19241Re: Revised PLATYPUS OWNERS REVIEW, another 500 words
- Nov 2, 2002OK. I found the warranty and cleaning instructions for Platys from
CD. Boy, do they hide that stuff well in the packaging.
Anyway, I included it in the review, did some additional
proofreading of my own, reworded some stuff, added some stuff, and
now I've got a honkin' 27k review on a plastic bag :)
p.s. I'm also available to extend the length of term papers by 500%
if desired (haha)
Cascade Designs Platypus product line 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
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, as they're commonly referred to, 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. Platypus bags may be frozen, or boiled buy
inserting a filled reservoir into an uncovered pot and keeping it
covered with water that's cooking.
All Playpus reservoirs come with a lifetime warranty. It doesn't
cover abuse but, if your Platy should fail during normal use,
Cascade Designs will replace it free of charge.
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,
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 hike in Utah, the route 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 making final adjustments to the gear in my pack. When
I opened the pack to put some additional film in my camera bag,
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's top lid, forced
the "Big Zip" closure to twist, open slightly, 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.
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 standard reservoir
costs about $1 less than a similarly sized "Big Zip" , with the
difference in the 3 liter models being about $3. While capacity
between the two Platys designs 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.
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, or in a pocket on the
outside, of your pack. The area where the drinking tube is attached
to the Platy should be pointing 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 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 coming close to dislocating your shoulder while
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 than you initially planned. With dehydration also
come headaches, moodiness, and a miserable hike in general. 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 for not being well
Many hikers, when taking the first sip out of their "Hoser" , cough
up the water just as fast as it went down. This is due to the 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. Instead, the "Hoser" will come 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.
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. Also, I
might be inclined to take along a 1-liter standard reservoir (non-
"Big Zip" ) with me. Remember, Platys can be boiled. With this in
mind, you could pour hot water into the bag and bring it into the
sleeping bag with you for added warmth. Should you suddenly find
that your winter sleeping bag isn't keeping your warm enough, a
Platy could be the difference between a comfortable night's sleep
and an agonizing battle hypothermia. Just be careful not to make the
water too hot, as you want to avoid burning yourself. As for
placement, I find the most effective area to place the hot Platy is
right next to the femoral artery (i.e. "Crotch it"). It sounds
silly, but winter is hardly the season to be concerned with looks or
style. Staying warm will, at the very least, ensure a pleasant
backcountry experience in the premier season for hiking (just ask
someone's who's experienced it). It can also be a lifesaver.
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
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:
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.
Hidden on the inside flap of the packaging are Cascade Designs
instructions for cleaning your Platy. Cascade Designs recommends
using hot, soapy, water and rinsing with hot water. For a more
thorough cleaning, they outline the following procedure:
1) Pour 1/4 cup baking soda and 3/4 cup water into reservoir and
2) Add 1/3 cup lemon juice to the mix, shake, and vent by loosening
cap away from the face.
3) Repeat shaking, loosen cap, and let stand.
4) Rinse with hot water.
5) Repeat as necessary.
6) To dry, blow inside to inflate and set upright.
I have found what, in my personal opinion, is a better system as it
disinfects rather than just removing the "skunk" from a well-
traveled reservoir. The instructions below outline my personal
system used to keep my reservoir clean and fresh.
To clean your Platypus reservoir, 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
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
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) "Hoser" owners should pull the bite valve off the end of the
hose and visually inspect the inside. If it appears black or
otherwise unclean, you can soak the bite valve itself in a weak
bleach solution for 30-minutes (i.e. one drop of bleach in a glass,
that is then filled with water). You can also use a Q-Tip to try to
loosen up and remove any sort of grime. As the rubber on the bite
valve is porous, you may not be able to rid yourself of the
discoloration entirely. After a bleach treatment, however, this
discoloration is nothing but cosmetic. Disciplined, post hike,
cleaning of your system will avoid this from occurring to begin
13) 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". Platys can, after all, absorb
flavors. Not to worry - grandma never died from it, and neither will
you. It will go away soon and is surely preferred to drinking from a
skunky, trail worn, reservoir.
Personal Biographical Information: Reviewer: Andrew Mytys
Email: amytys (at) backpacker (dot) com
Homepage: Andy's Lightweight Backpacking Site
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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