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Best CamelBak Backpacks

last updated May 21, 2019

If you have ever looked into getting a hydration backpack, most likely you have come across the CamelBak brand as they are a powerhouse when it comes to hydrating yourself on the go. CamelBak produces a wide variety of styles of hydration backpacks to ensure no matter what activity you find yourself participating in, you can have a comfortable backpack that will keep you hydrated and your gear secured. You may be asking yourself, "do I really need a hydration backpack? Cant I just carry around a water bottle with me?". You definitely can carry around a water bottle with you but think about how inconvenient that would be as it would not give you free motion of your hands. If you want to be comfortable and also hydrated, it is time you invest in a hydration backpack from CamelBak.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 12 hrs of research

icon
CamelBak M.U.L.E.
94.3/100 our score
Capacity
97
Fit
94
Breathability
93
Use
93
CamelBak M.U.L.E.
Why is it better?

Reasonable price

Variety of colors

Excellent breathability

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
CamelBak M.U.L.E.
Test Winner: CamelBak M.U.L.E.
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
15
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1.3k
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
12
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
17
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
Jordan Coleiro
By Jordan Coleiro:

This buying guide for CamelBak Backpacks has been put together to show you the best researched and reviewed backpacks to keep you hydrated and be able to store your gear on your next adventure. A new addition to our list is the CamelBak ThermoBak. We love this addition because it is known for its sleek design, being lightweight, and holds up to 3 L of water.

Sorting Options
Capacity Fit Breathability Use By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.3
Capacity
97 %
Fit
94 %
Breathability
93 %
Use
93 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.10.19)
Amazon Link
$74.99
Backcountry Link
$109.95
See Deal
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Capacity
92 %
Fit
91 %
Breathability
93 %
Use
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.10.19)
Amazon Link
$69.00
Backcountry Link
$69.95
See Deal
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Capacity
94 %
Fit
93 %
Breathability
92 %
Use
92 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.10.19)
Amazon Link
$74.99
Backcountry Link
$99.95
See Deal
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.3
Capacity
91 %
Fit
91 %
Breathability
93 %
Use
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.10.19)
Backcountry Link
$59.95
See Deal
Amazon Link
$59.99
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.3
Capacity
94 %
Fit
93 %
Breathability
92 %
Use
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.10.19)
Backcountry Link
$83.99
See Deal
Amazon Link
$84.94
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.3
Capacity
94 %
Fit
93 %
Breathability
89 %
Use
93 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.10.19)
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.5
Capacity
88 %
Fit
91 %
Breathability
94 %
Use
93 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.10.19)
Amazon Link
$36.99
Backcountry Link
$49.95
See Deal
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.3
Capacity
91 %
Fit
91 %
Breathability
90 %
Use
93 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.10.19)
Amazon Link
$68.45
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.5
Capacity
94 %
Fit
93 %
Breathability
87 %
Use
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.10.19)
Backcountry Link
$159.95
See Deal
Amazon Link
$179.99
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.5
Capacity
91 %
Fit
89 %
Breathability
90 %
Use
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (20.10.19)
Amazon Link
$63.99

Top Ten CamelBak Backpacks

1. CamelBak M.U.L.E.

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.3
CamelBak M.U.L.E.
Amazon Link
Capacity
97
Fit
94
Breathability
93
Use
93
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$74.99
Backcountry Link
$109.95
See Deal
Pros:

Reasonable price

Variety of colors

Excellent breathability

Cons:

Not the easiest to wash and clean

This has been one of CamelBak’s best selling hydration backpacks with good reason. It is an ideal mix of quality, aesthetic appeal, and class. The best part is that it will not burn a hole in your pocket. While its primary use is intended for mountain biking, you could just as well use it for virtually any other outdoor activity including hiking, jogging, etc.

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Capacity
At 11 liters, the storage capacity is excellent.

Fit
This backpack fits great and as always with a CamelBak backpack, the straps are adjustable to ensure you can get the perfect fit.

Breathability
The various air channels in the back panel offer tremendous breathability. This ensures that your back is kept well ventilated and cool at all times.

Use
It is a decent price to way for a backpack as good as this with a CamelBak tag. Moreover, there are cheaper ones that are available in other colors. The M.U.L.E is available in myriad colors. Each color is impressive in its own way and you will have a pleasant headache trying to choose between them!

2. CamelBak Rogue

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
CamelBak Rogue
Amazon Link
Capacity
92
Fit
91
Breathability
93
Use
95
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$69.00
Backcountry Link
$69.95
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Pros:

Great value for money

Variety of colors

Good visibility

Cons:

The tube is not CamelBak’s best in terms of quick release

This impressive cycling hydration backpack is aimed primarily at those who are looking for slightly cheaper options. The CamelBak quality is ever present so you need not worry about there being a compromise between quality and price. There is a 2017 version of this, but this one is considerably better. Remember to double check when you buy; the model that comes later is not always an upgrade or better.

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Capacity
3.3 liters. Not the highest storage capacity you will find, but given the price range, it is quite decent.

Fit
This backpack is one of the more sleeker and smaller on the list. With proper adjustments using the adjustable straps, it will fit great and be comfortable for any activity.

Breathability
This backpack has a breathable back and straps to ensure proper air flow is provided.

Use
It is very affordable and for its quality, it is great value for money. It is available in 4 colors namely, black, lemon green, pure blue, and racing red. You’ll never be short of options to choose from.

3. CamelBak Lobo

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
CamelBak Lobo
Amazon Link
Capacity
94
Fit
93
Breathability
92
Use
92
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$74.99
Backcountry Link
$99.95
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Pros:

6 colors

Unisex

Good breathability

Cons:

Storage could be slightly higher for the price

If you seek a top-notch CamelBak hydration backpack for mountain biking and external filling is one of your top priorities then the 2016 Lobo should be among your top choices. This is also a good option if you are not looking to carry around a lot of gear.

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Capacity
At 3 liters the capacity is alright. You could argue that the capacity could be slightly better given the price, but overall it is still quite reasonable.

Fit
This backpack fits great as it has adjustable straps and the shape of it works well with your back arch ensuring a comfortable fit.

Breathability
The back panel has incredible ventilation which allows for a high level of breathability.

Use
The Lobo is available in 6 different colors. They are black, charcoal/white, charcoal/atomic blue, exuberance/charcoal, charcoal/ember, and imperial blue/charcoal. There is an additional storage compartment for anything you may want to dump. The reflective accents account for good visibility and ensure your safety even in a bad light.

4. CamelBak Classic

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.3
CamelBak Classic
Amazon Link
Capacity
91
Fit
91
Breathability
93
Use
94
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$59.99
Backcountry Link
$59.95
See Deal
Pros:

Low price

Unisex

Variety of colors

Cons:

The tube is slightly small

This is a CamelBak classic in more ways than just the name. It has been designed for both men and women and is primarily aimed at cyclists. Its compactness makes it an ideal companion for short distance rides.

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Capacity
At 2 liters it is slightly on the lower side, but given the price and given the fact that its compactness is one of its plus points, it is ideal for people intending to use it for short distances.

Fit
Like many other CamelBak backpacks, this backpack comes equipped with breathable pockets along the back of the backpack and on the straps.

Breathability
The air mesh is extremely well ventilated. This gives the hydration pack great breathability which is so essential for backpacks.

Use
It is as good as it gets for a CamelBak classic. Admittedly it is not the biggest hydration pack in terms of capacity, but it is still worth the money. As with the earlier models discussed, the price varies slightly depending on the color chosen. It is available in four colors namely, black, lemon green, pure blue, and racing red. Choose the one which most catches your fancy.

5. CamelBak Cloud Walker 18

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.3
CamelBak Cloud Walker 18
Amazon Link
Capacity
94
Fit
93
Breathability
92
Use
90
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$84.94
Backcountry Link
$83.99
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Pros:

Variety of colors

Good ventilation

External attachment points for other equipment

Cons:

Price slightly on the higher side

The Cloud Walker 18 always tends to make the favorite hydration backpack lists of hikers. It has a main pocket and other several ancillary ones to enable to organize your hikes in the most optimal and efficient manner possible. There is a removable reservoir for additional storage capacity which you may use as you see fit, keeping in mind your needs.

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Capacity
This hydration backpack will hold 2.5 L of water, which means that no matter what adventure you find yourself, you will be hydrated.

Fit
This backpack feels more like a backpack and less like a hydration pack as it is quite bigger. It comes with adjustable straps to ensure you can fit the backpack perfectly to your body.

Breathability
The air mesh is extremely breathable which allows for great ventilation.

Use
This is a backpack that is slightly on the higher side considering its capacity. It does have in its favor its magnificent quality, aesthetic appeal, compactness, and ease of use. The Cloud Walker 18 is available in 3 colors.

6. CamelBak ThermoBak

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.3
CamelBak ThermoBak
Amazon Link
Capacity
94
Fit
93
Breathability
89
Use
93
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$69.99
Pros:

Sleek design

Lightweight

Holds up to 3 L of water

Cons:

The backpack itself could have more storage area

  • This is another great backpack from CamelBak. This backpack is known for its sleek design and is lightweight. It is mainly used for running, hiking, or any long distance activity that you need to stay hydrated but wants something lightweight that will not add strain to your back.

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    Capacity
    This backpack from CamelBak is one of their sleeker designs but still holds quite a bit of water to keep you hydrated. It will hold a maximum of 3 L of liquid which is plenty, without worrying that you will run out.

    Fit
    This backpack has a sleek design which molds nicely to your back, and the adjustable straps also make this a great backpack as you can adjust the fit to ensure you are comfortable.

    Breathability
    This backpack fits great against your back and molds to your body shape. It can get a bit tight against your back so you want to make sure that you loosen the straps a bit to allow for some air to flow between your back and the backpack.

    Use
    Overall, this backpack is highly rated and great for any long distance endurance activity as it holds a great amount of water to keep you hydrated and is lightweight to ensure it does not cause any inconvenience while you are performing your activities.

    7. CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E. Kids

    The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
    91.5
    CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E. Kids
    Amazon Link
    Capacity
    88
    Fit
    91
    Breathability
    94
    Use
    93
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    Amazon Link
    $36.99
    Backcountry Link
    $49.95
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    Pros:

    Good value for money

    Lightweight

    Fair storage capacity

    Cons:

    It may not be suitable for adolescents

    If you are looking for a CamelBak hydration backpack for the young ones, you need to look no further. The Mini M.U.L.E has many of the qualities of its version for the adults whilst ensuring that the backpack is catered to the needs of the children.

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    Capacity
    1.5 liters is close to the ideal storage capacity considering the target consumers.

    Fit
    It weighs less than 0.5 pounds. This has clearly been done to ensure that the younger ones are not inconvenienced by an overly heavy hydration pack.

    Breathability
    The air mesh is extremely breathable and ensures a high level of ventilation at all times.

    Use
    It is more or less what you would expect to pay for a backpack such as this of this quality. It is a good value for money. Its availability in 4 different colors which is certain to get the youngsters excited. The on/off lever helps in preventing leaks. Moreover, the nature of the handle makes refilling quick and efficient.

    8. CamelBak Women's Daystar 16

    The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
    91.3
    CamelBak Women's Daystar 16
    Amazon Link
    Capacity
    91
    Fit
    91
    Breathability
    90
    Use
    93
    best offer for today
    Amazon Link
    $68.45
    Pros:

    2.5 Liter water reservoir

    Lightweight

    Women-specific

    Cons:

    The straps may come into awkward contact with your neck

    For a woman who is serious about hydration and the outdoors, this CamelBak Women's Daystar 16 Crux Reservoir Hydration Pack will be her best friend. The newly added crux delivers 20% more per sip, so you can keep your liquids flowing and your speed going while hitting the trails.

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    Capacity
    There is a main compartment where you can store bigger items, like sweaters and raincoats. But there is also a smaller front compartment that allows you to store smaller ticket items, like snacks, cell phones, and keys.

    Fit
    Because this backpack has been designed with women in mind, it has been engineered with a shorter back panel and an S-curve harness for closure.

    Breathability
    The back panel is lined with breathable mesh so that you stay well ventilated and hot air can escape to keep you cooler.

    Use
    This is the updated version of the original CamelBak Women's Daystar, and it comes with some great bells and whistles. For example, not only does the crux deliver more water per sip, but the ergonomic design of the handle makes it easy to refill, and the on and off lever that firmly stay in place stop it from leaking.

    9. CamelBak BFM Desert Camo

    The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
    90.5
    CamelBak BFM Desert Camo
    Amazon Link
    Capacity
    94
    Fit
    93
    Breathability
    87
    Use
    88
    best offer for today
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    Amazon Link
    $179.99
    Backcountry Link
    $159.95
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    Pros:

    Great value for money

    Incredible storage capacity

    Good reservoir capacity

    Cons:

    Heavy

    This masterpiece is one of CamelBak’s finest. It is made for the long haul. You can every possible thing that you can think of in this and still be left with plenty of space to spare. It is extremely durable as well.

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    Capacity
    It is naturally priced on the higher side given its capacity. 5.85 pounds is slightly heavy, but it is understandable given its incredible storage capacity. 48 liters, you can virtually pack anything and everything you want!

    Fit
    This backpack fits great and will mimic the feel of a normal backpack. Make sure to use the adjustable straps for the most comfortable fit.

    Breathability
    The back is nicely cushioned which allows for very good ventilation thereby making the BFM breathable at all times.

    Use
    The reservoir capacity is 3 liters or about 101 fluid ounces. In addition to this, the BFM has been designed in a way which enables you to pack 6 liters more if necessary (that is a total of 9 liters or about 304 liquid ounces). That is very impressive indeed. The BFM comes with an organizer and radio attachment to make your life more convenient

    10. CamelBak Arete 18

    The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
    89.5
    CamelBak Arete 18
    Amazon Link
    Capacity
    91
    Fit
    89
    Breathability
    90
    Use
    88
    best offer for today
    Amazon Link
    $63.99
    Pros:

    Lightweight

    Compressible

    Good size

    Cons:

    Doesn't carry as much water as many others

    The CamelBak Arete 18 is a fantastic all-around choice for backpackers or those who seek to keep their costs down and value high when looking for a CamelBak hydration system. This backpack is light, comfortable and affordable.

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    Capacity
    It holds only 1.5 liters of water, so it is best suited for sightseeing trips around a city or a day hiking trip.

    Fit
    This backpack is a little bulkier than others on our list which means it has some great storage compartments as well as a great hydration system. With the use of the adjustable straps, you will be able to make this backpack comfortable for your next adventure.

    Breathability
    This backpack as many of the CamelBak has a mesh back and straps to maximize airflow and keep you cool.

    Use
    Like other CamelBaks on this list, the Arete has a crux to offer you 20% of a faster flow rate, an ergonomic handle that allows easy refilling and an on and off lever that prevents leakage. This backpack is made with a light nylon ripstop that ensures durability and is relatively light compared to other packs on our list. The Arete folds up nicely and compresses when you wish to pack it into a suitcase or backpack for your next new adventure hot spot.

    Criteria Used for Evaluation

    Capacity

    The crux of a hydration backpack is its reservoir capacity. The amount of fluid/water that your hydration pack is capable of storing should be among the top 2 or 3 criteria at the very least. It is important to remember that a higher reservoir capacity is not always desirable. This is because this generally adds to the weight of the backpack and the heavier the backpack the more inconvenient it becomes to carry. As a rule of the thumb, 50 to 100 fluid ounces is adequate if you do intend to use it for very long distances. Most hikers, short distance runners, and cyclists will find this adequate. Sizes between 50 to 100 fluid ounces tend to be the most sought after and generally sell better than the other sizes. If you need your hydration pack for extremely long distances, or if you absolutely do not want to stop for a refill too often, then you should opt for a hydration pack with a reservoir capacity in excess of 100 fluid ounces.

    Fit

    A surprisingly large number of people struggle with this concept and to be fair it could be rather confusing at first glance. You could be forgiven for thinking why your gender should matter, it is only a hydration backpack after all, right? Well, not quite. It so happens that your gender does matter in the case of hydration packs made for one specific sex. If the product is designed for use by men and women as a number of CamelBak backpacks are then it is not an issue. However, backpacks that are made specifically for men should be used by men and likewise backpacks that are made specifically for women should be used by women. The reason for this is that the straps and belts that accompany a CamelBak hydration pack are designed keeping the anatomy in mind. Therefore, the ones intended for women will suit the female anatomy and the ones intended for use by men will suit the male anatomy. Of course, in exceptional cases, you will find that a men’s backpack fits a woman well or vice-versa but these are just that – exceptions. You cannot make a purchase based on exceptions. Kids backpacks have their own unique set of features and obviously, they cannot be used by an adult. However, the kids may use some of the women-specific backpacks as they may be fit properly in some cases. To sum up, stick to what the label says and do not assume that one size fits all.

    Breathability

    It is imperative that your backpack is well ventilated. Inadequate air circulation during your activities is not desirable and could have serious consequences in a few cases. Therefore, it is always best to go for a backpack which has great breathability. Virtually all CamelBak backpacks are more than adequate when it comes to breathability and ventilation, therefore you are unlikely to have any issues. It would still be in your best interests to actually check before purchasing. The climate in which you intend to use your backpack could also be an important factor. If it is cold all the time then you may be better off staying away from a backpack which has a lot of mesh.

    Use

    This is not as important as the criteria mentioned before this, but it is still worth mentioning. Every CamelBak backpack is designed keeping a specific activity in mind. It could be running, cycling, mountain biking, hiking, etc. While the crux of the hydration pack is by and large the same, there are subtle changes in design and features depending on the type of activity that it is produced for. Therefore, make sure to check what the CamelBak that you intend to buy has primarily been designed for and make sure that you are buying it for the same purpose.

    Another way to verify if the CamelBak backpack is the one for you and is best fitted to the activity you intend to use it for is to check the customer reviews. By checking the customer reviews you are able to get a first-hand look at how the backpack performed for other customers who decided to go with the hydration backpack. This way you know if the backpack will hold up and excel you forward on your next adventure.

    Expert Interviews & Opinions

    Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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    #1
    ico Breathability
    Rate This Criteria as Most Important
    #2
    ico Capacity
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    #3
    ico Fit
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    #4
    ico Use
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    expert tips icon
    Comfortable fit

    It is important to remember that everyone has unique needs and the various hydration packs are catered to suit these unique needs albeit while retaining some basic common features. Given that you will likely be carrying the CamelBak backpack for long periods, it is imperative that they fit you well and are comfortable. Make sure that you check the sizes in detail – the waist size range, the torso size range, etc. You will need to be as comfortable as possible, otherwise, the backpack will only bog you down and do more harm than good in terms of enjoyment you derive from your activity.

    Capacity is Key

    When looking for a hydration backpack you not only want to make sure it holds a good amount of water to keep you hydrated throughout your journey but you also want to make sure it has enough room to store other gear. So make sure not only to check the size of the hydration bladder but also check how many pockets and extra storage room the backpack comes with as well.

    Other Factors to Consider

    Materials

    Without getting into technical details that would go well beyond the scope of this article, BPA is short for bisphenol A. In a nutshell, this was identified as a dangerous chemical in products capable of causing grave diseases and banned in several countries. To counter this, producers started using bisphenol S which was made from other plastics. This was found to be detrimental to human health as well. Ensure that the hydration packs are both BPA and BPS free when you purchase them. Again, CamelBak products usually tend to be BPA and BPS free, but it is still prudent to check and make sure.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    q: Do I really need a hydration pack? What benefits does it offer me?

    a:

    Believe it or not, this question comes up all the time. Some people just do not see why we need to buy a hydration pack specifically. They wonder if the $100 or so that they would have to shell out for a hydration pack is really worth it. The short answer is, yes. You will have easy access to quality water in addition to all your essentials. It helps keep your belongings safe and secure when you are riding. If you are looking for options for very short walks or something of that kind, then sure you may be able to do without a hydration pack. However, in most cases, you are far better off with one than without. Moreover, CamelBaks are good quality backpacks and tend to be durable. Given their lifetime guarantee, your investment is likely to be a one-time only.

    q: What does the lifetime guarantee cover?

    a:

    It covers any manufacturing/production defects that the backpack may have. It will not cover damage as a result of usage and normal wear and tear, or damage as a result of bad handling and lack of care/prudence.

    q: How do I clean my CamelBak backpack? Can I put it in the washing machine?

    a:

    In most cases gently cleaning it with a moist cloth would do the trick. You do not need anything fancy or extravagant for cleaning – in fact, it is advisable to not use anything too fancy for you may damage the backpack. You could use mild detergent or soap if there are some stubborn stains but that is about it. As for whether you can wash it in the machine, the answer is you cannot. The risk of damage far outweighs any potential benefits.

    q: Are the CamelBak backpacks waterproof? Will a little bit of rain damage the backpacks?

    a:

    The CamelBak backpacks are not waterproof per se, but given their high standards and quality, the backpacks are not vulnerable to a little bit of rain. However, in case of heavy rain, there is every chance that the water will seep in and cause damage. Luckily there is an easy solution for this. You can buy the CamelBak rain cover which will insulate your backpack and the items inside it from the rain.

    q: Why is hydration important? How much water is required for a well-functioning system?

    a:

    The human body is made up of roughly as much as 60 percent of water, therefore it is imperative that we keep replenishing it. This gains even greater importance in cases where there is a lot of fluid loss due to sweating. You will typically stress a lot when you take up outdoor activities such as cycling, running, mountain biking, etc. This is where hydration packs come in really handy.

    Mayo Clinic pings the daily requirements at around 3 liters of water for men and just over 2 liters for women. Of course, that is only a rough estimate and it could vary from person to person depending on a whole host of factors. The pertinent takeaway is that hydration is absolutely essential.

    Sources

    1. Jordan Carter, 10 best hydration packs 2018, Article