Stay Hydrated: The Top 3 Best CamelBaks for Mountain Biking That I Love

Stay Hydrated: The Top 3 Best CamelBaks for Mountain Biking That I Love

Pretty much anyone who is into outdoor activities and sports has heard of CamelBak. Despite being a brand name, many people naturally refer to hands-free hydration pack systems as CamelBaks to describe what they are talking about. Even though CamelBak is now one of many companies produces water reservoirs and accompanying packs, they are the originals.

The idea was developed by Michael Eidson back in 1989 while he was competing in a grueling 100 mile road race. Rather than going with the traditional water bottles, Eidson (who also was an EMT) ended up filling an IV bag with water, placing it in a tube stock and sticking the contraption onto his jersey. A simple clothes pin kept the tube in place for drinking.

Eidson was laughed at for the idea at first but within just a few months he released the first prototype. It’s no surprise that many fellow outdoor enthusiasts flocked to this new idea of staying hydration without having to lug around bottles or stop running/cycling/hiking/etc to take a drink. It didn’t take long before the idea spread and CamelBak became the premier source for their line of products.

The CamelBak brand produces hydration packs for nearly any activity you can imagine (even for military purposes) but their products remain extremely popular amongst cyclists of all types. Mountain bikers can particularly benefit from CamelBak packs since keeping both hands on the bars is especially important over difficult terrain.

Out of their lineup of packs for mountain biking, there are 3 that particularly stand out.

CamelBak Lobo

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Sometimes all you need out on the trail is water and a little space for snacks, your phone, car keys, and other small items. The Lobo is the perfect choice for bikers with the primary concern of hydration and weight.

Specs and features:

  • 3L Antidote water reservoir
  • 6L or 336 cu. in. of gear storage
  • Pack weight of 1 lb. 2 oz. (unfilled)
  • Dimensions of 19″ x 9.5″ 2″
  • Torso length of 16″
  • One size and 3 colors
  • Back made of multilayered panel of EVA foam pods
  • CamelBak’s Independent Suspension harness system with ultra-light 3D mesh
  • Removable 20mm belt
  • Pack made of 70D x 210D nylon diamond ripstop and 70D x 140D block dobby nylon

The Camelbak Lobo 100 oz Hydration Pack, Black is lightweight with minimal extra weight for gear. It is super comfortable to wear and even though the harness system keeps this pack snug to the back, it breathes. The use of a panel made of numerous foam pods means the back of the wearer will get plenty of cross ventilation. The mesh on the harness helps with this as well. Even in hot weather the Lobo will keep you cooler and more comfortable compared to other packs.

The water reservoir is the CamelBak’s 3L Antidote. This reservoir has an easy ¼ turn cap and wide mouth which makes filling or cleaning easy. It has a lightweight fillport and a low profile design. The tube has the brand’s Big Bite Valve which is comfortable to use and get enough water from. The Antidote does have an external fill.

Some other features of the Lobo include a magnetic tube trap, compression straps, helmet hooks and a special pocket for bike tools. CamelBak designed this pack to carry items such as a tire pump and spare tube in addition to the usual snack bars, keys, phone and wallet.

There is only one disadvantage with the Lobo and that is the magnetic tube trap. This is fixed on the right side and unlike some other models, you can’t move it if you prefer your drinking tube to be on the left. You could move the tube to the left but would have no way to trap or secure the hose.

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CamelBak M.U.L.E.

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Up next is the CamelBak Men's M.U.L.E. Backpack - Charcoal/Atomic/Barbados, 100 oz by Camelbak If the Lobo doesn’t have enough storage for your rides or you plan on using your biking pack for other activities like hiking, then the M.U.L.E. would be a great choice. It is a bit of a CamelBak classic model and one that has been highly praised since it was developed. It also has been recently updated!

Specs and Features:

  • 3L Antidote water reservoir
  • 9L or 549 cu. in. of gear storage
  • Pack weight of 1 lb. 5 oz. (unfilled)
  • Dimensions of 19″ x 10.5″ 2″
  • Torso length of 16.5″
  • One size and 5 colors
  • XV back made of multilayered panel of EVA foam pods
  • CamelBak’s Independent Suspension harness system with ultra-light 3D mesh + perforated foam
  • Removable 20mm belt
  • Pack made of 70D x 210D nylon diamond ripstop and 70D x 140D block dobby nylon

The M.U.L.E has the same 3L Antidote as the Lobo, so you can expect the same excellent performance, ease of cleaning and filling, as well as the Big Bite Valve. It also has the same PureFlow tube and HydroGuard technology. The low profile design is especially useful with this model as it gives maximum room for gear as possible.

This model is really a versatile pack and isn’t just made for mountain biking, although it does excel in that capacity. It has excellent ventilation, similar to the Lobo, but with the addition of perforated foam. The harness system is plenty supportive for the extra gear you can pack in it.

CamelBak added the typical magnetic tube trap the M.U.L.E. as well, which is permanently fixed to the right side. There are a couple pockets for storage with the traditional specialized pocket meant for keeping a small bike tool kit. The pack has four compression points rather than the usual two and also has helmet hooks. With the additional space in this back you can easily take along a lunch, a light jacket, video camera equipment, etc.

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CamelBak Kudu 12

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If the M.U.L.E is the right size but just doesn’t feel like enough pack for your needs, the CamelBak KUDU 12 Hydration Pack, Silver/Atomic Blue could very well be the answer. The full product name is Kudu 12 Enduro MTB Back Protector Pack which sums up who the pack was created for. This is an excellent model to go with for enduro and downhill riding or for the aggressive mountain biker.

  • 3L Antidote water reservoir
  • 9L or 549 cu. in. of gear storage
  • Pack weight of 2 lbs. 7 oz. (unfilled)
  • Dimensions of 21″ x 10″ 8″
  • Torso length of 19″
  • One size and 3 colors
  • XV back made of multilayered panel of EVA foam pods
  • CamelBak’s Independent Suspension harness system with ultra-light 3D mesh
  • Mesh fixed load-bearing style belt with pockets
  • Dual slider sternum strap
  • Pack made of 70D x 140D block dobby nylon and 420D bontex nylon
  • Integrated rain cover

Just like the other two packs, the Kudu has the Antidote reservoir. It also has the same storage space as the M.U.L.E. but that’s where the similarities end. The major difference with the Kudu is the back impact protection and armor carry. Rather than typical helmet hooks the Kudu has a full-face helmet carry. The additional of a permanent load-bearing belt and sternum strap really gives this pack a ton of stability on the back.

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You can fit a surprising amount of gear in the Kudu if you pack smart. There is definitely enough space for bike tools and a pump as well as protective pads. It actually has a bike tool organizer roll. You can also add a light jacket, lunch and some other smaller pieces of gear. The little pockets on the belt are perfect for an energy bar, your car keys, phone, etc.

If you’ve been relying on water bottles to quench your thirst while you’re out on the trail, you’re really missing out. CamelBakis a great brand and their gear is made to last. Any one of these 3 CamelBak hydration packs (or the others on their website) can really improve your whole mountain biking experience.

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