In overall scoring, a few products edge out the CamelBak, but not by much. Our scoring rubric shows wide variation in overall performance, but the fact of the matter is that all the top packs we tested are excellent. The CamelBak is durable, includes a hydration bladder that none of the others include, and has a suite of pockets that do precisely what you need them to do. Drawbacks of this pack are minor but include ease of use issues like straps crossing and impeding zippers. The Rim Runner is an excellent pack for average hikers on average hikes. And this is a good thing
CamelBak Rim Runner 22 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Included hydration reservoir, lots of pockets
Cons: Heavy, straps cross zippers
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The CamelBack Rim Runner 22 is a solid, basic daypack for your average hiker. The features are ordinary, the weight is above average, and the comfort and carrying stability are slightly below what you would expect for the construction.
Comfort is king. The packs we tested deliver a wide range of comforts. Comfort, especially under load, is a function of padding, weight distribution, sweat and heat management, and fit. Padding in the CamelBak is a fairly typical mesh covered foam style. Weight is distributed by a back panel that is less stiff than the other packs in this weight class and borne by a waist belt that has a strangely narrow and relatively unstable attachment. The waist belt, additionally, while wide, is also quite soft. To truly spread the load to your hips, a more rigid belt would be more effective. Finally, the quilted, mesh covered foam offers minor venting channels, but the back panel is fairly sweaty, as compared to some of the others.
The closest comparisons in this test are the Editors Choice Osprey Talon 22 and The North Face Litus 22. All of these contenders are engineered similarly. They all feature, for instance, wide, padded waist belts and structured back panels. Among these three, the CamelBak is the least comfortable. Both others have stiffer waist belts that transfer more weight and have back panels that are more breathable. As compared to the REI Co-op Flash 22, the CamelBak is more structured and, as a result, significantly more comfortable.
"As is", the Rim Runner 22 is the heaviest pack we tested, weighing in at 32 ounces. However, it is the only bag that came with an included hydration reservoir. Remove that reservoir for weighing in, and the weight of the CamelBak comes down into the same realm as the other close competitors. In any event, this pack and those like it are certainly not in the "ultralight" category. We have reviewed bags in our Mountaineering Pack Review that have three times the capacity and weigh the same. With the CamelBak, you get features and pay with weight.
You make the same trade-off for the other fully featured and structured packs we tested. Correcting for the included hydration reservoir, the CamelBak is the same weight as the Litus 22 and the Editors' Choice Talon 22. The Top Pick Marmot Kompressor 18, so awarded for its ultralight status and backpacking versatility, is one third the weight of the CamelBak.
A daypack is versatile if it is suitable for different sorts of day trip activities. Size is the main criteria that determine a pack's versatility. On the large end of the spectrum, daypacks are more suited to occasional forays into colder conditions, more technical pursuits, and for travel and day-to-day use. In this way, just looking at size, the CamelBak is interesting. CamelBak claims 22-liter capacity. Our objective measurement found the actual capacity to be 18 liters. This is right in the same class as the Editors Choice and Best Buy award winners. However, others are noticeably larger. Other things that make a daypack versatile are the pockets and organizational features. In this way, the CamelBak does well, with a total of six pockets in addition to the main compartment.
Only the Editors Choice Osprey Talon has more pockets than the CamelBak Rim Runner. The Talon also has more usable volume. The North Face Litus 22 and the Top Pick Marmot Kompressor 18 also exceed the actual capacity of the CamelBak.
Ease of Use
The zippers, straps, and buckles of the CamelBak are all smooth and relatively large. Even with gloves on, all can be operated easily. The straps that tighten the rear "stuffable" pouch cover the zipper of the main compartment, which can slow access to that main compartment. The stretchy side pockets are medium sized; just big enough to hold a one-liter bottle without additional strapped security. The waist belt pockets, because of the attachment point of the waist belt, are tricky to get into because the shoulder straps cover the opening. The name "CamelBak" has become synonymous with "hydration system". They've been in that business a long time, and their hydration reservoir and hose system show this. The included reservoir and hose is excellent, leading the field.
The best and worst part of the hydration system is its proprietary attachment into the backpack. In a cleverly simple solution, the bladder hangs by a rigid hook from a built-in strap system inside the hydration sleeve. This is simultaneously secure, keeping your bladder from bunching up in the bottom of the pack, and quick to insert and remove. However, there is not a way, without modification, to hang your own bladder, should you prefer that of a different brand. Why one would use a different bladder, we don't know. But it is worth noting. Other online reviewers have noted the same thing with some consternation.
We found very little to note about the CamelBak's durability. The straps, zippers, and seams remained intact through moderate use. Our experience with other CamelBak products, over longer-term testing, suggests that their build quality is good. The fabrics they chose for the Rim Runner are certainly sturdy enough to last for years and years.
This is a great choice for your typical day hiking agendas. Provided you don't load it down with technical or winter gear, the suspension system will support normal loads. The included hydration system is great for those that want that anyway. As an integrated system, the hydration reservoir is the best in its class.
The Rim Runner isn't inexpensive. For the price, a price that is almost the same as the higher performing Editors Choice, you also get a hydration bladder, which increases the value. You could say that, among the three fully structured and padded packs we tested, the CamelBak is the best value. All are about the same price, but only the CamelBak includes a hydration bladder.
We always review excellent products. The CamelBak Rim Runner is excellent, in a field of excellence. Other packs edge ahead in overall performance or value, but you can't go wrong with this one, especially if you want their excellent hydration system included.
— Jediah Porter