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19238Revised PLATYPUS OWNERS REVIEW (was Owner's Reviews waiting to be edited)

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  • Andy Mytys
    Nov 1, 2002
    • 0 Attachment
      --- In BackpackGearTest@y..., John Burnet <gatemansnametag@y...>
      > Toby, Chris, Andy, Heather, and Shaun,
      > Okay kids, here's the thing. I've run out of time
      > tonight and I'm leaving before the 'crank' of dawn to
      > head into the woods for three days. Andrew is gone for
      > the next few days as well. So, odds are, that it's
      > going to be several days before you guys get your
      > edits and folders.

      Sure... give me more time. I'll just add another 1000 words to my
      Platypus review :) It's all under "Hoser", plus I added a drying
      step to the end of the cleaning instructions. Here it is...


      Cascade Designs Platypus product line review
      Owner Review

      Reviewed By: Andrew Mytys
      Email: amytys (at) backpacker (dot) com
      Date Published: November 1, 2002
      Update History: None

      Product Information: Manufacturer: Cascade Designs
      Item: Platypus Water Bottles and Carriers

      Product Description:

      The Platypus hydration system, by Cascade Designs, is a complete
      product line for storing and transporting water in the backcountry.
      The family of products includes flexible and collapsible water
      bottles, tanks, totes, and carriers. Most of the products can serve
      anywhere from a simple canteen to a complete, lightweight, hands
      free hydration system that can double as a shower. In terms of
      weight, most Platys fall between one and two ounces, including the
      cap. A complete "Hoser" ™ drinking tube attachment will weigh
      another two onces. The largest reservoirs available, the "Water
      Tanks" ™, weigh between two and three ounces, depending on capacity.

      Platypus water carriers are made of a clear, triple-layer, welded
      plastic laminate. This construction insures durability and keeps
      your water from tasting like "plastic", even after being stored for
      extended periods of time and across various temperatures. All
      Platypus bags are lined with high-density food grade polyethylene so
      there are no issues with chemicals, found in all plastics, leaching
      into your water.

      I have personally used all of the products described in this review,
      many since 1999. Throughout this short time span, Cascade Designs
      has made durability related improvements to the material that the
      Platypus reservoirs are made of and changed the bite valve design in
      the hands-free, "Hoser", hydration system.

      Platypus Water Tank:

      The largest family of water carriers available in the Platypus line
      are the "Water Tanks" ™. Available in 2, 4, and 6-liter capacity
      sizes, they are ready to carry lots of water when needed (e.g.
      hiking in hot, dry, conditions). Like all Platypus bags, when empty
      they are extremely lightweight and fold down flat for convenient,
      compact, storage.

      Water Tanks ™ feature the "Big Zip" ™ opening for quick and easy
      filling, comfortable handles, an easy-pour spout, and a secure
      closure cap. When in an upright position, the spout on the Water
      Tanks ™ is located at the top corner of the bag. These bags are
      meant to carry water but, due to the location of the spout, are not
      meant to be compatible with the "Hoser" ™ drinking tubes or shower
      adapters. When filled, the Water Tanks ™ are freestanding.

      On a recent trip to Utah, the hike called for a 16-mile stretch with
      no water and 100-degree temperatures. I carried two of the 4-liter
      tanks of water in my pack, in addition to a 3-liter Platypus "Hoser"
      ™ system.

      It was my first experience with carrying so much water in a Platypus
      product. The fact that these bags had the "Big Zip" ™ opening (think
      industrial sized Zip-Loc) made me nervous. What if the "Zip" should
      come open in the middle of my hike?

      Fortunately for me, the "Zip" came open and leaked a little water
      before I actually got onto the trail. I noticed the leak as I was in
      the process of adjusting my gear to fit in a comfortable manner
      within my pack. When I opened the pack for a final adjustment to my
      camera gear, there was a small puddle on top of my stuff sacks.

      Upon close inspection, I figured out what had happened. I placed my
      camera bag on top of the Platypus bags thinking that, if there was a
      leak, the camera was the last thing I would want to get wet.
      Unfortunately, when I placed the bag on the Platypus tanks,
      the "Zip" openings were facing upwards. The pressure of the camera
      bag's weight, in addition to the stress of the bag being pressed
      down on the Platypus tanks by the backpack top lid, forced the
      closure to slightly open and leak water.

      To get around this problem, I simply folded the "Zip" closure down
      once and fastened it with duct tape. At the time, I was not in a
      position where experimentation was a good idea. With water being
      scarce until around noon the next day, I didn't want to chance about
      additional leakage issues.

      Since that time, I have found myself in similar packing situations
      and have just folded the top closures of my "Big Zip" ™ flat. The
      duct tape idea, while providing additional security, is completely

      Platypus "Big Zip" Reservoirs:

      "Big Zip" ™ reservoirs (left bag in photo) are similar to the Water
      Tanks ™, above. They are available in 1, 1.8, 2, 3, and 4 liter
      capacities with the 3 and 4 liter bags having built in grommets for
      attaching carry handles or suspending the bag to use in conjunction
      with the optional camp shower attachment. All sizes come with a
      closure cap. The bags do not stand upright when full since the pour
      spout is located at the bottom corner of the bag. "Big Zips" ™ are
      compatible with the optional "Hoser" ™ drinking tube attachment.

      The "Big Zip" ™ closure works like an industrial sized Zip-Loc, and
      having a wide opening for access is very convenient. Backcountry
      users who use chemicals to treat their water can just let the source
      flow freely into the bag, or dip the bag into the water for quick
      filling. Sports drinks are a snap to make with the "Big Zip" ™ -
      Just pour in the powder, add water, secure tightly, and shake. The
      wide opening is also nice for putting ice cubes into the bag and
      makes access for cleaning purposes easy. The opening is also a nice
      feature for drying purposes as you can place a small towel directly
      in the bag and either navigate it with your hand, or shake the bag
      about until the moisture has been absorbed by the towel inside.

      Platypus Reservoirs:

      Standard Platypus reservoirs (right bag in photo, above) are
      available in 1, 1.8, 2, and 3 liter capacities. All sizes come with
      a closure cap, and can stand upright when full. Standard reservoirs
      are compatible with the optional "Hoser" ™ drinking tube and shower

      The main difference between the standard and "Big Zip" ™ reservoirs
      are price, size, and how you fill the bag. The bags cost about $1
      less than a similarly sized "Big Zip" ™, with the difference in the
      3 liter models being about $3. While capacity between two bags may
      be the same, a comparable "Big Zip" ™ is 1-inch taller in order to
      accommodate the zipper. Of course, without the advantage of a large
      opening, the standard reservoirs have to be filled using a small
      hole that's about the size found on 20oz plastic pop bottles. For
      filter users, Cascade Designs sells an optional filter link that
      allows you to screw your filter's output hose securely to the
      reservoir - Now you can concentrate on pumping, rather than keeping
      the hose from popping out of the bag.

      Standard reservoirs are also difficult to dry after cleaning.
      Leaving it open to air-dry on your kitchen counter can take up to a
      week. I find that rolling up a paper towel, inserting it entirely
      into the reservoir, then shaking vigorously is a good way to pick up
      most of the excess moisture quickly. Getting the paper towel back
      out of the bag can be a little tricky, and those with "sausage
      fingers" should be careful not to get the Platypus stuck to the to
      the tip of their finger while trying to fish out the towel.

      This said, if you find yourself uneasy about trusting the "Big Zip"
      ™ from leaking on the trail, the standard reservoir may be the
      product for you.

      Platypus "Hosers":

      The Platypus "Hoser" ™ system allows for hands-free access to your
      water using a simple gravity based design. You fill a "Hoser" ™
      compatible Platypus with water, attach the drinking tube to the
      spout, then place the Platy either inside your pack or in a pocket
      on the outside of your pack. The area where the drinking tube is
      attached to the Platy should be pointed down.

      The drinking tube is 42" (106cm) long so you can really get the
      water deep in your pack where it will be insulated and kept cool by
      the surrounding gear. One of the best locations for your reservoir
      is vertical, against your back. By placing heavy items, such as
      water and food, between your shoulders and as close to your back as
      possible, you'll have a well balanced pack that's easy to control.
      And, as long as you put the reservoir in at a vertical position,
      you'll have a good flow of water until the last drop is gone.

      The system also comes with a lapel clip, allowing you to
      conveniently attach the hose to your pack strap, shirt collar, or
      wherever you prefer (see photo, right). There's no more rummaging
      into your pack for water or dislocating your shoulder reaching for a
      water bottle. Just grab the bite valve, pull it up to your lips,
      bite down a little, and sip.

      Easy access to water is the real selling point of the "Hoser" ™
      system. Hikers that wait until they are at a "convenient" point to
      access their water often find themselves drinking only when they are
      thirsty. It's well known that if you feel thirsty, your body is
      already short a good liter of water. Such a shortage can decrease
      your level of endurance, and make getting to your destination more
      of a challenge then you initially planned. With dehydration also
      come headaches, moodiness, and just a miserable hiking experience.
      To stay adequately hydrated, however, you don't have to drink a lot
      at one time - The key is to drink at regular and frequent intervals,
      giving your body time to properly absorb the water. With the
      Platypus "Hoser" ™ system, there's no excuse not to be well

      Many hikers, when using the "Hoser" ™ for the first sip, cough up
      the water just as fast as they took it down. This is due to air that
      was trapped in the hose. Gulping down water followed by a little air
      and more water causes a natural reflex cough - It's nothing to be
      concerned with. Rather than drinking from a freshly filled Platypus,
      I recommend that you hold the drinking tube down and pinch the bite
      valve for 2-3 seconds, letting any air trapped in the drinking tube
      escape while filling the tube with water.

      "Hosers" ™ are available in either kit form, to convert non-"Hoser"
      ™ setups, or with the purchase of a standard or "Big Zip" reservoir.
      If bought together with the bag, the standard closure cap will not
      be included in the purchase. As mentioned above, the "Hoser" comes
      with a length of hose that has a specially designed closure cap on
      one side, and and a lapel clip and "SyperFlow" ™ bite valve on the
      other. The current bite valve design has been around since late 2000
      (pictured below, left). For sake of comparison, the older bite valve
      system is also pictured (below, right).

      As you can see, the newer bite valve design has fewer parts. Today,
      the flexible rubber bite valve simply slides onto the end of the
      tube. The older bite valve system is a bit more complex, proves
      difficult to clean, and has a tendency to leak a drop or two when
      pointed toward the ground - On more than one occasion, I have found
      myself announcing to the group that I have felt rain and, on clear
      days, looking up to see if I am the unfortunate target of a passing
      bird. In addition, the old, two piece, bite valve has a tendency to
      trap impurities in its components. Although the water in the
      reservoir is always clear, taking the bite valve apart after an
      extended time on the trail always reveals a dark color to the inner
      core. Was it some sort of a mold?

      I do find that I prefer the feel and flow rate of the old bite valve
      when compared to the new design. The older model is more
      comfortable, and I can't stop the flow of water by biting too hard
      on the rubber tip like on the current design. In contrast, the newer
      bite valve is much larger and, after being accustomed to the older
      design, feels like a clumsy mouth guard between my lips. Biting down
      hard will crimp the opening shut and prevent a good flow of water
      from being dispensed. Coming from the old system this is certainly a
      noticeable change, and especially true when going up or down steep
      inclines. In such times, it's easy to bite down lightly or come down
      hard, but somewhere in between, at least for me, can be a bit beyond
      awkward. The newer bite valve also has a "textured" feel to it, and
      the old design is smooth.

      A final difference between old and new designs is in the closure cap
      (pictured above, center). The old cap is smaller and more ridged,
      and has a tendancy to skip threads when being secured to the bottle.
      This is not easily detected and, on more than one occassion, I have
      had the cap slip off the reservoir when I was pulling it out of my
      pack. Thankfully, every time this has happened the water has already
      been consumed over the course of my hike - I have never had my gear
      soaked. It remanis a constant concern nonetheless.

      With the new cap design (right, in the picture), such mishaps are a
      thing of the past.

      Platypus "Little Nipper" Reservoir:

      The "Little Nipper" ™ is a small, 375ml, Platypus reservoir with the
      closure cap located at the top. It conveniently fits in the chest
      pocket of a winter parka. This is a very handy size to have when you
      need a little hydration to get you by, but don't want to encumber
      yourself with an external pack or heavy load. As the name suggests,
      it's also good for carrying a "little nip" of something that's a bit
      stronger than water or sports drink.

      Winter Use:

      Cascade designs claims their reservoirs can be either frozen or
      boiled without damage to the plastic. They can definitely be frozen,
      and finding yourself with a block of ice in your pack during the
      winter is no fun (although it can be amusing for fellow hikers). The
      plastic on the bottles is thin and offers no insulation from the
      elements. As soon as the mercury hits the freezing point, your water
      is in jeopardy. "Hoser" ™ users are in an even worse predicament, as
      their drinking tubes and bite valves are totally exposed on the
      outside of their packs.

      Cascade Designs does make an optional bite valve cover, drinking
      tube insulator, and hydration insulators for 1.8, 2, and 3 liter
      reservoirs. When combined together, these help to prevent your
      system from freezing in cold temperatures.

      While these insulating systems may be good for sub-freezing
      temperatures, I would keep a watchful eye on the effect of sub-20°F
      temperatures on your Platypus. In extreme conditions, I would forego
      the Platypus system altogether and instead go with a standard
      Nalgene bottle. I would then cut sections of a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
      closed celled foam sleeping pad and, using duct tape, secure them
      around your water bottle.

      I would, however, still have my "Little Nipper" ™ packed in the
      chest pocket of my parka, for "medicinal purposes" only.

      Platypus Accessories:

      The "Hoser" ™ kit - bite valve, drinking tube, specialized closure
      cap, and lapel clip - are available as a "Hoser" ™ conversion kit
      for those with existing compatible Platypus reservoirs that were
      bought without the "Hoser" ™ option.

      Platy Patches - for those worried about a puncture on the trail, a
      small, lightweight, patch kit of six individual self-adhesive
      patches is available. As they are virtually weightless, tossing one
      into your 1st-aid kit can't hurt. This said, I have hiked over a
      thousand miles with my Platypus bags and have yet to suffer a leak.

      Shower Kit - This is very similar to the "Hoser" ™ concept except
      that the flow out the hose is constant. Using the plastic crimper
      that's attached to the hose, you can turn the shower on or off. The
      end of the hose has an attachment that breaks the water coming out
      into a wide spray.

      Filter Link - As mentioned in the text above, Cascade Designs makes
      a special cap that allows for attaching a water filter outlet hose
      directly to your reservoir. This allows you to pump without having
      to struggle with keeping the output hose of your filter inside the
      Platypus reservoir.

      Push-Pull Cap - This is a simple push-off, pull-on, cap, similar to
      those found on dish washing liquid dispensers. Pull, squeeze, and
      drink. I only wish that the "Little Nipper" ™ came standard with
      this cap as it's much better suited for "nipping", especially when
      wearing a thick pair of gloves.

      Cleaning your Platypus Reservoir: The one piece of information
      that's not included, either in the packaging of Platypus reservoirs
      or on the manufacturer's web page, is tips on how to clean your
      Platypus bag.

      Whether it's "colored" water from an old pump, creek water laced
      with tannins, or you've simply waited too long before cleaning your
      Platy after a trip, there are times when your system will just look
      and smell terrible. The instructions below outline my personal
      system used to keep my reservoir clean and fresh.

      To clean your Platypus reservoirs, I recommend the following:

      1) Get a clean plastic container that can hold at a few liters of
      water. An empty gallon of milk is what I like to use.

      2) For each liter of water your Platypus holds, pour in 1 teaspoon
      of household bleach into the container.

      3) Fill the container halfway with water, close, and shake

      4) Pour the mix into your Platypus, adding water as needed until
      your Platy is full.

      5) Close the reservoir and let it sit for 30-minutes.

      6) If you have a "Hoser" ™ system, drain the Platy through the
      drinking tube and bite valve. Otherwise, just pour the water out.

      7) Flush the Platy and "Hoser" ™, if applicable, with clean water a
      few times.

      8) Next, fill the Platypus half way with plain, clean, very warm
      water (not hot). For every 1-liter of reservoir capacity, place one
      Efferdent pill into the bag (non-"Big Zip" ™ users will have to
      break the pills up). Efferdent is an anti-bacterial denture cleanser
      that has a "minty" taste to it. It's inexpensive, at a cost of about
      $6 per 120 tablets. If you can't get Efferdent, any tablet-based
      denture cleaning system will work. The tablets will start to fizz
      and dissolve, turning the water to a bluish color. The solution will
      move its way into the corners of the reservoir, loosening dirt and
      debris that may be trapped there. Once the tablets are fully
      dissolved, close the reservoir and shake vigorously for about a
      minute. Fill the remainder of the bag with warm water and let it sit
      for an hour. If your bag is really dirty, you can even let it sit

      9) Pour out half the contents, close, and once again give the bag a
      good shaking.

      10) Empty the remaining portion of the Efferdent solution from the
      Platypus. If you have a "Hoser" ™ system, drain this water through
      the drinking tube and bite valve.

      11) Rinse out the Platypus a few times, including the drinking tube
      if applicable, with clean water.

      12) Depending on your model, drying the Platypus reservoir can be a
      bit tricky. Simply leaving it on the kitchen counter can take a week
      or more for all the water to evaporate. If you have a "Big Zip" ™,
      drying is easy. Simply place a small paper towel through the "Zip"
      opening, into the bag, and either navigate it with your hand, or
      shake the bag about until the moisture has been absorbed by the
      towel inside. If you own a non-"Big Zip" ™ model, roll up a paper
      towel and insert it entirely into the reservoir, then shake
      vigorously until all the water droplets have been forced into the
      towel. Getting the paper towel back out of the bag can be a little
      tricky, and those with "sausage fingers" should be careful not to
      get the Platypus stuck to the to the tip of their finger.

      Note that, after performing this procedure, the first reservoir of
      water might taste a little "minty". Not to worry - grandma never
      died from it, and neither will you.

      Personal Biographical Information: Reviewer: Andrew Mytys
      Email: amytys (at) backpacker (dot) com
      Homepage: Andy's Lightweight Backpacking Site
      Location: Michigan

      Backpacking Background:

      I live in Michigan and have been hiking seriously for 15 years,
      although I've camped since I was 6 years old. My hiking experience
      is limited to the continental United States and Europe. I spend
      about 2-months per year on the trail. 2-4 day outings are reserved
      for my home state of Michigan, where I'm a year-round hiker
      (including winter/snow camping). I also enjoy hiking in nearby
      states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well as treks into
      Ontario, Canada (Bruce Peninsula, Algonquin Provincial Park). I
      reserve my 4-7 day trips for November through March when the weather
      is perfect for tackling environments such as the Grand Canyon.
      Longer trips are usually in the summer where I'll most likely be
      somewhere along the Pacific Crest or on the Continental Divide. As
      longer periods of time become available, I take in extended hikes in
      more remote areas of the world where just getting from home to the
      trailhead can take 2-3 days.

      I consider myself a lightweight hiker. I carry the lightest gear I
      can get my hands on which will provide a comfortable wilderness
      experience and adequately support the goals of my trip. Unless my
      goals are time/distance oriented, my pace is always slow. I rarely
      exceed 1.5 miles/hour. I rest frequently, hike long days, and enjoy
      whatever nature throws my way.
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