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Backpacker Magazine – June 2013

Troubleshoot This: Busted Hydration Bladder

Learn to field-fix a leaky reservoir.

by: Kristin Bjornsen

Busted hydration bladder (Ben Fullerton)
Busted hydration bladder (Ben Fullerton)

Troubleshoot This: Busted Hydration Bladder

Micro punctures Hold a lighter just beneath the hole (but not touching the reservoir). The heat will melt the material together in seconds.
Ruptured seams or small holes Clean the hole/tear with an alcohol prep pad from your first-aid kit, then smear a dab of Gear Aid’s Seam Grip ($7; 1 oz.; over the area. Wait 24 hours after applying the sealant before drinking from the bladder.
Larger holes Cut two circles of duct tape: one slightly larger than the hole, and the other ¾-inch bigger. Place the smaller patch sticky-side-up over the hole to minimize the water’s contact with the adhesive. Then cover it with the larger piece, sticky-side-down.  
Full blowout Line the reservoir with a plastic bag or condom (carry a lube- and spermicide-free one in your medical kit), fill the bag, tie it off at the opening like a water balloon, and secure the reservoir cap. You won’t be able to sip through the hose, but you will be able to carry water. 

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I use the bike tube patch kits like "Scabs" to patch small holes in our bladders. They work great and one has been in use for many years this way. I keep them in the CamelBak pack for just such emergencies.


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