Year after year, our testers love the CamelBak Sequoia 22 - it's one of our favorite packs that we tested, and it once again tops our score charts as the best overall daypack. This pack is comfortable, breathable, can hold a lot of gear, and even comes with a hydration bladder, the only one in our test group to do so. It is on the expensive side for a daypack, and also a little heavy, but it carries well when full, and the back ventilates well. It may look a little unconventional, but we like some of its unique features, like the dual-wing hip belt with impressively roomy pockets. Perhaps not our favorite choice for all frontcountry use, for long days on the trail, we look forward to loading this pack to the gills and setting out on an adventure. The Sequoia 22 is a great choice for all kinds of day hikes; be it a quick jaunt with the kids (and all of their gear), or a big peak objective where you'll need 4-plus liters of water and several layers.
CamelBak Sequoia 22 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comfortable, lots of good features, water reservoir included
Cons: On the heavy side, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The CamelBak Sequoia 22 has a fantastic and comfortable hip belt, with a unique dual-wing design, which offers the best and biggest side storage pockets in this review. No more deciding between your phone or GPS or anything else, you can fit it all and more in your side pockets. The pack is made of 210D ripstop nylon and 420D plain-weave nylon in high wear areas, like the bottom and sides. CamelBak states that this bag has a 19-liter volume, with three more liters available in the outer pouch. You can also fit things in the separate reservoir pocket, even with a full hydration bladder, and stuff the mesh side pocket full too, so this pack holds as much as the 24-25 liter packs in this review.
Packs don't get much comfier. The shoulder straps and hip belt have some nice padding, and the lumbar area has the best padding in this review. Along the back, two padded sections provide cushioning and support, but the horizontal channels between them help keep you cooler on hot days. While not quite as ventilating as the mesh backs with airflow space behind, those packs don't provide as much cushioning, so it can be a bit of a trade-off. Want more cushioning? Go with the Sequoia. Need more ventilation? Check out one of the mesh-backed options instead.
While there's no internal frame on the Sequoia, the back has a lot of rigidity, so even when it's packed full of gear, and you have the hydration reservoir in there, the bladder doesn't push against your back uncomfortably. The shoulder straps are curved and shaped for a woman's narrower shoulders, but not so narrow as to be uncomfortable. This pack is one of the few that comes with containment loops on all the straps to hold the tails out of your way. It may look unconventional compared to more traditional daypack construction, but the Sequoia is designed to keep you comfortable mile after mile while laden with a full day's worth of gear.
We found the features on this pack to be incredibly useful and make this a pretty versatile bag. Leave it to CamelBak to know how to stow their reservoirs. The bladder goes inside its own zippered and insulated pocket (with a blue zipper pull to prevent you from opening the wrong compartment), away from the rest of your gear, and the pads on the back of the pack prevent it or other bulky items from pushing into your back. The shoulder strap has a quick-release clip for the tube, and there's also a side pocket if you prefer to use a water bottle instead of the reservoir (or if you need a lot of water).
The new hip belt design provides a lot more storage on the side pockets. They fit an oversized smartphone even in a bulky case with room to spare! One side is zippered while the other side is elastic-bound. An open side pocket seems like a bad idea at first, but if you want to stuff a bandana or hat in there, it won't fall out easily. Then you can keep your valuables in the zippered side. Other features we find useful include an ice axe holder, a felt-lined top pocket, a stretchy and a zipped front pocket, and some organizer slots and pockets in the main compartment. The only thing it doesn't have is a rain cover that stows in the bottom of the pack. However, if you really need one to go with your bag, CamelBak does sell them separately and fairly inexpensively.
This pack weighs just over 36 ounces, which makes it among the heavier packs in our test group - though several other packs weigh more than 40 ounces! This weight doesn't include the hydration bladder, which is an add-on for any other pack we tested.
Part of that heavier weight comes from the extra padding on the back that makes it more comfortable, along with the heavier material on the bottom and other high wear spots. While this pack is about a pound heavier than the lightest, fully loaded bags we tested, it is also one of the most comfortable for hiking heavy loads over long distances.
Ease of Use
This pack is one of the easier packs to use that we tested. Its main compartment zippers unzip quite far and all the zippers and configuration of the pockets are intuitive and helpful. It also has several adjustability features that we appreciate. While the latest version of the Sequoia has done away with the load-lifter straps on top of the shoulder straps, we find these to be mostly unhelpful in a daypack anyway (they really only make a difference for packs that go above the shoulder straps, which most daypacks don't). And while they also got rid of side adjusters on the hip belt, it's because they actually changed the whole configuration of the hip belt. Instead of being a separate belt attached to the bottom of the pack like traditional backpacks, the new Sequoia has integrated the ability to pull the bottom of this bag closer to your back with the hip belt itself. This intriguing system allows you to cinch the pack down while tightening it around your hips at the same time.
That being said, this pack only comes in one size with an 18-inch torso length, and it does not have a ton of adjustability vertically. The Sequoia fit both our 17" torso and 19" torso testers very well, but if you're much smaller or larger, it might not work so well.
We gave this pack a high score for durability thanks to the 210D ripstop nylon used in the body of the pack and the extra thick 420D nylon used on the bottom. We also couldn't find just about any other user complaints about the durability of this bag.
We do a lot of hiking in the desert southwest and high Sierras, and the sharp cacti and rough rocks destroy thinner packs in these locations, so if you live in an area with spiky plants and sharp rocks, you should consider that when purchasing your next bag. The Sequoia held up without a fuss.
This is one of the most expensive bags in our review, but it does come with a 3L water bladder, which by itself retails for $20-30, so that does increase the value. Considering how comfortable it is, and also how large, you can get a lot of use out of this pack. If you want a daypack you can load down and still count on it to be comfortable for 21 miles, this is your new best friend.
The CamelBak Sequoia 22 is a great pack and our Editors' Choice winner for two years in a row. It's spacious and comfortable, with some great features and a large 3L water reservoir. It's a little on the heavy side, and perhaps a bit big if you're only going on a one or two-hour hike, but for longer all-day missions, this pack is a great choice.
— Maggie Brandenburg and Cam McKenzie Ring