Dromedary Bags

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  • #11458
    Nancy More

    Hi guys

    This is a preliminary report on some kitchen chemistry that I have been playing with (it’s okay, my university degree was in Chemistry).   While some of this may sound odd, it is based on experience with sensory evaluation of beer.

    We all hate the phenolic (think bandages and hospital disinfectant) flavour that the MSR Dromedary bags add to our water.  I have been thinking about this and decided to finally see what I could do.  MSR says to try baking soda and hot water.   My experiment with that showed it was relatively useless.

    I filled bags up and left them for 24 hours and then tasted the water.  On the 2 bags that I have done so far (one much newer than the other), the flavour developed within 24 hours.

    Bag 1:  Filled it with hot water and baking soda and left it for 24 hours.  Flushed it out, refilled it with tap water, left it for 24 hours and the flavour was still there, maybe slightly reduced.    Then I filled it with hot Earl Grey tea (only black tea I had in the house), left it for 24 hours, emptied, refilled it with tap water, and left it for 24 hours.  It had a slight phenolic taste but I wasn’t sure if I was confusing it with some residual bergamot from the Earl Grey.  Refilled it with hot green tea and left it for 24 hours.  Emptied it and refilled with tap water and left it for 24 hours.  The flavour was gone.   Hallelujah!   I left it for 3 days and tasted it each day.  There may have been a hint of it at 3 days, but not so much it would offend me.  I then emptied the bag and left it to dry completely.  I have now refilled it with tap water and will check it out over time to see if this is a lasting phenomena or if I just have to treat my bags before each trip.

    Bag 2:  I filled with hot green tea and left it for 24 hours.  I then rinsed and refilled with tap water.  The 24 hour taste was clean and I will hold it and continue to taste.

    If anyone is still reading this lengthy post, I have another 2 1/2 weeks before my next camping trip so will continue my little experiment and keep you posted as to if I had found a way of making water from Dromedary bags drinkable.

    Cheers, Nancy

Viewing 12 replies - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
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  • #19901
    Kirsten Hathaway

    Interesting thread. Chantal Ethier last season introduced me to the idea of buying unused wine bags from winemaking businesses. AMAZING!!

    Affordable, efficient, reusable, no aftertaste and they pack down really well after they are depleted.

    Allan Edwin

    Follow-up question — I am presuming you used a “typical” concentration of green tea, something like 2 bags/liter? What would the effective lower limit be? 1 bag/liter?

    Cameron Redenbach

    just wanted to add .02 that i as well have 2-3 original Msr dromedary bags. And a paddling partner and myself experienced the same issues. After a number of days the water tasted and smelled off.
    Couple years back I contacted Msr and of course they denied any other complaints. And really had no solution or advice. And I have never used the bags again

    But what I was told from some people was that it was the chorine or the bromate in the water reacting with the liner. I haven’t gone any further to experiment with using filter water to see if that had a effect on the smell/taste.

    I would assume a reverse osmosis system or a carbon filter cartridge would be required. Previously in the past I had a water company come and test my water and told my fridge water filtration was a joke. Unfortunately for this salesman he tested the single stage carbon system on the fridge and it was perfect. Sales pitch destroyed

    So i have never taken it further to see if using a carbon filter on the tap would resolve this issue. But looking online some of these filters are as low as 13.00 just have to add fittings.

    thank you for posting

    Allan Edwin

    Thank-you for resurrecting this discussion and the follow-up!

    Nancy More

    Okay, just a follow-up to this. For anyone new to this, there has been a perennial problem with chemical off-tastes to water in MSR Dromedary bags.  Read back up this thread to learn what I did.

    My bags also act as part of my emergency kit, so I fill them up and change the water out about every 6 months.   Yesterday, I tasted the 6 month old water in all 4 of them and it was clean with no off-tastes.  So, if you were waiting for me to report back, here it is 4 years later!!


    Hi, I’m also interested in your experiments and will try the green tea idea next time.

    Nancy More

    One more thought about the chlorine.  If using filtered water, you would have to be much more diligent around keeping your bags clean or perhaps boiling the water first (removes the chlorine as well as killing microorganisms).

    Nancy More

    I believe that chlorine is related (it needs to be for my tea theory as it it chlorophenols that we were tasting for.  I thought I might fill a bag with filtered water or bottle water and see what the difference is.  Aren’t you all glad that I am easily amused by figuring things out?

    Tony Clayton

    Regarding Maureen’s comments about the possible effect of chlorine on the Dromedary lining. In Lions Bay our tap water is very lightly chlorinated and is very ‘sweet’ so perhaps that is why we do not detect any adverse flavours.


    Maureen Benzon

    Hi Nancy,

    This topic is raised every couple of years. I paddled a while ago with a couple who claimed the water in the bags made them physically nauseous until they installed a fancy water filtration system in their house. They swear it is the chlorine in the tap water that reacts with the lining of the dromedary bags and that the new water, with the chlorine filtered out, remained sweet tasting and did not affect them adversely. Knowing your analytical approach, I would like to see if you can fit this into your experiment. Keep up the good work!!

    🙂 Maureen

    Tony Clayton

    Fascinating experiment

    We have two 10 l. MSR Dromedary bags of considerable vintage. Maybe we may have less sensitive palates but the reported phenolic flavour  of has not been something that we have noticed . I do not know whether this has to do with changes in MSR specs over time or the fact that as a trip preparation routine we flush the Dromedaries with a weak bleach solution then rinse before filling with tap water. We do use Pristine water treatment for any water we collect from streams so perhaps there is some incidental benefit in that to suppressing any phenol taste.

    Nancy, I remain interested in your ongoing investigation.

    Chantal Ethier

    Hi Nancy,

    I just wanted to drop you a line to say that I enjoyed every line of that post, useful and serious with a hint of humour (or that’s how I read it)…  I’m looking forward to hearing more.

    I hope all is well.  Thanks for conducting this experiment and reporting to the rest of us.

    Chantal 🙂

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