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Do any of you use a Camelback/Hydrapack??(28 posts)

Do any of you use a Camelback/Hydrapack??dgangi
Oct 17, 2003 5:23 AM
I am new to the road bike world (long time MTB'er who wanted to start road riding for a change in scenery), so pardon me if I am asking an ignorant question.

I started some threads on the "components" board regarding what water bottle cages to buy, color, etc. All of my roadie friends told me they don't use a Camelback (or other hydration system) when they ride their road bikes -- they use bottles -- so I just naturally thought that was what I should do.

But the more I think about it, the more I wonder why roadies don't use a hydration system over bottles. And it's not just my friends -- I noticed that other roadies also use bottles instead of hydration systems. So what's the deal?

Mountain bikers *rarely* use bottles for a number of reasons:

1) Bottles fall out on the trail
2) Can't carry as much water in bottles as you can in a hydration system (100ml is a popular size)
3) Cages break and bend in crashes
4) You can put a lot of other stuff in the hydration system - tools, pump, spare tubes, etc.
5) Geometry of newer full-suspension MTB frames does not allow for cage mounts

Some of these points don't apply to road bikes, but some still do...

As I gathered some of my older water bottles out of my storage room, I realized that 2 bottles won't hold much -- maybe 40oz. And where do I put my tools? Do I have to dig around in my storage room for my retired seat pouch too?

And that's when I started thinking about this question: why don't roadies use a Camelback? They are SOOOO much more convenient. They hold more water; they hold your tools; you don't need to reach down to take a drink.

Anyway, do any of you use Camelbacks? If not, why not? Don't they make hydration systems especially for road bike riding? Or is this a situation where tradition overpowers function?

I use one every ride over 40 miles...............Len J
Oct 17, 2003 5:30 AM
because 2 bottles (Large 24 ounces) will satisfy me for about 40 miles (even in the summer).

I hydrate more
I hydrate more &
I hydrate more.

But remember, as someone else has noted previously, I'm a poseur fred.

Ride ehat works for you, & don't care what anyone else thinks. If a Camelback works for you, use it.

Just ride baby ride.

Sweaty backpitt83
Oct 17, 2003 5:37 AM
I can't stand the sweaty back the pack gives me. I tolerate it on the trail, but my trail rides are usually around an hour, 1:30max. I'm on the road bike much longer. Usually, filling bottles isn't a problem. Either a bottle of poland springs from a store, an unsuspecting home's garden hose or careful rationing will get me home.
Almost every rideScotttheroadie
Oct 17, 2003 5:38 AM
I drink an unusually large amount while cycling. With water bottles I wouldn't get much farther than 30 miles.

Why don't most roadies use them? Road cyclists do not embrace change. Unless of course someone in the pro peloton does it first.
It's illegal for pros to use them (more) jimbo
Oct 17, 2003 7:35 AM
because of the "aerodynamic advantage" they provide, I guess when worn under a jersey. Also a pro is supported by a team car which can bring water bottles throughout a race. I'm not sure about training though.

Pro mountain bikers don't really use them either. I'm not sure why.

re: Do any of you use a Camelback/Hydrapack??gf99
Oct 17, 2003 5:49 AM
I use a 100oz M.U.L.E. when mountain biking and usually bottles on the road. The reason is that when road biking you're usually in the same position for a long time unlike mountain biking. You may not notice the Camelback when mountain biking but I find it gets very uncomfortable on a long road ride. Also the straps have a greater tendency to flap in the wind on the road. Very annoying after a while.

On long rides without places to refill, I have a minimalist Camelback with 50oz reservoir and no pockets, waist straps, bungee's, etc..
My friend named Fred uses one. (nm)Zonic Man
Oct 17, 2003 5:59 AM
>30 mile rides, hot weather only. bottles rest of the year (nm)terry b
Oct 17, 2003 6:04 AM
do what's comfortablekenyee
Oct 17, 2003 6:11 AM
I like my camelbak...who cares what other people think? :-)

As others mentioned, you do tend to drink more w/ a camelbak than w/ bottles. You also don't have to take your eyes off the road to drink...

Not sure if you want to land on a tool that's in your pack if you crash. That's something that's probably better in a seat pack...
re: Do any of you use a Camelback/Hydrapack??Derf
Oct 17, 2003 6:13 AM
I use one on rides longer than 20 miles and others (real roadies) out on the road give me looks. But, if I paid $75 bucks for a USPS jersey (which I wouldn't) or if I was proad of my team then I would not want to wear one.

re: Do any of you use a Camelback/Hydrapack??Saddle_Sore
Oct 17, 2003 6:30 AM
I have started using one and it takes some adjusting to when you are riding road bikes. It is handy for stashing gear, but the increased weight on your bike means you need to watch out when leaning around bends, unexpected shifts can cause a calamity.

No matter what the advertising blurb about the "aeroback" system, your back will get sweaty when you use one - you do not get this problem when using water bottles.

One major advantage of using a water bottle is that if some meat-head in an open top car gives you grief at a set of lights, you can use your bottle to squirt him the face (I typically get a range of about 10ft with a good squeeze). You just cannot do this with a CamelBak MULE.
re: Do any of you use a Camelback/Hydrapack??briburke
Oct 17, 2003 6:58 AM
Personally, one of the most enjoyable things about roadbiking is the minimalistic aspect of what you bring with you. I love going out and being 40 miles from home with nothing on my back. Plus, it keeps your back from getting super sweaty.

I bring two large water bottles with me, and I find that when they're empty it's about time for a refill stop anyway. Tools (Park MT-1 tool), tire levers, tubes and CO2 go in the seat bag. Food and a few bucks goes in the pockets, and everything else stays at home.

That said, if I was out riding in the middle of nowhere where it would be tough to get water, I'd bring my camelback.

On centuries with no rest stops, bottles for everything else(nm)hrv
Oct 17, 2003 7:04 AM
because Camelbaks suckmohair_chair
Oct 17, 2003 7:49 AM
I can't stand having that thing on my back. It's such a pleasant feeling to take it off and my back is absolutely soaked with sweat. Yummy. It also screws up my center of gravity. I only tolerate it while mountain biking because I have no choice. There's only room for one cage on my bike, and sometimes that is devoted to a battery.

No, Camelbaks just suck. They can be a necessary evil while mountain biking, but there is no road ride I will ever do where I need to wear a Camelbak. In fact, the only ride I can see this happening is if I ever decide to cross the desert, and I'm not planning on riding across the desert any time soon. Otherwise, with two bottles, I'm never out of range of somewhere where I can't get more fluids if I need it.

I'm always mystified when I see people wearing Camelbaks on organized centuries. How much can you drink in the 20-25 miles before the next rest stop??? How much tools and crap do you need to carry around for 100 miles?
Wow, what a definitive jimbo
Oct 17, 2003 8:07 AM
I drink waaaay more water when I wear a camelback than when I use bottles. It's just so much more convenient. The issue is not always the amount of water (as you stated in your final paragraph), but rather that the camelback makes you drink more.

This may not be an issue if the ride is short, but on a century if the camelback keeps someone more hydrated then it is a good thing.

Yes I could just drink more from the bottle, but I have to constantly remind myself, with the camelback it just happens.

Oct 17, 2003 7:58 AM
Long road rides (3hr+) with limited or unavailable bottle re-fill options. Long MTB rides.

No, I'm either too old school or too oldbimini
Oct 17, 2003 8:12 AM
I know a couple of racers and several roadies that use the camelback, but I grew up with water bottles.

Two 20 oz bottles on the bike and more in the jersey back pockets only if needed.

The camelbacks just don't feel or look right to me.

Personal preference.

I have no problem using the bottles while riding and racing and don't like the idea of the extra weight and restriction on the back.
The camel rulesChazWicked
Oct 17, 2003 8:18 AM
For short rides when the temps are predictable I'll skip the camel.

Longer rides where the weather may change, I'll go for the full on camelbak. I suppose a road ride is typically more predictable in comparison to a mtb ride but I still feel far more comfortable knowing I'm covered in terms of hydration & gear.

The gear element is equally as important. Sure a jacket will fit in a jersey pocket but there are long descents where putting on a pile of clothing really saves the day. Getting chilled after a hot climb is a great way to get sick.

I agree that the sweaty back isn't perfect but it's such a minor issue in comparison to being caught without the stuff you need. I disagree with the center of gravity discussion. Having a light bike and a weighty pack feels more nimble and easy to handle vs. bottles attached to the bike.

Plus I've lost a few bottles on washboarded dirt roads.

In short, use it when you want. Illegal for racing though.
isn't " a great way to get sick" a o'wive's tale?(nmKSC
Oct 17, 2003 9:37 AM
yes and no......TNSquared
Oct 17, 2003 10:37 AM
getting chilled in and of itself will not make you sick. however, your body will burn extra calories and have to work harder in an effort to stay warm. this tends to leave you fatigued and weakens your immune system, which makes you more susceptible to the bugs that will make you sick.

at least that's what i read in runner's world - what more authoritative source could you ask for? :)
Yeah, on longer rides, esp. on unfamiliar routes.PseuZQ
Oct 17, 2003 8:50 AM
Generally not on anything less than 60 miles. My biggest dislike of them is the center-of-gravity thing.

There's a loop I like that's about 103 miles, and there are only two places to get water in the last 50 (which might be OK but it's usually really, really hot.) Actually, make that *one* place, because the first time I did that loop, when I got to the park where I thought water would be, there was a boil order in effect. (Frank Raines Park on Del Puerto Canyon Road.)

I don't use mine on organized centuries, but I have on doubles. I can put lights, extra layers, etc. in there.

By the way, a note about Ultimate Direction hydration packs: They suck. Twice now I've had bite valve issues that have resulted in my losing lots of water at the most inopportune time. The second (and last) time was in Yosemite, when the valve came right off, and I started spraying water as I was descending.
speaking of frank rainsgeorge_da_trog
Oct 17, 2003 9:18 AM
I live in patterson and ride up to frank often. Even though the boil order is still in effect, a lot of bike folk have been drinking straight out of the tap for months now. I was hesitant but i've been drinking of it and I haven't started squirting yet. Talking to the ranger we found out that the water isn't worse than it was before. It's the same as it always was, they just decided to put the boil effect because of something that has always been in the water. So if you've drank the water before, it's the same water.

To get back on the subject, I never use a camelbak. I occasionally bring an extra bottle but I don't like them on the road. I try to go as minimalist as possible.

On dirt I almsot always use them.

That's good to know -- thanks!PseuZQ
Oct 18, 2003 8:46 AM
I love that road. Definitely worth the trip out.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Water BottleKSC
Oct 17, 2003 9:18 AM
Also coming to the road from mountain biking, I decided road bikers were a bunch of stodgy fools who needed to wake up to the hydration revolution. But after some field experience, I decided there was something to the water bottles:

- After a few rides into a strong headwind w/ my Camelbak Mule, I decided there was an aero advantage to the bottles (this may not be true for more aero Camelbaks, or under the jersey..).

- As noted above, on the road you maintain almost the same body position for long periods of time, and the additional weight on the back does take its toll, whereas on a mountain bike, you're in a much more upright position and move body positions quite a bit more.

- For long rides many people like to use water in one bottle and a sports drink in another. Not a bad idea – I think there might be a patent out there for a Camelbak with two reservoirs that you can switch between.
Yes, for long hot rides nmPdxMark
Oct 17, 2003 9:30 AM
Simply too lazy.....TNSquared
Oct 17, 2003 10:49 AM
I tried a camelback for awhile, but to be honest I just found that dealing with filling the bladder without spilling, taking the bladder out to empty and clean, etc., was just a much bigger hassle than a couple of water bottles - especially if you put anything other than water in the camelback. I can't tolerate much solid food while riding, so a sports drink is essential for me.

I've never lost a bottle, even through two crashes, and I find that I don't have to look down to grab or replace my bottles.

The bottles are just easier to use, imho.
Nearly always...The Walrus
Oct 17, 2003 11:40 AM
I drink more because of the convenience of not having to reach for a bottle, and also because the water stays cold (nothing like a bottle of sun-warmed water on a day pushing triple-digits). I use bottles for Cytomax or other sports drinks.
I just bought a Hyrdrapack - seems perfectdgangi
Oct 17, 2003 4:18 PM
Based on the feedback from you guys, I decided that I should have both -- water bottles for short rides and a hydration system for longer rides. And based on your gripes about hydration systems, I found a pack that seems like it will work REALLY well on road rides.

It's called the "Air Scoop" by Hydrapack. I am partial to the Hydrapack brand because their bite valve is the best and their open-mouth bags are sooooo easy to fill and clean. I use a Hydrapack on my mountain bike.

The URL for the pack is:

The nice thing about the pack is that it is curved to fit the back of somebody hunched over on a road bike, so it doesn't tug on your shoulders. There are thick pads that set the bag about 1/2" off your back, therefore allowing it to breathe and your back doesn't get sweaty. The bladder is only 50 oz, but it should be good enough in conjunction with 2 water bottles to get me through a longer ride.

The really cool thing about the pack is there is a hidden pocket in the side to stuff some tools, and it doesn't detract from the overall streamlined effect of the bag.

This cost me $40 at Supergo. After a few rides I will post how well it performed.

I live in the Arizona desert, so you never take water for granted. On hot days on MTB rides I suck down 100 oz in just 2 hours.