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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Packs > CamelBak Mini-M.U.L.E. > Owner Review by Susan Conklin

CamelBak Mini-M.U.L.E.
BY SUSAN G CONKLIN
OWNER REVIEW
April 23, 2008

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Susan G Conklin
EMAIL: swetiepetiATaolDOTcom
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Houston, Texas, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 3" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 140 lb (63.50 kg)

About 5 years ago, I started backpacking again after a twenty year gap. I usually backpack from 2 to 5 days. Although I hike a variety of terrains I prefer hiking through tree filled hills. I have never camped more than two days without being rained on even in the desert (family curse). I avoid snow although it has not always avoided me. I try to be as ultralight as possible due to a bad back. My pack including clothes worn, but not including food and water, is normally

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: CamelBak
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.camelbak.com
MSRP: US $40.00
Listed Weight: None listed on site
Measured Weight: 1 lb 3 oz (525g)
Other details: Listed measurements per manufacturer's website: Capacity 50 oz (1.5 L) Cargo 159 cu in (2.6 L)
Colors available are Coyote/Charcoal, Estate Blue/Graphite and Raspberry/White

The CamelBak Mini-M.U.L.E. is a child's hydration system. Per the manufacturer's website, it is made for 5 years old and up. It has a zippered hydration pocket next to the body with a cushioned mesh panel on the outside. It is very adjustable to the height and weight of a child due to the lightly padded, mesh lined adjustable shoulder straps along with the hip belt and sternum strap. A large zippered cargo area is directly behind the hydration pack with a small zippered cargo pocket in the very front. The two zipped cargo areas are separated by a mesh pocket between them with three cargo straps above the mesh pocket connecting the two zippered cargo pockets and helping to secure items in the mesh pockets. It has a small loop at the top of the pack.
IMAGE 1
Front and Back
IMAGE 2
with open zippers
It comes with a 50oz (1.5 L) hydration reservoir with a wide mouth screw on top. The screw on top has a recessed handle while the reservoir has a flat black plastic handle to hold while securing the screw on top onto the reservoir.
IMAGE 5
hydration reservoir
The bottom of the hydration reservoir has tubing that connects it to a self sealing bite valve. When the valve is pressed on, the slit in the valve opens then closes when pressure is released. The tubing runs from inside the bottom of the pack to the top of the pack then out through a slot over either shoulder. Although it is from that point free hanging, both children tucked the end of tubing up under the sternum strap so that it was within easy drinking distance.

FIELD USE

The two Mini-M.U.L.E.s have been used by both a 4-year old and a 7-year old several times. The first time was a simple overnight backpacking trip. Both children hiked about a mile and a half (2.42 km) with their Mini-M.U.L.E. then went about 100 yards (91 meters) through brush to a primitive camp site. The 7-year old's was filled with the full 50 oz (1.5 L). The 4-year old only carried 33 oz (1 L) as he was under the manufacturer's suggested age of 5 by a couple months but wanted a pack just like his brother's pack. While preparing for the trip they were able to take off the screw tops and add ice and water to the reservoir through the wide mouth openings by themselves. I did help the 4-year old measure his out so that he did not carry as much as his brother. Both children loved the Mini-M.U.L.E. pack and said it was comfortable. They could easily put it on and take it off themselves including working the buckles of the hip and sternum straps. I adjusted them to size while still at home which I found to be very easy. Both packs survived, without a mark, two hyperactive boys that liked to run through brush without stopping including some thorny brush that I with my much more delicate gear stopped to work my way around. The large zippered cargo section was big enough to hold a complete change of clothes including a lightweight hoodie and sun hat. The smaller zippered section was plenty large for snacks, a mini flashlight and some small odds and ends.
The next several trips were simple hiking trips that were 3 to 5 miles (4.83 to 8.05 km) each. Both boys again ran through brush, scraped against trees and generally were abusive to their Mini-M.U.L.E.s but both packs look untouched.
The last trip was a backpacking trip with the 7-year old. He stated he hardly noticed it was on. He figured out how to put his short rolled up inflatable pad between the two zippered sections above the mesh pockets and below the connecting straps. His only complaint thus far is he can't put anything but water in the reservoir.
The only bad experience we had with the packs was when the 4-year old took off his pack and inadvertently laid the pack on top of the bite valve causing it to leak. The tubing lacks a shutoff valve/lever to turn off the flow of water to the bite valve that many of the CamelBak's hydration systems have. From this experience I can say the pack is not waterproof as the leaked water did soak and dampen the fabric by the zipper and a small amount leaked through. I would consider it water resistant however as most of the water simply beaded off the pack.

IMAGE 3
back and side while worn
IMAGE 4
front while worn

SUMMARY

In all it appears to be a very durable, very functional pack made for the demands of a rough and tumble child. It allows them to carry part of their own gear and helps them to easily access water on their own

THINGS I LIKE

easily adjustable straps
multiple cargo storage compartments including a large zippered one
hip and sternum strap
easy even for a child to refill with ice and water

THINGS I DON'T LIKE

at over a l b (0.5 kg) empty it's as heavy or heavier than many larger hydration systems
no shutoff valve/lever like on many other CamelBak tubes
unable to put flavored drinks or sports type drinks in it.

SIGNATURE

Susan G Conklin

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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