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Re: Owner Review - CD Platypus product line

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  • redbike64
    I remember thinking what the heck could I say about a water bag? and now here s a couple thousand words. Quite the review, Andy! --Rick ...
    Message 1 of 22 , Nov 1, 2002
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      I remember thinking "what the heck could I say about a water bag?"
      and now here's a couple thousand words.

      Quite the review, Andy!

      --Rick

      --- In BackpackGearTest@y..., "Andy Mytys" <amytys@f...> wrote:
      > 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:
      >
      <<megasnip>>
    • Andy Mytys
      Thanks, I had the same what can I say attitude about the Term-A-Rests. Comfy and lightweight... you can t have both... pick one. If you want comfy, get a
      Message 2 of 22 , Nov 1, 2002
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        Thanks,

        I had the same "what can I say" attitude about the Term-A-Rests.
        Comfy and lightweight... you can't have both... pick one. If you
        want comfy, get a TRest. End of story!!! Then I saw all the TRest
        owner reports popping up, and figured I'd be better off putting my
        efforts towards the Platy, esp since I had that "Efferdent" trick up
        my sleeve :).

        Now I just need someone to read through the mess and give me the OK
        to upload.

        --- In BackpackGearTest@y..., "redbike64" <richard.dreher@j...> wrote:
        > I remember thinking "what the heck could I say about a water bag?"
        > and now here's a couple thousand words.
        >
        > Quite the review, Andy!
        >
      • Shane Steinkamp
        No, I can t, and I appreciate the help. ;) Shane
        Message 3 of 22 , Nov 1, 2002
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          No, I can't, and I appreciate the help. ;)

          Shane

          > Hey... Shane can't cover all the bases :)

          > > Sometimes, Andy, I really worry about you... ;o)
          > > Jerry

          > > From: Andy Mytys [mailto:amytys@f...]
          > >
          > > The Zabrowka is cool because it has a blade of grass
          > > that a buffalo pissed on stuffed inside, and the color
          > > has turned yellowish as a result.
        • Helen Hillberg
          Ah, but you can have both, at least for three season use. The Big Agnes air mattress at 1 lb 4 oz. is nine ounces lighter than the full-length UltraLite
          Message 4 of 22 , Nov 1, 2002
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            Ah, but you can have both, at least for three season use. The Big Agnes air mattress at 1 lb 4 oz. is nine ounces lighter than the full-length UltraLite Therma-a-Rest and there is just no comparison with comfort, the BA has it all over the UltraLite. The standard Therm-a-Rest is almost as comfortable as the air mattress but weighs a whopping 2lb 11 oz.

            Helen

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Andy Mytys
            Sent: Friday, November 01, 2002 10:09 AM
            To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [BackpackGearTest] Re: Owner Review - CD Platypus product line


            Thanks,

            I had the same "what can I say" attitude about the Term-A-Rests.
            Comfy and lightweight... you can't have both... pick one.


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • dawnhark
            Nicely done, Andy, and thanks for the Efferdent tip, I love it! Dawn
            Message 5 of 22 , Nov 1, 2002
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              Nicely done, Andy, and thanks for the Efferdent tip, I love it!

              Dawn
            • Andy Mytys
              ... Last I checked, the full length was 1lb, 6.7oz (weighed on a digi postal scale at home). The 3/4 is 1lb, 1,2oz. ... I ve got no complaints with the
              Message 6 of 22 , Nov 1, 2002
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                --- In BackpackGearTest@y..., "Helen Hillberg" <hhloth@m...> wrote:
                > Ah, but you can have both, at least for three season use. The Big
                > Agnes air mattress at 1 lb 4 oz. is nine ounces lighter than the
                > full-length UltraLite Therma-a-Rest

                Last I checked, the full length was 1lb, 6.7oz (weighed on a digi
                postal scale at home). The 3/4 is 1lb, 1,2oz.

                > and there is just no comparison with comfort

                I've got no complaints with the Therm-A-Rest... I would *love* to try
                the BA to see what's better about it. Might just be a personal
                preference too. I'm used to sleeping on a firm Sterns and Foster at
                home... the Therm-A-Rest UL gives similar support, but I don't have
                the "roll around" space of my "California King" bed.
              • Andy Mytys
                It s actually my wife s idea. She s a florist and it s what they use to clean the nooks and crannies of vases... safe on crystal too. One day I came home with
                Message 7 of 22 , Nov 1, 2002
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                  It's actually my wife's idea. She's a florist and it's what they use
                  to clean the nooks and crannies of vases... safe on crystal too.

                  One day I came home with some brown deposits on the bottom of my
                  Platy after taking water from a CG pump. Couldn't get it out for the
                  life of me. The wife rolled up her sleeves, pushed me aside, and
                  took me to school :)

                  Basically, anything "clever" you see me post is probably her doing.

                  --- In BackpackGearTest@y..., "dawnhark" <dawnhark@y...> wrote:
                  > Nicely done, Andy, and thanks for the Efferdent tip, I love it!
                  >
                  > Dawn
                • hhloth@msn.com
                  Interesting, I took the weight from the Cascade Designs website since I only have a three-quarter standard and three-quarter Guidelite. UltraLite was listed
                  Message 8 of 22 , Nov 1, 2002
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                    Interesting, I took the weight from the Cascade Designs website since I only have a three-quarter standard and three-quarter Guidelite. UltraLite was listed as the lightest of their line at 1 lb 13 oz. for the full length.

                    Helen

                    ----- Original Message -----
                    Wrom: UZXUWLSZLK
                    Sent: Friday, November 01, 2002 12:51 PM
                    To: BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: [BackpackGearTest] Re: Owner Review - CD Platypus product line

                    --- In BackpackGearTest@y..., "Helen Hillberg" <hhloth@m...> wrote:
                    > Ah, but you can have both, at least for three season use. The Big
                    > Agnes air mattress at 1 lb 4 oz. is nine ounces lighter than the
                    > full-length UltraLite Therma-a-Rest

                    Last I checked, the full length was 1lb, 6.7oz (weighed on a digi
                    postal scale at home). The 3/4 is 1lb, 1,2oz.


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Andy Mytys
                    I know CD made occassional changes to the materials, but there was nothing wrong with the one that I have in terms of durability, comform, or slippage... I
                    Message 9 of 22 , Nov 1, 2002
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                      I know CD made occassional changes to the materials, but there was
                      nothing wrong with the one that I have in terms of durability,
                      comform, or slippage... I can't see an engineer at CD saying, "let's
                      make it even heavier" based on the UL that I have.

                      It is the standard burgandy/brown color scheme, a few years old.

                      My really old TRest UL is blue/brown, and weighs a couple OZ less.

                      --- In BackpackGearTest@y..., hhloth@m... wrote:
                      > Interesting, I took the weight from the Cascade Designs website
                      since I only have a three-quarter standard and three-quarter
                      Guidelite. UltraLite was listed as the lightest of their line at 1
                      lb 13 oz. for the full length.
                      >
                      > Helen
                      >
                      > ----- Original Message -----
                      > Wrom: UZXUWLSZLK
                      > Sent: Friday, November 01, 2002 12:51 PM
                      > To: BackpackGearTest@y...
                      > Subject: [BackpackGearTest] Re: Owner Review - CD Platypus product
                      line
                      >
                      > --- In BackpackGearTest@y..., "Helen Hillberg" <hhloth@m...> wrote:
                      > > Ah, but you can have both, at least for three season use. The Big
                      > > Agnes air mattress at 1 lb 4 oz. is nine ounces lighter than the
                      > > full-length UltraLite Therma-a-Rest
                      >
                      > Last I checked, the full length was 1lb, 6.7oz (weighed on a digi
                      > postal scale at home). The 3/4 is 1lb, 1,2oz.
                      >
                      >
                      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • (no author)
                      oonbow Gearskin Pack, Field Report Message-ID: User-Agent: eGroups-EW/0.82 MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain;
                      Message 10 of 22 , Nov 1, 2002
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                        Here's my Field Report on the Moonbow Gearskin. Please read and comment.

                        Thank you!

                        Dawn


                        Moonbow Gearskin Pack, Field Report
                        10/27/02


                        Biographical Information

                        Tester: Dawn Harkins, age 47, female, 5 feet 3 inches (160 cm), 187
                        pounds (85 kgs), torso 16.5 inches (42 cm), chest at sternum 40.5
                        inches (103 cm), hips 42.5 inches (108 cm).

                        Email Address: dawnhark "at" yahoo "dot" com
                        Location: Lake Tahoe, Northern California, USA

                        Backpacking Background: I began backpacking in 1973, went infrequently
                        in the eighties and nineties, and now backpack regularly. Almost all
                        of my hiking is done in the High Sierra in areas within a day's drive
                        of Tahoe, though I also frequent the Great Basin High Desert
                        (northwest Nevada) in winter. I've hiked in Oregon, Idaho, Colorado,
                        Montana, Wyoming, British Columbia, and Alaska. I have the good
                        fortune to live in the middle of the mountains while working
                        part-time, so it's easy for me to go camping, day hiking, and
                        backpacking often.


                        Product Information

                        Manufacturer: The Moonbow Company.
                        Date of Manufacture: August 2002
                        Manufacturer Web Site: http://moonbowgear.com/
                        MSRP: $125.00 USD and up (price varies with options and materials chosen)

                        Listed Weight: Around one pound (454 grams). Moonbow gear is
                        custom-made, so no two packs will weigh the same.
                        Weight as Delivered: 20.1 ounces (570 grams)
                        Listed Capacity: 2500 to 6500 cubic inches (41 to 106 liters)

                        The Moonbow Gearskin pack system is an innovative lightweight design
                        that should be seen to be understood and appreciated. Before reading
                        on, I strongly advise you to go to http://moonbowgear.com/, click on
                        the Camping/Hiking link, click on the Custom Packs link, and finally
                        click on the Gearskins link. Here you'll find photos that will do much
                        to de-mystify the Gearskin.


                        Field Information

                        Location: The Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California, at
                        elevations of 5,000 to 10,000 feet (1,500 to 3,000 meters).

                        Description of Location: The terrain in the test area is mountainous,
                        with granite peaks and ridges, alpine meadows, streams, canyons, talus
                        slopes, lakes, and alpine and sub-alpine forests. This is a semi-arid
                        region.

                        Weather Conditions: The weather during this testing period was
                        generally dry and sunny, with temperatures ranging from 22 F (-5 C) to
                        85 F (29 Celsius).

                        Backpacking Style & Experience: I backpack a couple times a month in
                        the Sierra Nevada in a wide range of alpine conditions. Most trips are
                        two to three days long. As far as pack weight goes, I'm slowly
                        upgrading to lightweight and hope to arrive eventually at around 15
                        pounds (6.8 kilograms) for everything except fuel, food, and water.
                        (If I was really serious about it, I could go to ten pounds/4.5
                        kilograms base weight, but I find I'm not happy without a book and my
                        big Therm-A-Rest pad.) My current base weight is around 20 pounds (9
                        kgs).

                        I use tarps or floorless tents for shelter when backpacking, carry an
                        umbrella (for sun) and a poncho, and hike with poles. Jesse, my dog,
                        always comes along. I hike both on and off trail, and I like to avoid
                        my fellow human beings as much as possible. I am an ambler who takes
                        frequent breaks, as opposed to those who like to cover a lot of miles
                        on their hikes. One of my favorite tenets of lightweight backpacking
                        is to try and have every item I carry serve at least two (preferably
                        more) functions.


                        Field Report

                        Having just reviewed my Initial Report, I find I've already commented
                        on many aspects of the Gearskin that would normally belong in this,
                        the Field Report. I'll proceed by expanding on areas where I gained
                        more knowledge through field experience, and by updating where
                        appropriate.

                        One thing I want to make clear up front is that I had never used a
                        frameless pack for backpacking prior to testing the Gearskin, I prefer
                        to carry almost all of my load on my hips, and I succeeded in doing
                        this with ease. This is great lightweight pack.


                        To Pocket, or Not to Pocket:

                        From the Initial Report: "Jonathan McCue of Moonbow had asked if I
                        wanted a pocket on the back, and I said yes, even though it probably
                        wasn't necessary because, in a sense, the whole Gearskin is a pocket
                        or pockets—you can stick maps, snacks, water bottles, etc into the
                        pack at any point along the sides and top simply by unclipping a
                        buckle, stuffing the item in among your gear (or between your gear and
                        the Gearskin), and redoing the buckle… Compression prevents things
                        from falling out."

                        I use the pocket on the back of my Gearskin, which is made of the same
                        silicone-impregnated nylon as the rest of the pack, to hold my 2-liter
                        (68 ounces) water bag (I'm still not a convert to hose-hydration). The
                        pocket wasn't specially designed for this use, so I can't really
                        complain that it doesn't fit my water bag. When the Gearskin
                        compression straps are cinched tight, the pocket has very little
                        volume left. It is gusseted so that the center portion of the pocket
                        does retain volume, but both sides, amounting to at least half of the
                        total pocket, are flattened firmly against the pack body. I think the
                        gussets should be moved out toward the outside edges of the pocket so
                        that more of the pocket volume is useable. Meanwhile, I used it for my
                        water bag anyway, but I only carried about a liter (34 ounces) of
                        water at a time, which did fit into the pocket.

                        Other pockets: I wear glasses, so I Velcroed a case to a shoulder
                        strap for them (I switch between clear and dark–lensed glasses). This
                        worked fine.

                        When I first began using the Gearskin, I too had the
                        fear-of-being-pocketless-ness experienced by at least one other
                        tester, so I added a small pocket to the other shoulder strap, but
                        here's where my individual hiking style makes my needs a bit different
                        from other hikers'. I ended up removing that second pocket, because I
                        take frequent short breaks. How do pockets relate to frequent breaks?
                        On many of these breaks I take my pack off, so my pants pockets are
                        then easily accessible for small items like lip balm, and the Gearskin
                        is easily accessible for larger items. (Moonbow will add as many
                        pockets as you wish, however, if you prefer.)

                        The only concession I've made recently to pocketphilia is that I've
                        attached a long narrow nylon fabric "quiver" to the left side the
                        Gearskin, using the compression straps threaded through the carry loop
                        on the quiver so that it hangs somewhat loosely. It then functions
                        wonderfully as a receptacle for my umbrella and/or one or both of my
                        hiking poles. Ideally, these items would be stored under the side
                        compression straps, but I found I wanted an option where I would be
                        able to switch from poles to umbrella quickly, without having to
                        remove the pack and undo the compression straps.

                        Regarding making the leap from using a lot of pockets for organizing
                        my stuff: I segregate most of my smaller gear into two or three
                        stuff-sacks and zip-lock bags, and my water filter goes into its own
                        sack. I keep my poncho folded into a zip-lock bag (hehe, haven't had
                        to use it for the past six months—now that I've been so bold as to put
                        that into words, it should soon commence to snow like hell). Larger
                        items, like jackets, bags, pads, and shelter, are laid into the
                        Gearskin without additional bagging. I'll address loading the Gearskin
                        in greater detail below.

                        To conclude the Pocket section, no pack, however festooned with
                        weight-adding pockets it may be, offers easier access to each and
                        every item one carries than the Gearskin. Admittedly, it takes a bit
                        of getting used to, but it's a worthwhile shift to make. It helps to
                        devise a system you like for loading your gear, and then use that
                        system every time, so that you know where things are and can simply
                        undo the compression strap nearest the piece of gear you want to access.

                        Upon arriving in camp, I normally pull things out of my pack as I need
                        them and leave the rest of my stuff in the pack. One of the funniest
                        (remember, I'm easily amused) unforeseen results of using the
                        Gearskin was that I soon had all my gear strewn madly about, sitting
                        on rocks and hanging from branches and tossed hither and yon,
                        willy-nilly. I learned to establish a new camp set-up routine that
                        included first pitching any shelter, as usual, and then arranging most
                        items neatly inside the shelter. When I go without shelter, I now put
                        my things in a semi-neat pile at the head of my sleeping area on top
                        of the opened-flat Gearskin.


                        Packing the Gearskin:

                        From the Initial Report: "Instead of an enclosed bag, [the Gearskin]
                        has a flat rectangle of fabric bordered by compression straps (four
                        on each side, plus two on top), plus shoulder, load-lifter, and
                        sternum straps, and a padded hipbelt. There is no frame, nor are there
                        any stays in this pack; weight-transferring stiffness is obtained by
                        tightly compressing the load."

                        I've used the Gearskin on five weekend trips so far and I am amazed at
                        the simplicity and effectiveness of this pack's design. It's a bit
                        difficult to get used to at first: No stuff sack for my sleeping
                        bag?!? Unheard of! And yet, the unstuffed bag, along with your other
                        large or bulky items, functions to keep everything in place within the
                        Gearskin, resulting in a solid, unshifting, steady load with no empty
                        spaces. This is one of the best things about the Gearskin: the pack is
                        always the exact same size and shape as your load! Can't beat that.

                        I try to keep most of my loads to 30 pounds or less. Here's what I
                        brought on an overnighter in August, when the weather was still warm:

                        Total weight was approximately 25 pounds (11.4 kgs) and included my
                        Thermarest Base Camp pad, bag, Hex 2 tent, Thermarest chair, a big
                        trash bag (used in combination with the chair to create a ground
                        sheet), umbrella, nylon pants, fleece jacket, windbreaker, about a
                        liter of water, MSR Miniworks filter, two days of food (about five
                        pounds including dog food), stove and kitchen items, a few first aid
                        and repair items, and a bunch of smaller things like matches, cordage,
                        spare socks, etc.

                        I put all the food into one large zip-lock bag and organized the other
                        small items into small zip-locks inside a silnylon stuff sack. The
                        water filter was in its own mesh bag, as were the kitchen items.

                        To pack the Gearskin, I first spread it out flat on the ground, all
                        buckles unfastened and moved to the far ends of their respective
                        straps. Hip-belt and shoulder-straps were on the ground; the inside
                        surface of the pack was facing skyward.

                        Next, I positioned the tent very loosely over the pack, lengthwise. I
                        folded my pad into thirds and placed that on top of the tent,
                        positioned over the part of the pack that would later be resting
                        against my back. I placed the chair, which includes inflexible support
                        rods, on the pad with the rods oriented vertically and placed at the
                        sides. Next came my sleeping bag, tossed loosely over the rest, also
                        lengthwise.

                        The rest of the gear was placed on top of the bag. I put the food bag
                        at what would soon become the bottom of the load (just over the
                        hip-belt) and lined up the other items horizontally above that, with
                        the lightest things placed toward the top.

                        Finally, I folded the edges of the tent inwards lengthwise and then
                        folded the whole big wad of stuff in half. If I've lost you here, my
                        apologies, and please go to the Moonbow website for clarity
                        (http://moonbowgear.com/).

                        I usually fasten the top two compression straps first, and then the
                        sides. At this point it's all a fairly amorphous mass, and now is a
                        good time to make sure the load is centered over the back of the
                        Gearskin properly. Now all you have to do is tighten all the straps,
                        put it on, and walk. My gear tends to extend about four inches (10 cm)
                        beyond the pack body on each side.

                        Right about now you're remembering a few things you forgot to pack,
                        but don't despair. It's easy as pie to unclip the appropriate strap
                        and put whatever gear you forgot anywhere in the pack. Which is very,
                        very nice.

                        I still have concerns about leaving my gear partially exposed. From
                        the Initial Report: "By design, the Gearskin exposes my tent, tarp,
                        ground sheet, or sleeping bag to damage by tearing or abrasion, unless
                        I take the additional step of using either a pack cover or a nylon
                        pack liner."

                        I've given a lot of thought to this, and I think the answer, for me,
                        will depend on what I'm carrying for shelter on a given trip.

                        If I'm not carrying a tarp to use for a ground sheet, I'm thinking
                        I'll want to use a large, say about 25"x30" (64x76 cm) silnylon bag to
                        enclose my fabric gear in order to protect it from snags. This will,
                        of course, mean that I'll have to pack a bit differently. I haven't
                        tried it yet, but I envision it this way:

                        Lay out tent, pad, and bag as usual (for Gearskin packing), but don't
                        put it on top of the Gearskin yet. Fold lengthwise, then in half, and
                        slip this big wad into the large silnylon bag. Position the filled bag
                        on top of the Gearskin and proceed as usual, placing smaller items
                        such as clothing, mess kit, food bag, and water filter on top of the
                        bag, and then folding the back of the Gearskin up and over everything.
                        Snap and tighten compression straps.

                        Alternatively, you could put everything inside the large bag, but then
                        you would loose one of the very useful features of the Gearskin
                        design, which is easy access to every item.

                        If I am carrying a groundsheet, it can be positioned under tent, bag,
                        and pad and folded inward around same so as to protect that
                        more-essential gear from snags. The only drawback to this method as
                        opposed to using a large bag is that the ground sheet becomes the
                        outermost layer and is susceptible to snags. Where I backpack, summers
                        are usually long and dry, so I wouldn't be too worried about the holes
                        letting in water. I could also easily patch small holes. For winter or
                        rainy-weather camping, I would be unwilling to expose my groundsheet,
                        and thus my sleeping bag, etc, in this way.

                        I think that if I hiked in very wet conditions, I might go with the
                        pack cover instead of these two methods.


                        Fit and Comfort:

                        Generally speaking, the Gearskin is the most comfortable pack I've
                        used. It's not as comfortable as going naked, though, for which I
                        bitterly blame the Moonbow Company. Be that is it may, I'm pretty
                        satisfied. The concern I had about the shoulder straps laying flat
                        still exists to some extent, but not as much as it did initially.

                        I plan to play around more with the way I pack the Gearskin, possibly
                        removing the rigid supports from my chair and stowing them
                        horizontally, and shaping the load a bit so it fits the curve of my
                        back. As it stands now, however, I'm pretty pleased with it. The
                        weight savings alone account for a great deal of added comfort.

                        The buckle on the hip-belt still digs into me towards the end of the
                        day, but I fixed that by positioning a square of foam padding behind
                        it. I plan to attach the foam permanently.

                        I like to vary the tightness of the shoulder straps and load lifters
                        as I'm walking along; the variety seems to help prevent soreness from
                        developing in any one spot.

                        I do wish that, even though this pack is custom-made to my
                        measurements, there was some way to adjust where the shoulder straps
                        attach to the pack body (ie, adjust the torso measurement). The pack
                        was built to my specifications, but I'm no expert, and it can be tough
                        to get an accurate torso measurement. Adjustability of torso length
                        would give me one more way to play with the fit.

                        The best things about this pack are its extremely light weight, its
                        variable capacity, its comfort, and the way it provides easy access to
                        all one's gear.


                        Problems:

                        From the Initial Report: "After the Dardanelles trip [this was the
                        first trip with the Gearskin] I was disappointed, but not particularly
                        surprised, to find that there are two spots (at the back where the
                        bottom of the hip-belt is sewn to the pack) where the fabric is
                        tearing away from the stitching. When I initially examined the
                        Gearskin, I noticed that these areas looked susceptible to too much
                        stress for the way they are constructed (ie, with a line of stitching
                        that extends about a half inch/1.3 cm downward from where the hipbelt
                        is sewn to the body fabric)."

                        This problem could be prevented with a slight change in construction:
                        Don't extend those two lines of stitching beyond the area where the
                        belt is sewn to the body with a long horizontal line of stitching. On
                        my pack, the silnylon is ripped out for the short length of this
                        extension, but the inner reinforcing fabric has held. I think the pack
                        will survive these wounds, but they are unnecessary and preventable,
                        and they probably weaken the pack to some degree.

                        I would also like to see care, loading, and fitting instructions
                        included with the pack.

                        Here's a thought I just had which actually applies to all packs with
                        hipbelts, not just the Gearskin. As stated earlier, I carry all or
                        most of my load on my hips. Because of that, there's a lot of downward
                        pressure, and belts inevitably slip down too low and need to be hiked
                        back up, and often tightened. To help minimize this, I try to wear
                        shorts and pants made of fabric that has some friction, some texture
                        to provide resistance against the fabric of the hip-belt. Wearing
                        smooth or slippery nylon, for instance, just doesn't work for me. I
                        wonder if it would be a good idea to put some dabs of silicone
                        caulking on the inside of one's hip-belt to help it grip better? I
                        might give it a try, and if I do I'll let you know how it worked in
                        the Long-Term Report.

                        Thank you to BackpackGearTest and Moonbow for the opportunity to
                        participate in this test.
                      • John Burnet
                        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
                        Message 11 of 22 , Nov 1, 2002
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                          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.

                          Sorry I couldn't get these done. Packing, as always,
                          took more time than expected and I've spent several
                          un-planned hours vainly trying to find a local source
                          for freeze-dried beef.

                          I'll probably catch up around the middle of next week.

                          Happy Trails,

                          John Burnet
                          gatemansnametag(at)yahoo(dot)com
                          BGT List Monitor


                          All is well
                          As I swing up to the border, bent for hell
                          And the service station man agreed
                          I didn't look too well
                          But the mountains and Maryann
                          Are calling out to me
                          And I got my bed roll on my back
                          And everything that I could pack
                          To see me on my way

                          All is well
                          The foothills are coming into sight
                          Today is just a memory
                          The future is tonight
                          And the red pines will bow their heads
                          The rivers and the watersheds
                          Will carry us along
                          And the mountains and Maryann
                          Will greet me there as only she can do
                          G. Lightfoot

                          __________________________________________________
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                        • Andy Mytys
                          ... 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
                          Message 12 of 22 , Nov 1, 2002
                          • 0 Attachment
                            --- In BackpackGearTest@y..., John Burnet <gatemansnametag@y...>
                            wrote:
                            > 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
                            unnecessary.


                            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
                            kits.

                            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
                            hydrated.

                            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
                            vigorously.

                            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
                            overnight.

                            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.
                          • Andy Mytys
                            OK. 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
                            Message 13 of 22 , Nov 2, 2002
                            • 0 Attachment
                              OK. 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 :)

                              Enjoy!


                              p.s. I'm also available to extend the length of term papers by 500%
                              if desired (haha)

                              -------------------------------------------------

                              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, 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,
                              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 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
                              unnecessary.


                              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
                              kits.

                              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.


                              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, 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
                              hydrated.

                              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.



                              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. 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.



                              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:

                              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
                              shake.

                              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
                              vigorously.

                              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
                              overnight.

                              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) "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
                              with.

                              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
                              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.
                            • JimSabis@aol.com
                              In a message dated 11/1/2002 9:42:38 AM Eastern Standard Time, ... ...and it s considered a luxury item yet! Sheesh!! ; ) Jim s. [Non-text portions of this
                              Message 14 of 22 , Nov 3, 2002
                              • 0 Attachment
                                In a message dated 11/1/2002 9:42:38 AM Eastern Standard Time,
                                amytys@... writes:


                                > BTW - I wasn't kidding about the buffalo piss.
                                >

                                ...and it's considered a luxury item yet!

                                Sheesh!!

                                ; )

                                Jim s.


                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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