If you’re a hiker or backpacker, there might be situations where it’s preferable to carry a water bladder instead of a water bottle. Two of the more popular water bladder options that we’ll be comparing today are Camelbak and Platypus.
Camelbak vs. Platypus: The Platypus hydration bladder is easier to clean, use, and is the more budget-friendly option compared to the Camelbak bladder. It also weighs less than the equivalent Camelback hydration option and is easier to pack. Camelbak gear is more expensive but it’s more durable and won’t need to be replaced as often.
What is the Camelbak Bladder?
The Camelbak reservoir can be bought in bladders ranging from 1.5Land 3L, with insulated versions as well. The company originally only created water storage, and the bladders are designed primarily for use with Camelbak brand packs for hiking, biking, and running.
The design is fairly simple: a large bladder with a screw cap at the top and a valve to attach the hose at the bottom. The hose has a bite valve and water flow seal switch in the event you don’t want to accidentally trigger water flow via the bite valve.
What is the Platypus Bladder?
Platypus bags come in 1L to 3L options and have a bit of a different design. Instead of a screw-top closure system, the Platypus has a large opening that seals like a super-charged sandwich bag made even more secure with the sliding handle that fits securely overtop.
The handle is held to the bladders by an ultra-thin, ultra-strong elasticated cable. The spout has a quick-release mechanism which the hose fits into neatly, and instead of a turn valve, you can stop the flow to the mouthpiece by simply turning the mouthpiece clockwise.
Differences Between Camelbak and Platypus
Ease of Use
Because the Camelbak is meant to fit into a custom bag, it doesn’t have a substantial handle, which means you’ll need to keep it in the pack to affix it to a tree or pole when you’re camping. The sliding handle on the Platypus makes hanging for camp-site use easier and more secure.
Unlike the Platypus, the Camelbak quick-release mechanism isn’t as easy to use. Though both bags have a quick-release mechanism, the Camelbak is widely reported as being the more difficult to use.
Though both have great flow and reliable bite-flow mouthpieces, the Platypus’ mouthpiece seal valve makes it much less likely to accidentally be knocked open when shifting it around.
Speaking of shifting around, if you have a larger Camelbak and you’re not using it in the Camelbak backpack, they tend to fold in on themselves, and don’t have a great ability to maintain structure. The Platypus has a dividing wall down the center that helps it keep its shape.
Another issue with the Camelbak is that when replacing older models, they’re not likely to fit into older packs. That means that every time you upgrade your Camelbak, you’re also being forced to invest in a new backpack made especially for it. CamelBak hydration bladders can also be difficult to get completely dry when storing.
One of the reasons that I prefer Platypus is that they have cheaper options available. When testing both brands, it never felt to me like the additional cost of Camelbak was worth it.
Spending more money on a Camelbak will mean that the gear won’t have to be replaced for a while, but they both have decent durability anyways.
Though both products have similar positive reviews and similar complaints in near-identical numbers in their review sections, one thing that stands out is that many people report that the Camelbak has a distinct plastic taste that doesn’t fade over time.
Is the Camelbak or Platypus the Better Option?
If you look at the facts in the case of Platypus vs Camelbak, there’s one clear winner.
If you’re a camper or hiker, Platypus is the way to go. The larger opening, ability to roll it into the size of an electric toothbrush when not in use, and the number of commercially available water filters that directly attach to the quick-release valve make this a good investment.
Though they’re not necessary, Platypus does offer a line of backpacks with integral bladder storage that’s easily usable between different Platypus bladder models.
What makes it particularly great for avid backpackers are the compatible in-line water filters. If you don’t already have one, Platypus manufactures one specifically for their bags. If you want to shop around, other manufacturers offer filters that attach straight to the pack’s spout.