There was a time before hydration packs, when riders would use water bottles held on the bike via flimsy bottle cages. Then a Californian company invented the hydration system in 1989 and transformed on-the-bike refuelling.
Never one to rest on their laurels though, they’ve continued to develop and launch hydration packs across a number of markets. For 2006 they’ve launched a couple of new products with more emphasis on freeriding, and given stable classics a face-lift.
First up, the new Outlaw range is aimed at freeriders with a full face lid carrier, straps for body armour and tougher material to stand up to the demands of freeriding. The Chaos is alone in this range, and comes with a 2L bladder and 9.5L of carrying capacity – split between one main compartment and a padded front pocket. The Coyote Brown version is made from 1000D Military spec Cordura fabric – don’t expect it to full apart in a hurry then. Available in Black/Grey or Coyote Brown, the Chaos costs £54.99.
A long running classic, the Mule is designed for carrying stack loads of stuff. The main compartment is kept simple, just one vast cavern while on the outside there’s a half-size compartment, attached to the main pack via stretchy mesh – ideal for stuffing a jacket in between. Inside this compartment there’s three pockets, with two mesh-fronted so you can see the contents. And on the very front there’s yet another adjustable and stretchy mesh pocket secured with a buckle.
Flipping the Mule onto its back you find the bladder fits inside its own zipped sleeve, making access to it extremely easy. Something we like very much is the top of the straps being fixed to the bag via d-rings, which give a better fit. The chest strap is height adjustable and there’s a waist strap, and the final touch is a padded MP3 music player at the top of the pack. Comfort is a high priority when carrying this much gear, so the back padding is separated into smaller sections to spread the load and supposedly allow some airflow, with a suspension harness for increased comfort.
The Mule retails for £69.99 and is available in Black, Red, Blue or Orange. For £74.99 the Mule 4 Season gets an insulated tube, bite valve cover and Coyote Brown material – only 1,700 are being shipped to the UK so best be quick if you want one.
And while we were browsing the Camelbak website, we came across their new Better Bottle, a spill-proof 0.75L bottle. Available in nine colours, with an easy to carry handle, it looks like the perfect post-ride re-hydration vessel.