Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cleaning Your Water Reservoir: CamelBak Antidote Cleaning Kit

CamelBak's Antidote Cleaning Kit can also be used on other reservoirs.
If you are backpacking this season, you'll probably want to upgrade or at least clean your water reservoir before your next trip. A lot of mountain bikers would come into my husband's bicycle shop with all sorts of weird things growing in their bladders! Most of the time this is caused by loading the reservoir with sugary electrolyte solutions that are known to grow mold and fungus.  That's so disgusting!  So far I haven't had any such problems. Maybe it's because I've only used pure, filtered water in my reservoirs and make sure to clean and air them out after each use.

CamelBak Antidote Reservoir

One of best upgrades in a hydration system which I reviewed last year was the CamelBak Antidote Reservoir from
CamelBak 100 oz Antidote Reservoir

The features I like are the easy Quick Link detachable tubing and the larger fill port opening. The tubing itself has been treated with anti-microbial properties and will resist bacterial and fungal growth.

What I really like are the dryer arms that prop open the fill port for more thorough drying. These two things alone make the reservoir easy to clean and stay clean.

The tank itself is baffled to help distribute the water's weight. I've taken this reservoir on long hikes and there was no sloshing or shifting within the Antidote. The water also stayed quite cool without much insulation from my backpack, (Mountainsmith's Women's Alder 30) 

Antidote Cleaning Kit open: Reservoir hanger, tube and reservoir brushes, replacement dryer arms. Also has two packets of cleaning tabs.

Antidote Reservoir Cleaning Kit
When I check my gear, I always hope that my cleaning and putting away routine has payed off. Some hikers recommend keeping their water bladders in the freezer to keep things from growing in them. To me that's sort of extreme but even CamelBak says this is fine. Here are some additional reservoir cleaning tips from CamelBak:

The best way to care for your reservoir is to clean and dry it after every use, especially if you fill the reservoir with anything other than water.  However, theoretically, if someone didn’t clean it after every single use, and mold or discoloration happens to develop…
  • Use hot water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda or bleach.  Mix the solution inside your reservoir and hold it up above your head while you pinch the bite valve, allowing the bleached water to run through the tube.  You can also use CamelBak Cleaning Tabs.
  • Let the reservoir and cleaning solution sit for about 30 minutes.
  • Wash the reservoir with hot water and mild soap. Be sure to completely rinse away any bleach or cleaning solution before using again.  You can also use CamelBak brushes from our Cleaning Kit to scrub your reservoir and tube.  Brushes are the best way to ensure you are scrubbing all of the areas of the reservoir clean.
  • Once the reservoir is clean, be sure to air dry the reservoir so no moisture is trapped inside, which can cause mold to grow.
These steps will make your reservoir safe for use.  If you have spots left from the mold, they will never come all the way out because the reservoir is permanently stained, but still safe and usable.

CamelBak Antidote being air dried using the hanger and dryer arms.
If you're like me and are not into "freezer bags" you'll need to scrub out your reservoir before and after use. The larger port of the Antidote allows you to get your hand fully inside to clean and dry it properly. I recommend a weak solution of 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to 50 ozs of warm water to clean the reservoir if you've filled it with water additives or hydration solutions. Using the built in dryer arms on the Antidote, I open the bag up and invert it with the hanger as shown above. The same with the smaller reservoir that came with my Rudy Project DayPack Hydration II (2 liters or 72 oz). It can be accessed using the large brush in the kit. The handle has a little kink that makes it easy to use once inserted.

The 2L  or 72 oz reservoir which came with my Rudy Project Day Pack

This is a very stiff brush and quickly removes any debris from the inside of the bladder. It goes all the way down into the corners. I like to finish by putting a few paper towels inside and allowing it to fully dry. The Antidote has built in "dryer arms" and the cleaning kit provides an extra pair. Extend them out and hang the bag upside down as the hanger clicks into the Quick Link port.

The large brush even fits inside this smaller port. The tube brush reaches through about 75% of the hose.
All in all the CamelBak Antidote Cleaning Kit is perfect for the Antidote and other brands of water reservoirs. The tube brush is genius but I wish that it was only a little bit longer so I could clean the hose completely from one end. I'm not too comfortable about trying to remove the Bite Valve end and inserting the tube brush there but it's really not a big issue. I think the newer anti-microbial materials of the Antidote are a great idea to help prevent bacteria and mold growth but I always like to clean, dry and store my reservoirs after each hike.

This Antidote Cleaning Kit retails for about $19.99 and is available along with the CamelBak Antidote Reservoir at



  1. I think one of the most important things we can do about it, is to keep the reservoir clean. The cleaner we can keep it, the more successful we can be. Clean water is the key.

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