Bladder Systems: A CamelBak (Bladder System) can be very useful in any emergency situation. They come in a variety of sizes and allow you to have your hands free while staying hydrated. The bladder systems can require regular cleaning, particularly in hot and humid environments. To prevent mold from developing, you can store most bladders in the freezer. The CamelBak Skeeter Hydration Pack is designed specifically to be stored in the freezer and requires no cleaning. I’ve been storing my CamelBak in the freezer for years and it works great with limited cleaning. Continue reading
The MSR Mini [$72.92 via Amazon] is very simple to use and has a good output-per-pump ratio. More importantly, the water tastes CLEAN and nobody gets sick. Also, it requires no chemical additives but still claims to filter everything but viruses. The chance of contracting a waterborne virus from a U.S. lake or stream (think Polio, Hep-A, SARS, and a few others which you have probably had vaccinations for) is far lower than getting sick from bacteria or parasites. If this still bothers you, you can still boil your clear, clean-tasting water just to be sure.
The maintenance on this filter is very simple. The unit breaks down into 4 major parts, and the wrist pins on the pump assembly are quick-release squeeze-and-push types. You can literally have this thing stripped down and cleaned completely in about 5 minutes, and that includes the sterilization of the filter element. A couple dabs of silicone grease or even chap-stick is all you need to lube it up when you are reassembling the unit.
It’s a great filter that I have used on many hiking trips. It pumps fast and is very handy. At 16 oz. it is not the lightest filter on the market but its design makes it very field maintainable.
The only down side that I could find with the product was that the filter is somewhat delicate. This could pose a threat if you didn’t have available replacements in a survival situation.