Tuesday, September 21, 2004

CamelBak and Wet Faces.

I honestly feel bad for every Hydration Pack manufacturer in the world--everyone except CamelBak, that is. In truth, it isn't even the packs. I think CamelBak makes fine packs, but certainly no better (and many times worse) than the competition. I have used many Hydration Packs in my day, and most of them I've liked better than CamelBak. No, the real advantage CamelBak has is in their bite valve--the tiny rubber piece at the end of the reservoir tube that controls the flow.

It's so simple. It's rubber. It has a tiny slit in it. Yet somehow, they managed to come up with the idea first and patent it. Henceforth and forever, every other manufacturer will have to come up with their own 2nd-rate design. And, folks like me that can't stand other manufacturer's valves, will shell out about $10 for a tiny CamelBak valve. Ten dollars! That's about half the cost of an entirely new reservoir (with bite valve, I might add).

Despite all this, CamelBak just smugly sits back and doesn't license their bite valve.

I was recently reminded of this fact again while reviewing/testing a pack/reservoir made by another manufacturer. At first glance, I thought the valve looked promising (the pack is well-constructed and quite nice). As I rode my bike that chilly morning around 6:30, I actually got water squirted in my face by that same valve. That's right, you read correctly. Wet face, cold morning. Besides a somewhat more chilly face at that point, I was left to this thought the rest of the ride: "I wish this bite valve was a CamelBak bite valve."

(Look for my review of this particular pack on GearReview.com in upcoming months.)

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