Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Praxis: Tactical Water, Part Two -- The CamelBak.

Meet the CamelBak.


CamelBak is an outdoors equipment company known primarily for their hydration packs. Hydration packs from many other companies, such as Hydrapak, GoLite, Kelty, Novara, Platypus, and Gelert are often generically referred to as CamelBaks, an example of a genericized trademark.

The CamelBak headquarters are in Petaluma, California. Camelbak is the leading manufacture of hydration packs. Camelbaks are very durable and are used by military forces worldwide.

The CamelBak name comes from a play on the myth that a camel stores water in its hump. (Camels actually store fat in their hump).

Hydration packs: CamelBaks classically come in capacities of 1.5 to 3 litres (50-100 US fluid oz) in a back pack style primarily for biking, with smaller belt-type 830 mL to 1.3-litre (28-45 US fluid oz) packs for running and walking also available. The pack uses special rubber to keep the liquid colder than it would be in a bottle. -- Wikipedia.

A CamelBak PR release from 2005:

Militaries Worldwide Modernize Essential Equipment; CamelBak(R) Systems First Used by Special Forces Spread to Regular Troops

PETALUMA, California, January 26 /PRNewswire/ --

- Early Adoption of Hands-Free Hydration Systems by U.S. Military and NATO Countries Help Spur Demand by Armies Around the World

CamelBak(R) Products, LLC., inventor of the hydration-on-the-move water-backpack system, today announced that its drinking system-already standard issue for U.S. military and some U.K. forces-is now in use by more than 500,000 troops fighting for modern armies worldwide. The global reach of CamelBak is an impressive achievement for a small business located an hour north of San Francisco, in California's wine country.

Over the past few years, military commanders from NATO countries took notice of CamelBak's use by U.S. and U.K. military. They noted the benefits of mobile hydration systems as a superior way of hydrating the body, particularly in combat conditions. The ergonomic gear allows military personnel to carry three liters of water, drink without removing hands from weapons or stopping and assures peak performance while remaining focused on the mission. Most recently, the Belgian Government purchased 8,000 chemical/biological reservoir (CBR4.0) 3Litre systems in Belgian camouflage material with Cleaning Kits, In-Line Micro Filters and Gas Mask adaptors, for delivery in early 2005. The Hong Kong Police Force has also recently adopted the CBR 4.0.

In 2003, CamelBak's use by international military forces came into its own as interest in the equipment transitioned to purchase agreements. Increasingly, CamelBak systems are becoming standard equipment around the world for troops, as well as for elite units of law enforcement. By 2004, military forces in more than 40 countries, including all NATO Armed Forces, were using CamelBak systems. Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Japan, Singapore, Portugal and the U.K. have adopted CamelBak systems not only for elite branches of the military, but also for regular military personnel.

"CamelBak's phenomenal success among international militaries is due in large part to its combat proven success in the field and popularity among enlisted troops who rely on it," said Chuck Hunter, senior vice president and general manager of CamelBak Product's military government and industrial divisions. "CamelBak meets the demands of individual countries by modifying our standard system to meet specific requirements for camouflage patterns and configuration."

CamelBak has created customized versions of its hydration gear for the Australian, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabian, British, Canadian, Dutch and German Armies.

CamelBak's Military History

CamelBak systems first gained popularity in the 1980s with American and European consumers who understood the benefits of hands-free drinking during outdoor recreation, such as cycling. Athletes noted significantly better performance when they consumed water by consistent sipping rather than gulping periodically from water bottles. Scientific studies later confirmed these perceived physical benefits with tests providing that consistent hydration resulted in better athletic performance.

Some of these athletes then began using CamelBak systems at work. Among these were members of the U.S. military's elite Special Forces. Before long, CamelBak systems were used in combat by troops in Operation Desert Storm. Over the 1990s, the use of CamelBak systems expanded from elite forces into regular U.S. forces. Today, CamelBak systems are found across all U.S. military branches, where CamelBak's are described as "hydration-on-the-move."

But just as the military benefited from CamelBak's invention, troops benefited CamelBak with invaluable feedback from the most demanding environments in the world. Troop recommendations from the field result in an ongoing list of product innovations that keep CamelBak at the forefront of the industry. The most recent example is CamelBak's CBR 4.0, Chem-Bio Reservoir system designed to provide safe drinking water in the most dangerous chemical and biological combat environments.

As with many of CamelBak's advanced military products, the CBR 4.0 was first used in combat situations with U.S. Special Forces. It also is used by elite elements of the New York Police Department, U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Health and Human Services.

About CamelBak

CamelBak Products, LLC., is the originator and world leader in hands-free systems for hydration on the move. Since 1991, CamelBak has built a reputation with first responders, law enforcement officials and military personnel as the product of choice when seeking state-of-the-art hydration. CamelBak continues to refine and evolve its products for situations that demand peak hydration to support peak performance, whether dealing with natural disasters at home or potential biological and chemical threats abroad. The privately-held company is headquartered in Petaluma, California.

MBV: OK, so much for the pitch. Hard use in Southwest Asia has shown that the CamelBaks do have some problems.

First, if the standard GI canteen is hard to clean, the CamelBak is harder. Second, while the bite valve is nice, the bladders have a tendency to burst when impacted under the usual hustle and bustle of maneuvering under fire. Third, while they carry more water than the standard canteen combinations, they weigh more too. At some point, you have to ask yourself if you have water to help you maneuver, or are you maneuvering just to carry water.

Bottom line: Some GIs swear by the CamelBak and others just swear at it.

Here's official company instructions on how to clean the systems:

Cleaning and Maintenance

No other hydration company places as much of an emphasis on keeping your reservoir clean as we do. We offer the following guidelines for taking care of your CamelBak:

1. Fill reservoir with warm water and mild soap.

2. Clean with Reservoir Brush and Tube Brush.

3. Re-fill reservoir with 1 L of water.

4. Add 1 Cleaning Tablet

5. Shake reservoir until tablet is dissolved.

6. Let stand 5 minutes.

7. Remove water from reservoir.

8. Rinse reservoir thoroughly.

9. Re-fill for drinking or hang dry completely before storage.

By following these disinfecting guidelines you can reduce common micro-organisms and build-up over 99.99%. In an emergency, you can also add a tablespoon of bleach after step 3. Be sure to rinse thoroughly, however.

To clean the actual pack, we recommend that you soak it in a tub or bucket. Wash with cold water and mild detergent then hang dry. It is not recommended to place your CamelBak pack in the washing machine. By doing so, you will void your warranty.

However, if you absolutely have to use a washing machine, we suggest that you remove the reservoir and place the pack in a mesh bag (for delicate items) before placing it in your machine. This will prevent any straps from getting tangled up, stretched, or pulled off while in your machine.

Here's some civvy methods of cleaning:

Top 7 Ways to Clean and Deodorize Hydration Bladders and Camelbaks

By Wendy Bumgardner, Guide

Updated June 15, 2007

I love my Camelbak Pixie, but any hydration pack with a bladder requires cleaning and maintenance. Some people can detect a plastic taste with the bladder when it is new and want to get rid of that flavor. Others have bleached their hydration bladder and now want to get rid of the chlorine flavor. Here are some of the most suggested ways to clean and deodorize your hydration bladder.

1. Camelbak Cleaning Kit

The Camelbak Cleaning Kit comes with a curved brush for cleaning inside the water bladder, and a small brush on a line for cleaning the sucker tube. It comes with a couple of cleaning tablets for deep cleaning the water bladder once a month. It also has a handy drying kit including a hanger to attach and a frame to prop the water bladder open to help it dry. While you could find similar household items to use, it is very handy to buy the kit and have the brushes and hanger.

2. Camelbak Cleaning Tablets

Camelbak cleaning tablets are similar to the denture cleansing tablets in their action. They contain chlorine dioxide, which is basically bleach. You use the tablet in a liter of water in the hydration bladder for just 5 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and use. You may find that you want to follow this with a rinse of baking soda, lemon, or vinegar to help remove the chlorine taste.

3. Baking Soda - Bicarbonate of Soda

Mix baking soda with water and allow it to soak in the bladder - anywhere from an hour to overnight. If you are getting ready to use it the next day, it's best to allow it to dry overnight. How much baking soda? I've seen recommendations from 2 tablespoons to half a cup, mixed with hot water to help it dissolve. After it soaks, rinse thoroughly with warm water.

4. Baking Soda and Lemon or Lime Juice

This combination is also recommended, but be warned that it produces a foaming action. Mix a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in a couple of cups of water, put it into the hydration bladder. Now add a similar amount of lemon juice or lime juice and be prepared for the bubbling. Allow that to sit for 30 minutes to overnight and rinse thoroughly with warm water.

5. Denture Cleaning Tablets

Here's the easy way - use denture cleaning tablets. Drop them into water in the pack and allow it to work for 15 minutes as they recommend for detures. Rinse thoroughly. Some recommend not getting the ones with mint flavor unless you want your water to always taste minty fresh.

6. Baking Soda and Vinegar

Fill the bladder, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and shake it, then add 1 tablespoon baking powder then shake it. Now drain and rinse thoroughly. This is reported to be good to remove the chlorine taste after bleaching the bladder.

7. Bleach Solution

Add a capful or teaspoon of bleach to enough water to fill the reservoir. Allow to bleach for an hour to overnight. Rinse very thoroughly with 4 or more changes of water. I would recommend then following that with the baking soda and lemon juice or vinegar to help remove the bleach flavor. But this is the best way to kill fungus and bacteria, especially if you see visible growth.

MBV: I have recently been introduced to another idea to satisfy the demand for tactical water. I will deal with that in Part Three.



Anonymous said...

I use listerine (kills 99.9% of bacteria) to clean my camelback and canteens. I have used other methods, but found that listerine leaves the least funky tatse compared to soap, bleach, or iodine(this of course is opinion).

Anyways, I fill it to about 15-20% capacity, shake it vgorously for 5 minutes, and drain it all out, then refill with water, rinse and repeat.

Just a tip, for what its worth...

AlanDP said...

It would be a very good idea to buy spare parts for the CamelBak, like extra bladders and tubes. I use one in my job, and I've had one tube go bad on me so far. There's an inner lining that can come loose and block up the tube. Once that happens, the tube is shot.

Toaster 802 said...

Zio Rico said...Nothing will happen. The American people are too soft and spoiled.

...About 97% of Americans you are right,

It is the 3 percent, the 9,246,499 that will join the fight...

...I guess we are going need a few more canteen cups!

Thanks for the great field tech as of late... It is going to come in handy.

parabarbarian said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for the tip on using Listerine.

I prefer the MSR Hydromedary bladders which are made from a polyurethane lined nylon and are a bit lighter than the cordura lined Camelback and, IMO, easier to fill. I've also had no problems with the leaking some of my Camelbacked friends have complained about.

OTOH, the Hydromedary is no easier to clean and the bite valve is not as user friendly.

Johnny said...

The simple way to disinfect water bottles is mentioned in the Camelback piece - denture cleaning tablets. They are easily available, tasteless and odourless, and convenient to use.

Denture sterilising tablets are, essentially, Sodium Bicarbonate. Soda bic is a good thing to have. A saturated table salt/soda bic solution makes an effective mouthwash and non-tainting steriliser for food / cooking utensils.

Unknown said...

Really the Camelbak Hydrapak is very useful for us when we go for hiking. I have an excellent hydrapack material with me.