View Full Version : Water bladders and Inflateable Pads

11-09-2009, 23:54
I think i read in Yogi's pct handbook that "no one" uses any water bladders or inflatable sleeping pads on the PCT due to cactus spines and numerous other prickly things. Is this true? I had a z-lite for a pad in my hammock this year on the AT and i never enjoyed a nights sleep when i used it on the ground. Has anyone managed to use either item without them being punctured? I imagine that a little care would keep a water bladder from puncturing, while a sleeping pad might be a little more difficult.

11-10-2009, 10:14
Take your bladder. Lots of PCT hikers had bladders this year, and I don't know anyone who had one punctured by a thorny plant. You just have to be careful where you put things on the ground.

As for the sleeping pad, almost every hiker I know (including me) used a foam pad in southern Cal, so take an inflatable at your own risk.

11-10-2009, 11:23
I live where everything either has a spine or a sticker, and I've used the same POE Max Thermo for 4 years now without a leak. Just have to be a little smart about where you throw it down. A tyvek footprint helps too.

11-10-2009, 11:54
Some hikers have been able to manage an inflateable pad on the PCT, with utmost care. Most carry bladders.

11-10-2009, 17:11
I got holes in both a neoair and a big agnes IAC in the desert. After kennedy meadows I had no problems with a replacement neoair.

If I did it again I would definitely use a foam pad for the desert.

11-10-2009, 17:52
I do think people bring a Thermarest or similar for the desert.

Me? I don't trust anything they sell a repair kit for. :sun

11-11-2009, 16:54
Well, maybe Yogi just means nobody in her clique. I used Platypus bladders and am still using the same ones now. I mostly got by with two one-liter platys and a back-up 2.5 liter for those long dry stretches. Additionally I carried one 1-liter drink bottle to make filling up easier and for making drink mixes.

11-11-2009, 17:04
Thanks piper, that's what i was thinking about as far as carrying water goes. Sounds like a good idea. I guess I'll hold off on the inflatable pad until I'm out of the dessert.

Wise Old Owl
11-11-2009, 19:40
I got holes in both a neoair and a big agnes IAC in the desert. After kennedy meadows I had no problems with a replacement neoair.

If I did it again I would definitely use a foam pad for the desert.

Can I ask if there was a ground sheet or were you right on the ground?

11-11-2009, 20:32
I had great luck with my platys. One is at least 6 years old with thousands of miles on it, many in the desert.

I didn't try an inflatable pad though. It would work if you are careful and a bit lucky. I am only one of those on any given day, so it would probably catch up to me eventually!

11-12-2009, 00:43
The nice thing about foam over inflatable is that if you carry the pad on the outside of your pack, you can whip it out to sit or nap on anywhere you want. You don't have to wait for it to inflate or worry about punctures. Since lots of people take long rests during the heat of the day in the desert section of the PCT, this might actually be something you'll really want to be able to do.

11-12-2009, 10:06
I used a Z-Rest for reasons touched above - Durability and associated ability to throw it down on any surface anytime.

I also found that even though I had a full-frame pack (Granite Gear Nimbus), putting the rest inside of the pack (similar to many of the UL frameless packs) greatly stiffened and made more comfortable the subsequent ride.


11-27-2009, 20:12
in both 2008 and 2009 I used a foam pad in the desert and an inflatable from kennedy meadows north. I like the foam pad in the desert because I can use it hap-hazardly in the dirt for my long siestas (noon to four pm breaks to avoid the sun) and can sleep out without any serious concern about punctures. After the sierras I usually set up my tarptent instead of just sleeping out so I have more protection for the inflatable pad and don't have to worry about it. You can totally pull off an inflatable pad on the PCT, you just have to be aware. I even use a thermarest pro-lite ultralight pad without issue. Just make sure you check for any serious puncture hazards before you set up and make sure you have some sort of material between your pad and the ground. And never flop hard on your inflatable, you'll be fine.

As for bladders, I've never been a fan. On my CDT section in 2007 I had a camelback (a leftover from my army days) and realized how much I hated the rubbery taste. In defense of camelback, I've never ever heard of one failing.

I didn't feel like buying platypus bladders for the PCT in 08 so I just ran with gatorade/vitamin water bottles and was happy with it. While many people use platypus bladders with no problems, I've seen too many fail at critical times (and not usually from punctures -- usually they develop leaks at seams or near the cap, for whatever reason) to be comfortable trusting my water in those bladders. Plus, gatorade bottles are only $1.50 at a supermarket and you can replace them often to prevent any kind of infection or contamination. It's also easy to adjust your capacity on the fly.

If you already have a platypus bladder, I'd say it's probably fine to use. But I definitely recommend combining a bladder strategy with a few bottles. They're rigid, so getting water from certain shallow sources is a lot easier (ask any thru-hiker with a platypus about trying to get water from shallow seep springs with a platypus or non-rigid container and you'll understand) and it's always good to have a variety of containers to avoid any single failure killing all your water.

11-28-2009, 19:17
Can I ask if there was a ground sheet or were you right on the ground?

I used a bivy with a tyvek bottom and a 1/8" gossamer gear foam pad for protection. I'm not sure how I popped the neoair, but the big agnes blew into a yucca while I was trying to pack up.

11-29-2009, 01:34
I used some platypus bottles from Mexico to Canada. I used 2 in SoCal and 1 for the rest of the trail. And I did get a leak near Belden,CA on a seam (I suspect it was how it was riding for the last several hundred since it seem to burst where the bottle tended to fold over on itself near the lid).

But I just swapped it out from my bounce box in Belden and will continue to use them in the future. I definitely agree that you should have some other bottlesas you should never rely on just one container for your water supply. I normaly carried 2 other bottles (24 to 32oz size) along with the platy.

I can't comment on inflatible matressses since I haven't used one in years (too heavy and I got sick of patching them). I used a Gossemer Torso Pad (3.5oz wt) and replaced it twice on the trail since it does flatten after awhile and though I was comfortable; though careful campsite selection can make a difference in comfort (ie. don't sleep where everyone else has since the ground will have been compacted to concrete hardness).