Camelbak have been the leading answer to mountain bike thirst since the early 90’s, but unlike Bula hats and neon lycra, they’ve improved with age.
Now used by NASA, and the US armed forces as well as everyone from hardcore trail riders to (whisper it) ramblers, they’ve built up a huge species of bags from the basic idea of carrying your drink on your back.The tucked away from flying filth advanatage still holds true, but Camelbaks make even more sense with all the minimal and awkward bottle positions of today’s full sus bikes.
Anyway here’s the new kit that spilled from the enormous sack of the nice Camelbak man, when he nipped round to show us his bladder operation.
The biggest innovation is the introduction of a new big mouth screw top opening – complete with frying pan handle for holding while filling. This means you don’t have to drag the bladder out of the sack as the opening sits ready and waiting under the top flap. At the moment it’ll only be available in the new Siren and Rogue back systems, but there are more sizes and bags planned for next year.
It started as a simple neoprene sleeve (with a cow skin cover if you were “crazee”) but the new Hydrobak is a whole lot smarter. The one piece rounded yoke design, gets lightweight, adjustable mesh straps, with a 3 way bungee on the back for stuffing a jacket or any roadkill you’re taking home for the pot. The 1.5 litre bladder gets a new “Hydrolock” on / off switch version of the Ergo valve we loved this year, which should stop irritating incontinence if it gets buried in the car, and the hose gets semi-internal routing over either shoulder. Price has also dropped to around £23.
Our favourite from last year – the Rocket – gets all the improvements to cure the few niggles we had. The bag itself is longer, so most mini-pumps fit easily, and the chest strap with it’s gel sachet holder has been moved lower, so you can run the back lower slung without throttling yourself. It still holds 2.1 litres with superb stability as well as all the pump, tubes, snacks and tools you’ll need for most rides.
If you’re out for the day, or you’re one of those “but it’s only a small kitchen sink” types you’ll be getting really excited by the new re-designed and expanded HAWG (Holds A Lot of Water and Gear). With 3l water capacity – plus room for another bladder if you’re desert bound – acccessed through the new “Hydrolock” on/off bite valve, you certainly won’t run dry. The HAWG the adds masses of bungee straps, cargo nets, gear loops, compression straps and a fully adjustable, shaped harness system to keep control of 16.5 litres of cargo space. It’s not a lightweight but it should be super stable and there’s a full shaped and vented back panel for air conditioning your spine.
There are more sizes and shapes – from the “Xtreme urban handbag” Slingshot, to the gargantuan Transalp – in addition to what we’ve shown you, so check out the official Camelbak site or for information on what’s definitely coming over here then have a look at the Zyro site.
From what we’ve seen the range loks great, with all our previous niggles cured and the quality Camelbak feel that seperates them from cheaper imitations still very much in evidence. We’ll let you know whether they live up to our expectation when our promised bag of samples turns up to be released into the wild.
But before all you self propelled gun fanatics ask, the camouflage marine versions come in from a different supplier, but it’s worth a visit to the military and law enforcement suppliers list on the Camelbak site just to check out the range of bullet proof vests, and gas mask attatchments for NBC suits.