CamelBak Hydration Packs Review: Get Bak in the Game!

Don’t underestimate the importance of staying hydrated while you're out and about. Dehydration can be a serious problem, but a problem that is easily prevented if you're prepared! CamelBak is a company that offers products to keep you prepared – products that are described as “hands-free hydration systems.” CamelBak products are designed to keep water easily accessible without interrupting your activity flow, and they’re generally lightweight while distributing the weight of the water across your back evenly. A water bottle thrown into your backpack will clunk around and hit you in the back as you move, but these pack solutions are streamlined and hug your body for a non-interfering water source that’s always nearby.

What Kinds of Products Does CamelBak Sell?

The core idea behind CamelBak's hydration products was born when Camelbak founder Michael Eidson was participating in a bike race during a hot, dry Texas summer. He filled an IV bag with water, put it in a tube sock, pinned the sock to the back of his jersey, and sucked water out of surgical tubing he’d attached to the IV bag (he had access to this stuff as an EMT). Eidson was able to stay hydrated and cut down on the time cyclists take to slow down and pull out their bottle, helping him get ahead in the race. He realized that he was on to something big, and produced the first CamelBak product – a polished version of his homemade contraption.

The product became wildly popular among bikers, who it seems had been waiting for a product like this. CamelBak became a US military staple during the 2 Gulf Wars and the War in Afghanistan. The different models (besides the water bottles) incorporate the same fundamental structure of the hydration pack in a backpack, but vary in backpack size and water capacity to suit different uses and outdoor activities of choice. Enjoy our full run-down of the top CamelBak products here in our CamelBak Hydration Packs Review!

muleCamelBak Mule Review

The Mule is a sleek, lightweight backpack with a 3 liter water capacity. CamelBak put a lot of thought into balancing space and weight, and seems to have achieved that goal perfectly with the Mule. It is designed with mountain bikers in mind (but is not exclusively for bikers by any means), so the company made sure it can fit your basic biking equipment like a tire pump, jacket, snacks, first aid essentials, etc. It also features hooks to attach almost any helmet to the front of the bag. A magnetic tube trap lets you snap the rubber tube off and attach it back to the shoulder strap with ease.

eddyCamelBak Eddy Review

With CamelBak’s reputation as a company focused on hydration, and the increased, environmentally conscious-driven popularity in reusable water bottles, expanding into water bottle production was a natural step for CB. Producing water bottles was a risk because they had branded themselves as the hands-free hydration company, but the reality is that carrying a backpack around isn’t practical for day-to-day use. The Eddy is a “taste-free” bottle that is BPA and BPS free. It features a rubber finger grip that juts out on top and a bite-down valve that flips up and down. There are plastic and stainless steel options. It is a sturdy, spill-proof bottle – and one that comes highly recommended.

chuteCamelBak Chute Review

The Chute bottle has a wide mouth for quick and convenient drinking. It offers a nice middle ground between bottles with tiny spouts and those with twist off caps the width of the entire bottle. It’s got a quarter-turn twist cap, so you can open and close it nicely and quickly. There is a slot to click in the cap so that it’s not hitting you in the face as you drink, but that ends up adding an extra step to drinking so you may not use it all that often. Like the Eddy, the Chute is leak-proof and comes in either plastic or stainless steel versions. There’s also an insulated option for keeping drinks warm or cool – the Chute is one heck of a versatile bottle!

packCamelBak Hydration Pack Review

The Hydration Pack is the most compact backpack that CamelBak offers. Despite its small billing, the pack holds 2 liters of water, and features a medium-sized pocket that can carry small necessities such as snacks, phone, or wallet. The Hydration Pack is very lightweight, with mesh straps and a mesh back panel ensuring comfort and an easy breathe. There’s even an adjustable chest strap to keep the pack from bouncing around. The Hydration Pack is perfect for running or biking.

Looking to get active? Check out our Beachbody P90X, X2, X3, Insanity, T25, and Body Beast reviews!

hawgCamelBak HAWG Review

The HAWG is a military or tactical-style pack. The backpack has tons of space for survivalist or backpacking gear – dimensions are 19” x 10.5” x 10.2.” The shoulder straps are very comfortable, and the weight is distributed very well so you’re not straining your shoulders too much. That is helped by the chest and waist straps which keep the pack in place and close to your body. The back panel is padded for comfort and won’t absorb sweat.

There's plenty of space for external attachments, with plastic hooks and MOLLE attachment compatibility on the front. It’s easy to stay organized with this bag due to the different pockets and compartments inside. The Hawg is extremely durable and is meant to withstand tougher conditions. If that isn't enough of an endorsement for you, rest easy – CamelBak offers a lifetime “Got Your Bak” warranty! Unforunately the HAWG original has been discontinued, but there are similar items available from CamelBak if you can't find a HAWG through a third party!

bladderCamelBak Bladder Review

The Bladder is a plastic water pouch utilized inside of  the different packs. It screws closed tightly to prevent leaking and is easy to fill up with a large valve opening. Some versions have movable hard plastic pieces that can fold down to hold the pack open while it is being filled or dried out. A rubber tube attaches to the pack with a bite-down valve at the end, and a lock system cuts off water so if the bite valve has opened or loosened, leaking is prevented. The bladder is made in a variety of sizes and forms.

kidsCamelBak Kids Mule Review

CamelBak has introduced a line of products for kids that are more size-appropriate and feature different fun colors and designs! The Kids Eddy bottle holds .4L of water. The company also makes a Chute bottle that holds .6L, for the older kids. The Kids Mule backpack is small and very lightweight, and holds 1.5 liters of water, perfect for a family hike or school trip. The backpack even features a whistle, so your child can get your attention if they are lost or need help.

rogueCamelBak Rogue Review

The Rogue is very similar to the hydration pack, but it has a more rugged, sturdy exterior and is slightly larger. The pack features 2 medium-sized pockets, with some mesh organizational pockets and a key clip. The Rogue is great for trail hikes, outdoor day trips, and mountain biking if you don’t need to carry too much gear. This would have made a great option for Jyn Erso during the “Rogue One” mission were she thirsty, but alas – she didn't bring her Rogue along.

CamelBak Backpacks Review

In case this wasn't already clear, I love these hydration backpacks. They are so useful and durable and they’re not heavy or bulky – you truly get the best of both worlds! It's so refreshing to use a water carrier that doesn’t leak all over my stuff, and water stays cooler in the backpack than it would if I was holding it in a bottle exposed to the sun. These backpacks are very reasonably priced considering durability, lifetime warranty, and money you’ll be saving on disposable water bottles. It’s really a one-time cost. The only slight annoyance with these is that you have to be on top of rinsing and drying them out after every use or bacteria and mold can start to grow in the plastic.

backpacks

CamelBak Water Bottles Review

The CamelBak water bottles are pretty good, but I’m less in love with them than with my backpack. The Eddy and the Chute have no added plastic taste and they’re BPA and BPS free (although this is pretty standard at this point). I would definitely recommend the Chute over the Eddy, because the Eddy’s bite-down valve can leakw a bit, they are difficult to keep clean, the spout bounces up on its own sometimes, and the plastic finger grip juts out and takes up space without being particularly useful, unless you want to attach a carabiner to it. The Chute is truly leak-proof, and I think the size of the opening makes it comfortable to drink out of. The only flaw in this design is that it takes some force to snap the cap into the storage spot. This contradicts the whole idea of being able to take a quick gulp of water- no one wants to waste time fiddling around with the bottle!

bottles

How Do You Clean a CamelBak?

First of all, when it comes to every product utilizing the Bladder, make sure to rinse and fully dry out your carrier after each use so that mold won’t start growing inside. If you won’t be using your pack for a while, empty it and stick it in the freezer to most effectively stop any bacteria from growing. If you're going to use your CamelBak to drink something other than pure water, make sure to scrub it out immediately after use. If you haven’t cleaned your CamelBak for a while and it looks like it could use a deeper cleaning, wash it with hot water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda – or the CamelBak cleaning tablet. Let the solution flow down into the tube and into the bite valve. You can also use a cleaning brush for a more thorough cleaning. CamelBak sells one that can get into those hard to reach corners, but any cleaning brush with a long handle should work fine.

Let your cleaning solvent sit for 30 minutes and then then rinse it out of your pack completely so that you aren’t drinking soap or baking soda the next time you use it. When it’s all clean, let it dry out completely so that mold can’t grow inside. To clean the exterior of the backpack, wipe it down with a damp cloth or soak in warm water with a mild, diluted soap. Rinse well afterwards with cool water to get all of the soap out. Last but not least, do NOT put your CamelBak through washing machine! That is, unless you're interested in ruining your CamelBak and voiding your warranty!

Conclusion

A helpful feature on the CamelBak site is the Hydration Calculator which takes age, weight, height, workout intensity and weather into account and tells you how much water you should be drinking. According to Sport Nutrition by Asker Jeukendru and Michael Gleeson, “Exercise performance is impaired when an individual is dehydrated by as little as 2% of body weight.” Drinking enough water is a predominant factor in keeping your body in optimum condition for engaging in any physical activity. Studies have also shown that drinking in sips over a long period of time is much more effective than chugging a lot of water sporadically. I love the CamelBak line because there’s nothing that makes drinking easier than having an open valve a few inches away! Get back in the game with a CamelBak today!

Thanks for reading our CamelBak feature! Be sure to check out some of our other features – like our LifeStraw and P90X reviews – here at EduMuch!

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