We haven’t had a look at the latest Camelbak hydration packs in a while, so a phone call to UK importer Zyro and the two bags you see in the photo promptly landed on the editorial desk.
Camelbak Charge 450 £79.99
First up is the Charge 450. It’s based on one of our all time favourite bags, the M.U.L.E., but by using a lighter weight fabric, less padded mesh straps and a new Lightweight Exoskeleton back panel weight has been reduced to about 450g, roughly a 33% saving.
Inside things are very similar to the M.U.L.E., with a 3L reservoir and 12.5L of cargo space. There’s the huge main compartment, a softly padded zipped pocket ideal for storing your smart phone, and other little pockets dotted around for taking tools and other bits and pieces.
One noticeable highlight is the new Lightweight Exoskeleton back panel. Raised foam allows for air flow to cool sweaty backs while still supporting a heavy fully loaded pack, but with less of the bulk than other designs. There’s also a waist belt with extra pockets for stuff like gels that you need readily to hand.
Women’s L.U.X.E. £74.99
And for the women, the new L.U.X.E., a female-specific pack that, like the Charge, is also based on the M.U.L.E. Like the Charge too it offers a 3L bladder with a 11.5L cargo capacity, but there the similarities end.
The pack has a women’s specific ‘stability-enhancing Dynamic Suspension harness’, a sort of floating harness that along with shaped straps that means it’s more comfortable on the back. Additional support is offered by chest and removable waist straps. Weight for this pack is 640g.
Antidote bladder ushers in big improvements for hydration
Both these packs use the company’s Antidote bladder, the latest evolution of their very recognisable blue bladder. It’s lighter and has a lower profile than previous versions, uses quick-connect modules at the end of the hose attaching to the bladder.
The Quick-Snap cap/port is now wider and tightens with a positive snap, making it easier and quicker to top up (hopefully that means no more seized caps after using energy drinks). Camelbak has also designed the bags with the bladder in mind now, with a slot in the bag that hooks the handle around the port into place, preventing the bladder from collapsing as it empties. A nice touch.
Camelbak, a name synonymous with hydration packs, once enjoyed almost unrivalled dominance in the market but in the last few years there’s been increasingly stiff competition from several corners. On the evidence of these two packs, there’s a lot to recommend though. Watch out for full reviews soon.