Daypacks come in two major categories. There are those that are fully optimized for day hiking, and there are those that are a little more versatile. The CamelBak Fourteener 24 is in the former category; this is a specialized hiker's pack, with specialized hiking features. For dedicated hiking, this is a great pack. In this way, it is right in the mix with our Editors' Choice Osprey Talon 22 and newcomer Gregory Zulu 30. It is quite a bit heavier than the Talon 22, while the Zulu scores similarly overall.
Camelbak Fourteener 24 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Clever waist belt, tons of organizational options
Cons: Heavy and bulky
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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.
The Editors' Choice Osprey Talon 22 vents about as well as the CamelBak. The newcomer Gregory Zulu 30 vents even better than these, while the best venter in our test is the new Editors Choice Osprey Stratos 34.
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 Editors' Choice Osprey Talon 22 is 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 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.
For versatility consider our Top Pick winners. The Marmot Kompressor 18 is versatile in that it is ultralight and compressible for travel and backpacking. The Osprey Daylite Plus, with a low profile exterior and a padded laptop sleeve, is a hiking pack that you can use every day on your work commute. Finally, the Mountain Hardwear Scrambler 30 is a simple rucksack that is fully waterproof. These additional attributes and features, on each of these packs, are integrated without making the pack more bulky or rigid. In all of the other possible applications of a daypack, bulk and rigidity are antithetical to versatility. The Fourteener 24 is bulky and rigid. Only the Gregory Zulu 30 is bulkier and more rigid.
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, especially as compared to the CamelBak Rim Runner 22, straps unobscure all 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.
This is a hardcore hiker's pack. It is rugged, well thought out, and has organizational features and attributes that are unmatched. Because of its bulk, weight, and rigidity, we cannot recommend it for much more than day hiking.
At retail, this is a spendy daypack. This latest design, brand new for 2018, is not yet found on sale. 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.
— Jediah Porter