Companion blog: Adventures In Stoving

Monday, September 4, 2017

Review – The Vecto Water Bladder (Sawyer-Compatible)

"I'm perfectly happy with Sawyer bags" – said no hiker ever.  The Sawyer filter is a great thing.  Sawyer bags?  Not so much.

Don't get me wrong.  I really like the Sawyer system overall.  Gad!  how I used to hate pumping my arm off on the old pump filters, and all those tubes to hook up and such – what a hassle! The Sawyer filter is great. But Sawyer bags?  Not so great.  They burst at the seams all too often.  And, yeah, you can substitute Evernew water bags, but Evernew bags, while better, still burst and are more expensive – if you can find them.  I've never seen Evernew bags in any local shop where I live.

OK, so just bring a SmartWater bottle, right?  Well, actually, that's not a bad solution.  They're cheap enough, readily available, and reasonably light. But they're bulky. And they take up room even when empty.  I strongly prefer bladders, but I don't want buy ones that fail.  What to do?

Enter the Vecto.
The Vecto soft-sided water container from Cnoc Outdoors, 2 L capacity.

The Vecto
The Vecto is a soft-sided 2 L water container from Cnoc Outdoors.

When I first heard about it, frankly, I wasn't all that interested.  I mean, it's not like I don't already have tons of water bladders – from multiple manufacturers.  Then I watched their video.  At 1:17, a guy stands on a full bladder.  It just sits there and takes it.  THAT got my attention.  I wanted one.

So, I've managed to now get my hands on one.  I've had it a couple of months or so, and... it really works great.  I've used it exclusively as my "dirty" water bag for all of my trips this summer (2017) including my August JMT/PCT section hike.

My Current Set Up
Here's my current set up:
My current hydration and water treatment set up:
L to R:  Evernew 1.5 L bladder, 0.6 L SmartWater bottle, standard Sawyer filter, and the Vecto.
I use the 2 L Vecto as my "dirty" (untreated) water bag.  I use a standard Sawyer filter.  For my "clean" (treated) water carriers, I use a 1.5 L Evernew bladder, and a 0.6 L SmartWater bottle.  Why the little SmartWater bottle?  Well, for backflushing, I use the little SmartWater bottle.  It's light; it doesn't take up a lot of room; and if it bursts, who cares?  I'll just get another one.  The combination of the Evernew bladder and the SmartWater bottle is sufficient to hold the output of the Vecto.  In other words, my clean water capacity is equal to my dirty water capacity.  Water in = water out.

Couldn't you just use a 2 L Evernew and skip the SmartWater bottle?  Well, yes, but Evernew bladders will eventually burst under the pressure needed to backflush.  I'd rather keep my nice Evernew bladder pristine and just sacrifice the little SmartWater bottle.  Since the Vecto and the Evernew pack up so small, I figure I'll have room for the little SmartWater bottle, no problem.

Other Options
Note that you've actually got a lot of options out there in terms of bottles that will fit a Sawyer filter.  Pretty much all of the higher end brands of water, which typically have higher quality, stronger plastic, have threads that will fit a Sawyer filter.
Water containers with Sawyer-compatible threads.
The Vecto – It's (Really) Compact
Notice the size of the Essentia bottle in the above photo.  It's pretty big, and it's only 1.5 liter.  In my efforts to minimize pack size, I've generally moved away from hard sided bottles as much as I can.

Size comparison:  The 2 L Vecto (left) vs. a 0.6 L SmartWater bottle.
There's just no beating the compactness of a bladder vs. a hard sided bottle. Take a look at the above photo.  Yeah, that's just a little half liter SmartWater bottle, but the Vecto is smaller still – and the Vecto has roughly four times the capacity.  Can't beat that.

Ease of Use
And  it's danged easy to use.  It's quite literally child's play – well, at least my seven year old can handle it.  You just hook it up, and then roll up the back end like a tube of toothpaste.  I find it way easier to squeeze than a hard sided bottle and far more resilient.
Using the Vecto water bladder with a Sawyer filter.
And, it's so flexible, I can get 100% of the water out if it.
The flexible material of the Vecto makes it easy to squeeze out every last drop.

Design and "Human Factors" (Ergonomics)
There's a lot of smart design and attention to detail that went into the Vecto.   The cap is a different color than the standard Sawyer cap so that you don't confuse the two and cause cross-contamination.  Note:  The cap on the final production version will be orange, which can only help.
Standard Sawyer cap, left.  Vecto cap, right.
(Different) color prevents confusion.
There are opposing tabs on the Vecto so that it's easy to open.  Ever try to get a clear produce bag open at the grocery store?  Sometimes it drives you mad; it's just so hard to pull the two sides apart.  It's no problem with the Vecto.
The tab on the front side of the Vecto is raised at the left but is lower on the right.
The back side of the Vecto is reversed, the right is higher, and the left is lower.
These opposing tabs make the Vecto easy to open.
Ridges on a fold over closure really seal the bag well.  I experienced zero leaking with a full Vecto in my pack.  The slider is a nice bright orange, so it's unlikely that you'll lose it.  Speaking of the slider, the slider has a loop in the center of its upper side so that one can suspend it, as when using as a gravity filter.  The loop is also nice for hanging the bladder while drying it after a trip.  Note that the Vecto bladder has an opening at both ends which allows for excellent air circulation and much faster than normal drying times.
Ridges on the fold over closure seal the bag when the slider is emplaced.
The opening is nice and wide, which makes the Vecto significantly easier to fill than my 1 L and 2 L Platypus bladders or 1.5 L Evernew bladders.
The Vecto has a really wide opening which makes it super easy to fill.
In fact, the opening is so wide, I can get my hand in there to clean it or pull out little bits of leaves, you know, the organic "floaties" that always seem to get sucked inside a bladder.
The opening of the Vecto is wide enough to allow one's hand to get inside.
Note that one with larger hands may not be able to get their entire hand inside.
The Downside
There is a bit of a down side here.  It's not a major downer, but at 76 g/2.7 ounces, the Vecto is a tad on the heavy side for a 2 L bladder.  By contrast, my slightly smaller 1.5 L Evernew bladder weighs 34 g/1.2 oz.  Now, for me, the compactness and the durability make the weight worth it.  I want gear that works, but for the ounce counters and gram weenies out there, the weight may be an issue.

Limits to this review
Well, I've had the bladder for a couple of months now.  I can hardly give it a "long term review" after a couple of months.  The materials are obviously beefy, but could it spring a leak at, say,  the closure?  I can't really say for sure.  It looks pretty darned good, but realistically, I can't predict it's longevity at this point.  I will post periodic updates as time permits and I use the Vecto bladder more.

The version I received is a pre-production version.  It's something like 99% of what the production version will be, but there might be some minor variations or tweaks before it goes "live."  The "Go Live" date occurs in November.  MSRP is $17, but the bladder is currently available for pre-order for $13.

Planned changes to the production version:
  • The cap will be orange just like the slider (definitely a good idea).
  • Volume markings will be added to the bag, presumably in both metric and English measurements, but I haven't confirmed that.
  • The large opening will be a bit less stiff, making it easier to hold open.  Note:  I didn't have any problems keeping the bag open, but then my hands are undoubtedly larger than some.
  • Directions on the bladder as to how to operate the closure properly.  I thought it was fairly intuitive (ridges go on the outside), but it can never hurt.
Summary:  The Vecto Bladder
What's good about it:
  • Doesn't burst.
  • Compact
  • Well designed
  • Easy to use
  • Doesn't leak
  • Can get 100% of the water out
What's not so good about it:
  • It's heavy for a 2 L bladder.
The Vecto 2 L bladder from Cnoc Outdoors:  Highly recommended.

Thanks for joining me,


The Vecto water bladder used for this review was provided to me by Cnoc Outdoors at no cost to me.  It was understood that I wanted to review the bladder (and, to be honest, wanted one for myself) at the time.  I have no financial relationship with Cnoc Outdoors and will receive no remuneration from either this review or any sales of any Vecto bladder.  The fact that I bought five Rolls Royce automobiles immediately following the publication of this review is sheer coincidence. I have had no dealings with Cnoc Outdoors prior to the receipt of the Vecto bladder; indeed, my understanding is that they are a brand new concern.  I therefore can make no comment, either positive or negative, as to their overall business reputation.