The CamelBak Classic is true to its name, a classic, and narrowly earned our Top Pick Award for minimalists and tight budgets over its bigger sibling the CamelBak Rogue. A familiar sight to most of us for a couple decades now, it has a simple and sleek design, a 2.5-liter liquid capacity, and the lightest weight in our fleet, 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 lower-than-most list price, the Classic earns our award and our praise.
CamelBak Classic Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, sleek, solid performance in a minimalist pack, nice price
Cons: Almost no storage, shoulder straps are snug for users with wide shoulders and lats
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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. This year we narrowly chose the Classic over the CamelBak Rogue as our Top Pick because of its simple design and lower price. If you're someone who's counting grams and counting pennies, this should be your hydration pack of choice.
Ease of Drinking
As do the other CamelBak products 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 current testing lineup, we put the Classic up against an older generation CamelBak hydration pack and saw the flow rate "per sip" was indeed noticeably better.
Another handy feature is the practical and easy to use shutoff valve. Flip it forward to stop the flow and stop potential drips, then flip it back to experience easy drinking. If in doubt, CamelBak even put pictures on the valve! So simple!
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. While several of the models in our testing lineup have convenient quick-release drinking tubes, 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, eliminating the need to unhook the drinking tubes for a simple refill.
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 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 0.5 liters of the 2.5-liter liquid capacity.
The CamelBak Rogue behaves almost identically, as you can see.
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.
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 would recommend something a little more secure.
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 for just the essentials.
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 a larger gear carrying ability, this is not your pack, and you should check out the CamelBak Rogue for 2-liters of additional storage volume. The budget-friendly TETON Sports TrailRunner also provides 2.5 more liters of storage compared to the Classic.
This model is the lightest. At 11.2oz, the CamelBak Classic is hands-down the lightest pack in our stable of hydration packs. Obviously, you'll be trading extra storage volume and higher-end features for such a minimalist design, but for its intended purpose, it's tough to beat the scant weight of the Classic.
The nearest competitors in regards to pack weight (we measured them ourselves!) is a tie between the CamelBak Rogue and the TETON Sports TrailRunner at 12.8 ounces. Are we splitting hairs? Perhaps. But if you think saving every ounce counts, the Classic is the one for you!
Ease of Cleaning
The Classic is an easy-maintenance pack that cleans up in an identical manner to the CamelBak Rogue.
The Crux hydration bladder comes with 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 bladder without too much trouble, although not as easily as the wider opening designs from Osprey, Platypus, Hydro Flask, and Deuter.
With the lack of a quick release drinking tube, thoroughly cleaning the tube can be a bit 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.
For hikers or cyclists, especially road cyclists, seeking the lightest, sleekest, and simplest water-carrying pack with reliable CamelBak performance, the Classic is a pack definitely worth considering.
At $60 list price, the Classic is a good buy for minimalist hydration pack users who are seeking a quality pack. While you might pay half that price with the TETON Sports TrailRunner, you don't get nearly the level of quality guaranteed (for a lifetime!) that CamelBak offers.
Are you a no-frills cyclist looking for a simple and sleek pack? Are you a casual hiker looking for an easy way to carry water on your next outing? 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!
— Jason Cronk