Camelbak Mule EV Pack NSMB AndrewM.JPG
Two-Minute Reviews

Camelbak M.U.L.E. EVO Weatherproof Vestpack

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Mar 29, 2022
Reading time

Almost.

I almost always ride with a pack, even though I also usually carry my H2O in bottles on my frame. I like to bring tools, spare clothes, food, first aid, and most of the year a light. Sometimes on solo rides I even bring a book. Yes, that was me sitting on Zoe's bench reading Catherynne Valente. No, it wasn't the strangest thing that's ever happened on Mt. Fromme. I love the fit of Camelbak's Chase bike vests and recommend them regularly to folks who prefer a pack but have never found the right fit with a traditional backpack or a hip pack. I think vestpacks are awesome. My absolute favourite feature of the Chase lineup are the built-in cellphone pockets on the left-side shoulder strap. It's brilliant how I both never notice my phone being there and how it's in an ultra-accessible spot if I truly eat shit on a solo adventure.

I wish the above was the opening to introduce you to the brilliance of Camelbak's new M.U.L.E. EVO weatherproof pack. I have an awesome history with Camelbak products going back to my first brown M.U.L.E. pack in 1997. I've sold so many M.U.L.E. and M.U.L.E. NV packs at shops I've worked at that I wouldn't hazard a guess. The M.U.L.E. LR15 I reviewed in 2017 where my one wonder was, "I don't understand why Camelbak doesn't do a premium M.U.L.E. H20 model with waterproof material and zipper and seam sealing." Instead, I've spent over two months avoiding writing this piece. I went from being stoked on the idea of a magical mixture of the weatherproofing of my Acre Hauser, the fit of my Chase Protector, and the feature mix of a M.U.L.E. to wanting nothing to do with this pack just in opening the box. The f***ing cellphone pocket is see-through mesh‽

If anything, give me a non-weatherproof M.U.L.E. vestpack but with a weatherproof phone pocket. Why even have this pocket on the shoulder strap of a weatherproof pack if it's not going to be weatherproof as well? Why do the folks at Camelbak think people buy weatherproof products?

Once I talked myself away from the oil drum, jerry can, and strike-anywhere matches, I decided I'd better at least try the thing on the trail. And hey, the M.U.L.E. EVO works great in the rain, or at least it would if it didn't interfere with my helmet while I'm trying to ride down technical terrain. Sadly, Camelbak managed to copy the idea of my beloved Chase Protector vest but not the dimensions. At 45cm long, the Chase Protector fits great even when I'm riding down steep janky trails that require a lot of body English. The M.U.L.E. EVO has been stretched to 48cm long and combined with the much stiffer weatherproof fabric and construction the fit is awful on my 5'9" frame. I caution that dimensions do not tell the real story here; my Hauser is just as long as the M.U.L.E. EVO but sits much lower.

If the pack fits, and if you don't care about where your cellphone sits, it's probably the best value for a weatherproof pack. But, I do think that even the tallest lover of the Chase or Chase Protector would be very well served to try the Camelbak M.U.L.E. EVO on, with your helmet, in attack position, before dropping the cash. And given that it isn't going to fit over half the mountain biking population, if it does fit you, I'd ask the shop where you try it on for a break on the 140 USD purchase price. It's going to be better on your back then collecting dust on their wall.

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Comments

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+4 Andrew Major Timer kcy4130 Niels van Kampenhout

My GF killed a modern iPhone on a wet hike not too long ago. I'd be willing to pull out my phone to use it briefly in the rain, but I wouldn't store it unprotected in a mesh pocket. It might be fine, but as my GF found out when it's not fine the situation gets expensive fast.

I ziplock mine unless it's inside a waterproof frame bag.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Yeah, no way. The investment in a smart phone is too much to risk it on the elements. Weatherproof pocket or in the pack in a weatherproof case.

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major Konrad Cooper Quinn

This vest is TOO big!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 cheapondirt

HAHAHAHAHA. Thank you.

Reply

retrokona
retrokona
4 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Tuesday is coming. Did you bring your see through mesh cell phone pocket?

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major kcy4130

A touch screen still (mostly) works through a zip-lock bag. While I agree it's a daft 'feature' on a weatherproof pack, the offending pocket could still be used.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+3 Allen Lloyd Andy Eunson Velocipedestrian

I mean, yes. That’s what I do with the Chase vests. But, c’m’on?! It’s a weatherproof pack. It’ll keep my beers dry but on a rainy day I lose the extra safety of the accessible phone?! Or have to sandwich-bag it?!

I was so disappointed, and like the feature so much on the Chase bags, that I got a custom weatherproof phone case made for my Acre packs.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 Andy Eunson blackhat

I mean... almost all new phones are some degree of waterproof or water resistant now. And this way you can presumably (possibly?) see the screen without pulling it out.

Reply

mtbman99
mtbman99
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Timer

I was thinking the same thing but then remembered what it's like to try and operate a touch screen phone when it is just a little bit wet.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Really Cooper?!? 

Hard no to carrying and electronics that 100% guaranteed weatherproof in a mesh pocket… even then.

Reply

andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Actually what we need are weatherproof phones. There is an entire industry made up for smart phone cases. Like having to buy at an extra cost, rubber car mats for carpeted vehicles, phone cases are a stupid thing. Or all these little waterproof sacks for stuff going into non waterproof packs.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I don’t see it. The average person is not going to pay more for a clunkier sealed unit to save it from the random risk of a spilled coffee and I don’t see phone companies time and money I to making waterproof phones for the % of customers that would choose one. Probably more profit to be made selling extended warranties and insurance anyways?

But I’d certainly choose one of it was an option for a minimal hit in extra money or size. 

In the meantime. Weatherproof pocket!

Reply

blackhat
blackhat
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andy Eunson

iPhones have been waterproof since the 6 I believe.  That was why they stopped using the 3.5mm headphone jack.

I’ve tested it a few times by running it in the sink when it gets dirty somehow and it’s never had any problems.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Niels van Kampenhout

Anything that has buttons or switches that physically move has crevices for water to enter. I mean, it’s not that I won’t use my phone a bit in the rain, but sitting in a saturated pack as I ride? I wouldn’t trust it unless it came with some kind of guarantee.

See Vik’s experience below.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Niels van Kampenhout

Down is up and up is down now that comments stack based on ratings. (In case anyone didn’t notice yet)

Also - thanks Niels!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Niels van Kampenhout

Hahahaha. The colour coded new posts was an immediately welcome update but it did take a minute for my brain to start swimming through the comments correctly.

Vik’s post where ever it is!

Thanks Niels!!!

mammal
Mammal
4 months, 2 weeks ago
0

What does the comment color coding mean?? I haven't been able to figure that out (although I haven't tried too hard either).

Timer
Timer
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Cam McRae

Has nothing to do with the headphone jack. Sony has been making certified water resistant phones (no phone is waterproof) with headphone jacks for many years.

The problem with water resistance in phones is that it doesn't always last. After a few years, the seals and adhesives degrade.

Reply

andy-eunson
Andy Eunson
4 months, 2 weeks ago
0

I dunno. Remember the Sport Walkman? I actually had a flip phone maybe ten years ago that was weather proof ish. It was a sort of contractors version meant for the outdoors. I think my current phone is pretty good that way. The screen is supposed to be more scratch resistant that previous iPhones.  So far it’s fine but I’m easy on equipment that way.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

This comment has been removed.

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
4 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Blue means new Mammal!

Reply

mammal
Mammal
4 months, 2 weeks ago
0

Thanks Cam!

Reply

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