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Gear Shots: Camelbak Charge LR

Changing the Way We Carry Water

Words by Morgan Taylor. Photos by Morgan Taylor.
May 7th, 2013

Occasionally there comes along a product that just makes sense. I have been using the Camelbak Charge LR for the past few months and it quickly became my go-to pack any time I wasn’t taking my big camera along on a ride. My riding as of late has skewed toward longer distances, but my habit of carrying a full bag of tools hasn’t changed. The lightweight Charge LR is seeing use both with and without its 2 litre reservoir.

The Charge LR uses thin materials to come in at exactly a pound with an empty reservoir. I was concerned they might not stand up to abuse, but after months of regular use, a good number of winter mud baths, and a few crashes, the pack’s materials and zippers are still in great shape.

Camelbak, Charge, LR, 10, lumbar reservoir, hydration pack

The Charge LR is svelte at exactly 1 pound dry. My usual payload in the main compartment includes a relatively large pump, shock pump, tube, and food. My last bag was missing the key ring which is much appreciated in the Charge, though I more often find myself putting my keys in a hip pocket. Two small mesh pockets and a full width pocket behind keep things separated if you so choose.

Camelbak, Charge, LR, 10, lumbar reservoir, hydration pack

A big highlight of the Charge is the waist pockets, which comfortably house all my tools and usual pocket contents: phone, keys, wallet – and can be accessed without undoing any straps. I like the interior key ring but one in a hip pocket would be great. I have been keeping my jacket in the outside pocket, with room still to strap a helmet to the outside using the provided hooks.

Water reservoirs in hydration packs have traditionally been vertically-oriented; last year Camelbak introduced the Lumbar Reservoir series of packs, which house the water in a horizontally-oriented reservoir at the bottom of the pack. The Charge is the smaller of two LR bags, with the 13L Volt above it and womens-specific 10L Spark also available. The Charge and Spark use a 2L reservoir, while the Volt holds 3L. The lumbar-mounted water is not only good for keeping weight your shoulders, but actually gives a bit of a squishy waterbed feel around your waist.

Camelbak, Charge, LR, 10, lumbar reservoir, hydration pack

The major innovation in the LR series packs is the low-slung lumbar reservoir. Hands down the most comfortable way to carry water in your bag. I’ve also found the Charge to be suitably lightweight to use without the reservoir when I have a bottle cage.

Camelbak, Charge, LR, 10, lumbar reservoir, hydration pack

The heart of the LR system. As with other Camelbak packs, the handle under the opening hooks into a loop inside the bag. The only downfall I’ve found in the LR system is the hose attachment is not quite at the bottom of the reservoir, making it difficult to get the last few ounces of water out of the bag.

I had happily used traditional style hydration packs until the Charge LR came along. Waist-mounted water just seems to make sense, especially on a small bag. Hopefully we’ll see new uses for this idea in future years. The Charge 10 LR runs for $135 CDN.


How do you carry your water? Converted to the bottle or still on a bag?

  • khai

    “Converted to the bottle?” Historically I’ve always used bottles until I went dual-squish and the frame(s) prevented me from doing so…

    I’m a big fan of the Deuter EXP Air series. That mesh “trampoline back” is pretty much unbeatable for comfort, and the “race” model is pretty small and light – but holds everything I need.

  • nick

    look very similar to this… http://www.wingnutgear.com/

  • VonP

    Hey Morgan,
    Where is this pack selling? I have had a look at a few LBS sites, but no luck. What’s its price point?
    Thanks!

    • morgman

      Camelbak is distributed in Canada through OGC. I called them today to ask about availability and they said the blue bag is in stock and they are still waiting on the red/black. So, if blue suits your needs, you can have one within a couple days from basically any local bike shop.

      The Canadian MSRP is $135. Thanks for asking – had typed that in but I guess I overwrote it with another edit. It’s in there now.