Bicycle and Gear Reviews

Hydration review: Camelbak Blowfish

1 Comment 05 October 2010

The Blowfish is a normal-sized bag for normal people, like my wife.

A lot of people know what a “camelback” is, a lot fewer have actually tried one. They are naturally referring to the hydration equipment manufacturer Camelbak, who at least to my knowledge were the first to popularize the hydration pack with a bladder for the liquid and a proper “straw” for sucking it out. Jogging my memory even more, I think Camelbak started their work with the military and then gave their experience and products to us athletes. Well, let it be there. It sounds cooler this way.

This is what the "straw" or suck tube looks like. You have to bite it to drink.

Simply, a hydration pack is a backpack with a bladder joined with a tube to suck the liquid out. Very simple. There are several manufacturers nowadays and I think most Deuter bags for outdoors use have all the required openings and hooks for adding a hydration pack.

The one we’re looking at today (and I have extensively tested) is the Blowfish 2010 model from Camelbak. It’s specifically designed for cycling (.. they say), but the design is light-weight and not too annoying on your moving parts. Normal backpacks that are designed for walking usually rock around your hips and they make riding more difficult.

Everything has a place and everything in its place.

The Blowfish is not a large bag. It has a capacity of about 13 liters, and carries a 3 liter (100 oz) bladder that allows you to ride for about three hours, taken that a normal cyclist needs about 1 liter of liquids per hour to keep themselves hydrated. The back has a really good and thick padding, even though it’s nearly impossible to make the bag heavy, but it still keeps the air flowing and keeping the sweat away. The other thing that keeps sweat away is the cool 3 liters of water right next to your bag in it’s own compartment. This design is also good for winters when your body temperature keeps the water from freezing.

It's full of pockets! Awesome! A bag for you OCD peeps out there.

What I really like about the back is that even though it’s small, it has many good compartments that are large enough but not too big. The top zipper with audio access gives your phone/mp3 player a solid seating while the two larger pockets can take a lot more. It’s designed to carry a CO2 Pump and Cartridges, Multi-Tool, Spare Tube, Extra Layer, Energy Supplements – and it does, and more.

I usually stock it with extra layers, energy supplements (aka bananas and power bars), iPhone, camera, wallet, keys and other miscellaneous stuff I don’t want to have in my saddle bag. The quality is usual Camelbak, solid stitching and no wear and tear after two months of use. Just remember to dry the bladder after use.

Our verdict: ★★★★½

Excellent purchase for those longer runs and even short day trips. Very good design and quality materials for a low price. I bought it for under 50 euros, you might get it cheaper. Love it.

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- who has written 201 posts on Coming thru!.

Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.

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  • Drying Camelbak or similar style bladders is a pain, but even using it with just water, let alone any sort of energy drink, can mean mould growing inside if you don’t clean and dry it religiously before not using it for some time. A much easier option is once you have finished using it, simply chuck the bladder in your freezer and store it there until next time you need it! No mould and no drying/cleaning hassles. I’ve been doing this for years and it really seems to work.

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Coming Thru (or Coming Through - as that URL was taken) is a daily updated bike magazine - a collection of writings and links that relate to biking in its every form. The idea started from when Maarten met Markus decided to finally start collecting the things we like about bikes and talk about our everyday adventures in dodging moving objects at high speeds.The site is run by a collage of cyclists, most notably by Canadian Johanna MacDonald, Belgian Maarten Patteeuw and Finnish Markus Sandelin.

It all started in the spring of 2010, after a record breaking snowy winter when Markus bought a house 25 kilometers from the office and decided to handle the commuting with a bicycle. It turned out the bike wasn’t up to standards for that kind of stress and the first weeks were more tragicomic than glorious. Thus the idea began to brew to actually document this journey.

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