Hi, I've got a Camelbak Mule hydration backpack. It's a nice little pack. However the water tastes dreadful out of the Antidote bladder. Think water that's been sitting in a garden hose in the sun on a 100 degree day. Plastic taste.
I went for a hike with my 10 year old last week. I decided to give the bladder one more shot (cleaned thoroughly first) as I've been using the pack with stainless steel water bottles and no bladder for quite a while. He could barely drink it as he complained of the taste. I agreed with him, it was terrible.
The thing is I noticed this bad taste soon after buying it. I went through all the suggested bladder cleaning processes like using Bicarbonate soda. All achieved nothing. So I emailed Camelbak thinking surely that there must be something wrong with the bladder. After all, this product has great reviews and is a bit of a standard.
Camelbak were great and sent me a new bladder. Unfortunately it was exactly the same as the original, despite all the same cleaning routine. The water makes us feel ill. This cannot be good for your health.
I'm now convinced this is just as good as this product gets and I'm looking for an alternative bladder. Otherwise it's stainless steel bottles, which is OK but less convenient and heavier. At least I don't get poisoned that way.
I know it can be done, cask wine and many processed foods and drinks are packed in flexible materials that don't impart chemical compounds into the food or drink.
Putting on my Mr. Obvious hat for a moment: did you fill the bladder and taste the water before cleaning the bladder. That rules out that something you're using to clean it is reacting badly with the bladder. (I wouldn't think Bicarbonate would react, but like I said, Mr. Obvious here...)
I've never had any taste problems with Platypus, Nalgene Cantenes, or MSR Dromlite (mine are a few years old; I think they might use different materials now, so my MSR endorsement may be misleading for your needs.)
Loc: Central Illinois near Springfi...
I would suggest using detergent first, rinse, white vinegar next, rinse, and then sodium bicarbonate with several final rinses, unless the manufacturer says not to. An acidic soak followed by an alkaline soak should pretty well cover all of the bases. When I sanitize my plasticware, I normally put a little dishwasher detergent gel in it and then fill with water. I let it soak for an hour or so, rinse with water and then wash with dishwashing detergent to get the dishwasher detergent out, then rinse and dry. Dishwasher detergent contains sodium carbonate and bleach and normally does a great job of removing coffee stains and other stuff. It is difficult for me to believe that commercial plasticware would consistently impart a bad taste without some outside factor.