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Camelbak Question/Debate(28 posts)

Camelbak Question/Debatedmoller
Sep 25, 2001 6:46 AM
Just got a Camelbak for my birthday and my brother and I are having a debate about its use for roadbiking. Somebody at his LBS suggested that, unless doing 100+ mile rides, these hydration paks are better suited for mtn. biking because of the more upright riding position and weight at full capacity. Also claims that for rides under 100 miles, two oversized water bottles should be sufficient and carrying a pak just makes one hotter due to the pak resting on ones back for an extended time. I thought I'd like one for the ability to carry more fluids than two bottles and to put ice in as well since one water bottle, let alone two, get warm fast, especially in the summer in Atlanta. Also it would allow me to carry a spare tube, mini pump, extra food/energy bars for long rides, and shed clothing as the weather cools. I'd also heard that a pak filled with ice actually served as a cooling mechanism. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
not for roadRM Utin
Sep 25, 2001 6:57 AM
I think Camelbacks are overkill for most road rides. nice for MTB because you can carry allthe gear you need plus lots of water.
Sep 25, 2001 6:59 AM
CBs are a highly excellent idea for road riding esp in summer when you need the fluids. However, stand by for a whole bunch of *rap from the road fraternity who have some coolness issue with the whole thing - mebbe they don't make one that goes with the stupid team bandanna thing - who knows.

Bottom line - they are a very good way of carrying water (and stuff) for a sport where you have to keep hydrated.

Oh and by the way - 2 oversized enough for anything expcept 100m plus - what an award winning copper bottomed gold edged whole hunk of bulls*it. Show me someone that rides that in anything but winter and I'll show you a dehydrated nerk.
Go back to with your negative attitude.JS
Sep 25, 2001 10:12 AM
Do you even ride a road bike? I personally think packs are overkill for the road and most sub 2 hour MTB rides.
We don't want him anymore!SoCalMTB
Sep 25, 2001 5:52 PM
That's EXACTLY the kinda of no-brain stuff I was talking about..De-ranger
Sep 26, 2001 10:41 AM
Sep 25, 2001 6:59 AM
Two water bottles in Atlanta summers won't get you much past 50-60 miles. For long rides where you don't want to stop to refill, hydration packs are the way to go. I usually freeze two bottles overnight and chill a 40 ounce hydration pack (sometimes adding ice before the ride). I start drinking out of the pack while it is cool. Once done, I tuck the tube pack into the pack and start on the bottles. They are usually slushy or at least still cool after an hour or so. This gets me 80 miles. I have a larger pack for longer rides. Enjoy!
Ice is nice.MB1
Sep 25, 2001 7:01 AM
We put a layer of bubble wrap around the bladder and find that ice will last about 60 miles on a hot day. If your water is cold it is more pleasant to drink and is supposed to be absorbed quicker. That person at the shop is way off, on a hot day there is no way 2 large bottles is going to be enough for a 100-mile ride.

I actually have the most use for camelbacks on cold days/rides. If you wear it under your outer layer it won't freeze up. When you are riding in really cold weather you still need to drink even if you don't feel thirsty and bottles can freeze up.

At any rate try the camelback on a few rides and see if it is right for you.
re: Camelbak Question/DebateKen
Sep 25, 2001 7:02 AM
I use the Hydrapak. I find using it even on short rides convienant. No problem with excess heat on the back either. Don't even notice it.

re: Camelbak Question/DebateBirddog
Sep 25, 2001 7:05 AM
I own two camelbacks and it is a love/hate relationship. My newest one is the Razor model with "bite valve" and "tube director". That's a bunch of BS about 100 miles. I drained my camel back (72oz) and a large water bottle in a 63 mile race. When you ride with a Camelback it is my experience that you stay better hydrated because it is so easy to drink. You don't have to reach down, worry about fools in the pack, or road hazards, it is just right there. On the other hand, even the more aero Razor is a bit uncomfortable when full. It does keep you cool for awhile though, and that can feel pretty good when it is 90 plus degrees. I use mine in rides that are longer than fifty miles when I know I won't be stopping or when I'm uncertain of liquid availability. Generally speaking, I can get by on two large Polar bottles for up to 50 miles, unless I'm racing. I was also in a race this summer in 100 degree heat where I emptied the Camelback and two water bottles in 55 miles. The riding position has nothing to do with how well the Camelback works. In fact, I did a 40 K time trial with it when I was down on the aero bars with no loss of efficiency in drinking. I used the Camelback so that I wouldn't have to change positions. I've noticed that some guys put them under their jerseys to be more aero (or maybe to avoid the stigma of riding with a Camelback). Filling them with ice is definitely a good idea in very hot weather.
confusing data out thereterry_b
Sep 25, 2001 7:15 AM
Interesting that this LBS guy would suggest that 2 water bottles are adequate for anything up to 100 miles. most of the things I've read suggest at least 1 bottle per hour in hot weather. guess he must ride his centuries at 50 mph.

I live in the desert SW and I use a Camelbak for anything over 20 miles. I like to drink a lot of water and I think that's why I have never bonked regardless of heat, humidity, distance or difficulty. I have two different 'baks, one with a 50 oz. and one with 70 oz. - both designed for road. The line he gave your brother about "upright riding position" is crap - the Camelbak Razor is not one of those gigantic mult-pocket MTB deals. It's desgined to be sleek and fit in the flat part of your back. It has nothing to do with riding position. And while mine's not designed to carry cargo, I do jam my multi-tool and CO2 inflator in there. Heat-wise, yes it does make my back sweat but so does the sun.

In my mind, the whole Camelbak debate boils down to simple prejudice. In my wife's business, showing horses, everyone uses an oiled light brown leather saddle with silver trim. Not that this color combo is any more suited to showing, it's just that the prejudice is against black or dark brown saddles - probably due to some judge not rewarding some rider at some obscure show 10 years ago. Same thing - the uniform for road riders has not yet been expanded to include Camelbaks. Traditions die hard, especially stupid traditions. Personally, I'd rather have a lot of water to drink without having to find a minimart and keep my brain from frying.
Find what works for you........Len J
Sep 25, 2001 7:21 AM
and other peoples opinions be damned.

I am a roadie that always uses a camelback. Don't give a S#*t what others think. I usually drain the better part of 64 ounces in about 25 miles. More if its hotter. I know that I hydrate more than if I were using bottles. At my age (46) proper hydration and eating have more of an impact on my riding than they did when I was 30. In addition:

1.) It's more conveniet to drink
2.) I do carry stuff in it
3.) It does keep me cooler in summer (if I put ice in it).

The only downside for me is that it covers part of some of the cool jerseys I own.

Try it and Make up your own mind.
I guarantee that no one will laugh at you wearing a camelbak while your doing a safe, hard pull at the front of the line. By then it really is all about the riding.

My .02
couldn't have said it better myself, LenJ! couple more things:Spiritual Haiku
Sep 25, 2001 9:11 AM
skip the convenience store, public fountain and other stops on longer rides when others might need to refill their two water bottles.

use water bottles for sports drink or other (jack & coke?) and hydration pack for water.

carry more stuff than you can in pockets.

on organized/charity rides/events, skip SAGs.

in my jersey pockets i feel comfortable carrying:

couple clif bars
couple gels
arm warmers and/or rain cape
cellphone and/or ID

you can double/triple capacity with a hydration pack with even a small pocket. my nike pack allows me to move the cellphone, meds, ID, etc. to the pocket on the pack, stuff a copule liquid meals inside the bladder area (as well as a full 100 oz. water bladder), then free my jersey pockets for anything else--or NOTHING else.

and...i've never had a problem with heat on the back due to the pack. probably 'cause i'm used to it.

rides under 30 miles, near home, usually find me with water bottles and pocketed gear only. longer than that gets the hydration pack.

don't let the LBS b.s. or other opinions sway you unless they speak to your sensibilities. do what works best for you and let the others do/think what they may.

this weekend, at 20 miles into a 60 miler, pulling a line of two dozen gearheads and tri-guys along flats at 24 mph, i was thinking how funny it is sometimes to laugh at the guy wearing the hydration pack, with a blinkie light on the pack and one on the bike, shoes bought on clearance, funny socks and a bike that cost less than $1100. that was me up there pulling the pack. don't judge by appearances, and don't worry about those who do.

you really never can tell, can you?
that's exactly why I wanted one...dmoller
Sep 25, 2001 9:21 AM
to store all the junk and not have to stuff into pockets, etc. Two weeks ago, I bonked about 50 miles into a 70 miler and realized it was cause I hadn't had enough fluids/carbs after going one stretch of about 20 or 25 miles without fluids. I like everyone's idea to put some gatorade or endurox in one bottle and keep the pak for water plus gear.
Oh, we can tell. We are just too polite to mention it.MB1
Sep 25, 2001 9:22 AM
Why would you worry about what you look like riding when all cyclists are essentially outcasts/rebels in an automobile-dominated world.

Body art and kilts, the only way to go. And you forgot to mention that your camelback keeps the beer cold, ready and close.
mb1, stay tuned for fun action shots from s-ku's sept. rides...Spiritual Haiku
Sep 25, 2001 11:05 AM
I have a camera 2/3 full of shots, mostly from the bike. should be interesting.
Like a good scout, I'm prepared! nmMB1
Sep 25, 2001 11:12 AM
Unspoken is the "dork" factorElefantino
Sep 25, 2001 10:43 AM
When I first moved to Florida I rode with a really competitive and fast-paced group of A+ riders. No one else dared to wear any type of backpack because no one wanted to look like a dork. It was almost like putting a scarlet letter on your Giordana.
I now ride with a more relaxed-pace A-B group (and will again when I heal from this damn broken neck) and several of us wear them (I prefer the Blackburn Roadie myself because I got it online for $10) because we're too old to care what we look like.
By the way, my use of the word "dork," I am told by my 9-year-old daughter, is, well, dorky.
It is just a preference...UncleMoe
Sep 25, 2001 7:26 AM
I was a huge fan of CB's for a few years when I was mainly MTbiking. I still use one on every MTB ride. I was using one for roading after years of habit. I recently switched BACK to water bottles on the road and can't believe I was using the CB. The comfort level on longer rides is huge without having the weight on your back.

Just do what feels best. Some roadies frown upon it as being unpure. That attitude is sad.
re: CamelbaksTig
Sep 25, 2001 7:27 AM
I gotta agree with most of these comments. I fill my 80 oz. with 2/3 ice first and then fill with cold bottled water. This is a must in our hot, humid summers in Houston. The weather is similar to ATL's. The CB alone lasts me about 40-50 miles, depending on the heat and the intensity of the ride. You will hydrate better, longer, and safer with one.

The only ones that cool you are the models that have a removable panel where it contacts your back. Even filled with ice, your body will warm the water up quickly.

Weight on your back? I ride with my handlebars about 2 3/4" below my seat level, and my shoulders stay very low as well. The only time I do feel weight is when I first put the CB on while standing or sitting vertical. Once riding, I don't even know it's there. If it does bother you, the weight disappears quickly as you drink!

There are so many people on my club's group rides that use them, there are no image problems going on from "elitists". Then again, the club is full of NASA engineers who believe in function over form!
only off road; not really a cooling mechanismmr_spin
Sep 25, 2001 7:46 AM
I can't think of a road ride that I do where I can't find water somewhere along the way, so I stick with bottles. It's so much more comfortable for me not to have that thing on my back. Plus, I drink Cytomax, and it's damn near impossible to get Cytomax or Gatorade or anything sticky completely out of a Camelbak. When the sun is high during the summer, I use Polar bottles, which do a lot to defer "hot bottle syndrome."

On a mountain ride, it's always a Camelbak, because access to water and tools is limited at best. The decision is sort of out of my hands anyway, because I have a dual suspension bike now, and there is only room for a small bottle inside the main triangle.

As far as using Camelbak as a cooling mechanism, I think it only has limited value. The water is typically insulated fairly well inside the pack. Besides, if the water is cooling you while it's on your back, that means IT is warming up. What would you rather have, a lot of cool water, or a cool back and a lot of warm water?
re: Camelbak Question/DebateDCP
Sep 25, 2001 7:58 AM
Personally I would not use Camelbak for the road because I think the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. I know many who use them on the road. Try it. If you like it, use it.

The style thing is interesting to me, not only because it is fairly stupid, but it also affects function. One advantage of a Camelbak is that it is insulated, yet they are almost always in dark colors which are perfect for absorbing sunlight. Confusing.
re: YesSteveS
Sep 25, 2001 8:47 AM
I completely disagree with your shop guy, Camelbaks are definitely for the road. When I bought their first model more than 10 years ago, it was designed as a response for more water needed in the Hotter'n'Hell 100 century. Probably I had mine on the road before 99.9% of mountain bikers ever even heard of it. My riding partner, after hanging on to bottles for ages, went to a hydration pack this past year and unless he is riding for only about an hour, uses it all the time. In my case, since I live in a hot climate, I will freeze about half a bladder full of water prior to a ride, then fill whatever I need with fresh water prior to the ride. I can have cold or cool water for up to 4+ hours of riding. No thanks to dirty bottles and warm water to drink. The claim that my back gets hot because of a Camelbak just is not true.

However, I do have a rather large and extensive collection of used water bottles. Great for cluttering the garage.
Just Do Itgrzy
Sep 25, 2001 9:26 AM
CamelBaks are fine if you actually make use of their advantages. Two big bottles alone will not get you through a 100 mile ride, unless you can fill up along the way. Just be careful not to bring the kitchen sink along. I'll use one on nasty climbing rides and no sources of water. I can't count the number of times I've played Gunga Din and filled up bonking/dehydrated riders. They never laugh or make a snide comment in this state. Cooling effect will be minimal since there is a layer of insulation btween the bladder and your body - remove that and you may have something. The weight on your body position is a non-issue unless you have a back problem.
re: Camelbak Question/DebateMikeC
Sep 25, 2001 11:01 AM
I don't use a Camelbak because by the time I've gone through two bottles I WANT to stop and refill them! However, the thing about road riding is that you can't really fool people for very long. If you ride with a group, they're going to know pretty soon if you're the real deal or a wannabe. If you're real, you'll take some heat for a couple of rides if you use a Camelbak, but then it'll just become boring, like my bald head. And then someone else who uses one on their MTB will try it out on the road, and you won't be alone.
If you come across some hotshot roadies you don't know, you might get some snide looks for using a pack. So what's the problem? Would they have asked you to join their double-secret club with the really cool socks if you just used bottles? Could you go on living knowing that?
It sounds like a pack suits your location and riding style. Use one, and stand up for common sense and rugged individualism!
I don't like them because:alex the engineer
Sep 25, 2001 11:07 AM
Well, aside from the look (very personal), they do raise your center of mass a bit, which is not good. In a sport where people sometimes spend $100 on CF QR's to save 20 grams, you would think this would be a big deal.
Unless you store the pack in your fridge overnight, your back is going to get awfully hot. It's funny how that, on the really hot days, guys leave the things at home! Also, unless you are riding somewhere very hot (like the desert, or Alabama in the summer), you probably don't need THAT much water. With 2 bottles, refills at local parks, and the occasional stop at a store, I can ride as far as I want on even the hottest days without getting dehydrated or carrying unneeded extra weight. Your situation may vary.
I do like them
Sep 25, 2001 6:15 PM
On a hot day you need about 8 oz. of fluids for every 15 minutes of hard riding. You figure the numbers. On a very long ride you need alot of bottles to carry. In the right situations they are a godsend. They are alot more comfortable than they look. Be safe, keep hydrated and you will have a better ride.
re: Camelbak Question/DebateDrD
Sep 25, 2001 6:09 PM
Well - I use one, and got into the habit from MTB (mud/dirt covered water bottles are a pain) - I find them much easier to drink from, and can carry enough water for decent length rides in the summer - I would never go back to bottles!

Unless you ride somewhere cool, 2 water bottles isn't going to get you very far - esp. not somewhere like central texas (where I am) - I'll pretty much kill a 100oz Camelbak mule in a 60 mile ride in the summer (then I drink a ton when I get home) - I use less as it cools down, but generally, about 70-80oz or so for 50-60 miles even when it cools down.

They are not very effective at cooling the back (even when loaded up with ice water), at least not for me - I dont' even notice if the water is iced or not - they are generally insulated, so that's probably why.

I also like that I can put everything I need in there (tubes, clif bar, tool kit, patch kit, cell phone, insurance info, etc.) - only the frame pump goes on the bike.