Here is a quick camelbak survival hack that I think you will like, and it’s something that I’ve used to cross many waterways of all different types. I first figured this tactic out when swimming across rivers while fishing. I’d see a good fishing spot and want to get across to get to the best spots but also wanted to be safe. So I came up with this method to help me, since it’s an item I always seem to carry on me.
The Camelbak is a water bladder I’ve been using ever since being issued my first one back in the army in the early 2000’s. When I first entered the army they were still using plastic canteens, but when we deployed right after 9/11, they improved gear for combat greatly. We were taught to hydrate as much as we could in the military to prevent ourselves from becoming a heat casualty. Which is a real threat with the kind of intense outdoor activities the army does on a daily basis. You had to drink water, or you wouldn’t make it through the day.
Canteens just weren’t practical all the time and couldn’t carry nearly as much water. Not to mention they were much noisier when running than a camelbak. You could carry much more water in a stealthier and more convenient manner. So it was no brainer that we would use these over the old plastic army issue canteens.
STEPS TO TURNING BLADDER INTO PFD:
- Empty water from bladder. Close cap tightly
- Blow as much air in the bladder as you can via the drinking tube.
- Throw it in the water and check how well it holds your buoyancy.
- Look for bubbles coming from cap and make sure it’s tight.
- Get to swimming!
This Camelbak survival hack has got me across some pretty big bodies of water and is extremely efficient floatation device. The larger the bladder, the more capacity it has for keeping you or equipment afloat. The average bladder is 2.5-3.0 liters in capacity and that is plenty to keep a large man afloat. The larger dromedary bags that some people carry are even better, though they don’t strap on you back like a camelbak.
The backpack style versions will allow you to attach them to your back, stomach, or even wear them like a diaper for upright floating. There are many options for wearing these depending on the type of swim stroke you are doing.This survival hack has got me across numerous bodies of water, including the pictured lake above. Its a legit technique to use and works almost as well as a life vest. Some other improvised techniques include tying your pant legs off into knots, filling the legs with air and using that as a floatation device. Though I don’t think it is a great method, it might be all you have. If you’re down to having to use that tactic, its probably because you ended up in the water abruptly. Basically anything that can contain air and not leak will work.
Why would you need this Survival Hack?
- Crossing large bodies of water with safety. A float will allow even the best swimmers the safety to take a break and catch their breath.
- Crossing quicker moving rivers to get to other side.
- Setting limb lines in deeper water or checking fish traps.
- Retrieving a jug line.
- When exiting an area, you may not have a choice to go around a waterway. Sometimes you have to cross it and get wet. That is why it’s always best to put your gear in compressible dry bags.
- Let your kids use it as floaty in case they don’t have a PFD.
List of Best Hydration Bladders & Dry Bags
- Sea to Summit, Dry bags- These are best dry bags for hikers!
- Dromedary Bags- These carry the most water! Very Tough
- Camelbak Hydration Bladders- Most are good, but I prefer MilSpec
- Best Water Filter System for Bladders
Author: Rob Allen (Founder, SIGMA 3 Survival)