Self-made ultralight camelback bag

[Self-made ultralight camelback bag]

This is my DIY ultralight water bag. The bag itself, without the bladder, weighs 20 grams.

Normally I do not need any “hydration systems”. In fact their justifications, like “hydrate or die” or “drink up to 24% more” sound completely idiotic to me. Exception is the endurance winter bike rides with local Espoo cycling club IK-32. Water in the bottles freezes while we ride for 5-6 hours non-stop in sub-zero temperatures – and it’s hard to explain to the unexperienced what you think about your water bottles in such case. Most often it means that you quit the ride, founding yourself in sweat-through clothes within some 40 km towards home. Even when it’s a bit above 0°C, as it is now, drinking water warm is much better than ice-cold.

Other riders carry water bottles in their back pockets, but my jacket has pockets which are not really suitable for it. So I decided to try a camelbak. But models in the store make my digestive tract to work in the wrong direction. Such simple thing as bag for the plastic water bladder is made of tens of various colorful cloth pieces, contains plastic foam padding everywhere, several strips and bindings all over the body, and weighs up to 500g! I’m not much of a weightweenie, but half-kilo for a cloth bag is way over what I call "acceptable". All this plastic foam and nylon base gets completely sweaty during the ride, which means I’d have to carry half kilogram more of own sweat each time, and wash it away at home. And for these rides, grams actually matter: for me, it easily can mean keeping up with the group until the end or dropping out somewhere in the middle.

I realized that I’m not taking any of these fancy ready camelbaks even for free. I bought just the plastic water bladder (it was marked “Platypus”, weighted 120 g.) and sew an ultra-thin nylon cover for it together with two minimally padded shoulder straps. The latter attach directly to the top closing of the bladder. As I said, all my creature weighs 20 grams and does not collect more sweat than the inner lining of the jacket. In fact even much less.

It worked! It takes 2l of fluid and weighs less than 2 x 1l. standard water bottles with holders. I’m using it in the rides now.

See you on the ride!

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