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Reviewing the Camelbak Motherlode – Worth it, or Not?

Reviewing the Camelbak Motherlode – Worth it, or Not?

When it comes to the ultimate in functionality and hydration in a single package, CamelBak has been the leader for years. Civilians, military, and law enforcement personnel all rely on the rugged construction and simplistic functionality provided by CamelBak’s extensive line of outdoor products.

The CamelBak Motherlode is no exception and provides a significant amount of gear storage space with a built-in water bladder to ensure you stay hydrated – whether out enjoying a day on the trail or performing sensitive tactical operations in a military or law enforcement environment.

If you are looking for a tactical pack capable of carrying enough gear for a couple of days in the field, this might be the right pack for you. Let’s find out…

CamelBak Motherlode Backpack
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Description and Specifications of the Motherlode

The Mil Spec Antidote Reservoir included with the Motherlode system has redefined what constitutes the ultimate water delivery system while providing the adaptability required by changing environments.

In other words, whether you plan to spend the last weekend relaxing in nature or need a combat-ready solution, the CamelBak Motherlode can fit your needs.

Key Features: The Motherlode includes a Quick Link Exit Port as well as the patented QL HydroLock Bite Valve Adapter to ensure no leaks occur no matter what the pack is used for. The Motherlode also comes equipped with the largest fill port in the industry (an airtight, ¼ turn, quick open/close seal that cannot be overtightened).

All of this technology is contained within a package that is lighter and has a lower profile than previous CamelBak products to create the perfect tactical hydration solution.

Reservoir Set Up: But the water reservoir isn’t the only thing you can expect from this revolutionary pack design. The pack itself features side-release buckles for a quick release from the shoulder harness. The zippered back panel access allows for easy refilling of the reservoir and the patented Air Director Back Panel provides unmatched ventilation in hot environments.

Easy Storage and Access: Pockets for glasses, goggles, and night vision goggles come standard and the integrated MOLLE system allows a lot of gear to be easily and securely stored on the outside of the pack. Made of durable and lightweight 500D Cordura fabric, this pack is ready to withstand whatever you can throw at it.

The specifications of the CamelBak Motherlode include:

  • Hydration capacity of 100 ounces (3 liters)
  • Total capacity of 2,258 cubic inches (37-liter storage capacity + 3 liter reservoir)
  • Total weight of 4.9 lbs
  • Dimensions of 20” x 14” x 13.5”
  • Torso length of 16.5”
  • 500D Cordura front panel, gussets, and shoulder harness; padded shoulder harness, waist belt, and back panel (10mm EVA foam); and a 5mm PE foam divider for the reservoir compartment

Color Schemes/Patterns: The Motherlode comes in an assortment of colors that meet the US Military standards for Near Infrared Reflectance (NIR) including ABU, AUC, Coyote, Multicam, and Foliage. Also, like all CamelBak products, the Motherlode comes with a lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects that might affect the performance of the equipment.

Warranty/Returns: Known as the CamelBak “Got Your Bak” Guarantee, CamelBak has a no-questions-asked policy when it comes to honoring warranty claims so you can be assured that your investment is worth the money no matter what you plan to the Motherlode for.

In-Depth Review – Digging Beneath the Surface

camelbak motherlode backpack


Construction and Materials

The Motherlode is very well constructed and relies on a combination of 500D Cordura to make up the pack body. The back and shoulder straps are padded with 10mm EVA foam and an assortment of useful pockets ensure all your necessary gear can be stored safely – even during tactical operations.

The zippers are extremely high-quality and like other CamelBak products, you can expect the zippers on the Motherlode to last for many years of rigorous use.

Space and Storage

The main compartment of the Motherlode is very large, usable, and well organized. There is even a dedicated laptop pocket within the main compartment. In the outer storage compartment, there is space for a cell phone, wallet, pens, and other miscellaneous items.

A mesh storage area for smaller items and plenty of pockets for notebooks and other items are also available.

The top compartment can be used to store items that you may need frequently while on the trail or in the field such as glasses, gloves, maps, etc.

Hydration Integration

As previously mentioned, the water reservoir included with the Motherlode has a 100-ounce capacity. Typical of other CamelBak products, the On/Off valve on the drinking tube, the bite dust cover, and the insulating sleeve are all of high quality and should last for years of reliable service.

MOLLE System

One of the most prominent features of this pack, however, is the integrated MOLLE webbing system. MOLLE allows you to attach an assortment of other pouches of various sizes to add even more versatility to this already capable platform.

Single magazine pouches designed for use with the MOLLE system can be used to carry small items such as flashlights and multitools. Larger pouches can be used to carry food and other gear as needed.

The addition of MOLLE to the Motherlode means that it will be difficult to outgrow this bag. When more space is needed, simply adding more MOLLE-compatible pouches can significantly increase the load-carrying abilities of this bag.

Comfort and Feel

Perhaps the only place where this bag falls short as the ultimate everyday carry bag is that many customers complain that the pack feels like it is pulling away from the body when firmly strapped to the back. No matter how the load is packed into the bag, some people are not able to get the bag to fit comfortably even after taking the time to adjust the straps properly and ensuring the load is evenly distributed.

That said, not everyone has this problem. In fact, most people feel that the bag is extremely comfortable to wear even throughout the duration of an entire day on the trail. No backpack can fit everyone perfectly, but it is worth noting that you should take the time to properly adjust everything to ensure a comfortable fit prior to heading out with the Motherlode for the day.

Any fitment or comfort issues with this pack most likely stem from the fact that the Motherlode does not have a built-in suspension system like some of the other CamelBak products in this price range. The CamelBak Trip, for instance, includes the Mystery Ranch suspension system and can make long hikes much more comfortable.

Overall Take – Worth the Cost?

Overall, the CamelBak Motherlode is a versatile day bag that offers enough functionality and comfort to meet the needs of most outdoor enthusiasts.

Despite its lack of an integrated suspension system, the Motherlode can be carried comfortably throughout the day and the high-quality construction that consumers have come to expect from CamelBak is evident as soon as you get your hands on this essential piece of outdoor equipment.

If you’re in the market for a functional day bag, look no further than the CamelBak Motherlode – complete with the MOLLE system.

CamelBak Motherlode Backpack
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Further read: 

Jerry Mori

Wednesday 12th of June 2019

The Motherlode has a rigid curved plastic plate, for pack support, within the water bladder compartment, make sure it fits with the plastic curve towards your back or else you will feel the pack pulling away from your body. I have a BFM and this plastic plate support works the same way. These packs are the most comfortable packs I have ever owned. Go Camelbak!!