Friday, 1 May 2009
Source Convertube & Aquaguard Eliminator
Is this the most versatile Hydration/Filtration system available?
I recently bought an Aquaguard Eliminator inline filter to use with my Camelbak hydration system for a variety of reasons, not least because most of my packs don't have bottle pockets that are easily accessible on the move. If the truth be told I'm not a fan of in-pack hydration preferring bottles. The main complaint I have with in pack bladders is the difficulty of re-fitting them to a fully packed rucksack after re-filling. I read about the Source Widepac on Summit and Valley and when I checked the Source website I found something that looked as if it would provide the benefits of a hydration pack but with the advantages of a bottle, the Source Convertube.
The Convertube is basically a feed tube with a screw cap and a variety of adapters that allow you to convert various bottles to a feed tube hydration system. The flexible feed tube has an inner semi rigid tube that can be pulled out to fit most bottles. The standard cap fits most PET bottles (Mineral Water/Soft Drinks etc)and the adapters allow you to use Nalgene, Sigg and I think Laken bottles. The adapters are screwed to the bottle and the Convertube then screws to the adapter. The beauty of this set up is that the bottles with adapters attached can be sealed using a standard soft drink bottle cap, either plain or bike bottle style. I also discovered that the Nalgene bottle adapter fits an Ortlieb Bladder.
Feed Tube and Bottle Adapters
Sigg Bottle and Ortlieb Bladder with Nalgene adapter. Inset Soft Drink Cap and Bike Bottle style caps fitted.
My initial concern was that as the system isn't gravity assisted but requires you to actually suck the water up the feed tube it would be too difficult once the added resistance of the Eliminator inline filter was added.
In any case I decided to go ahead and cut the feed tube, as before I cut it half way along it's length and attached the Q/D fittings. There have been some concerns about the barbed section on the Q/D connectors being too small for Source feed tubes, the Widepac feed tube in particular but I had no problems with the Convertube.
I'm pleased to be able to report that even with the filter fitted, drawing water from the bottle isn't a problem.
Another potential problem then came to mind. The Eliminator filter can be used as a gravity feed to decant water into a pot for cooking. This clearly wouldn't work when using the Convertube as the part of the feed tube that extends into the bottle would be above the water level once the bottle was turned upside down. This turned out to be a non issue. There are 3 ways around the problem.
1. Simply squeeze the bottle to force water up the feed tube and through the filter.
2. Syphon the water out of the bottle by keeping the bottle above the level of the filter and sucking water through to start it off.
3. By pushing the pick-up tube back into the feed tube (leave about 2" sticking out to make it easy to withdraw it again) the bottle can be turned upside down without the pick up tube being above the water level.
Method 1 obviously won't work with rigid bottles such as Sigg but methods 2 and 3 work perfectly well.
Squeezing the Bottle to force water through system.
Pick-up tube shortened by pushing it into the feed tube.
That sorts the issue of hydration using bottles, I can carry a few PET bottles in the pockets on my pack and simply swap them over as they're used up. On the Gregory Z55 I run the feed tube in through the L/H port and back out the R/H port, the filter sits inside the pack.
Feed Tube running Left to Right, filter protected inside pack.
Feed from PET Bottle, 3 Spare bottles ready to be swapped over.
I also have 2 collapsible plastic water bottles/bladders, branded as Outdoor Essentials I bought them from Mountain Warehouse. They have a standard PET bottle screw thread and come with a sports bottle style cap but basic PET bottle caps can be used. The Convertube/Eliminator can again be fitted and the bladder placed in the pack like any other bladder. These bladders have a pleated base which means they stand upright when removed from the pack, mine hold 1.5L. Folded up they take up very little space, and can be filled, capped and carried almost anywhere.
I think I'll probably use 1 x 500ml PET bottle and 1 x Plastic bladder, the bladder needn't be filled until required or at least as late in the day as possible.
The whole set-up including Convertube, Eliminator Filter, PET bottle and Bladder weighs in at less than 250g.