Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Light, good value, easy to use.
Cons: Not much storage.
Best Uses: Day hikes, climbing.
The model that started the hydration pack revolution is still one of our favorites and wins our Best Buy award. The Classic has changed over the years and and is now a little heavier, more convenient, and easier to clean. It is minimalist pack – just room for a bladder, a few bars, and a layer. But for most day hikes of fewer than four hours, that is all you need. It is one of the lightest packs we tested and can often be found for less than $50, which is getting close to the price of just a hydration reservoir alone. If you want more storage, check out the CamelBak M.U.L.E.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Just the bare bones here: a chest strap and two lightly padded shoulder straps. We find it plenty comfortable because it is so light but it is in no way cushy. When it is fully loaded, some testers wished for a waist belt to take a little of the weight off the tops of their shoulders.
Ease of Cleaning
The bladder is relatively easy to clean, as is the hose. But, unlike the bladders that fully open at the top, you can't just throw it in the dishwasher and then have it dry easily. You have to buy the CamelBak cleaning kit, ($20, sold separately) or improvise your own cleaning kit.
There is no waist belt and the high sternum strap means this pack is not great for running (it bounces around). Serious mountain bikers may be turned off by the lack of waist strap. For most other applications (hiking, climbing) the Classic is stable enough.
This is the reviewer's favorite hydration pack for one-day El Capitan ascents. Below is an older model of the Classic used on a speed record climb of El Cap. It is light, low profile and has just enough room for the day's water, food, and a wind shirt.
Ease of Use
The reservoir is easy to get in and out of the pack and one of the easiest reservoirs to fill. The bite valve is convenient (but not as convenient as the Osprey system).
There is not much. You can shove a couple bars inside the main compartment that holds the reservoir and strap a light rain jacket or wind shell to the outside.
Bomber. This is the pack we have tested over the longest period of time and we have never had an issue with the reservoir leaking. We did lose the bite valve at one point due to it getting hung up on climbing gear. This will not be an issue for most people.
This is heavier than the older classic models due to heavier fabrics and a heavier water bladder. But it is still one of the lightest in our review. The only lighter pack we tested is the Camelbak RaceBak, which has almost zero storage and is a whole different animal.
The CamelBak Marathoner Vest, $100, is one of the lightest hydration packs we tested. It uses a light backpack design with no waist strap.
The CamelBak Octane LR, $100, is great for light mountain biking and is a running workhorse because it's very versatile.
Check out the women's specific Camelbak, the Camelback Women's L.U.X.E., $100.
If you're looking for a kid's version of a Camelbak, check out the Camelbak Kid's M.U.L.E., 50 oz, for $50.
The CamelBak Racebak, $100, is the only hydration pack integrated into clothing that we tested.
The CamelBak All Clear, $99, treats water directly in your bottle.
The CamelBak Ultra LR, $130, is designed for long distance runs.
CamelBak Antidote Reservoir, $35.
The Camelbak Eddy, $15, is a consistently high-performing sipper-lid bottle.
If you're looking for a durable bottle that will filter tap water while you drink, then the Camelbak Groove, $22, is for you.
CamelBak Cleaning Brush Kit, $10.
The CamelBak Antidote Thermal Control Kit, $20, can help keep your tubes from freezing when temps dip down.
— Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: August 25, 2014
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