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  1. #1
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    Hydration while riding

    This has been one of those things that I have put to the side for probably way too long. Up until recently, I have dealt with it by simply not taking longer rides and only riding when it is cooler out. But this past summer it pretty much precluded riding any time during the day, and when the humidity was up and night too.

    I am thinking that it might just be worth my while to splurge and buy one of those Camelbak LR10 hydration packs with a 3L bladder inside.

    I am wondering what others use and how much of a hinderance they are to wear. Also if someone has a weak lower back, will it likely aggravate it?

  2. #2
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    I've been doing a lot of reading on this and it seems the general theme out there now is to anticipate water loss before the ride and 'pre-hydrate' (though not excessively) .

    You can go crazy sorting out different methods but the basic idea is weigh yourself (in kg is easiest) before and after your ride. You'll need a pretty accurate scale. 1 Liter water = 1 Kilogram.

    So, if you weigh 80kg before the ride and 78kg after, you may not have adequately replaced your water/sweat loss. Plus a lot of your 'body water' will have mobilized to your muscles during strenuous exercise and away from internal organs which can cause (I think in my case anyway) some digestive issues.

    I've just started trying this out on some routine rides between 1.5 and 3 hours each (at similar air temps 50-65F) and found that I am consistently not getting enough water during the ride. I started pre-hydrating which has its pros and cons.

    Pro:
    I feel a lot stronger than usual about halfway through the ride.
    My recovery on a strenuous ride (multiple climbs/laps) is substantially better.
    Less post-ride appetite for just about anything edible in the house
    I feel much better the next day

    Con:
    Chugging 1000mL before a ride
    Feel a little 'boggy' in the first 20 minutes or so
    Have to stop for a piss at least twice.

    FYI - I carry a USWE pack with a 3 Liter bladder all year round fill it up as much I think I will need per ride. I hate waist belts so the USWE works great for me.

    I used to hate carrying a pack but crashed hard a couple years ago and was very thankful to the rider who was carrying a pack with a first aid kit! Now I'm never without it!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadkill401 View Post
    This has been one of those things that I have put to the side for probably way too long. Up until recently, I have dealt with it by simply not taking longer rides and only riding when it is cooler out. But this past summer it pretty much precluded riding any time during the day, and when the humidity was up and night too.

    I am thinking that it might just be worth my while to splurge and buy one of those Camelbak LR10 hydration packs with a 3L bladder inside.

    I am wondering what others use and how much of a hinderance they are to wear. Also if someone has a weak lower back, will it likely aggravate it?
    I have the Camelback you are looking at and wear it every ride. I never have the bladder full, but do carry a spare tube, pump and a small tool kit in it all the time. Having the weight low is a win, IMHO.

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  4. #4
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    If you ride much at all, you should have some type of hydration system, either a Camelbak (or similar) or bottles. I prefer a Camelbak. The trails I ride are twisty so the Camelbak allows me to drink while riding without having to worry about reaching for a bottle. And, as mentioned, it also provides a way to carry a tube, pump, snack, multitool, etc. Some riders don't like the backpacks and go with bottles. I've ridden with a Camelbak for years so it feels completely normal, though I don't recall it being much of an adjustment when I first started with it. I do use bottles on my road bikes as on the road, it's easy to fetch a bottle while in motion.

    Pre-hydrating is a good idea but I wouldn't try to drink enough that you don't need to drink while riding. And ideally you have good hydration habits anyway (a lot of people don't).
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadkill401 View Post
    I am wondering what others use and how much of a hinderance they are to wear.
    I use a Camelbak Mule (three liter) on everything but the short local rides. On a serious ride, I'll supplement that with a water bottle or two. Besides being able to stay properly hydrated maintain your fitness, you'll have a place to put your tools, tubes, and gear.

  6. #6
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    Ιf you have a bad back and are not used to carrying your water on a hydration pack, 2-3lts can be enough to aggravate the pain. Longer rides >3hrs are more likely to make that extra weight noticable. Hardtails even more, as you already getting enough vibration through your feet.

    Disclaimer: I'm 12 years short of being 50, but riding a ht with 2.5lt of water for 5hrs can make my back complain.

    Editing to add: On pre-hydration, no matter how much water I drink before (and during) the ride, I'm always at least a kilo lighter after. I don't think it means I'm not drinking enough. When I know I'm doing a long ride, I start prehydrating the day before. I don't reach bloating levels though, just make sure I drink water often during the day.

    Our mountains often have springs and most people tend to plan their rides so that there's at least one chance to refill. In summer a 4hr ride means 4lts of water for some.

  7. #7
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    With the current weight loss regime, I seem to be pre-hydrating myself pretty much every day it seems. Drinking 3L of water every day I am sure will help, but it can be fun on a road trip with bathroom breaks every hour.

    I am hoping that with getting some extra exercise from doing longer single track rides I can shift some of the spare tire from around the waistline and that will help alleviate the back problems. I am sure that they are getting aggravated by the weight.

    I was thinking of the Camelbak LR as it is supposed to sit lower on the back so the weight is around the hip level and not forcing the lower back to compress. Will be on the lookout on Amazon to see when the price finally dips enough on one of those packs. It seems that they right now only want to give a good price on the Solice version (womens), but looking up the history the mens ones do occasionally have a bit of a break.

    Thanks for all the help and info everyone gave. It's great that riders here help each other out.

  8. #8
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    Will be 49 this year. Just about a year out of having a heart attack. Ride in the midwest - Ohio and Michigan mostly, so I (sadly) liove in humid weather alot during riding season.

    I always pre-hydrate long before the ride...at least 4-6 hours. If I start a ride with water in my stomach, it usually all comes back up. I tend to mostly ride in the mid morning...8-11am, so I usually hydrate before i go to sleep.

    I have had an Osprey Raptor 14 for 3 years now, and I love it. It is a 3 liter bladder, and has enough storage for a day trip if I want. My usual ride length is 3-4 hours, but that is also with stops and starts for rest, retrying techy elements of trails that I fail at, some sight seeing, and sometimes talking to others or helping others out.

    Luckily I don't have back problems (yet?), so it has never bothered me, and i keep, my tools, patch kit (I still ride with tubes...dinosaur), some snacks, phone, and a small first aid kit on most rides. In the summer, I usually fill up the bottom third of the bladder with ice cubes so that the water stay cold, and they slowly melt on t he trip. The only days I feel worried about water intake are days when I am purposefully pushing myself - usually working on climbing. Those rides usually cut themselves short because of muscle fatigue before dehydration though

    I love the Osprey. I had Camelbacks for 20 years previous to it, but it is more comfortable and rugged than the Camelbacks ever were...especially the bladder. I have had MANY falls where I land directly on the bag, and many of the C-back bladders would burst. So far so good with the Osprey
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  9. #9
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    I'm 65 and ride in Utah, high, hot and dry, so hydration is critical. I have found that the most significant issue, for me, is that if I'm going to go on a hard ride, I can't start the day with my typical 2 or 3 cups of real coffee because that prevents me from effectively pre-hydrating. If I drink 50% decaf, it makes all the difference in the world.
    I have a 3L pack and a 2L lumbar, both of which work fine for me. Bottles are out of the question for me. The rides are too technical to ride one handed and I'm not going to stop to drink.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    I'm 65 and ride in Utah, high, hot and dry, so hydration is critical. I have found that the most significant issue, for me, is that if I'm going to go on a hard ride, I can't start the day with my typical 2 or 3 cups of real coffee because that prevents me from effectively pre-hydrating. If I drink 50% decaf, it makes all the difference in the world.
    I have a 3L pack and a 2L lumbar, both of which work fine for me. Bottles are out of the question for me. The rides are too technical to ride one handed and I'm not going to stop to drink.
    I forgot to mention the caffeine thing. I don't drink any soda the day before I ride, if I know I am going to ride, for the same reason. If I do a "spur of the moment" ride, and have had caffeine, I can always tell a difference in how I feel.

    I never use a bottle...don't even have bottle cages on any of my bikes. Even on leisure rides on the paved trails with my fiance, I have my pack on. I think anymore that it is a security thing now.
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  11. #11
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    Personal preference, but I hate back packs and have done well with 2 bottles 90% of the time.

    I rode many years ago with a Camelback and dumped it after awhile...between the hassle of needing to nuke it free of contaminants, and how it bothered my back, I'd had enough of it. I can certainly see the utility of them on long rides into the wilds.

    As for hydration choices, water is the only thing needed for rides under an hour. Beyond that, some kind of electrolyte drink is needed.
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  12. #12
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    I keep my Camelbak bladder in my beer fridge in the basement with my bikes and have never had a problem with mold, etc and never wash it. Also never, ever anything but water in it. I was thinking last year about throwing on a bottle holder so I could carry some electrolyte drink on rides and may do that this year, depending on the heat.
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  13. #13
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    I keep my Camelback bladder in the fridge most of the time and don't have an issue with grunge. If I'm planning a longer ride in the summer I'll actually fill it most of the way and put it in the freezer the night before. Just make sure the connector at the bottom is up and water is away from it when you freeze it or you won't be able to get the tube connected. You can run the lid under warm water if you want to add more water before the ride. That cold drink an hour or two in is nice.

    I try to keep most of the weight of tools and tube, etc on the bike to reduce weight on my back. (insert someone's comment about the Awesome Strap). Plus I have had a couple of tools rust inside the camelback because they got wet from sweat or condensation.

    I really don't like drinking out of a bottle.

  14. #14
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    Camelback's a great way to stay hydrated.

    I make sure to put nothing but water in mine. Never gets sticky or gross.

    If you want to drink a sports drink on a ride that's fine just pack it in a separate bottle

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    I gave in and purchased the Camelbak Skyline LR 10 Racing Red/Pitch Blue from Amazon $75.43. Figured that I was just as likley for the price to go up as it was for it to go down, but if it did go down it would likely be only a dollar or two.

    Will see how it fits and everything on Monday I guess. Thanks again for all the help.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadkill401 View Post
    I gave in and purchased the Camelbak Skyline LR 10 Racing Red/Pitch Blue from Amazon $75.43. Figured that I was just as likley for the price to go up as it was for it to go down, but if it did go down it would likely be only a dollar or two.

    Will see how it fits and everything on Monday I guess. Thanks again for all the help.
    Let us know how you like it.
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  17. #17
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    I would recommend starting out by not filling it all the way, half at most. Slowly add water on your rides until you find where it is too uncomfortable then plan around that. I have some rides, though rare, where I need to fill mine completely and I don't like it. But I then have to chose whether to be uncomfortable at the start...or skip the ride entirely.

    Most rides I can get by on a couple of bottles and planning water stops ahead of time.

  18. #18
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    Camelback or other pack is a great way for me to overheat, or stay warm on a really cold ride, I personally would be very uncomfortable with one on a warm day. I still have one of the first ones, with the really narrow straps. I think I used it once and both my forearms and hands went numb, -the newer models are much better!

    Probably the biggest takeaway I got from Carmichaels book 'time crunched cyclist' was where he says it is critical to drink a 24oz carb/energy drink within the 90 minutes prior to your race, I always do that and it really seems to help me. There's nothing special about racing where that principle only works with racing, -maybe try that prior to your next ride? Also, minimizing alcohol starting 2 days prior to your ride, and minimizing caffeine prior to the ride are both good.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by chazpat View Post
    I keep my Camelbak bladder in my beer fridge in the basement with my bikes and have never had a problem with mold, etc and never wash it. Also never, ever anything but water in it. I was thinking last year about throwing on a bottle holder so I could carry some electrolyte drink on rides and may do that this year, depending on the heat.
    Ditto. Keep mine in the freezer and never wash it. I usually put in an electrolyte/carb mix at half strength. Very effective.

  20. #20
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    I guess everyone is different. I can drink a liter, sometimes two if I'm thirsty, before a ride. No problems with stomach issues. If I couldn't pre-hydrate like that I can imagine I'd need to carry quite a bit of water.

    I can actually make about 2 hours of hard riding without drinking water before I become uncomfortable. I'm sure I'm a little dehydrated at that point, but as long as the ride is over I don't mind. It also beats wizzing in the woods two or three times while sweating like crazy from the effort and getting attacked by bugs. And don't get me started on the poison plants.

    I do wear a hydration pack, and I have for decades. For one thing it holds my self rescue/repair stuff. On hot days I shove a water bottle in it. Typically I just leave it in there, but I can stop if needed. The bladder, and its first replacement are long gone. I really mostly like to have the water in case of a breakdown that drastically extends my woods time. In recent years I almost always give it away to a kid who wasn't properly hydrated at the start of a ride

    As far as the weighing thing. It really doesn't work for me. If you weigh before you pre-hydrate it only works if you were properly hydrated to begin with. Your body should loose some weight from properly hydrated when you have a big sweaty effort. If you weigh after you pre-hydrate then of course you are going to loose a kg. Isn't that what the extra water is for? Trying to drink enough to keep even weight has me over hydrating on the ride. Adding multiple additional bathroom stops while sweating while I'm not feeling thirsty tells me I'm overdoing it.

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    "and minimizing caffeine prior to the ride..." I've some recent studies that show caffeine before a ride is a good thing.

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    "Also, minimizing alcohol starting 2 days prior to your ride, and minimizing caffeine prior to the ride are both good. "

    I'd never get out and ride! Ha!

    My hydration in the summers:
    Ride 1.25 hours or less on home trails (5 min from door): water bottle with water, chain breaker/power link, allen set in pocket
    Ride 1-4 hours anywhere: Osprey 14, 2-3 litres of water (never anything else in it), tools and emergency stuff, probably a bottle of some electrolyte/sugar mix (for sure pushing 3+ hours)

  23. #23
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    Just turned 50 this year. Live in the flatlands of the Midwest so deal with humidity a lot in the summer. Most rides are 1-2 hours long. Generally use a Camelback on all my rides, if not entirely for hydration purposes.

    Used to carry a frame mount tire pump but had a couple get buggered up during rides so now I carry one in my 3L Camelback. Also typically carry gels, snacks and flashlights in my pack too.

    Started noticing last year how the backpack style hydro packs were making my neck and upper back sore on the longer rides. Bought a Camelback Palos waist hydro pack to relieve stress on my upper back. Works okay for shorter rides although I canít fit my pump inside or on it. I do carry CO2 inflator in it so guess Iím somewhat covered for flats.

    I used to carry 2 bottles on my hardtail but the pack was so much easier to drink from on the move. And since my FS bike has no room for bottles inside the front triangle anyway Iíve been all hydro pack for a couple years.

    I rarely prehydrate and never seem to drink all my water during a ride. This thread is making me think I need to focus a lot more on hydration in general. Never full on bonked during a ride but as I get older I worry more about the consequences.




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  24. #24
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    58 here...most rides are 1.5 to 2hrs and I push myself so I get a good pump going and sweat a lot. I usually load up ahead of time before a ride and I don't need much during ride. I'm in New England and in cooler months I usually don't even bring water. In summer I bring a water bottle but never drink much of it in a ride. Some of the guys I ride with go through much more water than I do. If I did longer rides or lived in a more arid climate I'm thinking camelback would be best for me. I have always worn a small pack that holds tools/tube/pump/etc.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by sturge View Post
    58 here...most rides are 1.5 to 2hrs and I push myself so I get a good pump going and sweat a lot. I usually load up ahead of time before a ride and I don't need much during ride. I'm in New England and in cooler months I usually don't even bring water. In summer I bring a water bottle but never drink much of it in a ride. Some of the guys I ride with go through much more water than I do. If I did longer rides or lived in a more arid climate I'm thinking camelback would be best for me. I have always worn a small pack that holds tools/tube/pump/etc.
    Never thought about temperature ranges...I tend to not need to drink as much when riding between 30F and 60F...I probably drink more when it is under 30, and definitely over 70.
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    There was a thread here a while back on water vs electrolytes. I think drinking only water on long sweaty rides is a mistake. There was a vigorous debate with lots of points raised. I can't find the thread--might not have been in the over 50 forum section where I was looking.

    I've never used bladder/valve, though I do have a hydration pack. On long rides, I fill it with bottles of water/electrolyte. Every so often, I stop, take a little rest, enjoy the view, and refill my regular frame-mount water bottle from one of the bottles in my pack.

    On a normal ride, it's just the bottle, plus electrolyte capsules, and I refill along the way--this requires a plan, obviously. But commuting with a pack during the week makes me really not want to wear a backpack if I'm out for a recreational ride on the weekend.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadkill401 View Post
    I am thinking that it might just be worth my while to splurge and buy one of those Camelbak LR10 hydration packs with a 3L bladder inside.
    This is an interesting conversation, but somewhat pointless unless people start posting their miles, elevation gain, elapsed time, and water consumed. Physical condition on the following day should also be a consideration. The type of trail is also a factor, but hard to numerically quantify.

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    I have bottles and a pack. My frame holds one bottle, and I normally carry another in a jersey pocket, although I am exploring an SKS mount to mount another bottle carrier on the top tube. My pack is a Platypus Tokul XC 8.0 which holds 3 liters. Like most things in mtn biking, the answer to a pack is: "it depends". In my case, I ride 3 times a week on the local trails, as I have to drive or ride a very long way to get to the other areas. The local trail has a lot to ride on, and it's only 2 miles from the house. A typical during the week ride is 15-20 miles, for which I set aside 2-to 2 and a half hours max. For those rides, two 750 ml bottles are enough. It also depends (see what I mean about: "it depends")? on what time of year it is. Now in the spring, the weather is cool in the late afternoon, early evening, and I have to force myself to drink, and I ride without electrolytes, as I don't sweat all that much this time of year.

    In the summer, I ride with electrolytes: Nunn, Skratch or Vitalyte in both bottles., because even at night it is warm and humid. On long rides in the summer, I ride with the pack, another bottle in the frame, and perhaps another bottle in the jersey, if I head down to the Negev, and will be far from a water source.

    As far as the pack goes, I have mixed feelings about it. Sometimes, it's great to have, not only for water, but to be able to stuff in something to eat, and carry all of my stuff in one place. On the other hand, it does sweat up the back and can shift position. Still and all, I'm glad I have it.

    I got a killer deal on the pack on Amazon, when a seller was blowing out Platypus Tokul XC 8.0 packs for $34.95. If you want to buy a pack, there's a lot of offers on ebay for used packs for small change, and then buy a new bladder, hose, and mouthpiece to see if you like it. Not a bad way to go.

    Hydration is an important part of this sport. On a group ride last summer, one of our riders got heat stroke at night because of the humidity, and it was no more than 80 degrees out. We had to stop and wait for some time until he got hydrated enough to ride slowly back to the trailhead and back home.

  29. #29
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    This is a good abstract of a study about rehydration/dehydration for those that don't mind reading science studies.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8504845

    When I was coaching athletes (runners, cyclists, triathletes) the biggest progress was gained individually by practicing drinking fluids, even on short workouts, not worrying to much about the concentrations of sugar or salts (other than too sugary or salty is not beneficial).

    Of course this only matters if you're worried about performance over a 30 minute ride, or recovering for the next ride.

  30. #30
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    I have ridden with a backpack, High Sierra and now Camelback for years. I am 51 and have no problems with it at all either climbing, descending, switchbacks and any thing else. I have ridden with bottles also but find backpack hydration way easier to stay hydrated during rides.

  31. #31
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    I'm 100% hyrdopak'. Started on MTBs in NZ near 30 yr ago, too many rides ended up with cow or sheep dung on the bottle.
    Now I'm in Africa and mild autumn temp is over 90*f', often do 2-3+ hour trundles
    The weight has never been an issue, its only 2-3 kgs and gets lighter as you slurp away.
    Its just easier to drink, and I'm likely to carry some form of pack/ bag anyway.
    Just use the bottle cage to hold a storage canister, so no saddle bag

  32. #32
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    I avoid a pack whenever possible. Since I mostly ride in the mountains where there are water sources I carry Potable Aqua tablets in case I need to refill my bottles. This method has worked for backpackers for decades.

    I do own a pack that I can use when necessary though. I'd just rather not.

  33. #33
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    For short rides (1-2hours/ 2000ft climbing) I can get by with pre-hydrating well and a 20oz bottle on the bike. In the summer and greater than 2 hours with moderate exertion Iíll take my Osprey pack with 2-3L. For the long all day rides Iíll put some type of mix into the 20oz bottle along with 3L of water in the pack.
    It can get pretty hot in the summers were I live and the avg elevation i ride at is 7000ft.
    Iíd rather carry a little extra


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  34. #34
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    For long rides, Camelback Mule. For the every day, 1 to 1 1/2 hour rides, Evoc waist pack.

    https://www.evocusa.com/collections/...e-3l-w-bladder

  35. #35
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    I use a 3L MSR bladder in my frame pack top compartment. I normally drink several cups of coffee and a beer or two before riding in the summer, maybe carry another for break time. Never have a problem at all. Maybe it's the altitude, ~8000'.
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    I always ride with my camelbak chaos ( they donít make that model anymore). It is 70 oz (2 liters) is my preferred size to ride with out here in the Las Vegas desert and I rarely fill up the bladder 100%. The pack is not bulky and big enough to carry my air pump, gun, phone, wallet, jeep keys, snack, towel and still have some spare room. A 3 liter camelbak IMO is getting to the ďbackpackĒ size and that is where the size approaches being bulky and a hinderance for just a regular everyday ride (less than two hours on the trail).

    I even have 1 liter camelbaks that can only hold a wallet and keys for the short ride days. Point is I always ride with water and no bulk or weight issues ever become an issue and I am 50 years old.

    Out here in the desert it is ďhydrate or dieĒ.

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