Camelbak Fourteener 24 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
With the latest version of their Fourteener 24, CamelBak went "back to the drawing board". This complete reboot of a classic product is kind of refreshing. This bears no resemblance, basically, to CamelBak's previous product of the same name. If you liked the previous Fourteener 24, there are countless products on the market like it. That pack was, in most ways, your standard daypack. The latest iteration, though, with its wild and dramatic dual waist belt, is truly unique. Is this configuration for you? Read on to see.
Despite the unique construction and design, the Fourteener isn't anything special, overall. The enhanced comfort is balanced against weight scores that suffer. This is a comfortable and unique pack, but super heavy.
The comfort of any pack is a function of two major things. How well does it carry weight, and how does the back panel design mitigate chafing and perspiration? With daypack loads, how a pack carries weight is a discounted variable. You just will not carry that much mass in a daypack. Folks have, and will, carry daypack loads for great distances in little more than grain sacks with shoulder straps. However, ventilation of the back panel is important, regardless of your load. For this reason, our daypack comfort scoring rubric greatly weights ventilation. CamelBak addresses back panel venting with a series of carefully placed super thick pads. Between the pads are air channels that facilitate evaporation of perspiration.
Other packs tend to vent better, but also have a suspended mesh back panel that reduces carrying volume. The Fourteener's ventilation is decent enough for most activities.
This is a super heavy pack. The thick padding, contoured air spaces, sturdy fabrics, robust waist belt system, and plentiful pockets add up to a hefty package.
At almost three pounds, there are expedition packs that weigh less than the Fourteener 24. Think long and hard about the weight of this pack. There are great attributes, but the other packs are only a little more than half the weight of the Fourteener and has a similar feature set and performance, overall.
A versatile daypack is one that works for your average hike but also functions well as a day-to-day commuter bag, or that can be pressed into service for the ski resort, rock climbing, or backcountry ski usage. The packs that are the most versatile in these ways are low profile, simple, and flexible. The bulky padding and large waist belt of the CamelBak interfere with use in these other applications.
Generally, the features of this pack are optimized for hiking, and make its performance suffer a bit for dynamic activities like scrambling or mountain biking. It also can't easily carry snowshoes for winter-time hikes.
Ease of Use
We dig the usability of this pack. CamelBak's hydration systems (the only packs we tested that come with included hydration bladders are made by CamelBak) are legendary, for a good reason. The huge Fourteener 24 waist belt system spreads the load, and, more than anything, it provides organizational pockets and easy "on-the-go" access to certain things. All the pockets and straps work well. We especially like that the straps don't block and of the zippers.
With greater weight, you get durable fabrics. Seam integrity in CamelBak products, in the experience of our test team, is usually a bit above average. In short, this will be a durable backpack. For a sturdy pack like this, we simply cannot test each product to failure. Our test period was thorough, but we had no signs of wear. Certainly, a dedicated user will start to abrade the corners. We don't expect any problems with the durability of the Fourteener 24.
At retail, this is a spendy daypack. Because of the significant upgrades to the latest version, we cannot comment on the older options available. The new pack is a significant improvement. Alas, it is expensive. For dedicated day hikers craving on-the-go access to many supplies, the Fourteener could be worth the cost.
The huge waist belt system supports weight, cinches the whole pack down, and organizes your most important supplies. For this attribute alone the Fourteener 24 stands out. It is heavy and bulky, but that may not matter to you.
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