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Carrying water


New Member
Jun 2, 2015
Just wondering what everyone uses for carrying water on your trips?

We've been using some old MEC dromedary bags that we were given, but those are about 20 years old now and are finally starting to break down.

Looking to replace them, but all the newer ones seem to leave water tasting terrible with a bad plastic/chemical taste.

Any recommendations of ones to check out?

Jokrain 1,

Prior to about 2000, maybe 1998, MSR bags used a bactericidal agent which produced a really nasty taste, especially if tap water was the fillup. In use on a multiday venture, after a couple refills, it was almost entirely gone. Then MSR traded, at no cost, those nasty bags for ones with a different agent. And I never experienced that problem again. A good rinse with a tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in a quart of water, followed by a couple tbsps vinegar mixed with a quart of water really freshens them up, if you complete the process with a thorough tap water rinse. Your old bags may rejuvenate with this regime.
I think I'm moving in the 'more bags with smaller capacity' after probable 'user error' with a 6L Dromedary recently put some fresh water into the day compartment. :oops: The Dromedary is nice, since it sits easily against the hull and the 4L size slides behind the seat in a couple of my boats (and is clipped to glassed tabs on the bulkhead).

I have a Nalgene 'Cantene' (96oz) (EDIT: as GCW mentioned while I was typing) which works well and has a more reliable-feeling screw-on lid than the soft Dromedary lid. Unfortunately MEC appears to have stopped carrying this item.

I like Platypus for hydration bladders and soft water bottles. I recently bought some 2L 'soft' Platypus bottles at MEC for use on trips, even though they don't have hanging loops like the Cantene and the Dromedary.
John, I traded most of my dromedary caps for these.

They don't leak and they are less susceptible to breakage.
I've had several dromedary lids chip & leak where the small cap fits into the larger cap.

http://www.mec.ca/product/1601-418/nalg ... f=10+50465

And you can use a different color for each size of dromedary.
Thanks, Nootka. I'll add them to my MEC ShoppingCart. (which I can't seem to keep empty for long! :? )

Do you swap in the regular Dromedary lids for in-camp use? The smaller pour opening is convenient around the camp kitchen.
Yes, I generally have one dromedary with the regular cap, which I rotate around as needed,
but I try to keep it on a 4L to minimize loss in case of a leak.

and I like unattended filtration using the MEC hydration kit
I use wine bags for my water carrying needs. You can pick them up for about 2 bucks at home hardware, they are clean, food grade, and have a good seal. I put them into a dollar store laundry net for a bit more abrasion resistance. They are tough even without the laundry net, I am still using the same ones after about 4 years.

They hold about 6 litres each.
Drom... all drom... MSR drom... drom drom... drom...

Durable. Collapsible. Efficient. Sure they cost a couple dollars when you buy them... but they last a LONG time.

They fit nicely in a kayak. Behind a seat. Under your thighs. past your foot pegs. I've carried over 40 litres in my cockpit alone... (I never carry water in my hatches).
I spent a bunch of money on MSR Dromedary bags back in the day. The chemical taste in the water was unbearable. I returned them to MSR and got their "new" ones... same problem. The taste is absolutely unacceptable to me, I don't know how anyone can stand it. Then an expedition paddler showed me what he uses: refillable one gallon mylar bags with a spout like these http://www.survivalsolutions.com/store/mylarwaterpouch.html

They are food safe, so you can put ANY liquid in them... water, wine, mixed drinks, etc. The liner imparts no taste whatsoever. They only cost $3.50 a bag, so you can buy 10 for the price of one MSR dromedary bag. But the amazing thing is that they are extremely durable. I have stored them inside my back hatch (no leaks, ever!), behind my seat in my cockpit, and in front of my feet in the cockpit. The only time I ever had one break is when I left it out uncovered on the beach and some ravens pecked a hole in into it thinking it was potato chips!

I usually buy about 10 bags at a go (to save on postage), and will throw one out if it starts looking a little too worn out after four or five years of use. (Again I've never had one start leaking on me, even after dropping a full one on the rocks.) You can also make a simple outer nylon bag to protect them, but I've never found the need. They are super tough, just as they are. And speaking of the nylon outer bag, the black color of MSR dromedaries just absorbs the sun and heats the water (releasing more chemicals) while the mylar coating on these bags reflects the sun and won't heat your water unless you leave it out all day.

When empty, they collapse down to nothing, so you can bring extra bags as back up. And they weigh next to nothing, so I use them on backpacking trips, too.

Given the pros/cons of the situation, I would NEVER go with MSR!!!
I use the mylar bags as well -- I get them at my local home brewery store for a couple bucks each. They are extremely durable and have been using them for years. I had one occassion where a bag came in contact with a sharp object (a tent pole) and was punctured, leaving my hatch a bit on the wet side. They work great but be mindful of what you pack beside or on them.
Counter to jamonte's experience, after the nasty MSR bags were replaced, we never had issues with taste, provided we treated them with a little baking soda mixed with water, shake thoroughly, rinse, and then a couple tbsps vinegar in a quart of water, again shake thoroughly, and rinse with tap water.

We have very good tap water here, free of any taste. I suspect some part of the taste issues others have with the droms is due to the tap water they put in them.

Talking 15 years of use, some bags, 5 years others. YMMV
We have very good tap water here, free of any taste. I suspect some part of the taste issues others have with the droms is due to the tap water they put in them.

I agree.

I've never had an off taste with droms, filling with good quality small town water from snowmelt.
Yeah, you guys must be right. They put so much chlorine in Kapoose Creek these days, I can hardly stand it! Same with Calvin Creek, Megin River, and a dozen other water sources I've used in the past. It's always the same... if you put crappy "tap" water into a MSR dromedary it just don't taste good no more. :lol:
Reading this thread, you could almost be fooled into thinking different folks can like different things or have different experiences with them.. :popcorn:

That said, I'm glad the mylar bags popped up.. As someone who doesn't get a whole lot of chances to go on longer trips, the thought of buying a bunch of MSR dromedaries to use once or twice a year was hard to swallow :)