CamelBak Flow Meter

Think of it like a fuel gauge for human-powered sports. The CamelBak Flow Meter, available in October, could be a savior for athletes who can’t tell if their hydration bladder is running on empty. The USB flash-drive-sized digital computer integrates with any CamelBak bladder to tell you how much water you’ve sucked down, how much is left and, miraculously, gives you an idea of how much time is left until you need a refill.

CamelBak Flow Meter Hose.jpg

CamelBak Flow Meter in place on the line

While the company calls it “intelligent hydration,” I’m left wondering whether people are too consumed with technology to figure out how much water they have left in the reservoir. That being said, I could see it useful on backpacking trips when your reservoir is jammed into your bag and water is harder to find.

CamelBak Flow Meter.jpg

CamelBak Flow Meter device off the hose

In addition to fuel-gauge-like properties, you can enter your stats and the Flow Meter will help determine your optimum drinking rate as well as estimate when you’ll be empty. The accessory, which should fit other hydration bladders that have the same tube diameter, retails for $30. CamelBak is also selling fully integrated reservoirs for more than $50.

—Ryan Dionne

Posted by Tim - 08/11/2009 07:44 AM

The backpacking application is exactly right. I would love to have this for my trips. If I’m drinking properly I go through 150oz water a day on a trip while trekking. It’s good to know when we’re getting low so we know when we cross a stream that this is a needed pit-stop.

Posted by Bryon Powell - 08/11/2009 12:15 PM

Ryan, This technology would seem like a bit much in many settings. On place it might be nice would be in a long trail running race on a hot day. It’s a royal bummer to take your final couple sips when you’re still 45 minutes from the next aid station. Can put a real crimp in not only hydration, but fueling, too, if one is relying on gels or the like. If one knew they only had 20 oz left with 3 miles to the next aid station, they could meter that out so as to be able to keep eat and drinking throughout the leg.

Posted by Ryan Dionne - 08/11/2009 12:28 PM

That’s another good use Bryon. It’s never fun to think you have water only to find out you don’t!

Posted by Chris - 08/11/2009 12:30 PM

I agree. Might seem silly, but if it saves me 3 minutes of taking the backpack off to examine the water reserves 10 times on a 200 mile ride, I’m for it.

Posted by Shane - 08/13/2009 08:05 AM

I could see this being useful for Adventure Racers too. In AR, we always keep moving, and taking a few minutes to stop and check your hydration bladder levels isn’t an option.

That being said, I’ve long since learned how much my body needs, how fast I’m sipping, based on my exertion and external temperature levels – so I’m not sure I’d find this terribly useful. But, hey – I’m a gear whore. I bet I’ll have one for Christmas!

Like Bryon says – in endurance sports, it’s critical to know how much hydration you’ve taken i and how much you have left, so you can plan your refueling.

Posted by Darryn - 08/13/2009 08:40 AM

I can maybe see this being useful for intense race scenarios, where you’re already fast enough to be in contention to win or place. But other than that, it’s not worth adding another battery to a landfill somewhere.

Posted by Joe - 08/13/2009 10:36 AM

Awesome for ultrarunners! I wonder if the device will work with non-CamelBak bladders? Persumably, as long as it fits the tube? I have been wanting one of thse for a LONG time, theorized about it years ago, but never did anything about it. Always hoped CB would do something. Speaking of which, I really wish CB would develop more runner-oriented packs. They make nice gear, but I’ve always felt it was a bit oriented toward the cyclist. I know they make some running packs, but Nathan really does make a nicer pack, though CB makes the best bladders by far.

Posted by jpea - 08/13/2009 11:41 AM

“though CB makes the best bladders by far.”
I kinda think Hydrapak makes the best basic hydration bladder in a lot of ways. You can turn them inside out after washing and the sliding closure really is slick: bottom of the article here … Not totally related to this review of the flow meter though…

Posted by Joseph - 08/13/2009 05:20 PM

Rim Runner holds 3 Liters, you should know when YOU need water. I love to know how far/fast via Garmin, yet I know when I have gone far enough in hot tempetures. I will never let a machine tell me its ok I will still have water for you after seven more miles.

Posted by cobame - 08/16/2009 03:51 PM

This IS a joke, right?

Posted by TC - 08/25/2009 12:21 PM

Damnit! I came up with this flow meter idea while backpacking in the Winds last week and using a hydration system in my pack for the first time. I’ll purchase one for sure!

Posted by RC - 10/13/2009 07:19 PM

Great idea, planning to get one. Over the summer I rode one of our regular trails. It was 15 degrees hotter that day and used nearly 100oz (normally 50-60oz). It would have been nice to know I was close to empty.

Posted by Kris Rowlands - 03/20/2010 09:03 AM

I wont use any other bladder! I am a mountain trekker and that usely involves me wild camping high up on the mountain., so to know exactly how much water is left in my bladder whilst im walking can be a life saver, I will be defanetley buying this flow meter, Ive used CB bladders ever sinse i realised how TUFF and PERFECT they are, If you have a CB hydration system then you know how fantastic they are compared to all the other systems on the market, I cant believe how TUFF they actually are, have you seen the CB bladder video of the jeep driving over the bladder slowly? any other bladder would of surely burst im sure, and as far as left over bad tastes go that may linger in other bladders but not in the CB bladders, You have to agree that CAMELBAK really have got it 100% right when it comes to HYDRATION SYSTEMS there really is no comparison, CAMELBAK stand alone at the top of their game.., I hope that they intend to make a slightly bigger bladder in the near future perhaps a 5 litre bladder, and perhaps they could also brighten the sleeves up abit say like brighter colours instead of the usual bluey green types. CB=EXCELLENCE.

Posted by Chris Lyday - 04/25/2010 10:53 AM

I purchased this product and installed it on the tube as directed. Didn’t seem to be very accurate during use, so I tested it by measuring 3 litres into the bladder and letting it all flow out. The flow meter only registered 2.3L. Don’t know where the otherwise reputable Camelbak went wrong with this waste of time and money product.

Posted by Boris Doerr - 05/23/2010 03:59 PM

just bought this guy and was excited to test it. I drank 1.0l and the flowmeter registered only 0.5l. This sucks especially when you are out there and trust it. If the thing shows you you still have 1.5l while only 1l is left this can be critical. Don’t buy!!

Posted by Dan Fox - 06/01/2010 06:51 PM

I can second that you shouldn’t buy this. I played with it for a LONG time hoping it would work, but the only way I could get reasonable results was to take a few huge, chugging drinks. Anything less and it registered less than half of what I drank. And huge chugs of water might not work for me in the middle of a race.

Posted by chris - 09/17/2010 08:48 PM

So, every time I fill my bladder up at an aid station would I need to reprogram the Flow Meter? Seems like a hassle if that’s the case?

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