First, welcome to post #100! Here's to 100 more. Check out the Archive tab in the upper right hand corner to see the previous 99 posts. Thanks for reading. On to the post...
I received my shiny new REI dividend a few weeks ago and it didn't take long for the money to burn a hole in my pocket. I like to use the dividend to purchase things that I've always kind of wanted but never really wanted to spend money on. This time it was a flow meter for my CamelBak.
Full disclosure: I don't have a CamelBak. I use the Platypus reservoir. I switched to it when I got a pack that had the hooks for one. I think I like it better than CamelBak. Maybe I'll discuss why in a later post.
The Flow Meter that I purchased was $29.99 at REI. To install it you have to cut your tube approximately 3-6 inches from the bite valve. It hurts a little but don't worry, it all works out. If your hose is just the right length, or a little too long, you might want to remove a few extra centimeters. The flow meter will add some length. Next, put soapy water on the ends of your tubes and insert the flow meter. Be sure to install the meter in the proper direction. It won't work if you put it in backwards. Also, use soapy water for installation. It works really well for slipping the tubes right on.
You're set! Now you just have to set it up. The flow meter has two options for set-up: basic and advance. The basic operation will simply allow you to set the amount of water you have and will track your consumption. In the advanced menu you can set your weight and age and the meter will tell you how much water you should be drinking. I found that it wasn’t too accurate. Or, I wasn’t drinking enough water. The device wanted me to drink 0.7 liters of water per hour. I don’t carry enough water throughout the day at that rate! The most I’ve EVER drank in one day of hard survey was about five liters. So, use that function at your own risk. You can change the liters/hour rate to something that suits you, as well.
Now that you're set up, I'll tell you what I like and what I don't like about it. First, I'm big on personal data. I like to know my body stats at all times and knowing exactly how much water I have consumed is great. It's easy to add more water during the day and adjust the meter to read accurately. One of the things I don't like about it are the buttons. You have to install the meter close to the bite valve so you can read it but that also means that the meter is bouncing around while you are hiking and the buttons are getting pressed. It's also easy to hit the buttons that make the unit pause and reset. That's a bit irritating. I found that when I set my pack down on the ground the buttons also get pressed. I think the solution is to remove the display unit when setting your pack down for an extended period of time (i.e. site recording). My other complaint is that you can’t blow the water back down the tube. The small impeller in the device won’t allow it. In hot weather I blow my water back inside the bladder so it doesn’t get hot in the tube (pro tip!).
I guess if you are just walking all day and aren't throwing your pack down on the ground or in the back of the truck very often then you won't run the risk of inadvertently hitting buttons. However, if you have to take your pack off and on often then I wouldn't suggest using the flow meter (unless you don’t mind removing the display unit every single time). Also, if you decide to “try” it, there is no going back. You can splice your tube back together and will have to buy another one.
Hope this was helpful.
Be safe, and I'll see you in the field.