CamelBak is best-known for its hands-free hydration systems that are extremely popular with mountain bikers. With a hydration bladder integrated into a pack coupled with a feeder pipe to drink from on the move, MTBers can rehydrate without taking their hands off the handlebars.
With many bikers using their rucksacks for walking and many walkers taking up mountain biking, it wasn’t long before manufacturers of walkers’ rucksacks began to incorporate hands-free hydration systems into their designs too. Today just about every rucksack is hydration system-compatible, and some have a hydration bladder and feeder tube too.
However CamelBak has never really challenged the mainstream walking and hiking brands when it comes to rucksacks designed for heading into the hills on foot rather than on two wheels. But the new Vantage 35 could mark a change of gear.
I’ve been using this relatively light sack for a couple of months in the Lake District. It has those key features that keener valley, hill and mountain walkers require, such as a single-buckle lid for fast and easy closure. There’s a pair of compression straps on the side with quick-release buckles, which I have found ideal for stashing trekking poles. The wand pockets are stretchy, again ideal for the handles of trekking poles. There is a small zipped side entrance to the base of the sack too, which ironically is actually ideal for stashing a water bottle outside the internal liner!
Most importantly the back system is very comfortable and allows masses of airflow. The back has an EVA panel with deep channels running down it, while a mesh cover holds the body away from the channels to guarantee airflow.
The back system is really comfortable and it has a second advantage in that the hydration bladder is directly behind it, so the water in it does not get super-heated by your sweaty body.
The Enhanced NVIS (Next Generation Ventilated Integrated System) back panel features multi-directional ventilation channels. Unlike other designs that have a mesh panel to hold the rucksack away from the wearer, there are fewer hot spots on this design, according to the manufacturer.
To prevent drips the feeder pipe has a shut-off valve. A HydroGuard treatment uses the antimicrobial properties of silver to inhibit the growth of bacteria inside the system. The feeder pipe is insulated to prevent freezing in winter.
An Omega 3 litre hydration bladder is supplied that fits in a dedicated reservoir compartment. This can be filled and fitted without entering the main compartment, and the bladder does not reduce the volume of the main compartment.
Capacity 38 litres (S/M); 40 litres (M/L)
Weight 1232g (size M/L) (not including the 218g bladder)
Materials 230D taffeta; 210D micro ripstop; 420D Velocity
Features Enhanced NVIS back system; wide waistbelt with pocket; 3L hydration bladder in dedicated zip-entry slot; zipped side entry to base of main compartment; zipped front pocket; lid pocket; single clasp lid; compression straps; stretch wand pockets
Made in Philippines
Stockist details – tel. (01845) 521700, www.zyro.co.uk
The Vantage is ideal for general hill-walking and scrambling. It’s CamelBak’s best ever walkers’ pack, and it shows the brand has finally steered itself into walking territory.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine June 2010