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Cheap alternative to Camelbaks

Q. Hi Gear Guy, Some of my friends have Camelbaks, the backpacks with the built-in water bottle. I would love to have one for camps but my dad says they are too expensive. Is there any cheap alternative?
—Thirsty Allan, Nashwauk, Minn.

A. Great question, Thirsty. While Camelbak-type backpacks equipped with hydration bladders can be expensive, there is indeed a more affordable alternative. You can simply buy just the reservoir (that’s the thing that holds the water and serves it up via a drinking tube) by itself and then slip it inside the daypack or backpack you already have. The new ones don’t leak much so the other stuff in your pack shouldn’t get wet, and you can just feed the hose out through where the zipper meets at the top. Some daypacks are already “hydration-compatible” so check and see if yours is. There are several different brands of hydration packs out there that make very good reservoirs and you should be able to get one for as little as $17 to $30 bucks.

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12 Comments on Cheap alternative to Camelbaks

  1. secret person // March 1, 2014 at 5:09 pm // Reply

    Juz buy a cheaper brand like high sierra or deuter water bag , I bought one high sierra water bag from qoo10

  2. Rather than settle for a cheaper item, buy the good stuff in the off season when items are often 50% off.

  3. MahnaMahna // July 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm // Reply

    I got a Platypus. It’s basically just a bladder, and they’re really cheap.

  4. Sniffinindakitchen // December 2, 2011 at 8:51 pm // Reply

    Camelbaks are cool

  5. eagle7-25-10 // December 8, 2010 at 3:45 pm // Reply

    i got a cheap, 2 liter, one by kelty for $20 bucks and i love it

  6. On eBay the have some pretty good 70L bladder for like 6 to 10 bucks. They are from hong kong so shipping takes a while. I just use them in old camelbaks i have already and toss the bladder at the end of the year rather than buying cleaning supplies.

  7. lordcarterthemajestic // July 17, 2010 at 4:02 pm // Reply

    you can always go to costco and buy the 100 ounce eqivalent of a camelback for about half as much

  8. We just got back from a weekend in 95 degree heat. I know my son and I stayed hydrated and feeling strong because I remembered to bring the camelback. Staying hydrated is a lot easier when water is easily accessble and able to be icy cold, esp. for kids (and adults), like my son, who don’t naturally drink a lot of anything. At a camp facility with an available ice maker, it is easy to fill the camelback resevoir with a lot of ice and a little bit of water which melts over time and gives me several hours of icy cold water. Long road bike trips often pass available facilities with ice. hope that helps someone avoid heat exhaustion!!

  9. scout man 124 // June 20, 2010 at 6:53 am // Reply

    Thank you I thought it was really helpful

  10. Sometimes there are times when you have to ask yourself “Do I want this because it is really necessary or do I just want it because everyone else has it/Looks cool, etc?” At the end of the day, if you still get any good old water bottle, it will work. There are times, however, when a camelbak is needed, and you should try to identify that time. If it is needed, the gear guy has you pointed in the right direction!

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