Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Easy to fill, good value, great bite valve, easy to find
Cons: Not the easiest to clean
Best Uses: Mountain biking, hiking, backpacking
The Antidote wins our Best Buy award because it scored very highly, is extremely easy to fill, easy to drink from, and is usually the least expensive bladder you can find. It is also one of the most durable and comes with a limited lifetime warranty which further enhances its long term value. We highly recommend this bladder if you are on a budget and don't mind a little extra work cleaning (if you use sports powders). If you are willing to spend a bit more and want the extra features of a pressurized system, we recommend you check out the Editors' Choice Geigerrig Hydration Engine.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Antidote is latest Camelbak bladder in a lineage that goes back decades. It may be the oldest running hydration reservoir. Over the years CamelBak has continually modified this bladder. Compared to earlier versions, it now has a large wide mouth opening, large grab handle for filling, two chambers for water so it sloshes around less, removable hose and drying plastic tabs.
What stands out about the Antidote is the opening. While a lot of companies have moved to zip tops, CamelBak so far has stuck with the twist top. It is our favorite bladder with this style opening.
Ease of Filling
This is one of the easiest hydration bladders to fill, especially in shallow sinks. Only the Osprey HydraForm has a larger handle that makes it easy to hold the bladder with one hand and operate a faucet with the other. You can really fill up every last space in the bladder as opposed to some other bladders where it is hard to get it completely full. One nice advantage over the Osprey is that the lid peels all the way back and out of the way when filling the bladder. You also don't have to screw it much to seal it and it is very clear when the lid is totally closed.
The CamelBak hoses and bite valves are some of the most durable we tested. Of the 10 CamelBaks we have owned, we have never been able to get the reservoir bladder to leak. But just in case you do run into a problem, Camelbak does offer a limited lifetime warranty (it excludes misuse, normal wear and tear, etc.)
Ease of Cleaning
CamelBak's get easier and easier to clean with every bladder revision. Compared to early generations, the wide opening makes it very easy to get a brush inside. Recently they have added plastic tabs on the sides to help keep the bladder open and make it easier to dry. The CamelBak Cleaning Brush Kit that is sold separately works effectively at cleaning out the hoses. Many other bladders either did not offer hose cleaning brushes or came with brush cleaning kits that were not long enough to clean the entire hose.
All that said, the Antidote is not nearly as easy to clean as a zip top hydration bladder like the Platypus Big Zip SL or the Geigerrig Hydration Engine. The zip top bladders are very easy to get a brush in and even easier to dry. The Geigerrig can be thrown in the dishwasher.
The CamelBak is in the middle of the road for weight. Everything about it is very light except for the large plastic handle and large opening. Of course, it is this large opening and handle that makes the CamelBak so easy to fill and clean. That is the tradeoff. Most CamelBak users and ourselves prefer the slightly heavier and more convenient design. But folks who are obsessed on traveling as light as possible should check out the Platypus Hoser or MSR DromLite.
Ease of Drinking
This is our favorite bite valve. After testing, we attached the bite valve and tube to other hydration packs with a compatible tube attachment. Even though the CamelBak is not pressurized, the water flows easily. It also has the most intuitive lockoff mechanism: the yellow lever contrasts well against the blue valve which reminds you to lock it off when not in use.
The Antidote excels at hiking, mountain biking and dirt biking. For backpacking, we would go with the MSR DromLite. For skiing and other winter sports, the tubes will freeze up (as with all tubes we tested). We recommend using the trick of blowing the water back into the bladder and "clearing the lines." If that does not work, consider adding the CamelBak Antidote Thermal Control Kit which is an extra insulated tube and bite valve.
This is the best value bladder in our review both because of the price and because of the durability (cost per use).
For many people, this is the hydration bladder to get. It scores high and is a great value. The only reason not to get it is if you appreciate the ease of cleaning and bonus pressurization features of the Geigerrig. Or, you might appreciate an even more durable and lightweight bladder like the MSR Dromlite.
Other Versions and Accessories
Camelbak Omega Beast Reservoir, $38, 100 oz.
CamelBak Antidote Thermal Control Kit, $20.
CamelBak Cleaning Brush Kit, $10.
— Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 10, 2013
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