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REVIEW

2018 Camelbak Repack (hydration) Bum Bag

Words Cam McRae
Photos Cam McRae (unless noted)
Date Sep 14, 2017

This is my second time writing about a bum bag in a single season. Earlier in the year I began scheming to ditch the back for the summer months but then I fell for a bike with no main triangle water bottle placement - a Yeti SB 5.5. As I mentioned earlier I had no luck at all with the under top tube bottle placement so a stop gap measure was required.

The once ridiculed fanny pack has returned with a vengeance making many of us wonder why it ever left. Camelbak, as expected, decided to stuff a bladder into one. Actually two now. I got along pretty well with the Palos 4 and I'm now sold on having my shoulders unencumbered whenever I can. I find it virtually impossible to get a backpack to fit comfortably and stay glued to my body, essential for me on challenging terrain. I'd go as far to say my riding has improved since becoming a (ahem!) fanny fan.

Repack

The Repack is such a big improvement on the Palos that it made sense to turn this review around quickly. Photo - Pete Roggeman

The Palos had some issues that are highlighted by the new model's improvements. The waist strap on the Palos is similar but the cinches are tough to reach and they disappear behind you as you tighten them. They work relatively well, until you try the new version.

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The new cinch system tightens from the buckle and at your hip but the system is now a closed loop and the cinch straps are wide and secure . You can crank it until your kidneys bleed and it stays put like a shackled sloth. 

Instead of cinches that work independently of the main strap, the system is now one unit. The main strap loops back at the buckle to a cinch point and back again so it can be pulled toward the center line of your body creating a pulley system for added leverage. That cinch point attaches at the back of the pack at the outermost point. This may be a little tough to conceive but the take home is that it can be easily tightened on the fly from either side and the system secures to your body as tight as you'd like, and doesn't get sloppy easily.

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The new Crux lumbar reservoir retains the wide mouth (great for icecubes and stashing a beer in your icy water) but in this instance I think a more modest fill hole would make better use of space. 

Compared to a conventional hydration pack, sipping from either the Palos or the Repack can be annoying. You need to reach down to the magnetic nipple holder™ and bring the nozzle to your mouth. That part is easy enough but you can't just drop it to once you are done slurping or your nipple may drag on the ground or get caught in your spokes. Instead you need to fish around for the magnet while trying to stay on the brown and out of the green. If you are climbing this is simple but in faster or rowdier situations you may get rhubarbed.

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You are supposed to wrap the entire hose wrap around your middle from right to left like a hula hoop and then attach it to the magnetic holder. I wrap it around the back instead. This requires cutting the hose a little short but I prefer this method. Photo - Pete Roggeman

The system is designed to work with the hose wrapped around your front and then secured on the left side. I shun this method because I don't want to catch the hose on my saddle and because I don't like the way it looks. Instead, I wrap it around my back. To make this work elegantly on the Repack I had to cut the hose meaning there is no extra length to reach my mouth, but who needs extra length...

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The magnetic nipple lock is secure and easy to use, but it's tricky to find the opening when you are riding anything challenging. 

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The side pockets are much larger and more useful on the Repack and easily accessible on the bike without removing the pack. 

Riders often say they avoid using a pack unless they are on a ride of epic proportions. This summer I managed to carry everything I needed for a Lord of the Squirrels lap at Whistler using the repack, a water bottle and a pump that mounts to the water bottle bosses. I even managed to pack a beer to the top. 

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The large pocket is shared with the reservoir but it still has enough room for a jacket, pump and snacks when your bladder is at its 1.5 litre capacity. 

For 2018 Camelbak redesigned every bladder, which meant redesigning every single pack. I like the new closure on the bladders but I don't think it's effective use of space for the Repack. This system scales well for a backpack but I'd prefer a more diminutive opening in this application.  I also appreciate the new of/off valve and the angled nipple 

I thought the small side pockets were a big miss on the Palos. This is almost like free space and access is amazing without removing the bag. My son had heard my complaint and when he saw me wearing the Repack he said, "look dad, the pockets are bigger just like you wanted!" The sleeve pocket (with overlapping elastic panels but no zipper) is now big enough for a can of beer and the zip pocket fits my iPhone 6. A Plus-sized phone might not make it though. 

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Riding Gargamel (north of Whistler) with the Repack. Photo - Zach White

Like the Palos, the Repack is listed as a 4 litre bag but I have a much easier time getting everything I need inside. The Repack lacks the overlapping rear closure the Palos featured, an omission my friend Singletrack Zach lamented because of the ability to strap gear in but this hasn't been an issue for me. 

At $75 US, the Repack is the same price as the Palos despite being a big step forward in terms of fit and features. It's not on the Camelbak Website yet but you can check the Palos here...

Comments

DemonMike
0
mike  - Sept. 14, 2017, 6:01 a.m.

any issues with the waist straps loosening during the ride ??

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Sept. 14, 2017, 10:05 a.m.

Sometimes it's hard to discern between the pack shifting, moving above the hips where my diameter is a little smaller, and loosening, but the system is incredibly secure so I think it's the former that sometimes happens. When that does occur it's easy and quick to tighten on the fly. I guess my answer is no.

Reply

Vikb
+1
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 14, 2017, 6:44 a.m.

I did a 7.5hrs alpine ride this year without a backpack. That proved that I really don't need one for riding unless there is something special going on like heading out on a picnic, photoshoot ride with DSLR or riding to fish.

I don't need a fanny pack for rides under 2hrs, but they work really well when you do need them. I happened to have some old ones from my hiking days and grabbing one + a 1L softbottle from MEC and my ride time expands by 2hrs.

Nice. :)

Glad to see Camelbak revise their hydro fanny. Do you know what happened to the Dakine hydro fanny. I've seen a lot f them on the trail, but can't find 'em on the Dakine website.

Reply

chris
+2
Chris  - Sept. 14, 2017, 9:37 a.m.

I've been running the FlashFlo for 2 years now.  It preceded the Palos and was intended for hiking.  It's not as voluminous as the current crop but I made one modification to the hose routing I recommend for anyone considering going fanny style:

I too was concerned with catching the hose on the seat and not being able to sip easily from a waist mounted hose.  Instead I cut a small hole in the top center of the pack and route the hose up the center of my back and over my shoulder (ala backpack style).  The Flash Flo came with a small hose clip you open/pinch to whatever shirt/jersey you're wearing.  The hose was just long enough to do this.  I can sip as easily and regularly as with backpack/hydration and the hose never gets hung up.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Sept. 14, 2017, 10:06 a.m.

Good one Chris! This version comes with a clip as well and I considered that but haven't yet given it a try.

Reply

DemonMike
+1
mike  - Sept. 14, 2017, 7:31 p.m.

Great trick with the hose , I have that version as well and it drove me nuts , it would flip upside down on me at times . The newer version ( FlashFlo replacement ) does not flip upside down , the issues I have had are the straps loosening no matter how much I tightened them up . In the rain it's slide down like a drooping diaper .

I have a cheap MEC pack the will hold 2 bottles and with it,s straps it,s on like a belt , does not move . When I retired the pack for the last CB model , I stole the cinch locks on the straps , that has helped keep the pack from coming loose during the ride .

Reply

denomerdano
0
Denomerdano  - Sept. 15, 2017, 9:30 a.m.

I've been using the Evoc Hip pack race 3L this season with great success.

Fits 2.5L of water (1.5Lbladder +1L bottle) and Sony Alpha 7 with 2 Prime lenses easily along with tools and basic snacks. 

Sometimes i ditch the bladder and fit even more crap in it like gform kneepads and gloves and glasses. 

Does not move around at all and thr back is far more ventilated than the Camelback. 

Pinner, winner, chicken dinne

Reply

andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Sept. 17, 2017, 9:30 a.m.

Yesterday I did a big alpine ride with just my first generation Palos but no bladder. Light jacket, food, phone, wallet and MSR Trailshot filter. I know the trail offers access to creaks and alpine ponds. I don't like the weight of the bladder on my waist. And the hose is not the easiest thing to replace on the magnetic hook. And I found that I knocked the hose off every now and then too. Even with the addition by me of slide locks to the belt, it still loosens off even with no bladder. I'm sold on bum bags but not for anything too heavy. 

I do hate packs now. I had one of the original Camelbaks when the were little more than a two litre IV bag in a foam sleeve. Then someone added a pocket. Then a bigger pocket. Then a pocket added for a bladder in a pack. Next thing you know people are riding around with large packs carrying extra derailleurs because they can. 

There are times when you do need a pack and places where you need to bring water.

Reply

DemonMike
0
mike  - Sept. 17, 2017, 9:42 a.m.

Nice to know I am  ,not the only one fighting a pack that loosens off . I added locks to help remedy this and it is hit and miss depending on the items in the pack . I even spoke with a rep on Friday at my LBS , even he admitted too adding slide-locks on the strap .

Reply

mimikiri
0
ImpAct ImpAct Tawara  - Sept. 18, 2017, 10:29 p.m.

I have now my Palos for about one and a half. And by reading you I can only agree on some of the negative points. the new system of strap to the air more worked and will avoid that one is flying straps.

But as you said very well it is more than easy to tighten them on the fly while continaunt to pedal.

On the other hand I am disappointed that they apparently removed the pockets with nets that were on the back part of the Palos.

And for the space in the large pocket, I also have the place to put a spare Belt for the Anakin. What to ask for more?

Reply

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