2018 Camelbak Repack (hydration) Bum Bag
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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...