Do you love hiking, mountain biking, skiing, trail running, or other outdoor adventures? Why not make sure that you will never run out of water with the help of a suitable CamelBak backpack?
Hydration backpacks are designed and made to transport large amounts of water and make it easier for you to drink while on the go, without needing to stop or even slow down.
All you need to do is take a sip from the drink tube, which is connected to the water bladder in the backpack.
CamelBak is the inventor and the leading producer of such hands-free hydration systems, which is why it makes sense to purchase a hydration backpack from them.
Since we know that running out of water during sports or outdoor activities can be a disturbing and even dangerous experience, we think that it is essential for anybody who spends a lot of time being active and away from home, must own a CamelBak backpack.
We have tried out and reviewed a very wide range of CamelBak products and have come up with our top selection of the best 10 CamelBak backpacks for 2021.
Read on to find out which ones have made it into our top 3, and to find out more about the other picks, as well as more about hydration, choosing a hydration backpack, and other related topics too.
We picked the Ambush Mil Spec Antidote backpack as our top pick because it is the one that combines all features of a universal hydration pack. You can store 100 oz. of water in it, along with 200 cubic inches of gear, snacks, or any other cargo.
Still, it is so light, and the load in it is distributed so well that you will forget that you are carrying a backpack while you are hiking, hunting, running, or exploring the wilderness with this CamelBak backpack. The weight of the pack without the water and cargo is only 1.6 lbs.
Every part of the pack has been designed to provide you with ultimate comfort during a long day outdoors or during a mission or military or tactical training. You get quick release shoulder straps for being able to easily and quickly remove the backpack when necessary.
The Ambush’s Mil Spec Antidote hydration system offers two drink tube exit options – one over the shoulder and the other under the arm. The drink tube is fitted with a nozzle valve and a neoprene cover.
There are two convenient external pockets to keep your essentials and has noiseless zippers.
This CamelBak tactical backpack is made of top quality materials, including 500D Ripstop Cordura for the front, 420D high-density nylon for the back and shoulder harness, and insulating PE foam for the back panel and for the hydration compartment.
The large capacity MIL spec antidote water reservoir is paired with a quick link exit port, which allows for instant and hassle-free disconnection of the drink tube for easier refilling without the need to unthread the tube.
Also, it has a large opening, which allows for easy cleaning, fast refilling, as well as for adding ice cubes to ensure that you have access to ice-cold water during the entire day.
Still, despite the large capacity of the reservoir and that for cargo, the discrete profile of this Ambush backpack allows you to carry it under a vest or jacket when needed. The dimensions of this military hydration backpack are 16 x 10 x 6 inches.
Plus, the external fill access will allow you to quickly refill the reservoir without even taking the reservoir out of the backpack.
The reservoir and drinking tube are easy to clean and safe from BPA, BPS, BPF, and other harmful chemicals.
Although the Ambush is made for people in the military, we can strongly recommend it to all of you who do a lot of hiking, hunting, exploring, running, or cycling who too need to make sure that they have cool and fresh water at all times while on the road.
Like the other genuine CamelBak products, this backpack comes with a lifetime guarantee by the manufacturer.
Best runner up
It was first launched in 1996 and has been improving since then. Today, it is fitted with the newest Crux reservoir, which provides 20% more water per sip than the older one and is much easier to refill.
The M.U.L.E. is from the mountain biking series, but you can use it for any other activity which requires carrying a sufficient amount of drinking water as well as 500 cubic inches of other gear and snacks.
It fits 100 oz. (3 liters) of water but has sufficient space for other essential stuff as well.
Since it is made for mountain bikers, the design of this backpack has been focused on making the biking experience more enjoyable and safe. The M.U.L.E. has air channels to keep the back breathing and cool, a universal helmet hook, as well as special compartments for mobile phones, keys, and tools. Overall, you get 5 easy to reach external pockets to keep your essential stuff.
The magnetic drink tube easily snaps in place to the magnetic shoulder clip so that it doesn’t get in your way and so that you can easily access it and take a nice cool sip of water while staying safe and keeping your eyes on the trail.
The backpack is light (1lb 5 oz.) and easy to maneuver thanks to its narrow gauge shaped design with dimensions of 17.9 x 8.7 x 8.9 inches. The special stretch overflow feature allows you to carry an extra layer or rain shell in the backpack as well.
For your safety, CamelBak has added reflective elements on the backpack, as well as a stability belt to keep it steady on your back, even on the roughest trails.
The Crux reservoir system has a comfortable handle for easier refilling and a lever to prevent any leaking. When it comes time to refill the bladder, you won’t have to fiddle with the tube and won’t need to unthread it. Just press the Quick Link System button, and the tube will be disconnected from the reservoir.
Thanks to the Hydroguard technology used for the coating of the tube, you will get fresh water every time with no mold or bacteria, as well as no traces of harmful BPA, BPF, or BPS chemicals.
It is a durable backpack that will serve you well and provide you with much-needed hydration on the go for years to come.
We love the M.U.L.E. backpack, and we strongly recommend it for mountain bikers, bikers, and those of you who need a reliable, large capacity hydration pack.
It is an excellent hydration backpack with a new Crux water reservoir with a capacity of 85 oz. and featuring the innovative Crux system, which delivers about 20% more water per sip.
The on and off lever allows you to tightly close or open the water tube in order to prevent leaks while you are walking, running, hiking, or cycling.
The magnetic tube trap combined with the magnet on the shoulder strap will keep the tube in place so that you can access it at all times without being distracted and without the need to stop and adjust it or use your hands.
You will stay comfortable even during an intensive running or biking session thanks to the breathable mesh back panel, which will fit comfortably to your back, let the air in, and keep you sweat-free.
The pack also has hooks to hang your helmet without getting in your way. Plus, you can carry your rain shell in the stretch storage compartment without it taking up space for your other stuff.
The cap of the reservoir is easy to close and open, so you won’t need to struggle to get it off for a quick refill. The quick release flap on the front of the Rogue pack allows for even quicker and easier refilling of the Crux reservoir.
The tube and reservoir feature the new HydroGuard antimicrobial technology by CamelBak, which will keep your water fresh, safe, and microbe free throughout the day.
There are two external compartments to hold your keys, phone, wallet, and other essential stuff where you can access them easily and without removing the backpack.
For your safety, CamelBak has added light reflective accents to your backpack so that drivers can see you from far away in the dark hours.
This is one of the most compact CamelBak backpacks, with dimensions of 15.75 x 8.86 x 6.3 inches. It is light, comfortable, and well made, and is much less expensive than most of our other top picks in this list.
It is an excellent option for those of you who need a smaller pack with all the basic features of the larger and more expensive backpacks from CamelBak.
Our other top picks
The Cloud Walker 18 is another affordable hydration backpack from CamelBak, which we have chosen for our top 10 best list. It is simpler than some of the most specialized ones but is perfect f you need a classic daypack for daily use, hiking and for less technical adventures.
- Removable Cruz reservoir so you can use the pack as a day pack as well
- Simple classic design
- 85 oz. water capacity
- A capacity of carrying 900 cubic inches of gear
- A size of 20.1 x 10.4 x 9.8 inches
- Features the new Cruz water hydration system which allows for taking larger sips of water ever time
- The reservoir cap is easy to open and close for fast and hassle-free refilling
- Large internal compartments where you can organize your essentials
- Designed to fit your back perfectly without making you sweat thanks to the mesh breathable back panel
- It has nifty external attachment points for gear, trekking poles or other essentials
- An on and off lever will keep the water from leaking when you remove the backpack or when you are not using the hydration system
- The mesh hip belt allows you to keep your phone and most important stuff within easy reach and without causing heating up or sweating in the area
- You don’t need to worry about your water being contaminated by harmful chemicals or microbes thanks to the BPA, BPF and BPS free materials used and the new Hydroguard technology implemented by CamelBak
- One of the most affordable CamelBak backpacks for 2021
- An updated design with a cleaner and more technical look
- Provides 85 oz. of hydration
- A handy mesh belt with cargo pockets for easy access without having to remove the backpack
- Has a large 1250 cubic inch capacity to carry the gear you will need for a full day of hiking
- No added bells and whistles which blow up the price and add to the weight of the pack
- The new Crux reservoir hydration system which is more efficient and offers 20% larger and more satisfying sips of water every time
- A comfortable fit, and a mesh breathable back panel
- A main compartment and several separate pockets for better organization of your gear, food, and other essentials
- 2 side mesh pockets for even more water and stuff
- An exterior stretch overflow compartment where you can keep even more stuff which is easy to access
- A leak-proof cap for the water reservoir which is easy to open and close
- Leak proof valves for the water tube as well
- A compact size of 22 x 9.4 x 13.4 inches and a weight of the pack of 2 lbs. 9 oz. (without water or gear)
- Available in several colors
- A perfect gift for a person who enjoys hiking and outdoor adventures
- This is the lightest bike hydration pack with the largest water capacity from CamelBak – it weighs only 0.10 oz. and can carry up to 100 oz. of water suitable for rides which are 3 hours or more
- The back panel is made of lightweight, breathable and comfortable mesh
- Provides a 150 cubic inch capacity for gear
- It has hooks to hang your helmet while still having access to the backpack
- A useful stretch overflow outside compartment
- A magnetic water tube which is easy to access and will stay in place so that you can keep cycling safely while taking a sip
- Features the new Crux hydration system which provides 20% more water every time you take a sip
- Easy to fill reservoir, and a leak-free cap and on/off lever for the tube
- A zippered pocket for important stuff
- Available in several different colors including bright lime and racing red, so that drivers can see you from a distance
- Like the other CamelBak products, your water will be free of harmful chemicals and microbes if you clean and maintain the reservoir and tube properly
- The size is 17.3 x 8.3 x 7.1 inches
- It has a removable ¾ inch stability belt to keep the pack stable during a rough ride
While as many of our top picks for the best backpacks from CamelBak are unisex, the Helena 20 has been specifically designed for women. So you are a lady interested in buying a top quality and highly efficient CamelBak backpack, you should definitely check this one out!
- Has the new Crux water storage and delivery system allowing easy refilling, more water per sip and a leak-proof lever
- A capacity of fitting 85 oz. of water
- The back panel is made of mesh which is breathable, comfortable and light
- A mesh hip belt with load bearing pockets for easy access without the need to remove the backpack and provides a safe and stable climb
- The inside has a main compartment as well as separate ones for gear, food and other essentials
- Perfect for 1-day hikes
- Stretching exterior pockets for quick access to essentials
- Designed with a shorter back and an S-shaped harness which fits the curves and height of women comfortably
- The pack weighs 1 lb. 7 oz. when empty, and can carry 1025 cubic inches of gear apart from the 85 oz. of water
If you want a large capacity, durable and sturdy hydration-only backpack – we strongly recommend this model. The ThermoBak 3.0 like our top pick the Ambush, has a 100 oz. water capacity and a Mil Spec Antidote hydration system which is unbeatable when it comes to efficiency and ease of use in tough situations.
- A large 100 oz. water reservoir
- A low profile with a depth of 3 inches and a weight of 1.5 lbs.
- Designed and made for combat environments and changing missions
- Tested in battle by thousands of troops around the world, this is a sturdy and reliable hydration backpack
- The MIL spec antidote hydration system is adaptable and provides efficient delivery no matter the situation and the environment
- Features the largest possible reservoir opening allowing quick refills, easy cleaning as well as adding ice for colder water
- The external refill option allows for even quicker refiling without even having to remove the reservoir from the pack
- An easy to open and leak-proof seal will keep the water inside the reservoir at all times
- The quick release shoulder strap clips allow for quick and easy removal and storage of the pack
- D-ring attachment points to connect to an Armor vest or pack
- The reservoir is fully insulated with thick cell foam to keep the water cold or keep it from freezing
- Quickly and easily removable name tags or badges with an integrated hook and loop
- Made of sturdy 500D corduroy fabric
- BPA, BPF and BPS free
- 18 x 9.2 x 5 inches
- A hydration capacity of 100 oz.
- You can fit 1220 cubic inches of gear as the backpack has a total capacity of water and cargo of 1400 cubic inches
- A Mil Spec Antidote Long hydration system
- Free from BBA, BPF and BPS
- Relatively lightweight – the pack weighs only 2 lbs. 8 oz.
- The design is low profile and stays close to the back
- The size of the pack is 19 x 10.5 x 10.2 inches
- Comfortable, padded 10 mm shoulder harness with EVA foam
- 3 exterior pockets for easy access
- A quick link exit port and a QL hydro lock bite valve which easily disconnects the water tube for easy refilling of the bladder
- A quick and easy to open and close seal to keep the water safely inside the reservoir
- A large opening allows you to add ice or to fill the reservoir as quickly as possible and also helps enhance the cleaning process
- Air Director back panel which keeps the back sweat-free
- The independent suspension harness helps distribute the weight of the load
- The compression straps are adjustable
- Underarm water tube ports
- Made of tough 500D corduroy fabric
- Strong and noiseless zipper
- Na extended composite MOLLE for gear and pouches
- Two full-length compartments for better organization of the gear and cargo
- Provides 100 oz. of water storage
- Can also fit 550 cubic inches of gear
- The water tube can be zipped into the insulated Therminator harness shoulder strap to keep it from freezing in frigid temperatures, and the foam-filled Therminator keeps the water in the reservoir from freezing too
- The pack has a low profile which lies flat on your back and makes lift rides more comfortable and safer
- Features the new Crux reservoir which will ensure you get 20% more water per sip
- An on and off lever to prevent leakage
- Easy filling and refilling of the reservoir which has an ergonomic handle
- The Snowshed back panel repels snow and prevents it from sticking on the backpack
- Has external straps which will allow you to carry your skis diagonally
- The sternum strap can slide down and up the harness for a more comfortable and chafe-free fit
- The stability belt will keep the pack secure during skiing, but it is removable if you prefer not to use it
- The pockets are secured with zippers
- Has a storage compartment for avalanche gear
- You can easily see all of the content in the pack and access it much quicker and easier thanks to the triple zip access
- There is an expansion panel for additional storage
- A carry point for your helmet as well as one for a snowboard and for snow shoes
- A four-point compression feature
- The zippers have large tags which can be opened and closed with ski gloves
- Very sleek design
Why buy a CamelBak hydration pack?
CamelBak has become synonymous with hydration packs. If you need a hydration pack of any kind, it is a good idea to invest in an efficient, top quality, reliable and durable one such as those made by the inventors of the on-the-go hands-free hydration system from CamelBak.
The manufacturer offers hydration packs that are suitable for all kinds of needs and activities, whether you need hydration while jogging or walking your dog, or whether you are ascending to a peak, snowboarding, mountain biking, running a marathon, or taking part in a military mission.
The different packs from CamelBak offer different features and storage options, but all of them are backed by the company’s “Got Your Bak” lifetime guarantee, so you can be sure that you are making a very wise and long-term investment with one of these packs.
Plus, CamelBak is committed to make eco-friendly products and to give back to the community and support charities, so if you want to contribute to one of these causes, you can buy a CamelBak backpack.
Hydration needs and basics
Your body is made of about 60% of water, and even walking or very light activities can cause depletion and interfere with your performance, wellbeing, and health. So, no matter what kind of activity you are performing, you need to hydrate properly at all times.
Here are some hydration tips to keep you well and healthy during exercise or other activities
- Always have water available
- Drink smaller sips of water often instead of drinking a lot of water infrequently
- Try electrolyte replacement drinks if your activity lasts for more than an hour
- Drink more water when you are at a higher altitude
- Drink water even if it is cold and even if you don’t feel thirsty
- Pre-hydrate with about 17-20 oz. of water before vigorous exercise or activities
- Rehydrate with about 16 to +24 oz. of water per pound you lose during exercise
- Plan your route so that you pass by a water source
- If you are going somewhere without a water source – carry enough water for the entire outing
- Protect yourself from the sun because sunburn can enhance dehydration
- Set an alarm to remind you to drink water every 20 minutes
Most of these tips can easily be achieved with the help of a good quality CamelBak backpack.
Types of hydration backpacks
The main types of hydration backpacks offered by CamelBak to choose from include:
Hiking hydration packs
These provide ample space for the water and the food and gear which you will need for your trail. These come in different sizes and with different capacities depending on the type of hiking trips they are used for. We have added several CamelBak hiking hydration backpacks on our list including the Cloud Walker, Rim Runner, Helena backpacks which you can choose from.
Cycling hydration backpacks
These are made for mountain biking and for cycling. Our list contains a number of cycling backpacks by CamelBak which you can choose from. They are usually low profile, with breathable back panels, have reflective elements and can vary in size depending on whether you are a cyclist who needs less space for gear or a mountain biker who requires more space to carry tools and gear. The CamelBak mountain biking and cycling hydration packs have an easy to access drinking tube which stays connected to the shoulder so that you can ride on without being distracted as you drink water. Check out the M.U.L.E., Rogue and Ratchet hydration backpacks from our list for more features.
Snow sports hydration backpacks
Our top choice for the best skiing hydration backpack from CamelBak – the Powderhound 12 is the epitome of everything such an accessory needs to have. Skiing hydration packs must ensure that the reservoir and water tube don’t freeze, that you can carry or store your skiing accessories easily and that you have easy access to all your things even with your skiing gloves on. Also, they need to be low profile so that they don’t interfere with your performance and comfort while skiing, snowboarding or when riding on the lift.
Military and tactical hydration backpacks
These are highly efficient, easy to fill, easy to use, low profile, sturdy hydration backpacks which ensure that your performance or safety are not compromised during military training or a mission. CamelBak has a number of excellent products in this field, including our top choice for the best hydration pack for 2021 – the Ambush, as well as two of our other top picks – the M.U.L.E. the H.A.W.G. and the ThermoBak 3 which you can read about in our short reviews.
How to choose the best CamelBak backpack
If you are still not sure which one of these CamelBak backpacks is the most suitable one for you, make sure you take into consideration the following features to look for and the factors to keep in mind:
What you will be using it for
Depending on what activity you are planning to use the pack for, there are different types of hydration packs. Check out the different types of hydration backpacks which we have listed to find the one which will best suit your specific needs.
The duration of your outdoor adventure or exercise
Depending on how long you will be away from a water source, you need to choose a hydration backpack which can carry a sufficient amount of water to keep you hydrated at all times.
CamelBak offers hydration backpacks with capacities of up to 100 oz. Remember that each liter of water you add weighs 2.2 lbs.
Cargo packing capacity
Choose a pack that fits your needs for carrying gear and essentials apart from the water reservoir. Some of the packs in our list have a total capacity of up to 1400 cubic inches, and others are much smaller. Keep in mind that some hydration packs such as the ThermoBak are hydration only and cannot fit any additional cargo.
Tube clips and magnets
These keep the water tube in place as you move and allow you to drink water without stopping or being distracted. We have several models with this feature in our list.
Comfort and fit
Choose the pack which will fit your body type best. You don’t want any chafing or pinching as a result of an uncomfortable backpack right? Check out the sizes and the adjustability of the straps. If you are a female, you may want to opt for the Helena hydration backpack which is designed especially for women.
Bite valve switch
All of our top picks have such valves which are easy and comfortable to use, prevent spills and waste and provide sufficient amounts of water at each sip. They also close efficiently to prevent leaks.
Quick release tube
This allows for a quick and effortless disconnection of the tube from the tank for easy refilling and cleaning. Many of our top picks have this feature, including our top picks – the Ambush and M.U.L.E., and some of the others.
Large openings of the reservoir
These are easier for cleaning and allow you to add ice to the bladder.
This is a great feature to keep the water cold in the heat and to keep it from freezing in the cold. We have several of these, notably the Powderhound and the ThermoBak.
Since you will be active or exercising with the backpack on your back, it is essential to pick one with a breathable or moisture wicking back panel. All of our picks have comfortable, breathable back panels. Some have breathable harnesses and belts too.
Depending on your needs – choose the backpack which has the number and type of pockets which you will need. We have offered different packs with different compartment and storage options to choose from.
Look for extras which you will appreciate and which will help you feel more comfortable and safe. Such extras include reflective elements on the backpack, special hooks for helmets or other gear, straps to hold your gear and many others. Browse through our brief reviews to see all of the features which each of these backpacks offers.
Safety of the water
All of our top picks are BPA, BPS, BPF, and microbe free for your safety and good health.
Price and warranty
We have provided you with a choice from the best higher end and the best budget-friendly options offered by CamelBak, so there is a backpack for anybody. As for the warranty, all original CamelBak products come with a lifelong guarantee, so you don’t need to worry about that.
So, now that you know how important it is to stay hydrated and how useful and even life-saving a good quality CamelBak hydrating backpack can be, you can go ahead and choose the best one to suit your needs from our top 10 list of the best Camelback hydration packs for 2021.
We hope that this list has been useful and that pretty soon you will be enjoying those fresh and satisfying sips of water while you are performing your favorite physical activities.
These top quality backpacks will provide you with that much-needed water wherever you go, so don’t hesitate to get one and start using it right away.
You will be amazed at how refreshed and strong you will feel with one of these wonderful hydration CamelBak packs on your back!