Camelbak sent us three 2012 hydration packs to try out: the Ultra LR, the Marathoner, and the Baja LR. We got these a couple of months ago and have enjoyed putting them through their paces.
The Marathoner is a running hydration pack that features a 1/4 turn – easy open/close reservoir cap, a lightweight fillport, dryer arms, center baffling and low-profile design, patented Big Bite™ Valve, HydroGuard™ technology, PureFlow™ tube, and an easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening. This comes closest of the three to what I would consider a typical running hydration pack.
One extremely useful feature is the adjustability, as the harness comes with hook and loop fasteners for the straps, allowing it to fit varying torso sizes (handy since Laima and I are such different sizes!). Extra storage allows nutrition and additional layers to be carried along. While this is a well-built pack, even with the adjustability, it just never felt quite right to me, a little snug.
The Ultra LR Vest is my dream hydration pack. With the same adjustability as the Marathoner, you can dial in the fit to suit your body and comfort preferences. It features the Antidote Lumbar Reservoir with Quick Link™ System, 1/4 turn – easy open/close cap, lightweight fillport, patented Big Bite™ Valve, HydroGuard™ technology, PureFlow™ tube, and an easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening. The addition of the belt with pockets is what really clinches it for me, love having easy-to-reach storage on the front of a pack! This vest fit me personally just about perfectly, now if it could only run the ultra for me.
The Baja LR is made of quick-drying materials, offering support even on your most epic Stand Up Paddle treks. This pack is similar to the Ultra LR, featuring the Antidote Lumbar Reservoir with Quick Link™ System, 1/4 turn – easy open/close cap, lightweight fillport, patented Big Bite™ Valve, HydroGuard™ technology, PureFlow™ tube, and, as is typical for Camelbak, an easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening.
This pack also has a belt that wraps around the waist, offering easy to reach storage and something unique to SUP, a paddle holster! Combine this with an inflatable PFD and your safety issues are covered. We took this out on the Galien River for a family-friendly Stand Up Paddleboarding experience – both Laima and I really enjoyed it and the easy adjustability meant we could share it as we traded off turns.
The search for easily-portable hydration is an ongoing effort by many companies around the world. Camelbak keeps pushing the envelope both in design and forward-thinking ideas. Whether you’re a soldier, a runner, a Stand Up Paddler, or just a parent that needs free hands chasing your kids around at the park, Camelbak has a hydration pack that will fit your needs.
More information can be found on the Camelbak website, like on Facebook, follow on Twitter, and subscribe on YouTube.
(* I was sent these products for free to review on my blog – all opinions are my own.)