Hiking Hydration: Source C-2 Hydration System Review

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With the arrival of summer and the warm weather I though I would do a review on my MEC H2Flo Hydration Pack and Source C-2 Hydration System. I have been using it since Christmas. There are several different brands of these hydration systems on the market. The most well known is the CamelBack, but you have to be wealthy to afford their packs. Here is the M.E.C. H2Flo Hydration Pack that only costs $36.

Although this pack and the numerous other styles and brands that are specially designed to use the hydration packs are nice because they hold the hydration pack in place and have a opening for the hose, I have used my hydration pack with my other packs by running the hose out of the zipper and holding it in place with a jacket in the pack. If you do not want to spend the money on the hydration pack, try this option and experimenting with the hydration pack below will only set you back $13.

First time I used this product I found it awkward. Once I got used to it I wished I had got one sooner. It is easy to drink more often, in smaller quantities and with fewer breaks I cover more distance. The water is tasteless and odourless as advertised. The wide mouth allows you to fill is with ice which keeps the water cold for several hours if you throw a fleece or light jacket in your bag. The use of a Source Tube Insulator is required to keep the hose and mouthpiece from freezing at temperatures less than -5 degrees Celsius. Using the insulator also helps keep the water cool on a hot day and helps avoid the first couple of gulps of warm water that will sit in the tube before you get the cold water from the bladder.

While hydration is important be careful and don't over do it. The June issue of Backpacker had a short article on hyponatremia (water intoxication). It is caused by the body retaining excess water. The electrolyte balance in cells goes out of balance causing cells to expand. It seems that brain cells do not tolerate swelling and this causes dizziness and other complications. If to much water is consumed a coma and death can result. Backpacker recommended the following consumption (in ml/hour) for a 170 lb, 40 year old man in good physical condition. The lower end of the range is for a cool and breezy day, the upper for hot and humid.

Forest walk 250-450 ml/hour
Hilly ramble 350-550 ml/hour
Peak climb 500-600 ml/hour
Desert trek 600-800 ml/hour

Re: Source C-2 Bladder

I picked up one of these bladders to replace a rather scary old Camelbak bladder and was very impressed by a number of things:

Price: unbeatable at $13
Easy filling: Very quick and easy to fill and add ice cubes. I can fill from streams very quickly without removing the bladder from my pack.
Tight cap seal: Very tight seal (the O-ring used to fall out of my Camelbak all the time)
Great material: When you rinse it out, the water just slides off the plastic, it's as if it had been sprayed with PAM.
Taste: It doesn't taste of plastic!!!
Slippage: Due to the rigidity of the design the bladder doesn't slip down in my pack during a trip which is great.

I'm not 100% sold on the bite valve, I still love the simplicity of the Camelbak Big Bite valve but this one works well despite a couple of odd glitches.

Tips:
Once you fill the bladder, turn it upside down and suck out all of the air until it looks like it's vacuum packed. That way you won't get any annoying sloshing sounds.
After use, rinse, drain and throw in the freezer as per the video on this site to kill any bacteria.
I use Ultima in mine (or see Scott's comment on e-caps) and then get my carbs from gels or bars (or even real food), that way there's no sticky mess to deal with.

Use electrolyte replacment

Good review. I am glad you like the pack :)
One tip I have from ultra running is to put a e-cap in your hydration pack. This gives you all the electrolytes you need during long hikes. You can put Gatorade, Powerade, eload etc in the packs also but I find it annoying to clean after.

http://www.sportzfuel.com/hammer_nutrition_e-caps.cfm