Water bottles, canteens, hydration systems
Under Construction

Contents: Backpack reservoir systems (cleaning, avoiding gunk, ...) | Aluminum | Stainless Steel | Plastic | Manufacturers | BPA issue

There has recently been a lot of publicity on the safety of hard plastic (Lexan™/polycarbonate - #7), which can leach the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA), when heated.
Most of the companies have switched to BPA free plastics like Tritan™.
The safest material is probably stainless steel, but they are heavier and use more energy in production.
See BPA studies below.

Weight - 25 oz (3/4 Liter) bottle/reservoir without water:

Mfg Material weight cost
Sigg Aluminum 4.1 oz $21
Nalgene CoPolyester 5.0 oz $10
CamelBak CoPolyester 6.0 oz $10
Kleen Kanteen stainless
7.4 oz$19
Polyurethane 2.7 oz * $20

Note: The bottles with bite/sip valves shown above are a little more expensive than the old style open mouth bottles.
25 fl oz of water weighs 26 oz (1.6 lb.), so a stainless canteen will add (6% - 2 oz) to your water weight over a plastic water bottle.
* Weight for CamelBak bladder is based on a 2 liter (70 oz.) reservoir/bladder which weighs 7.25 oz without the pack.

Seasoning - How to get rid of plastic taste:

  • Mix quite a bit of pure lemon juice with water (suck it through the tube) and leave over night. Empty, rinse and leave to dry naturally.
  • Put 1 liter orange juice, 1 liter water and some salt in mine, i usually rinse it out after and use baby sterilization fluid in it once in a while
  • Use boiled water with 2 tbsp. bicarbonate of soda, leave it for 24 hrs, rinse thoroughly with cold water.
  • Fill it with cheap cola and let it sit for a while.
  • Fill bottle 2/3 with vinegar (clear) and 1/3 water; cover/close and let set for 24 hours.
    Or, 2 to 3 tbsp. of vinegar plus hot water and let it sit overnight.
  • Place one tsp. of bleach and one tsp. of baking soda in the bottle and let it sit overnight.
Camelbak water reservoir/bladder, how to make it palatable? at BikeRadar forum
How to Treat Water Bottles to Kill Plastic Taste | eHow
Different Ways to Remove Plastic Taste and Odor From Sports Bottles | eHow
Cleaning Your Water Bottles | REI.com

Avoiding fungus, mold, algae, and bacterial slim:

  • Don't leave it in your gear bag for 3 days in the back of your car in 90° + weather. It will get real nasty fast.
  • Put it in the freezer or refrig.
  • Rinse the water reservoir and tube(s) out with hot (not boiling!) water, and then run about 1/2-cup of hydrogen peroxide through them. Rinse again with clean cool water. Let it dry out.
  • Put a little mouthwash (containing alcohol) in it and put it in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Use bleach or something like it to fill the bladder and slosh it around for a little while (5-10 minutes should be okay).
  • Avoid any liquid with sugar which encourages bacteria growth.
Nalgene makes an antimicrobial bladder treated with Aquaguard (It also has zero residual taste and an easier to close fill cap).
The new Camelbak reservoirs are treated with HydroGuard Anti-Microbal Technology.

Instructions at Camelbak.com

  1. Fill reservoir with warm water and mild soap.
  2. CLean with Reservoir Brush and Delivery Tube Brush. ($9)
  3. Re-fill reservoir with 1 L of water.
  4. Add 1 Cleaning Tablet (6 for $5).
  5. Shake Reservoir until tablet is dissolved.
  6. Let stand 5 minutes.
  7. Remove water from reservoir.
  8. Rinse reservoir thoroughly.
  9. Re-fill for drinking or dry completely before storage.
Comments from forums:
  • 1/2 cap of bleach. Fill 3/4 way with water, work out the air bubbles. run bleach mix through mouthpart for 4 oz or so. Wait 1/2 day. Rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse.
  • For minor infestations, A soaking with one of the harsher types of mouthwash is often sufficient.
  • Walmart has a cheap bladder cleaner in their camping section.
  • 2 UNFLAVORED denture tabs with hot water will work.
  • Lemon juice will kill mold.
  • I heard running vodka through it cleans well.
  • The mold in your camelbak will not hurt you, but the bacteria from the mouth, that travels into the bitepiece...will hurt you.
  • I've done many.....many tests on bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and other oxidizers...and Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) was the best by far. Even 1% conc. killed all of the bacteria tested, while bleach only did damage beyond 10-20%. Be sure to rinse well because you can't taste h2o2 if some is left.
  • Vinegar (Acetic acid) will work for routine maintenance.
What is the best way to clean a hydration pack, such as a camelbak? at askVille.amazon.com
Cleaning Fungus/Mold in Camelbak at BikeForums.net

Water Bottles:
Some plastics leach molecules of the plasticizer when heated or exposed to harsh chemicles.
According to Ask Umbra:
Avoid: #3 & 7
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) - #3
polycarbonate (Lexan™)(#7, which may say 'other') Camelbak, Nalgene* - Leaches the bisphenol A† (BPA).

OK: #1, 2, 4 & 5
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE) #1
High density polyethylene (HDPE) #2
Low density polyethylene (LDPE) #4
Polypropylene (PP) #5.
Most disposable water bottles (e.g. - Evian, Dasani, Aquafina, etc.) are made of PET.

* Nalgene and Camelbak now make BPA free bottles
† BPA only leaches out when it gets very hot, so don't wash these bottles in the dishwasher.

BPA test kits can be used to test bottles which are not labeled

Don't use hot liquids or strong chemicles (e.g. bleach) in plastic bottles; don't reuse milk or juice bottles, since you won't be able to get them clean and the microbes will grow.

Smart Plastics Guide from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) Health Observatory

Aluminum is a bad thing to ingest. There were studies linking aluminum to Alzheimer's, but as of 2008 a clear link to low levels of aluminum has not been proven.
The aluminum in water bottles is coated with something similar to that in aluminum pop cans.
According to SIGG, "The proprietary SIGG bottle lining is a water-based, non-toxic coating that is baked into the interior walls and remains flexible and crack resistant for the life of the bottle."
It is FDA approved and independently tested to be taste and scent inert - and resistant to any leaching.
Dents cannot crack or chip the highly elastic internal lining and the Sigg bottle remains perfectly usable. See mySIGG.com
You should not boil water in your sigg bottle, because it can damange the outer coating.
Sigg bottles will split open if frozen with liquid inside. Q:

Stainless Steel:
Stainless steel is an iron-containing alloy made from: iron ore, chromium, silicon, nickel, carbon, nitrogen, and manganese. Kleen Kanteens are made from sanitary grade 304 stainless steel which has a low nickel content.
Stainless will not react to acidic beverages.
One thing to note about stainless is you don't know where it's made and what kind of QA/QC (Quality assurance / quality control) occurs because they are made in China. You could be getting a nice dollop of Manganese or Lead as well.
Klean Kanteen says they do regular lab testing on random shipments through a local lab in the U.S. to ensure our products are made per our specifications, are free of hazardous substances such as lead, and do not leach chromium, manganese, etc.

- One should not freeze water in plastic bottles because it releases carcinogenic dioxin. This had been attributed to Johns Hopkins University.   There are no dioxins in plastics. In addition, freezing actually works against the release of chemicals.

BPA Studies:
Bisphenol A, also called BPA, is found in polycarbonate plastic, including some water bottles and baby bottles, and in epoxy resins, which are used to line metal products including canned foods.

In a 2007 assessment, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) established a Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI)(3) for bisphenol A of 50 micrograms/kg bodyweight/day and concluded that people are exposed to bisphenol A at levels well below the TDI.

In April 2008 U.S. government scientists at the National Toxicology Program (NTP) expressed "some" concern about bisphenol A's possible effects on the mammary gland, prostate gland, and accelerated female puberty.

In the summer of 2008 Nalgene and others changed from using polycarbonate (Lexan™/) to CoPolyester (Tritan™).

In July 2008 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has released an update that confirms the validity of their recent assessment of bisphenol A and reaffirms the safety of consumer products such as baby bottles, water bottles and food containers made from polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.
An EFSA panel reviewed bisphenol A research mostly done on rodents and concluded that bisphenol A passes through the human body much faster than in rodents, with little chance for harm to human fetuses or newborns.

In an August 2008 draft report the FDA concluded people are safe at typical BPA exposure levels from food and drink

A final NTP report is expected later.

See: Bisphenol-A | Polycarbonate Bottles Are Safe To Re-Use - July 2008 Study
FDA Issues Draft Report on Bisphenol A: "Adequate Margin of Safety" in Typical Exposure

Sigg (Alunimum) - Sigg in the news.
Klean Kanteen (Stainless Steel)
Thermos (Stainless Steel)
Hydration Systems with bladders:

Water bottles: plastic, glass, stainless steel, or ...? at Fluther.com
CamelBak Reservoir Dryer
Camelbak water reservoir, how to make it palatable? at BikeRadar
Ways to Clean and Deodorize Your Hydration Bladder or Camelbak
Hazards of Hydration at the Sierra Club
Expert Advice: How To Choose A Hydration Pack from REI
Plastic Containers at The Green Guide
Hydration under Health
Review of Polarpak MOFLOW and Hydrapak Reversible Reservoir II at TheGearJunkie.com

last updated 15 Aug 2008