Ok, like a lot of you, I have a bunch of tanks that, in spite of having an automated misting system (MistKing) on most of them, still need to be misted by hand. This is the time that I spend looking in my tanks, checking frog health, checking out how the plants are doing, filling bromeliad phytotelmata (like that, SM?), checking for eggs, etc. It's quality time with my tanks :-) However, sometimes I have more time in my schedule to devote to this activity than others. For the last decade or so, I have used hand misters something like this:
They work ok, but they are made out of plastic and eventually the mechanical parts break down. I then have to throw them away and buy another one. They last a couple of years, but I still felt bad having to recycle them so quickly. They also have a "feature" where you have to choose whether to have them full and have to pump less but they are much heavier, or have them less full and lighter. They also have to be lugged from tank to tank and set down, picked up, repeat. This adds quite a bit of time to the misting process.
I decided to look for something different. Behold the Craftsman 61810 backpack misting system. At first, I was resistant because, let's be honest, this thing will not increase your esteem in the eyes of non-frog keeping acquaintances UNLESS you are a landscaper in which case, all is well. I am not a landscaper, but I am already married, so I am relatively immune to such social scrutiny. It is also a beast, so it needs a fairly large resting place. However, on the plus side, it has saved me a ton of time and it is much more convenient.
1) I can carry it with me from tank to tank and not have to put it down. It is a bit heavy, but I have control of this by just keeping less water in it. It holds 4 gallons, but I only keep a gallon and a half or so.
2) The way it pumps is with the big lever on the left (though it can be set up ambidextrously). This can be done while it is on my back (again, I don't have to set it down). Not only this, but it pumps into a little internal chamber rather than the reservoir at large needing to be charged with pressure. This leads to a ton of flexibility. If I want to fill a large brom, I can pump the thing all the way up and it will squirt really fast (be careful that nobody is in there already!), but it is a small chamber, so pressure reduces quickly so I can continue on with the rest of the tank at normal output after I fill the brom. The lever is much easier to use than the piston version on my earlier cheapo misters. So, I can constantly be controlling the flow rate.
3) Filling it is easier than the old one. I use distilled water in it and it has such a big fill area that I can just dump it in fast rather than making sure to pour slowly like I had to with my old mister. I don't even have to check for errant flies floating in the water first, because there is a built-in strainer. Also, since the main chamber is not where the pressure is, I don't need to torque down on the cap to make sure the air stays in.
4) Because of many of the above pros, this thing has cut my spray time down by 50%. Some days, I really need that extra time, so that is worth it all by itself.
1) Social Pariah - see above. However, you do get to look like a Ghostbuster, so that pushes it slightly more toward pro, but...my kids don't see it that way. It has become a great deterrent, though, because if my kids are acting up, I just threaten to show up to their school wearing the proton pack. Brings em right back in line.
2) It's not as cheap as the smaller hand misters. I paid about $50 on Ebay for this one and you can get the 2 gallon hand misters for as cheap as $15. I think, though, that it will last longer than the little guys. So, maybe a push? I figure these things are designed to be used every day as opposed to the little misters. They just start to wear pieces of plastic into the reservoir after a while. I don't think the proton pack mister will do that. You can get cheaper versions of the backpack mister, too.
3) It's big. This comes into play when you have to find a place to store it and when you are in tight quarters. It could be a disaster in a tight frog room with tanks on both sides of an aisle. The pump handle sticks out a bit in the front and the backpack sticks out quite a bit behind. Be careful when turning around, going through doorways, etc. On the other hand, though, you do have your other hand free all the time because it hangs on your back, so that adds some efficiency points.
4) It can be heavy, but you have some control over that. If you fill it up all the way, the thing is a beast (I assume - I haven't done it). However, I use about a gallon each time I spray the tanks so I just keep a little more than that in it and this is manageable. Make sure to get one with padded straps, if you buy one.
Overall, I am happy with this purchase. I don't like buying stuff (especially big plastic stuff) that is going to wear out in a year or two. This unit I think will break that pattern for me. It also cuts down a lot on the time it takes me to get done with the misting task which is the single largest time sink that I have to do for my frogs on a regular basis. Feeding takes much less time than misting. I enjoy this task when I have more time, but when I am pressed for time, this unit helps quite a bit.
If you have a lot of individual tanks and would like to make the misting process more efficient, you might consider one of these things.
Finally, folks, remember not to cross the streams!