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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bottles > Platypus Hydration PlatyPreserve > Test Report by Curt Peterson
Platypus PlatyPreserve Bladder
Report Series by Curt Peterson
Initial Report - May 2009
Field Report - July 2009
Final Report - September 2009
Tester Background and Contact Information
Name: Curt Peterson
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 270 lb (122 kg)
Email address: curt<at>backpackgeartest<dot>org
Location: North Bend, Washington, USA
I live in the Cascade foothills, just 20 mi (32 km) from the Pacific Crest Trail via trails leading right from my backyard. My outdoor time in Washington is spent dayhiking, backpacking, climbing, fishing and skiing everywhere from the Olympic coast to rainforests to Cascade volcanoes to dry steppe. I played football in college and often evaluate products from a big guy perspective. My typical pack load ranges from 11 - 20 lbs (5-9 kg) and usually includes plenty of wet weather gear.
I can remember the exact moment I decided to start carrying a little wine into the backcountry. I was on a trip deep into the Glacier Peak Wilderness at a campsite that is truly stunning. It's at the foot of a small glacier with a pristine little creek running through it and the entire camping area is perched above a massive valley. As my wife and I sat there watching the last of the day's sun set on on the peaks of one side of the valley, we enjoyed a picture perfect evening and shared a mini bottle of very mediocre wine. Despite the relatively low quality, it was one of the most memorable glasses of wine I've ever had and I decided that spectacular moments like that are worth carrying a little extra weight to camp.
I have carried a small container of wine on almost every trip since that one almost 8 years ago. I've tried multiple types of packaging. Some are too bulky when empty and only seem to come in very cheap wine brands (foil-type cube packs). Others come in nice lightweight bladders but only come in multi-liter packages that would last me weeks at my usual 1-2 glasses a night. What I most often end up doing is transferring wine from a bottle to a plastic container like a regular Platypus or an empty soda bottle. When Platypus announced their PlatyPreserve bladder specifically designed for wine, I knew this was something I would have to try.
The Cascade Designs Platypus PlatyPreserve arrived safe and sound in the packaging it is typically sold with (see photo below) - a cardboard hang tag that contains the same information as the website does:
The PlatyPreserve is a new addition to the Platypus line. Instead of the familiar clear Platypus bladders most backpackers have become used to over the years, the PlatyPreserve has images imprinted on the bladder that presumably keep light out of it. One side is completely opaque with a picture of a bottle of wine and a glass of wine (see image below). The other side is clear with four-step instructions on how to purge the air from the bladder, how to clean the bladder, and an area to note the date, winery, variety, and year presumably with a marker that can be wiped off. I will test how different markers work as part of the testing. The bladder also has two rough measurement indicators - one for 375 ml (13 oz) and one for 750 ml (25 oz). These indicate a half and full bottle of wine respectively.
The PlatyPreserve was pretty much what I expected. I did wonder if it had some kind of one-way air purge valve since it relies on eliminating all air to keep wine fresh. It does not. As far as I can tell it is essentially the same as any other Platypus with the exception of the printing on both sides of the bladder. The website offers a few tips for best results with the PlatyPreserve:
I'm curious how the PlatyPreserve is actually different from a regular Platypus bladder. It is more opaque due to the printing, but the manufacturer suggests keeping the wine in a cool dark place to take care of the damaging effects of light, which could obviously also be done with a regular bladder. I will pack some wine in both the PlatyPreserve and a regular Platypus during testing to see if I can taste a difference. I'm curious if the PlatyPreserve contains a lining of some sort that is intended to keep wine fresh.
Some of the initial use I'll definitely keep a close eye on include cap security, filling, and cleaning. Obviously a burst bladder of wine would be a major problem on a trip. Even if my clothes and down bag stayed dry and I wasn't in any danger of wet insulation, the wine-stained gear kit would be a serious bummer. A super-secure cap is a must to prevent this. I'm also going to try out a couple different ways of filling the bladder. My first impression is that it will require a funnel. As I often pick up a bottle of wine on the way to the trailhead, this could be a problem. I'll surely try to remember a funnel, but transferring directly from a glass bottle to the bladder doesn't seem very practical and could end up with a lot of spilled wine. Finally, cleaning the bladder is something I'll definitely take note of. I've never been happy with the way the small opening bladders like this clean up. They still seem to work fine, but typically get a little "crunchy" and discolored and never get quite as clear and clean looking as they are when new. I'll test how repeated washing affects wine and the taste of subsequent bottles.
I'll be testing initially with wine provided by the Redwood Creek Winery in California. They have generously supplied me with five bottle of wine to test the PlatyPreserve. I definitely look forward to trying out their wines in the woods with the PlatyPreserve!
I'm definitely not a "connoisseur", but I know when I like a wine and can usually tell when a bottle has been opened for too long. That wine usually finds its way into a recipe or down the drain. I look forward to doing some side-by-side comparisons of wine from the same bottle to see which lasts better. Ultimately I don't need a wine to survive in a bottle for weeks. Most of my trips are only 2-3 days with a couple 5 day trips a year. If the PlatyPreserve can keep a wine drinkable that long, I'll be quite happy.
Initial Report Summary
The Platypus PlatyPreserve has been a pleasure to test so far. I have been very popular with my camp mates and the only real complaint so far has been that there is only one PlatyPreserve in my pack. I've had the opportunity to use the PlatyPreserve extensively since the Initial Report. I used it for a weekend camping in Leavenworth Washington, a night near Medford, Oregon, a couple days just south of San Diego, California, and in the Goat Rocks of Washington. Temperatures have been decidedly warm, with day use between 75 and 90 F (24 to 32 C) and nights ranging from the mid 40s to mid 60s F (7 to 18 C). In six evenings of testing, I have gone through six bottles of wine. Redwood Creek provided me with two bottles of Merlot, one Cabernet Sauvignon, a Pinot Grigio, and a Sauvignon Blanc. The sixth bottle was also a Redwood Creek wine that I purchased on the way to the trailhead - another Cabernet Sauvignon. Overall, as one might imagine, it has been very fun to test! Because taste is such a subjective thing to report on, I'll try to avoid it except where I believe it directly relates to the PlatyPreserve. That said, all of the Redwood Creek wines have been enjoyable and the PlatyPreserve has proven to be a fantastic method to get wine into the backcountry.
Before any wine can be had from the PlatyPreserve, it has to get in there somehow. I have found this most definitely requires a funnel. This was no problem on the first five bottles of wine as I packed them at home in my kitchen and had a funnel handy. On my sixth outing, we picked up a bottle on the way to the trailhead and had to pour it in without a funnel. It's certainly possible, but I found it very difficult to do without spilling at least a little bit of wine - especially at the beginning of the pour. It's a sad sight to see wine spilling onto the dirt, so use of a funnel is highly recommended!
After the wine is poured, the air must be purged for maximum freshness. To do this, the directions require one to place the cap on loosely, squeeze the wine up until it is in the cap, then tighten the cap down leaving no air in the bladder. This is very easy to do with a full or even half-full bladder, but gets increasingly difficult as the wine fills less of the bladder. This is a little frustrating because it is when there is leftover wine that the freshness retention of the PlatyPreserve is most needed. It's hard for me to imagine a scenario when I'm only saving a small amount for more than a day or so, but if one needed to keep a small amount fresh for a few days it would definitely be a challenge.
The PlatyPreserve - as far as I can tell - is very similar to other Platypus bladders. The opacity most definitely matters, although in practice the bladder spends most of its time in my dark pack. I'm not convinced that the colored bottle is really all that much better for wine than a regular Platypus if it's kept in a pack, but it definitely seems to have an affect on how easily the bladder cleans and dries. I've always found Platypus bladders tough to thoroughly clean. It's easy enough to get them soapy and clean, but drying seemingly takes forever and little water droplets and vapor seem to last on the interior for days. After a recent 3 day trip I cleaned out the PlatyPreserve and two different Platypus bladders and the PlatyPreserve dried much, much faster and more thoroughly. The PlatyPreserve also wears much better than a regular Platypus in my opinion. There is none of the "yellowing" or crunchiness that inevitably comes to a Platypus. The PlatyPreserve still looks brand new. It was so much nicer to clean that I would consider using PlatyPreserves as a replacement to my regular bladders for water.
PlatyPreserve Wine Testing:
I have had zero complaints about the PlatyPreserve from fellow campers so far. It - and the wine it carries - have been very popular and have added a nice touch to every evening in the woods over the last couple months. There has, however, been an interesting result to some informal taste testing I've been doing. On two occasions where I had both the PlatyPreserve and the bottle I filled it from, people have picked the PlatyPreserve wine correctly without fail in side-by-side testing. One bottle had been split between the PlatyPreserve and the original bottle for 24 hours. Put into identical cups, two people were each 3 for 3 in picking the wine that spent the day in the PlatyPreserve. Neither said it tasted "plasticky", just a bit harsher. The same thing happened on another trip - again 100% picked the wine stored in the PlatyPreserve correctly. This time the wine only spent a half hour or so in the PlatyPreserve.
Despite being able to correctly pick out the wine stored in the PlatyPreserve every time, everyone said it was just fine and happily helped consume the rest of the wine. I do find it interesting that there is definitely a difference and all have preferred the glass bottled wine so far. I did worry that it was the cups I was using (GSI polypropylene mugs), but taste tests with titanium mugs yielded similar results (see picture). The taste tests have been a wildly popular activity in camp and my primary backpacking partner is encouraging me to continue them on future trips.
Pouring a Redwood Creek Cabernet from the PlatyPreserve in the Goat Rocks Wilderness
I will continue testing the PlatyPreserve over the next couple months and take special notice of how the PlatyPreserve ages as it so far seems to be able to handle repeated folding and use very well - much better than any other collapsible bladder that I've used. Of course, I'll also continue to fill it with wine on trips and report on the results. I must admit that is one of the most fun tests I've done in a very long time!
Field Report Summary
The Platypus PlatyPreserve came along on my longest trip of the year during Final Testing. Work kept me tied up during August, but in September I went on a 6-day trip into the Enchantments region of Washington's Alpine Lakes Wilderness. This trip was almost entirely in an alpine zone with the bulk of the trip above 7000 ft (2135 m). Because the trip was longer and it would be pretty difficulty to ration out one bottle of wine over 6 days, I chose to test the PlatyPreserve with whiskey instead of wine for this journey. This proved to be an excellent use of the PlatyPreserve!
To pour the beverage - any beverage - I still recommend the use of the funnel. Unless spilling wine, whiskey, or whatever else goes into the PlatyPreserve sounds like fun, a funnel is the way to go. The small opening of a PlatyPreserve (identical to other Platypus bottles) makes it very difficult to transfer liquid from bottle to Platypus without some loss of liquid.
Once transferred, however, my decision to carry whiskey turned out to work really well. I found that a stronger alcohol beverage is less sensitive to flavor changes than wine. Whereas people I shared wine with could tell the difference between the bottled version and the PlatyPreserve version (see Field Report), nobody commented on the whiskey coming from the PlatyPreserve. Wine can be so complex and so subtle that changes in air contact, temperature, etc. can and do significantly impact the flavor. While I'm sure whiskey experts could probably note differences, it sure seemed to me that higher alcohol content beverages are much less affected. Platypus doesn't make any comments or recommendations about using the PlatyPreserve for spirits, but I definitely recommend it!
The other discovery of note in the Final Testing period is that there does appear to be a difference in how the PlatyPreserve wears in comparison to regular Platypus'. I've used it enough now to be able to say that it definitely stays "newer" that the Platypus bladders I've used over the years. There is no yellowing. It has not become "crunchy". There aren't creases where I regularly fold it up after it's empty. In a nutshell, it seems more durable than other Platypus bladders I own.
Another thing that has been a pleasant surprise is that the PlatyPreserve dries much fast than regular Platypus'. I returned from my trip 6 days ago, and after washing and cleaning all my bladders in the same water at the same time, the PlatyPreserve has just a couple drops of water clinging to the sides while the others still have significant fogging and moisture inside. Very slow drying times are one of my biggest frustrations with collapsible bladders and while it is still much too slow in my opinion, whatever linings or changes have been made to the PlatyPreserve are a welcome improvement.
Finally, purging the air as Platypus recommends does work, but I found myself being less careful as the test went on. When the volume of liquid gets low, it's very difficult to get all of the air out and trying to do it right runs the risk of pushing liquid out over the top and spilling.
Final Report Summary
Final Test Thoughts
The Platypus PlatyPreserve has been a fun addition to my backpacking kit. While I often carried wine on trips prior to testing this item, having a dedicated carrier has been great. I'm not sure exactly what the differences are between the PlatyPreserve and a regular Platypus bottle, but there do seem to be some changes that improve durability and wear. I'll definitely continue to carry the PlatyPreserve in my pack. My thanks to BackpackGearTest.org, Cascade Designs' Platypus, and Redwood Creek for allowing me to test what has been one the most enjoyable products I've had the good fortune to review!
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