hydration backpacks

Hydrated and Happy: The Best Hydration Backpacks from CamelBak Reviewed

CamelBak is a world leader in the hydration industry. In 2015, the company was sold to a Utah company for $412 million

Camelback has been keeping hikers, cyclists, soldiers, and sight-seers around the world hydrated. You know when you invest in a CamelBak product that you are getting quality workmanship and excellent, time-tested designs.

But which of all the CamelBak hydration backpacks should you choose? Read on for a detailed guide on various CamelBak water packs for you to consider. No matter your budget, there’s a CamelBak for your needs. 

CamelBak Arete 18

This CamelBak water backpack is perfect for sightseeing or light hiking. It’s small enough to stuff into a carry-on bag or backpack, yet holds 1.5-litres (50 oz) of water. It’s constructed out of nylon and minimal padding but comfortable enough for wearing for a full day of sightseeing.

At under $60 on Amazon, the Arete 18 is a basic, lightweight, affordable hydration pack that is ideal for travelling.

If you are headed for some easy trails or visiting another country, this is a great option to ensure you stay hydrated. 


As we already mentioned, the Arete is lightweight and the epitome of minimalism. Yet it has a roomy interior.  

The affordable price point is also a great perk. For those who are just getting started with water backpacks, this is a great pick. 


The back of this bag is not rigid. Depending on what’s inside, that could affect your comfort while wearing this water backpack.

Also, the hydration tube is accessed from the right side of the bag, which can be tricky. 

Some may find the shoulder straps on this bag too narrow. 

CamelBak Classic

The Camelbak Classic is a lightweight, affordable option that can withstand whatever outdoor adventure you have in mind.

If you don’t need the frills and are OK with limited storage, this is the pack for you.

It does feature a small pocket that can fit your keys and an energy bar, but that’s about it. If you’re all about minimalism, this is the hydration pack for you.


Lightweight as anything! At just 331mL (11.2 oz) in weight, this lightweight hydration pack is basically a bladder and shoulder straps – nothing more. Yet it can carry 2.5L (85 oz) of fluid to keep you going. 

One of the best things about the CamelBak Classic is that you get a lifetime guarantee (as with all CamelBak hydration packs).

Considering the lower-than-most list price of this water backpack and the quality that comes for CamelBak, this is a great pick for anyone on a budget.


The main con is that the shoulder straps may feel too snug for some. Keep in mind that cleaning this reservoir may take some work, so you might want to stick to simple H2O here.

If you plan to go for a run or bike ride that’s under two hours, or switching between the two, the CamelBak Classic is an excellent choice.

CamelBak Fourteener 24 Hydration Pack

Moving up in price range we get to the top-end of CamelBak products. The Pursuit weighs 1.4kg. The unique lumbar reservoir of this pack spreads the weight of your water low across the hips which means it’s much more stable. 

This water backpack bladder is triangular-shaped with a zippered, easy-to-access door. It fits up to 3 litres.

Keep in mind that the circular opening for re-filling may take a few tries to get the feel for. It can be awkward at first.


The low way this pack carries water makes this a great option for scrambling. 

As far as comfort goes, the pursuit is decent. Even a load of 10kg feels like nothing on your back.

There’s a 30cm by 17cm stretchy mesh pocket that holds all your wet gear after a day of hiking and swimming.

Plus, the metal zipper pulls are easy to grasp with wet hands or gloves on. 


There is a layer of suspended mesh across the mid-back of the pack. Yet, the thick lumbar padding in the same area makes this one feel hot. 

Lobo Hydration Pack

The CamelBak Lobo straddles the line between practical and minimalistic. For short stints, it’s worth considering.

CamelBak has been making the Lobo for years. The latest iteration is the 2017 version. The few tweaks to this model make a good waterback even better.

The Lobo has a 101 oz reservoir and 3.28L of storage space. The water bladder sits at the top of the bag. Well-padded shoulder straps and chest and waist belts keep the pack in place, no matter what.

The Lobo is ideal for 2-3 hour excursions. Keep in mind that this is a long pack, so it won’t fit every back. 


Weighing in at just 0.57kg when empty, this is one of the most lightweight packs on the market. 

The organization in the Lobo is fantastic. You’ll appreciate the helmet hooks, stash compartment with room for a mini pump and wind shell. Plus, there are two zippered pockets, one with a cable port.

The 3L capacity makes this a good-size water backpack that won’t need refilling often, even on scorching hot days.

The Lobo is surprisingly narrow. It’s unobtrusive and contours to your back for a barely-there sensation.

The rubberised back panel is great at keeping muddy splashes to a minimum.

If you pack strategically, you can fit your tools, gear, energy bars and cell phone all in order and safely secured.

The webbing straps are light and comfortable. The stability strap keeps the bag in place even on descents.


This pack is not for long treks, but it wasn’t made for that so you can hardly hold that against the Lobo. 

In fact, the only downside to this CamelBak is that the hose can be annoying to tuck away when you’re having a swig on the move.

Other than that, this is a great mid-range hydration pack for short stints in the great Australian outdoors. 

CamelBak Rim Runner 22

At a whopping 2.5L of water capacity, the Rim Runner is there for the long-haul. Yet, it’s lightweight, comfortable and easy to stay organized.

If you want an easy-to-sip hydration pack that makes your outdoor adventures simpler, the Rim Rummer is the water backpack for you.


The great thing about the Rim Runner is that the ergonomic handle makes refilling super easy. There’s an on/off level to prevent pressure water from leaking while you’re on the go.

Plus, you get 20% more water per sip, which makes it easier to get hydrated on the go.

The stretch overflow exterior pockets make it easy to access key items, and the load-bearing hip belt has open mesh for better breathability.


The drawbacks of this hydration pack are minor. The strap can become crossed and impending zippers are a slight pain. Other than that, there’s no downside to this pack. 

MULE LR Hydration Pack

Mule stands for ‘medium to ultra-long endeavours. So if you are tackling some serious adventures and long-distance rides, the MULE LR is the pack for you.

You get a comfortable, top-notch reservoir and abundance of pockets, which make organizing all your gear simple.

At the high end of the Camelback price range, the LR is one of the best water backpacks on the market. Now all you need to do get in top shape for hiking


There are so many pros to this pack that we have to divide them by category!


Let’s say you have a full day on the bike. You’ll need a lot of gear. This can turn into a big pile of junk if you aren’t tidy.

The LR comes with so many pockets. There are zippers right where you want them, fleece to protect your cargo and bright interior colours for excellent visibility of the items that sink to the bottom.

If you like things just so, you’ll appreciate having your pump, tubes and an extra layer in the large pocket while you keep your snacks and wallets in the middle one.

Your multi-tool, hanger and other repair items can hang out in the zipped inner pocket. Your phone with the delicate screen can be snug and safe in the front fleece-lined pocket. 

During long stretches, you can easily reach an energy bar in the zipped front pocket. No need to worry about litter, just keep the trash zipped inside. 


The pack is extremely comfortable. It comes with a detachable hose, a bite valve lock, and useful gear storage. 

The liquid in this water backpack sits low, yet it still fits a full 3 litres. The good thing about carrying the water low is that there is much less weight on your shoulder straps. That means you hardly feel the pack. 

You get a 100-oz low-ride reservoir, which is a nice feature. You can also adjust the strap if you are fully loaded or travelling light.

Either way, the pack is comfy. It can even get you through the gruelling Kokoda trail

Also, you can tether your helmet or any dirt gear to the exterior so you don’t risk getting the interior items messed up. 


There’s not much, if anything, to complain about with the MULE LR. The upper strap buckles can be tricky to close and the pack feels warm on your back. Other than that, the MULE LR is a dream as far as CamelBak backpacks go.

Final Thoughts on Hydration Backpacks

Thanks for reading. We hope this review of a wide range of hydration backpacks by renowned Camelback help you figure out which one is just right for your needs.

Want more advice on the right gear to get for all your outdoor needs? Kokoda Gear is ready to help.

Check out our Australia guides for top walking and camping spots.