Tips for Cleaning Your CamelBak

Kelsey from ACK Houston give tips on cleaning your CamelBak.

Remember to dry after cleaning your CamelBak!
Remember to dry after cleaning your CamelBak!

“Do you have to clean your CamelBak? Even if you just put water in it?”

I’ve been asked about this several times recently and thought I would write a bit about it for our online readers. The answer is yes. Ideally you should clean and air out your CamelBak after every use, but if you are like me then sometimes after a long hike or backpacking trip, cleaning your CamelBak is not the first thing you do or sometimes forget to do all together.

The result can be a smelly CamelBak. Cleaning your CamelBak can be a little more challenging than a standard water bottle but is something that must be done to prevent bacteria from growing and bad taste and odors from developing.

You can use household cleaning supplies such as hot water and baking soda or soap and water. To clean, you fill the reservoir and flip upside down and make sure the cleaning solution runs through the hose. You may want to use a diluted bleach solution or the cleaning tablets that Camelbak makes to really clean and sterilize.

Cleaning your CamelBak is important especially if you use it for beverages other than water, like sports drinks, because the sugar in these causes bacteria to grow. Even if you do just use your CamelBak for water, after sitting or being in the heat it can develop a mildew smell or old water taste. If you are sensitive to the cleaning soaps you may want to use baking soda after cleaning with bleach or the Camelbak cleaning tablets. This is also something you can do when your CamelBak is new to get rid of any plastic odors or taste. If you do choose to use your own cleaning product you may want to consider purchasing the CamelBak cleaning brush kit for around $10. It includes a brush for the water reservoir and a small brush on a wire that is designed specifically to fit into the drinking hose and thoroughly clean that hard to reach area. This is a must have if you have left your CamelBak sitting and mold starts to grow inside of the tube, it can still be salvaged and cleaned.

Another important step to remember is after cleaning you must let your CamelBak air out to avoid any moisture from sitting inside. The CamelBak Antidote Reservoir Cleaning Kit, which cost around $20, not only comes with the two brushes and cleaning tablets but a handy hanger and props to open up the reservoir and allow the CamelBak to dry completely.

We’ve got a wide selection of CamelBak models, replacement parts and cleaning materials available in store and online. Give your local store a call to see what they have in stock and check out our online selection here.

CamelBak Paddle Collection Updated for 2014

Stay Hydrated on the Water with the CamelBak Paddle Collection

It’s important to bring water with you on any outdoor adventure and paddling is no exception. That’s why we were thrilled when the Camelbak Paddle Collection was released in 2013 with an assortment of hydration packs designed specifically for paddlers. After spending the year receiving feedback and making improvements, they’ve just released the updated Camelbak Paddle Collection for 2014, a total of three packs designed specifically for a paddler’s needs.

CamelBak Paddle Collection Lineup for 2014

Cortez Deck Mounted System.
Cortez Deck Mounted System.

1. Cortez Deck Mounted Hydration SystemCompletely new for 2014, the Cortez is an insulated hydration bladder that easily clips to the deck of your SUP or kayak using snap clips and a grip strip on the back that prevents sliding. For kayakers, this would fit great on the bow of your ‘yak!

2. Molokai Hydration BackpackThe Molokai is a backpack designed specifically for stand-up paddlers. It’s made from quick drying materials, offers hands free hydration and includes a 70 oz. reservoir so it’s great for long treks with your board. It’s also designed to carry waterproof electronics cases, sunscreen and snacks (not pictured) and is compatible with inflatable PFDs.

Tahoe LR Hydration Backpack
Tahoe LR Hydration Backpack

3. Tahoe LR Hydration BackpackFor stand-up paddlers hoping to avoid anything going over the shoulders and encumbering upper body movement, the Tahoe LR is for you! This waist-mounted paddle pack includes a 50 oz. reservoir and will hold gear ranging from an inflatable PFD, waterproof electronics case, sunscreen and snacks. Compared to the Molokai, the Tahoe is great for lighter SUP outings.

So how do you stay hydrated on the water? Let us know by commenting below!

CamelBak Arc 4 Hydration Belt – Product Review

CamelBak Arc 4 Hydration Belt
CamelBak Arc 4 Hydration Belt

Iv’e been running pretty regularly since early January and I’ve used the waist mounted bottle system from CamelBak called the Arc 4 Hydration Belt about a dozen times since then. The Arc 4 features four convenient 8 oz. snap-in bottles that are easy to remove and replace while maintaining pace. The ‘baskets’ that hold the bottles in place are very intuitive as well as secure. They are also removable, so if four bottles are too many, you can remove the unwanted ones. The back band of the belt has a small zipper pocket that will fit keys, a few gels or other small snacks.

As I was choosing the correct size belt, I initially chose the one that was within the range of my waist size as determined by the pants I wear. As I was trying them on I realized that I would prefer to wear this lower on my hips causing me to have to go up one size for the proper fit.  Make sure that you measure your ‘waist’ where you are actually going to wear this since the adjustability within each size is somewhat limited. Once I started using the belt, I decided that I felt a bit awkward when using it with four bottles attached so I removed the two front baskets, leaving me with 16 oz. of fluid capacity. There is something  about having the extra weight on the front of my waist that I just don’t care for, but for longer runs I am glad I have the option of adding the baskets back on.

The Pros:

  • The waistband is comfortable and the hook and loops closure allows easy adjustment
  • Limited stretch in the material means it stays in place
  • Breathes well and dries relatively fast
  • Bottles are easy to insert and remove from the ‘baskets’ without losing stride or having to look at them

The Cons:

  • The waistband is sized S,M,L and there is limited adjustability
  • Limited stretch in the material means smaller fit ranges
  • Pocket is small and harder to access in the back of the belt, would like to see a pocket in the front or some way to secure gels up front

Overall I really like this system and would recommend it for anyone looking for a comfortable solution for hydration on the go, keeping in mind that additional storage is limited. As the weather warms and my water requirements increase I will try added the other two bottles back to the belt to see if I can get used to them.

-Steve @ ACK

In Focus: Gift Ideas for Your Little Adventurer

You’ve shared your love of the outdoors with your kids and now you can’t get ‘em out of the boat and off the trail. You’ve started them down the long path of an outdoor enthusiast and if they’ll be spending more time joining you on your adventures, they need their own gear! When they’re more comfortable, the trip will be so much more enjoyable for the whole family. The holidays are a great time to stock up on gear with spring right around the corner.

If you’re sleeping under the stars, the kids need their own sleeping bags and Eureka makes some great options for the little ones: the Lady Bug and Grasshopper 30 Degree Sleeping Bag. Not only are they sized to fit kids but they also have a lot of features to make them just like your fancy adult sleeping bag because kids gear shouldn’t be skimped on! They’ve got a locking zipper so it doesn’t slide open as you sleep, an internal pocket so they can keep essentials close at hand, an insulated side draft tube to prevent cold spots along the side and a stuff sack.  These will certainly help ensure your babies sleep like, well… babies.

If a paddle is made and sized for an adult it probably isn’t something your kids are going to want to use because it will be harder for them to paddle correctly and they’ll fatigue a lot sooner than they should. Bending Branches has a great option for kids with the Splash Kids Paddle. It features a lot of the same bells and whistles as the adult paddles but was fine-tuned with kids in mind. The shaft diameter of the paddle is smaller because kids have smaller hands, which just makes sense. It also features a 0-60 degree left or right ferrule and it wont sieze up in sand or salt water. Sawyer Paddles Kids Tales Canoe Paddle is an awesomely stylish canoe paddle made just for kids. I wrote a blog dedicated entirely to this paddle and its well worth a read if you’re in the market for a quality kids canoe paddle.

We don’t think much about snow here in Texas but we are well aware a lot of our customers are more familiar with that white powdery stuff than we are. If you’re in a colder climate and thinking about venturing out into the snow, snowshoes are something you’ll want to look at. Redfeather makes a snowshoe specifically for kiddos called the SnowPaws Snowshoes. While these aren’t intended for the heavy-duty snow trekking adult snowshoes are made for, they will make for some winter fun. The design creates a monster-shaped print in the snow (or sand!). The snowshoes also feature easy-on, easy-off bindings and are very adjustable so they should fit nicely for kids 3 to 7 years old.

Safety is key when on the water and especially with your precious cargo. There’s no reason why your kids should be wearing adult PFDs when those made for kids exist. The NRS Vista Youth PFD is made for kids sized 50-90 pounds. It has two pockets in the front so your kids can keep the treasures they find while out adventuring and comes in four different colors so there’s bound to be one your kid will love.

Another aspect of safety is hydration and CamelBak has designed a pack specifically for youngins. The Mini MULE Hydration Backpack can hold 50 ounces of water and features pockets to hold all the necessities like sunscreen, snacks or keys. It even features reflective tape on the front and back to ensure the little ones are visible.

Expecting a white Christmas? For those who are lucky enough to experience the joy of a winter wonderland, here is an inexpensive give item that any kiddo (or adult for that matter) will enjoy! With the Sno-Baller Snow Ball Maker, all of your kid’s friends will want to be on his/her snowball team. Parents will also be happy to know that it will limit cold wet hands or soaking gloves.

Aside from all these great products, we have compiled our favorite, expert-picked gift ideas in our 2012 ACK Holiday Outdoor Adventure gear Holiday Buyer’s Guide so you’re sure to find something for that special someone, whether they love fishing, can’t get enough of the trails, or just enjoy spending their free time outdoors.

Trent @ACK

Why Don’t YOU Have a CamelBak Hydration Backpack?

CamelBak Lobo Hydration Pack 2011

No seriously, why don’t you have one? It’s the perfect accessory for the athlete, outdoors person or even backyard gardener. Regardless of your activity, CamelBak Hydration Backpacks provide the necessary hydration that will make your experience that more enjoyable — especially here in Texas on a hot summer day! Of course, it doesn’t have to be hot to stay hydrated. You should always drink water when exerting any energy regardless of how cool it is outside.

I got my CamelBak a few years ago and it has been a staple of many outings. From riding my bike, paddling my kayak to working out at the gym and playing basketball, I don’t leave the house without it. It’s better than a water bottle for obvious reasons but I specifically enjoy having storage options to help keep track of all my stuff. Depending on the style, there is usually ample space for extra clothes, a bathing suit and/or a place for your keys, phone and wallet. Of course, I particular enjoy using a CamelBak when paddling since it allows me to drink without disrupting my motion.

At ACK we carry a wide variety of CamelBaks and even a cleaning kit. Regardless of your budget or activity, you’ll be sure to find exactly what you are looking for.

On a side note, I want to know how YOU use your CamelBak, leave me a comment below.

Go Live,
Zach – ACK Austin

Devil’s River Part 2

This is Part 2 (click here for Part 1)  of my series on our Devil’s River kayak trip.

I think one of the worst things about any trip, vacation, or adventure is not knowing what to pack or getting there and wishing you had brought something.  Since I just went through this experience on a recent trip down the Devils River in West Texas, I wanted to share with you what gear worked and didn’t work for us.  Remember what worked for us may not work for you.  Bear and I were Marine Corpsman and Kevin is smarter than MacGyver, so do your homework before setting out into the wild.

When planning a trip, I make sure food, water, shelter, fire, and safety are covered first and foremost.  For food, I first find a Tupperware like container with a lid that seals really nice for a bowl.  This way you can also use it for a semi-dry storage container and you don’t spill anything while you eat.  I also picked up this handy new super spork by Light My Fire.  This was a great piece of gear and survived a pretty harsh trip.  Since you can’t have a fire along the river, we took parts from an old Whisperlite stove I had.  After realizing the burner was missing, I had to pick up a new one.  It worked out great because we found out the fuel mechanism can’t be submerged for long periods or it might not work.  So make sure you put it in something that will keep it nice and dry.

The water containers we carried were Nalgene and Camelbak bottles along with Camelbak packs.  They all worked perfect.  Even though the river has fresh water springs and aquifers pumping into it, we took a water filter that stopped working halfway through the trip.  Go figure.  Get a good water filter!  I also happened to leave my emergency Iodine tablets in the truck.  Drinking river water is not ideal, but I would rather get Giardia than a heat injury.  As for shelter, I have a high-end Kelty tent that has worked great over the years for me.  Any tent will work, however, you really want a tent that has a lot of ventilation, light weight (preferably under 10 lbs), has a great rain fly, and will fit in/on your kayak.

Unless you’re some one of the caliber of Bear Grylls (the guy from Man vs. Wild) you’re going to need a mat to sleep on.  I used a basic $30 Therm-a-rest which worked fine, but a more compact and softer one would have been nice.  As far as a sleeping bag, I recommend you make sure you have a higher end bag that is quick drying.  A cotton or down bag is worthless because they are bulky and if they get wet it acts more like a weight than a sleeping bag.  I also keep it in a waterproof Sealine bag to keep it extra dry.

When doing a long trip through a harsh and dangerous environment you will also need to make sure you have enough medical supplies.  Those dinky medical kits that have Band-Aids, cheap plastic tweezers, and chap stick are not going to cut it. Make sure you have proper medical supplies to treat multiple injuries for multiple days and that you know how to use it.  We had a couple of close calls and the opportunity is there for some pretty gnarly injuries.

In the next blog, I will go over additional gear we took and talk about what worked and didn’t work.  I would also like to say one more thing.  We met some pretty fantastic people on our little adventure that went out of their way to help us.  Kevin, Bear and I would like to say thank you to all those folks.  As for everyone else, make an effort do something nice for someone.  Not only will you bring happiness into their life, but also into your own.  In these times who couldn’t use a little extra happiness.

Marcus Harleson
ACK Pro Staff