This is the best fitting running hydration pack we tested. The weight is evenly distributed around the waist, back, and front. You can put weight (phone, bars, light wind shell) in front, which evenly balances the pack and avoids any hot spots on your shoulders or loose-fitting areas.
The waist buckle is intelligently placed at your left hip where it rests on waist belt padding rather than on your stomach. This takes a little while to get used to but overall we like it.
The very comfortable vest type design uses well-ventilated padding but overall adds a lot of coverage. We therefore don't anticipate this being ideal for hot weather because even the most well ventilated material, when it covers so much of your body, keeps you warm.
This is the most stable running pack tested as there is almost zero movement. The two chest straps help to find optimum fit and reduce movement. The waist belt slipped a little at first and took some getting used to, but we eventually got it adjusted right.
Ease of Drinking
As with all CB packs, water delivery is very good with high flow from minimal effort. Unlike the Osprey packs, the bite valve is not right in front of your mouth. Instead, you have to reach down, unclip it, drink, then reclip it. This is not a big deal for running or hiking where you have your hands free.
Ease of Filling
We found the Ultra LR and the Octane LR to be some of the most difficult systems to fill. The on-waist water system makes for more difficult bladder removal than other packs. Getting the bladder back once full is also more difficult than average. The bladder itself is easy to fill and has a nice big plastic handle.
This pack is overall pretty light. However, it is pretty heavy considering how little storage it has. The Marathoner is about 10 ounces lighter. The LR just has a whole lot of material.
No issues. CamelBak packs are generally top notch here. No leaks evident.
Ease of Cleaning
Like most CB packs, cleaning is accomplished more easily than with most bladders once removed from the pack. Hoses disconnect easily and bladders are straightforward to prop open for drying. Pulling the bladder in and out is not as simple as with some others like the Osprey or Geigerrig.
There are lots of little storage places for food, a cell phone, and even a small wind shirt or rain jacket. But there is no one large compartment. The upside is that you choose where you want the weight: either on the waist belt, in the front vest part, or the back. The downside is you look like a fisherman. There are two breast pockets for energy shots, Gu, etc, two Zip pockets along waist best, and one larger mesh storage on back with room to store light layers.