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CamelBak Octane XCT 70 Review

A minimalistic pack best suited for those who are weight conscious and engaged in low exertion activities due to poor breathability
CamelBak Octane XCT 70
Photo: CamelBak
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Price:  $85 List | $59.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, hip belt pockets
Cons:  Minimal storage, lacks breathability
Manufacturer:   CamelBak
By Tara Reddinger-Adams ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 10, 2021
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 13
  • Ease of Drinking - 20% 8
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 4
  • Storage - 20% 4
  • Weight - 10% 9
  • Ease of Cleaning - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Camelbak Octane XCT is one of the lightest packs in our test and offers a minimalist design for those who prefer to go light and fast. We like the secure zip-close hip belt pockets that are large enough to hold an iPhone and plenty of snacks. For those who travel alone, a whistle is integrated into the sternum strap. As with many lightweight hydration packs the Octane XCT sits tight against the back and has poor breathability, leading to a sweaty back, making it a poor choice for mid to high-intensity activities.

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Price $59.00 at Amazon$90 List
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$60.00 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, hip belt pocketsComfortable, inexpensive, large storage volumeBig volume, lightweight, great priceLightweight, large storage volume, solid hydration systemLightweight, sleek, solid performance in a minimalist pack, nice price
Cons Minimal storage, lacks breathabilityHeavy, small water capacityFewer pockets, lacking breathabilityLimited organization, poor back panel ventilationAlmost no storage, shoulder straps are snug for users with wide shoulders and lats
Bottom Line A minimalistic pack best suited for those who are weight conscious and engaged in low exertion activities due to poor breathabilityA comfortable, affordable daypack, but is heavy and has a small water capacityA simple bag with a functional design and an excellent volume to weight to price ratioAn all-around pack that successfully blurs the line between hydration pack and daypackNot just a classic, but THE Classic in minimalist packs and our recommendation for minimalists and those on a tight budget
Rating Categories CamelBak Octane XCT 70 REI Co-op Trail Hyd... Gregory Nano 18 H2O Osprey Skarab 18 CamelBak Classic
Ease Of Drinking (20%)
8.0
5.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Ease Of Filling (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Comfort (20%)
4.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
4.0
Storage (20%)
4.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
2.0
Weight (10%)
9.0
5.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
Ease Of Cleaning (10%)
6.0
8.0
5.0
7.0
6.0
Specs CamelBak Octane XCT 70 REI Co-op Trail Hyd... Gregory Nano 18 H2O Osprey Skarab 18 CamelBak Classic
Pack Size (liters) 5 L 20 L 18 L 18 L 0.5 L
Bladder Capacity (liters) 2 L 2 L 3 L 2.5 L 2.5 L
Weight (measured) 17.6 oz 34.6 oz 25.6 oz 25.5 oz 11.2 oz
Weight (claimed) 10.0 oz 28.0 oz 18.4 oz 17.6 oz 5.0 oz
Waist Belt Padded with two zipper pockets Removable 3/4" webbing Removable 3/4" webbing Removable 3/4" webbing None

Our Analysis and Test Results

Weighing just 1.1 pounds (with bladder), the CamelBak Octane XCT is designed for moving light and fast. One of the pack's best features is the dual zip-close hip belt pockets with easy pull tabs to adjust the hip belt. The hip belt pockets are large enough for an iPhone and are great for keeping snacks and other small items within easy reach. The pack does not offer a lot of storage space, although we were able to squeeze in a lightweight insulated jacket, wallet, and face mask into the pack's zipper compartment. With just a 2-liter bladder, this pack is best suited for shorter-length endeavors, and its mesh back panel is not very breathable and left us with a sweaty back after each use.

This minimalistic lightweight pack is best suited for low-intensity...
This minimalistic lightweight pack is best suited for low-intensity activities.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Ease of Drinking


The Octane XCT comes with CamelBak's 2-liter Crux™ bladder that has a comfortable and easy to use bite-valve with a flip switch to turn the flow on or off. We found this switch a nice feature because sometimes bite valves can get squashed by other items in transport to the trail and leak.

Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

The hose has a large diameter with a great flow rate allowing you to suck large amounts of water at once. It is routed on the right shoulder strap, and the clip can not be removed and, depending on your torso size, can be rather long. On our tester who is 5'-5", the hose hung down to her waist, but on our 6'-3" tester, the hose length was just right. However, it is easy enough to trim the hose to your preferred length with a sharp knife.

Ease of Filling


The Octane XCT features a side load 2-liter hydration bladder accessed by a zipper that runs the length of the pack. The pack's flexibility and zipper provide a wide opening that makes putting in a full bladder relatively easy as long as the contents in the front pocket are flexible and not rigid.

Getting the bladder connected onto its leash inside the pack is...
Getting the bladder connected onto its leash inside the pack is tricky due to the lack of space.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Filling the 2-liter Crux™ bladder with one hand is quite easy thanks to a large sturdy handle under the opening, which is wide enough to allow ample flow to fill from a lake, river, or faucet. The screw-top opening is easy to use, and the threads line up well, securely closing it, so you don't have to worry about leaking. Perhaps the only downside to the design of the bladder is that the quick connect is located at its base, and it must be outside of the pack to most easily connect or disconnect it.

Comfort


The Octane XCT features a mesh back panel that sits directly against the back. During our testing, we hiked and mountain biked with the pack in temps that ranged from the mid-40s to the mid-60s and always had a sweaty back from the pack.

Each of our testers had a different experience in regards to the pack's adjustability and fit. Our shorter tester had difficulty getting the pack to fit comfortably on her torso and shoulders, but our taller tested had no fit issues with the pack. The pack's shoulder strap design makes the top sit a couple of inches below the shoulder, making the pack too low on her back, and the right shoulder strap dug into her neck. We suggest trying the pack on first for fit if you're on the shorter side to make sure it's comfortable for you.

Our shorter tester could not obtain a comfortable fit with the pack...
Our shorter tester could not obtain a comfortable fit with the pack, no matter how many adjustments she made.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

In general, the pack stayed in place without too much movement for hiking and light mountain biking but moved around too much vertically on our tester's backs for running.

Our taller tester had greater success achieving a comfortable fit.
Our taller tester had greater success achieving a comfortable fit.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Storage


The Octane XCT is not a high-capacity pack but does have well-thought-out features for only five liters of storage space. It has two fairly large, zip-close pockets that are easily accessible on the hip belt that are large enough to hold an iPhone with room to spare. The pull tabs on the zippers are coated in rubber and are rounded, making them easy to open even with gloves on.

The hip belt pockets are large and easy to open even with gloves on...
The hip belt pockets are large and easy to open even with gloves on thanks to rubber-coated zipper pulls.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

In addition to the hip belt pockets, there are two mesh pockets on the shoulder straps that face outward. These pockets are nice to stash sunglasses or an energy bar. We found them handy for holding our lightweight gloves on more than one occasion.

The pack does have a nice slim profile on the back.
The pack does have a nice slim profile on the back.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

On the front of the pack is a zip pocket that our testers were able to stuff a lightweight synthetic jacket in along with a wallet and a few extras. Inside the pocket is a second smaller zip-close mesh pocket with a key fob that helps to keep valuables secure. While the pack is not designed for activities that require carrying lots of extra items, it can hold the essentials for outings a few hours in length.

This pack provides just enough space for a jacket and few other items.
This pack provides just enough space for a jacket and few other items.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Weight


The 17.6-ounce (1.1 pounds)(with bladder) Octane XCT is one of the lightest weight packs in our test and has some unique storage solutions not offered in packs of a similar design.

Ease of Cleaning


Cleaning the Octane XCT pack and bladder is easy with the right tools. The pack's large zip opening makes accessing the inside of the bladder compartment a breeze for cleaning, and the body of the pack can be easily be cleaned by laying it flat and wiping it down with a damp cloth.

Thanks to a wide mouth opening, the bladder can easily be cleaned with a brush. Those with small hands may even be able to put their hand in and clean it with a sponge. The quick connect and easy to remove bite valve provide access to both ends of the hose that can be cleaned with a long narrow brush.

The bladder opening is large enough for a small hand to fit inside...
The bladder opening is large enough for a small hand to fit inside or cleaning brushes to scrub out bacteria and mold.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Value


The Octane XCT is one of the more affordable packs in our test and does offer some great features such as a comfortable, locking bite valve, integrated whistle, and handy hip pockets. This one is definitely worth considering for those looking for a lightweight pack for hiking or light mountain biking.

Conclusion


The Octane XCT is a great pack for those looking for something that is lightweight, minimalistic, and has easy to access storage. The large diameter hydration hose and comfortable bite valve are easy to drink from and easy to clean. Breathability is not the best with this pack, but that is one of the trade-offs for its lightweight design. If you are shorter, we do recommend trying on the pack first to make sure it comfortably fits your torso.

A simplistic design with minimal structure and support.
A simplistic design with minimal structure and support.
Photo: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Tara Reddinger-Adams