The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

CamelBak Classic Review

Not just a classic, but THE Classic in minimalist packs.
CamelBak Classic Hydration Pack - 2 Liters
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $60 List | $44.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, sleek, solid performance in a minimalist pack
Cons:  Almost no storage, shoulder straps are snug for users with wide shoulders and lats
Manufacturer:   CamelBak
By Jason Cronk ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 14, 2017
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 12
  • Ease of Drinking - 20% 10
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 9
  • Comfort - 20% 5
  • Storage - 20% 2
  • Weight - 10% 10
  • Ease of Cleaning - 10% 6

The Skinny

The CamelBak Classic was narrowly edged out by its sibling, the CamelBak Rogue for our Top Pick for Lightweight models. The Classic is well, true to its name, a classic. It's a familiar sight to most of us and has been around in similar form for a couple decades now. With a simple and sleek design, 2.5-liter liquid capacity, and the lightest weight in our fleet, the Classic is sure to please the minimalists on the hunt for a new hydration pack. Best of all, it costs less than half the price of our Editors' Choice winner from Platypus. For great quality, a lifetime guarantee, and a $60 price tag, the Classic earns our Best Buy Award for folks on a tight budget.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you're looking for the lightest weight in a hydration pack, the Classic is the lightest model in our test. While it doesn't have a ton of storage space, that's likely not the reason you're shopping for a minimalist contender like the Classic. We did choose the CamelBak Rogue over the Classic since it does have extra storage space for a negligible weight difference. But for someone counting grams, this is your hydration pack of choice.

Performance Comparison


The Classic out for a cold weather hike.
The Classic out for a cold weather hike.

Ease of Drinking


As do the other CamelBak packs in our test, the Classic sports the Crux hydration bladder and Big Bite valve system. CamelBak claims a 20% increase in "per sip" volumes compared to bite valves of the past. While measuring that quantity proved a bit elusive for us, we can attest to the fact that the CamelBak products, including the Classic, delivered fluids with the greatest of ease in our test. Like the other CamelBak products in our analysis, this pack scored at the top of the heap.


Though not in our test, we put the Classic up against an older design CamelBak pack and saw the flow rate "per sip" was noticeably better.

Easy drinking to be had with the Crux system.
Easy drinking to be had with the Crux system.

Another handy feature is the practical and easy to use shutoff valve. Flip it forward to stop the flow and stop potential drips, flip it back to experience easy drinking. If in doubt, CamelBak even put pictures on the valve!

Not all bite valves are created equally. The valve of the Rogue is easy to use and includes a shut off valve.
Not all bite valves are created equally. The valve of the Rogue is easy to use and includes a shut off valve.

Ease of Filling


Once we were ready to fill up our Classic, like the CamelBak Rogue, our testers found it was incredibly easy to fill up the pack's 2.5-liter hydration bladder. Several of our test models have convenient quick-disconnect drinking tubes, and like the Rogue, the Classic, doesn't have this feature.


Initially, we wondered if this may hinder our ability to quickly and easily fill the pack up, but after opening the quick release flap on the outer portion of the backpack, we found the entire wide-mouthed bladder opening staring us in the face, a feature shared with the CamelBak Rogue.

The Classic and Rogue don't include quick disconnect drinking tubes.
The Classic and Rogue don't include quick disconnect drinking tubes.

Another convenient feature for filling is the ergonomic handle on the Crux hydration bladder. At first glance, we were skeptical of how functional this is but were pleasantly surprised to see the handle does make filling up easier. When holding the bladder's opening under the faucet, the shoehorn-shaped handle keeps the wide opening horizontal and allows for complete filling without much spillage.

The Classic and Rogue share the same wide mouth and convenient handle to make filling up quick and easy.
The Classic and Rogue share the same wide mouth and convenient handle to make filling up quick and easy.

Comfort


The Classic is comfortable when used for its intended purpose: carrying 2.5 liters of water and a couple of small items like a little food, a bike tube, and CO2 cartridges. Go beyond that type of simple load and well…actually, you can't go beyond that, because the pack is simply a lightly padded/insulated water carrying bag with one extra pocket.


As is the case with the other lightweight packs in our test, the Classic also experiences the rounded, cylindrical fit when filled, but this is alleviated after drinking the 0.5 of the 2.5-liter liquid capacity.

The low weight and simple design of the pack make it comfortable for light and fast movers. This pack was the lightest in the fleet  weighing in at a low 11.2 ounces.
The low weight and simple design of the pack make it comfortable for light and fast movers. This pack was the lightest in the fleet, weighing in at a low 11.2 ounces.

The CamelBak Rogue behaves almost identically, as you can see.

The pack takes on a bulging  cylindrical shape when filled to capacity.
The pack takes on a bulging, cylindrical shape when filled to capacity.

The simple mesh shoulder straps are more than adequate to support this minimalist pack and provided decent ventilation, keeping our shoulders dry. In keeping with the sleek, lightweight, and straightforward design, CamelBak does not include a waist belt with the Classic. Our testers gave mixed reviews on the lack of waist belt, with some preferring even a simple belt while others felt that when used in its intended element, road cycling or light day hiking, a belt would just be in the way. Trail runners were also undecided between the belt versus no belt question.

Without a waist belt the pack is prone to bouncing when on the full side but still relatively comfortable
Without a waist belt the pack is prone to bouncing when on the full side but still relatively comfortable

We also put the Classic through the Tahoe trail wringer, just like we did with the CamelBak Rogue, and had similar results. For light, non-technical riding, the Classic could be your ultralight pack of choice, but for anything technical, we wouldn't recommend it.

While not a mountain bike specific pack  it provides a comfortable carry for hiking and road cycling
While not a mountain bike specific pack, it provides a comfortable carry for hiking and road cycling

Storage


With a light and fast storage capacity of 0.5 liters, this is the pack in our test with the least amount of gear storage, with only one small pocket.


This competitor's primary use is to carry water, a couple of food bars, an inner tube, and CO2 cartridges, or maybe even superlight Sil nylon wind jacket. If you're looking for gear carrying ability, this is not your pack, and you should check out the CamelBak Rogue for two liters of additional space. The budget-friendly TETON Sports TrailRunner provides 2.5 more liters of storage.

Not a lot of storage  but for activities like trail running  road riding  and hiking it may be all you need
Not a lot of storage, but for activities like trail running, road riding, and hiking it may be all you need

Weight


This model is the lightest. At 11.2oz, the CamelBak Classic is hands-down the lightest pack in our stable of hydration packs.


The nearest competitors in regards to pack weight (we measured 'em) is a tie between the CamelBak Rogue and the TETON Sports TrailRunner, at 12.8 ounces. Splitting hairs? Perhaps. But if saving every ounce counts, the Classic is for you!

Ease of Cleaning


The Classic is an easy-maintenance pack that cleans up in an identical manner to the CamelBak Rogue.


A wide mouth opening that allows easy access, even for those of us with larger meathooks. Our testers were able to clean and wipe down the inside of the hydration bladder without too much trouble, although not as easily as the wider opening designs from Osprey, Platypus, and Deuter.

An easy to open outer flap provides access to the Crux bladder
An easy to open outer flap provides access to the Crux bladder

With the lack of a quick disconnect drinking tube, thoroughly cleaning the tube is more difficult. To gain the hydration bladder end of the drinking tube, we found you'll need to completely remove the bladder and pop the tube off the bladder fitting. When it's cleaning time, it's easy to pull the bladder from the outer bag through an elasticized opening at the top of the pack.

The 4" opening makes cleaning access easy.
The 4" opening makes cleaning access easy.

Best Applications


For riders, especially road riders, seeking the lightest, sleekest, and simplest water-carrying pack, the Classic is a pack worth considering.

The Classic out on the run.
The Classic out on the run.

Value


At $60, the Classic is a good buy for minimalist hydration pack users who are seeking a quality pack. While you pay half that cost with the Wacool 2L or the TETON Sports TrailRunner, you don't get nearly the level of quality guaranteed (for a lifetime!) that CamelBak offers.

Conclusion


Are you a no-frills cyclist looking for a simple and sleek pack? Does the thought of carrying even an extra ounce make you cringe and keep you up at night? If you think any of that describes you, the CamelBak Classic is worth a look.

For hikers  road cyclists  and trail runners this lightweight pack is a...Classic!
For hikers, road cyclists, and trail runners this lightweight pack is a...Classic!


Jason Cronk