CamelBak Antidote

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I’ve been using Camelbak products for probably close to ten years. One of my earliest memories was a back and forth email exchange with one of their customer service representatives to ask very detailed question about the sizing and features of a particular pack. They didn’t make me go through some convoluted questions forum or make me create a user account just to get some support. Instead, this woman answered my questions quickly (the emails were so fast it was almost like a chat), and with such a positive attitude, it really left a smile on my face.

I don’t go on any hikes without a Camelbak. Since they’ve expanded their product line, I use CamelBak water bottles on my bike riders and there’s a CamelBak bottle on my work desk as I type this. A few months ago, they introduced their newly redesigned bladder called the Antidote. This is an important company milestone because the older model, the Omega, had served users so well for so long. I never thought that the bladder could be improved upon. You just don’t think about how to make something better sometimes; you just accept it as is.

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That’s not to say the Omega didn’t have short comings. It was difficult to completely dry, even with the correct hangers. You never knew when to stop screwing the cap. The tube was not removable, which meant more cleaning issues. Last year, I bought one of Osprey’s new hydration packs. They partnered with Nalgene to create a new bladder. Let me tell you, way better than the Omega. It made the Omega look like a plastic bag. Uninspired. I knew that things could be different and I think Osprey’s release lit a fire under CamelBak.

The Antidote reservoir sports some cool features:

  • Integrated dryer arms
  • Quick link system
  • Internal baffle
  • Redesigned fill port

CamelBak decided to redesign the entire fill port area. Basically, a reservoir consists of the rubber bladder that holds the water and the area around the fill port, including the cap. This area is usually made of hard plastic. The plastic on the Antidote is a hard brittle plastic. To be honest, I prefer the hardened rubber type plastic on the Omega bladder. I feel like if I were to hit the fill port of the Antidote with enough force it would cause the entire area to shatter or chip. However, that’s a minor mark. What’s great about the new fill port is there are arrows indicating where to start your rotation and where it ends. Gone are the days of guessing. Gone are the days of figuring out how tight is tight enough.

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The quick link system is their fancy way of saying removable tube and this is great. It’s a spring loaded lever that you slide which releases the tube. This makes flushing and drying the tube infinitely easier and CamelBak created new types of tubes that you can easily swap in, such as insulated ones for temperature sensitive liquids.   The internal baffle is something that we’ve all been waiting for. By integrating a baffle, it reduces the stack height, which makes it light flatter. It also controls the flow of water and prevents the sloshing that can really be annoying during a bike ride, run, or hike. What took them so long? Finally, the dryer arms plus the optional drying hook means no more damp bags. I’ve left Omega reservoirs hanging for a week and there was still moisture left inside.

So how does it all perform? Well, I took it on a hike a few weeks ago in a Boreas Repack 15. It performed well but to be honest, I didn’t get enough time to really feel a dramatic difference. It feels exactly like using a bladder inside a backpack. What can I say? I think the obvious changes a CamelBak customer would appreciate are the dryer arms, quick link system, and redesigned fill port. It’s hard to really appreciate the baffle initially. I think with enough experience with the new reservoir, I might notice reduced barreling. 

The Antidote is replacing the Omega so soon you won’t have a choice. This is fine and it’s a natural progression. Don’t think of the Antidote as a newer, better model. It is, but what it really is, is the evolution of the Omega. It’s the new Omega and besides the plastic choice around the fill port, I am all for it. They are not cheap, but they also last forever so pick one up!

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