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CamelBak M.U.L.E. Review

Editors' Choice Award

Hydration Packs

  • Currently 5.0/5
Overall avg rating 5.0 of 5 based on 2 reviews. Most recent review: March 28, 2015
Street Price:   Varies from $108 - $109 | Compare prices at 6 resellers
Pros:  Great storage, light, 3-liter reservoir, durable.
Cons:  Bite valve flops around.
Best Uses:  Full day bike rides and hikes.
User Rating:     
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 (5.0 of 5) based on 1 reviews
Manufacturer:   CamelBak
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ March 28, 2015  
This is the best overall hydration pack we tested and gets our Editors' Choice award. We feel the hydration packs are best for full day hikes and rides and the M.U.L.E. gives a lot of storage in a lightweight, comfortable and durable package. It did not blow away the competition in any one test or category, but was overall the most well-rounded pack. See our complete Hydration Pack Review to see how it compared to others.

CamelBak loves acronyms with double meanings. So while your first impression when shopping or researching on the internet is to type in "Mule" (as in the offspring of a donkey and horse), you really need to type in "M.U.L.E." to get the maximum number of search results which stands for Medium-to-Ultra-Long Endeavors.

Update - March 2015
The M.U.L.E. has been redesigned and is now available in new colors. See below for more information and a side-by-side photo comparison.

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  • Photos
Click to enlarge

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

The Latest Version of the M.U.L.E

The M.U.L.E. has gone through some drastic upgrades since we last reviewed it; not only are new colors available, but the design has been upgraded. The new M.U.L.E. has a narrow-gauge design to keep it light and maneuverable, as told by Camelbak. New air channels have been added to keep your back cool and the pack now features universal helmet hooks and additional pockets for extra storage, as well as a magnetic tube trap for your hydration bladder hose. We are currently in the process of reviewing the new version of the M.U.L.E., so check back in July for the new review!

Below you will find a side-by-side photo comparison, with the newer version on the left and the older version on the right.

Click to enlarge 


This is one of the more comfortable packs we tested. It has generous back padding and ventilates relatively well. It is highly adjustable and has some padding on the waist belt (but not much).


There is plenty of stability for bike riding and hiking. It is not a pack to take running because there is too much vertical bouncing. It is easy to adjust most of the weight tight to the body.

Ease of Drinking

As with all CamelBak packs, water delivery is very good with high flow from minimal effort. That said, there is no clip or magnet to hold bite valve in place close to your mouth. This was irritating for some testers while riding bumpy terrain. We got spoiled by the magnet on the Osprey that holds the mouthpiece right in front of you and gives handsfree or almost handsfree use.

One general drawback to hydration packs is that it is difficult to gauge how fast you are drinking water and how much is left. The M.U.L.E. has a big L-shaped zipper that lets you easily see how much water is left. It was the only pack we tested that was this easy to check.

Ease of Filling

This bladder was the easiest of the CamelBak packs to fill. Just unzip the back panel and pull it out. When filled, it slots back into a dedicated zip pocket. There is a generous plastic handle that allows you to hold the reservoir perfectly flat to get max fill. It especially out-performed some of the competition in shallow sinks and drinking fountains that emit just a little trickle.


This pack is very light considering how much gear it carries. It is much lighter than the comparable Osprey packs like the Raptor 14 or Synchro 15.


As with most CamelBaks, we give this high marks for durability. No leakage was detected and we expect this to last longer than average before the bladder or plastic parts need to be replaced.

Ease of Cleaning

It is relatively easy to clean the main compartment with the brush. It only scores behind the Geigerrig which just goes in the dishwasher. As with all hydration systems, you need a fairly specialized brush if you want to clean the hoses. Hunt one down at the hardware store or just buy the CamelBak Cleaning Kit.

There are cool little hidden plastic clips under the handle that help the bladder dry out.


The Camelback gets high marks for storage relative to its weight. There are three zippered pocket and an exterior sleeve where you can stuff in a jacket. All the packs that have more storage are generally much heavier. The M.U.L.E. hits the sweet spot of being light but having plenty of room for day hike or ride essentials: food, rain jacket, light warm layer. The only option that gives more storage for weight is the Osprey Talon 22 with Platypus Big Zip SL which has a lot more storage and is lighter.

This is one of the few packs we tested with a 3-liter water reservoir.

Other Versions

Click to enlarge
  • $140.00 ($30 more than the M.U.L.E.)
  • 29 oz (same as the M.U.L.E.)
  • NV is short for N.V.I.S. which is CB's more tricked out back panel system
  • Storage to the waist belt
  • More adjustability in the shoulder straps
  • Rain cover

Click to enlarge
CamelBak Classic
  • $60 ($50 less than the M.U.L.E.)
  • 6.7 oz (22 oz less than the M.U.L.E.)
  • 2L (1 L less than the M.U.L.E.)
  • Best Buy Award winner!

Click to enlarge
  • $109.00 (same as the M.U.L.E.)
  • 1 lb 6 oz (6 oz lighter than the M.U.L.E.)
  • Designed specifically for women
  • Shorter pack length
  • Specially lined shoulder and chest straps

Click to enlarge
Kid's M.U.L.E.
  • Kid's size hydration pack
  • Holds 1.5L of fluid
  • Several pockets for organization
  • Reflective Strips
  • $70


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CamelBak Antidote Reservoir
  • Best Buy Award Winner for hydration bladders!
  • Easy to fill wide mouth opening
  • Great bite valve design
  • $35 for 2L version

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CamelBak Antidote Thermal Control Kit
  • Helps to keep the tube from freezing during cold weather events.
  • $20

Click to enlarge
CamelBak Cleaning Brush Kit
  • For cleaning inside both reservoir and hydration hose, especially important if using hydration drink mix inside the reservoir.
  • $10

Chris McNamara and Adam Pilger

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: March 28, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:   
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Aug 20, 2013 - 02:47am
imjrwise · Hunter · Littleton
Their review was dead on! My first experience using this pack was a week long visit to Canyonlands. We were doing 13 mile round trip hikes each day we were their and I never once ran out of water. Not only is there plenty of h20 storage, but I kept TONS of trail mix, energy bars, and a little fruit stored as well. The pack is pretty lightweight and very comfortable. I didn't feel as though my back was soaking in sweat. Even when using the weight distribution straps, it did not feel uncomfortable. I would recommend this hydration pack to anyone.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Camelbak M.U.L.E. Older Version
Credit: Camelbak
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