CamelBak Repack LR 4L Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Simple, effective, stealthy design
Cons: Poor storage layout, cheap feel, poor ventilation
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Repack is not a bad hip pack. It works well enough, will keep you hydrated, and will carry your tools and snacks without fail. It simply can't stand up to the competition. Ease of drinking is a strong suit while comfort, ease of filling, and ease of cleaning are low points. CamelBak is a widely available brand, and despite its relatively low scores in our comparative analysis, this is still a completely functional option that will likely serve most riders well adequately.
Ease of Drinking
The Repack posted a respectable score in the ease of drinking metric. It has a 1.5L water bladder which should be adequate for rides in the 2-3 hour range. We did hit a couple of notable speedbumps, however. Chief among them is the Magnetic Tube Trap that fell off the hose. This forced us to get a little creative to secure the hose to the bag while we were spinning away.
The hose of the Repack is of appropriate length. Even the tallest riders shouldn't have much of a problem getting the nozzle to reach their mouth. In the saddle or standing up on the side of the trail, no problem. The nozzle itself is quite well designed. There is an on/off lever that controls your ability to pull water out of the system. We would save the off position for when you are traveling with a full bladder. Otherwise, there is really little need to use it. If you leave it in the on position while riding, there is no risk of water dripping onto your legs. The nozzle itself has the fastest flow among the packs in our test. With the nozzle in a horizontal orientation, simply give it a little bite to open it, and then start consuming.
This bag features what CamelBak calls a Magnetic Tube Trap. This is a magnetic clamp on the waistband that holds the hose in place. It's a nice feature as you can take a swig of water and set it on the holder and continue riding. Unfortunately, we lost the piece that sits on the hose. It was there, we transported the bag around the west coast, and then it was gone. This forced us to get a little creative to secure the hose to the waist. It could have been user error or a weak design, its hard to say.
Ease of Filling
The Repack scored towards the bottom of the class in terms of ease of filling. This bag uses a traditional screw-on cap which can be difficult at times. In addition, a fixed hose/bladder interface makes it more difficult to remove the bladder to fill it.
When you are loading up your hip pack prior to a ride, you will encounter an important decision. Do you take the bladder out of the bag to fill it? Or, do you leave it in there and deal with the potential unwanted spillage? There are pros and cons to each approach. About half of the packs in our test use a bladder with a quick-connect system. This makes it very easy to detach the hose from the bladder without/ pulling it out of its routed path. Removing the bladder is exceptionally easy when doing this, and then you can fill it without the risk of spilling. The Repack does not have this feature. The hose is fixed to the bladder. This means, to remove the bladder for filling, you have to pull the hose out. Not a huge deal, but rerouting it through the bag is time-consuming. Before a couple of rides, we rolled the dice and filled the bladder with it still in the bag. We experienced small amounts of spillage as the pack exerted force onto the bladder and pulled on the hose, making the whole process a bit more difficult than it should be.
The Repack uses a traditional screw-on cap to seal the bladder. A flat, broad cap that is approximately 3-inches in diameter. The majority of packs in our test use a newer closure system where the bladder doesn't have a screw top, you simply fold over the opening and slide a clamp over a track to seal. While the screw-top is pretty simple, it's surprisingly easy to botch. It is common to feel like the screw top is secure and flush only to find water spilling out later. This is a result of the screw top not being flush and getting screwed on crookedly — which happened to us more than once during testing.
Despite the lack of fancy design features, the Repack is a reasonably comfortable pack. We wore it while riding, when around the house, and while compiling this review. It never felt irritating and there are no pressure points. It should be noted, however, that it has the least structure of all the models we tested. It goes out shape quite easily, and when it is fully packed, it bulges and becomes notably less comfortable.
The material that sits against the body is quite soft. CamelBak used the same material throughout the backing of the bag. Other models use a variety of materials and panels to try to regulate heat and promote airflow. The Repack takes a simpler approach and uses one soft, low-tech, material. It feels great on the hips, and while it may not ventilate as well as other bags, it's comfortable. We have noticed this bag is a bit wetter and sweatier after a ride though, a result of the less refined ventilation system.
The strap system is simple and effective, and we didn't experience any twisting or bunching. We did feel a little interference with the waistband of our shorts, but it wasn't crippling. Hiking the hip pack up a little higher is a nice way to combat this.
The storage system and capacity are underwhelming but effective with the RePack. With 2.5L of gear storage, this pack is relatively minimalist and is best for riders who don't bring more than the essentials. It can hold the necessary items for a 2-3-hour ride, but it seems like there is some wasted space in the pack that could be better utilized.
The tool storage compartment is a horizontal flap located at the front of the bag. You need to release a vertical strip of velcro, and use two zippers to open the compartment. Upon doing so, you will reveal an oddly small storage area. On the backside of the flap, there is a zippered mesh pocket that works well for a credit card and small-to-mid-sized cell phones. On the main part of the compartment, there are two tall and somewhat narrow elasticized pouches that will work well with a multi-tool, CO2 cartridges/shooter, and maybe some tire plugs.
The main storage compartment holds the water bladder against your back in a nylon sleeve, with additional room to store a tube, a small pump, some snacks, or other slightly larger items. You could probably squeeze a very small wind layer into this compartment in a pinch, but there are better options for riders who require more storage capacity.
On the waist wings, there are two smaller pockets, one on each hip. These are great for a small GPS unit, trail snack, and maybe some keys. Most cell phones are too big to fit in this space. These pockets are important as you don't need to remove the hip pack to access them. This makes them a great option for things you'll need to grab on the fly.
The Repack weighs 316 grams empty without the bladder. This is the second lightest model we tested after the super lightweight Bontrager Rapid Pack.
Ease of Cleaning
The Repack scores at the bottom for this metric. It is more difficult to clean the bladder of this pack compared to ones with the quick-connect system and those that open wide with a slider closure. We all know that you are more likely to clean an item if it is easy to access. Additionally, the opening of the bladder on the Repack is smaller than those with a slider, making it harder to fit your hand inside for a good scrub.
If your bag gets sticky from a melted candy bar or an orange explodes in there, it is easy to clean. The material will do well when blasted out with a hose or a kitchen faucet. In addition, it is easy enough to get a soapy sponge or rag into every compartment.
We find the Repack to be an okay value. Yes, this hip pack functions as it should, and it won't break the bank. That said, we think you can do a lot better by spending a few extra dollars.
The CamelBak Repack delivers serviceable on-trail performance. Hip packs are supposed to be able to carry water, tools, and snacks, and be a cooler, more breathable alternative to carrying a full-on backpack. The Repack does both of those things. Unfortunately for CamelBak, this bag can't stand up to the more refined competition. While the Repack gets the job done, the design and execution are less impressive than other hip packs in this test.
— Pat Donahue
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