continue using the Antidote as my primary reservoir when hiking or backpacking. It functions well and has some useful upgrades compared to other reservoirs I own. I usually avoid reservoirs altogether during shorter cold weather ski trips due to the tendency of the reservoir tube to freeze. A 2 liter reservoir would be sufficient for most of my needs.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.
This concludes my Long Term Report on the CamelBak Antidote Reservoir. Thanks to CamelBak and BackpackGearTest.Org for the opportunity to test this product.
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