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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Packs > CamelBak Sundowner LR22 pack > Owner Review by Kathleen Waters

CAMELBAK SUNDOWNER LR 22 PACK

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BY KATHLEEN WATERS
December 14, 2016

OWNER REVIEW

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
AGE: 65
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)
WAIST: 28 " (71 cm)
TORSO LENGTH 18" (45 cm)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: CamelBak, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.camelbak.com
MSRP: US $160.00
Listed Weight: 2.5 lb / 1.2 kg (pack only)
Measured Weight: 2.75 lb. (1.25 kg)
Colors Available: Deep Teal/Hot Coral
Sizes Available: One Size
Listed Hydration Capacity: 100 oz (3 L)
Listed Total Capacity: 1300 cu in (22 L)
Listed and Measured Dimensions: 19.7 x 11.4 x 13 in (50 x 29 x 33 cm)

Warranty - "Got Your Bak" Lifetime Warranty - CamelBak will repair or replace at its discretion any manufacturing defect in these products free of charge.

Other Details:

* Crux LR reservoir
* Integrated reservoir compression
* Air suspensions back panel with open mesh
* Magnetic tube trap
* Ventilated hip belt with cargo pockets
* Stretch overflow exterior pockets
* Trekking pole attachment and tool top
Sundowner LR 22 Pack
Photo copyright Camelbak

FIELD LOCATIONS AND PERFORMANCE

LOCATIONS

I've had the Camelbak Sundowner LR 22 for just about five months now and have used it constantly at home for daily hikes to the mailbox, weekend day hikes in my "backyard" and various other out-of-town locations.

Fun, outdoor, out-of-state locations have included: the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Banff and Jasper National Parks (Alberta, Canada), and Glacier National Park and Custer-Gallatin National Forest (Montana)

Location and condition details were as follows:

Custer-Gallatin National Forest - Moose Creek Flat
Terrain: we base-camped in a valley besides the Gallatin River, but day-hiked to mountain lakes for fishing as well
Elevation range: 5700' (1700 m) to 7500' (2300 m)
Temperature range: 35 F (2 C) to 65 F (18 C)
Other weather-related conditions: rain every day for varying periods of time from just a periodic drizzle to a downright downpour for hours (mostly at night). Very little sunshine

Banff/Jasper National Parks
Terrain: ah, mountains. Rocky, heavily treed mountains
Elevation range: 4500' (1400 m) to 10,000' (3000 m)
Temperature range: 22 F (-6 C) to 70 F (21 C)
Other weather-related conditions: rain every day for varying periods of time from just a periodic drizzle to a downright downpour for hours (mostly at night). Very little sunshine. (Yup, same as the previous week in Gallatin!)

Glacier National Park
Terrain: high, rocky mountain trails
Elevation range: 4600' (1400 m) to 6600' (2000 m)
Temperature range: 45 F (7 C) to 65 F (18 C)
Other weather-related conditions: Sunshine!

As can be seen, I spent a lot of time in the rain in the mountains. Different states/countries, but pretty much the same conditions!

Closer to home:

Fremont County, Colorado (my home "range") - this area is in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with elevations ranging from 5500 ft (1700 m) to 9900 ft (3000 m). The terrain is mostly rather rough with lots of mud, loose rock and huge slabs of granite rock. Vegetation is scrubby pinon pine, Gamble Oak, juniper, cactus and prairie grasses (or weeds, depending on who is talking!).

Weather conditions were pretty much the same through all locations and throughout the entire season. Hot, hot and more Hot! Dry, Dry and more Dry! And for most of this summer, fall and early winter, temperatures have ranged from above 90 F (32 C) to the freezing mark.
On the trail in Banff National Park
Hiking in Banff National Park
On the trail in Banff National Park
Alberta, Canada


PERFORMANCE

I'm one of those people who really use a day pack. I can almost actually call it a "daily" pack as I almost use it "daily". I live out in the "boonies" and it's a 4-mile (6.4 km) round-trip trek to the mailbox down at the end of our mountainous private dirt road. My neighbor and I make it a point to meet and walk most days for the fun and exercise. This is my work-out and hiking training all rolled into one.

Because it is so danged dry here in Canon City, Colorado, I always fill up with a lot of water when walking. Mostly, I don't fill the reservoir; I just take two 1-liter bottles of water. I'll also carry a mid-layer (or not), gloves, hat, treats for the horses and the mail, of course. It's a light pack, used just so I have free hands more than anything else. I estimate I wore the Sundowner for easily 180 miles (290 km) in this manner.

On the trails in the backcountry locations listed above, I wore the pack another 70 miles (113 km) or so.

First off, the best feature of CamelBak packs in my humble opinion is their treatment of the hydration system. In the Sundowner, CamelBak has continued with the lumbar reservoir configuration where the bulk of the water weight rests lower on the small of my back and is supported by my hips rather than the traditional horizontal bladder configuration where my shoulders take the brunt of the load. Not only does the lumbar bladder system ease my shoulder stress, but it also keeps the bladder from shifting side to side and playing havoc with my center of gravity. I loved this feature in my older CamelBak Spire pack and I LOVE it now in my Sundowner pack!

The Sundowner has a unique (I think) storage compartment for the Crux reservoir. It is accessed from the top of the pack but that section is "dedicated" to the bladder, even though there is lots of space there for extra storage. This is really nice as it makes it easy to access the reservoir without having to rummage through all the rest of the contents of my pack. This also will keep items from getting wet when I inevitably don't tighten the reservoir cap properly.

Which brings me to the cap of the reservoir and how easy it is to fill and empty it. The cap has a very large opening and so filling it up (and cleaning the insides) is very nicely done. There is a rather sizable "holder" attached to the body of the reservoir that is very sturdy and handy for that task as well, keeping my hands out of the way of the water. The lid can be secured very tightly. So tightly, as a matter of fact, that sometimes, it is a bit difficult for me to loosen. Hence the reason, I sometimes have a leaky reservoir, I don't always tighten the lid as well as I should. My problem though, not the Sundowner!

I've been very pleased with the fit of the Sundowner. It has a smaller than overnight-backpack-sized waistbelt that actually fits my waist without two feet (0.7 m) of extra strapping. The shoulder straps are nicely padded and covered in cooling mesh (as is the waist belt) and are supportive without being stiff. With some of my other packs, the shoulder straps "stand on their own" while the Sundowner straps conform to my contour in a most comfortable way. The back mesh panel stands away from the pack body for extra cooling. Since I'm a very sweaty hiker is in all weather conditions, this is a welcome feature for me.

Since a pack is meant to carry gear, the way storage is handled in a pack largely determines how useful a pack will be for me. I'm a big fan of compartments as I can arrange things in a matter that is best suited for me. I'm not a fan of obscure and small pockets and lots of extra loops and fasteners. The Sundowner suits my style of packing very well.

Side pockets on the Sundowner are for water bottles and I've been able fit even my biggest bottles - albeit tightly - in them. I do find it a bit hard to remove and replace the bottles though. Guess I better work on that shoulder flexibility! The stretchy mesh of the pouches holds onto the bottle while I'm hiking and have retained their stretch after a lot of use.

There are loops for my trekking poles at the base of the Sundowner. I never used them as such but do secure carabiners to attach my collapsible camp chair. Besides, since I am such a klutz, I'm always using my poles, never carrying them.

Starting from the front of the pack, a good-sized outer-most compartment that opens with two zippers from center to bottom. Inside this pouch are a couple of mesh pouches and a full-fabric one as well as a clip for keys and such. I use this section of the pack for things like my wallet, keys, cell phone etc. Things I want to keep in reach and organized and not with my other gear so as to get knocked out, dropped and/or lost.

Behind the above compartment is what I call a "stuff-it" compartment which is not fully closed but fastened to the pack with plastic quick-lock clips. This is where I keep clothing that I take off and on in the course of a day. I keep a warm hat if I'm already wearing a cap or vice versa, gloves, a Buff scarf and sometimes, my rain jacket.

Next compartment is the main body of the pack which is downright cavernous relatively speaking because there are no pouches, straps or separators. Just lots of room to carry all the rest of my gear.

Lastly, closest to my body is the reservoir compartment which as I indicated above is just that - the reservoir compartment. I have carried good packages that I wanted to keep cool there resting on the cold water of the bladder. Mostly though, I use this area only for dirty dishes!

As with most waistbelt pockets, the two zippered ones on the Sundowner are quite small and when I did use them, I stashed tissues, lip balm and maybe a gel. That's about it. I am able to utilize the smaller waistbelt, happily, to attach my digital camera case. Very handy to have my camera right there!
Back Panel Mesh
Mesh Back Panel and WaistBelt
Outside compartment
Top Compartment
Crux Reservoir
Crux Reservoir

WHAT I CARRY

Besides the three liters of water in the lumbar reservoir pouch, on my day hikes this past fall, I would typically be carrying various items at various times, depending on the changing weather conditions, before and after food consumption, etc. But at its fullest, I have stuffed into the Sundowner:

1.) an extra pair of socks for sweaty feet or accidental dunkings
2.) a down vest for an extra layer of warmth if needed
3.) a fleece hat or a light cap, depending on the temperature
4.) gloves or liners depending on the temperature
5.) rain gear - jacket and pants
6.) two 1- L water bottles
7.) food - bars, gels, and dehydrated dinners - son carried the stove and fuel, daughter-in-law, the pots
8.) bowl/spork
9.) headlamp
10.) digital camera & extra (2) batteries, worn on waistbelt
11.) pocket knife, lip balm, emergency whistle, weather thermometer
12.) Big Agnes Helinox One chair
13.) sunglasses

The above list takes my pack load to about 20 lb (9 kg). That's a lot of "stuff" to be sure and thanks to the convenient organization of the Sundowner, I was almost always able to easily find what I wanted without making too much of a mess.

The one modification - if it can be called a modification - I made to the Sundowner was to just about soak it with a waterproof (spray) product. After two very wet days in Custer-Gallatin National Forest hiking and fishing with my "kids", we were all tired of damp gear (hats, glove, vest, etc.) and on our drive from Montana to Alberta, Canada; we stopped at a big-box store where we loaded up on waterproofing. Since we had an overnight in a hotel on the way, we took the opportunity to douse all three of our backpacks and our tent. Our hotel room looked trashed and we ended up having to drag everything back out to the car to eliminate the very unpleasant fumes! BUT, we didn't have any more problems with soggy clothes after that!

CARE AND STORAGE INFORMATION

Over the course of the summer and fall, I did get the Sundowner kind of dirty. Especially in Montana and in Canada where we experienced a lot of rain and subsequently, mud. I found that the pack was easy to neaten-up on trail with just a brisk brushing when the dirt was dried and a light scrub at home with a damp cloth. According to the CamelBak website, the pack could also be soaked in cool or warm water and a mild soap plus a good rinse. I never felt the need to try that though. I did get a nice case of the "giggles" when reading the care instruction advice to "DO NOT.wash...in a washing machine"! That would have never crossed my mind as an option!

I didn't take any special care in the field with cleaning out the reservoir. It was almost always filled to one level or another with water. And I never filled the reservoir with anything other than plain water - no energy fizzes, drops, etc.

Within a day of coming home, I always thoroughly washed out the reservoir with hot water and a couple of tablespoons of baking soda. CamelBak indicates a bit of bleach (2 Tablespoons) can also be used if any mold or discoloration occurs and they also sell CamelBak Cleaning Tablets which I've never tried. Never had a problem with mold or discoloration.

After flushing the reservoir and tubing with LOTS of hot water (pinching the bit valve empties that nicely), I hang the whole mess from a hanger over my laundry sink to drain for a couple of days. Then I stuff the reservoir with clean dry paper towel and hang in my gear closet until the next adventure. This has worked well for me and my reservoir is always clean and "taste-free".

STARRING ATTRACTIONS

1.) Love, love, love the lumbar-style reservoir!
2.) Great reservoir capacity
3.) Perfect pack size for day hikes where I need to carry multiple layering options
4.) Easy to access reservoir

MINOR DISTRACTIONS

1.) Side holster-style water bottle pouches are rather small and are difficult to use.

SUMMARY

Three CamelBak Packs
Trio of CamelBak on Trail in Banff
This not my first CamelBak pack. From one of my very first packs I purchased for my first trip to Colorado for a winter snowshoe, the Flurry, I've been a fan of CamelBak. I have several of their water bottles and thermos as well. I've been a big fan of the stellar quality and design of CamelBak products and the Sundowner LR 22 did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm. Great size. Lightweight. Thoughtful organization and my favorite feature, the lumbar reservoir! I'm very pleased with the new Crux system.

I definitely think this pack is a winner and have passed my CamelBak Spire down to my son. We are now a four-person CamelBak family! My husband has a Sundowner as well, my son has the Spire and my daughter-in-law sports the Highwire. Fun! (And yes, that IS a CamelBak Chute 40 oz Vacuum Insulated Stainless Bottle which my son seems to have permanently - ahem - borrowed in the picture as well!)

Thank you CamelBak for your quality products!

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

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