Revised: Owner Review: CamelBak HydroBak
- Owner Review: CamelBak HydroBak
Personal biographical information
Name: Eric Palmer
Age: 26 years old
Height: 5' 8'' (173 cm)
Weight: 180 lb (82 kg)
Email address: ericj_palmer@...
City, state, country: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Backpacking background: I started backpacking when I was seven years old, on family summer vacations to Estes Park, Colorado, which my dad took my brother and me hiking on. Since then I have moved to Colorado and have been hiking hardcore for five years now. I completed a Hikemaster’s Course in the Rocky Mountain National Park and have led numerous groups on hikes, both short and long, dispensing information on the various ecosystems in the area. My backpacking style is mostly ultralight or light.
Made in: Mexico
Manufacturer URL: http://www.camelbak.com
Year acquired: 2002
MSRP: $30.00 (USD)
These measurements are without water added to the pack.
Weight as measured: 13 oz (368 grams)
Length: 13.5 in (34 cm)
Width: 9 in (23 cm)
Thickness: 1.75 in (4.4 cm)
Weight with water: 4 lbs (1.8 kg)
Capacity: 50 fl. oz. (1.5 liters)
Lining: Polyurethane, reservoir; FDA-approved, anti-microbial HydroGuard™ technology which prevents bacteria
Product description: The HydroBak is meant to be used for 1-2 hour trips. The external casing is Nylon and the bladder inside is an anti-microbial material that is very durable and flexible. Features include an external sipper pocket for storing small items such as keys, credit cards, cell phones, and money. The HydroBak also has a OMEGA wide-mouth port for easy filling, reflectors for visibility in low-light situations, and a padded, mesh, breathable back. The HydroLock valve is very cool, in that I am able to seal off the water flow to the mouth piece with the quick flip of the valve “switch”. It is very easy to use and can be closed with the use of the thumb and fore finger. The Big Bite mouth piece is very cool. To use it I have to bite down on the mouth piece the correct way to get water flow (if the valve is open). There is also an adjustable strap to keep the external pocket closed. Bladder insulation is also a feature, although, I believe that it does not work.
Supposedly CamelBak bladders are so tough that it can be run over by a car without any operational damage. I have not tried this, nor do I care to. The color options are Black, Sunset Orange, and True Blue The picture above is of the True Blue.
I had wanted a CamelBak for a while and finally broke down and bought one not too long after I moved to Colorado in 2001. Ever since, I have used extensively. It has held up beyond my expectations and dries fairly quickly after use. I did notice a small amount of mold building up, but I quickly solved that problem, by drying out the bladder with a paper towel and blowing through the mouth piece to attempt to get out any left over moisture in the tube. I also remove the mouth piece after several times of use to let it air dry. I have not had any mold problems since I began this quick procedure of drying the bladder out.
I love the sleekness and weight of the HydroBak. I can hardly tell that it is there, until I take it off and I have a huge sweat spot on the back of my shirt where the pack was. The breathable mesh backing is not so breathable when participating in heavy physical activity.
Experience with Product: When snowshoeing I have kept the HydroBak as close to my body as possible to prevent freezing, but this has not always worked. There have been a few occasions when the drinking tube has frozen and I must hold it in my palm to defrost it. The bladder itself has also frosted over a few times, but not completely frozen. This definitely ensures ice cold water when a drink is taken. The bladder has not ruptured due to the freezing. The thickness of the bladder material seems to add to the toughness of the entire product as a whole.
I noticed that when closing the valve a small amount of water would still be in the mouthpiece. This was dripping out and onto my clothes (not that it’s a big deal, but it get annoying after a while). So to solve this simple problem, I just took the mouthpiece between two fingers and opened it briefly to let the left-over water out.
I have also noticed that when biking in really hot weather, the water in the bladder tends to warm up faster than that in the drinking tube. I believe it is because the water in the tube is exposed to the wind resistance that occurs when riding a bike at a decent pace while the bladder is not exposed and is close to the body core. On the other hand, when hiking, the water in the tube seems to collect heat faster than that the water in the bladder. I have not really figured this one out yet, but will continue to make careful observations when hiking with the HydroBak.
Two things that I did not like about the HydroBak are the small external pocket and the fact that I cannot remove the bladder from the external housing. I can barely squeeze in my house key, my cell phone, and my driver’s license and credit card into the pocket when I go on bike rides. I do not have room for a tire repair kit and bike tool, therefore, I have had to store my repair kit and tool in a separate pouch under my seat. When backpacking long distances, I do not even use the back, because the bladder is not removable, making it hard to care it and a backpack. I have used the HydroBak with my lumbar back and that works very well. The two do not interfere with each other at all and I have a very minimal amount of weight on my shoulders.
Locations used: I have biked, hiked, snow shoed with this product mostly in the Cache La Poudre River Canyon between 9,000 ft (2,740 m) and 10,000 ft (3,000 m) and in Rocky Mountain National Park between 8,000 ft. (2438 m) and 14,000 ft. (4 267 m) . On-trail and off-trail hiking, rocky terrain, and steep terrain. I have climbed 5 “fourteeners” with the pack, including Longs Peak (14,259 ft./4 346 m). I have also used it while riding up to 34 miles round-trip on my road bike.
Weather conditions: Dry to wet weather, temperatures of use range from -20 F to 102 F (-28 C to 38.8 C). Clear to overcast skies. Open roads, heavily forested mountain trails, and exposed mountain sides.
Comments: The HydroBak has performed excellent in all of the seasons and weather conditions that I have used them in. I am very satisfied with the product, but would not recommend it to people who would like to use it with another back pack. To use it in conjunction with another bag, would take up valuable space. I would suggest purchasing just a CamelBak bladder which retail between $20-30.
Pros: The small size, ease of use, fairly large water-capacity, and price of this hydration pack are by far the best traits. The pack has provided me essential hydration and at the same time, a light-weight, almost hands-free way to get it.
Cons: 1) The freezing of the tube and frosting over of the bladder. 2) The different warming patterns of the water. 3) The lack of external pocket space are the downfalls of this hydration pack. 4) The bladder is not removable from the external housing.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]