Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How To Store Your Hydration Bladder

Some of you might be new to activities that requires you to carry or use hydration pack (i.e. bag and bladder system) in your run, hike, walk, mountain biking or any activities that you see fit to carry some sort of hydration (water or liquid food).
Nathan Hydration System HPL#20 with Hydrapak bladder
In fact, hydration pack are so versatile that we uses them for any longer outing, carrying up to 3liters of water for the family hydration need. It is more sustainable and definitely cheaper than to buy drinks outside or worse still, succumb to sugar laden drinks outside.
Blue line on my right shoulder is the Camelbak 3Liter bladder in Coleman lightweight backpack
After the usage of the hydration system, the bag is a no-brainer and we will either hang it to dry (if not soiled heavily) or give it a dip and a quick wash to clean. Once dry, it can be stored easily. However, problem starts with the bladder. While cleaning it is not an issue, drying it and storing it will be a potential health hazard if not done properly. Here is a fine specimen of what a few months of neglect can do to a bladder and it's components. Some of these parts has to be thrown away and replaced.
Tube...have to go...no point cleaning
New replacement is RM50. Medical fee, potentially more. Not risking it
The bite valve too, was very dirty. Lets see if some brushing and cleaning can save it a bit more. You can see the dirt i managed to brush out. Yucky.
This 1.0 liter bladder is from the waist pouch that has since not been produced by Camelbak. It was passed down from Doc to Bandit, and now with me. Camelbak bladders are highly durable and there is some point to salvage it. Armed with an Avent bottle brush (these baby product brush last a lifetime), it is scrubbing time. Make sure the inner part of the bladder are thoroughly brushed and cleansed. A bit of washing liquid to help cut away any grease/oil build up will be good.
Then, i put in almost 4 tablespoon of table salt - as you know, SALT will kill anything. It is time to disinfect.
Salty Bag
Then, boil  pot of water (or you can start boiling once you know you need to clean this) and pour it in. Careful not to scald yourself. at 100degree C and with added salt, any bacteria or viruses that can survives it  would be given a survival award.
Leave the bladder with the hot water and the salt to sit for 10-15minutes. If you noticed, the Bite valve too, received some hot and salty treatment after thoroughly cleaned.

Hot Pack idea
 Once that is done, throw the water away and rinse the bladder with tap water. Check and double check if anymore stains are residing in the bladder and remove where needed.
Now, with all of this done, it is time to store them. How do you store your bladder? Easy. Freeze it.
Here is how. Start by cleaning the bladder and flushing the tube by allowing the water to flow out (press the bite valve to allow water to flow)...
Camelbak 3.0Liter bladder. The above unit is at least 10 years old
 ...Then flip it over...
...Fold the bladder into half and then tuck the excess up for smaller footprint for storage. Remember NOT to close the bladder's lid.
OK so far?
Then, roll the tube around the folded bladder and tuck the valve in between the tube.
Not bigger than the bladder's mouth
 Then store it in the freezer.
What's in my freezer.
There is worries if the bladder will absorb meaty smell stored in the freezer. You can prevent this by further storing the bladders in a ziplock bag or plastic bag and seal them up before placing in the freezer. As we do not keep meat in this fridge, there is no such worry. You can see the the bottom shelf has two bladders and the tube are not wound up like the top. Reason is that the other two are smaller (1.5liter and 2liter) bladder and the tube are removed and left in the freezer.
This way, the cleaned bladder do not need to be left to dry outside - and risk bacteria growing while it is being dried. Water residue in the bladder will freeze up and further inhibit the growth of any harmful bacteria. To re-use, simple take the bladder out, flush it and fill up with water.