CAMELBAK TRAIL BLAZER HYDRATION PACK
BY NANCY GRIFFITH
July 08, 2008
5' 6" (1.68 m)
132 lb (60.00 kg)
I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania and since then in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and now mostly in the Sierra Nevada of California. Most of my trips are section hikes or loops from a few days to a week. I mostly hike in the summer and fall. I've recently discovered the virtues of lightening the load by updating some older gear, but I'm not an ultralight backpacker.
Year of Manufacture: 2003 (estimated)
Manufacturer's Website: www.camelbak.com
Listed Weight: 1.93 lb (0.88 kg)
Measured Weight: 2.0 lb (0.9 kg)
Fluid Capacity: 70 oz (2.1 L)
Cargo Capacity: 1,373 cu in (22.5 L)
Image courtesy of Camelbak.
Image courtesy of Camelbak.
This was my first pack with the Omega Reservoir. I like the large opening (see item 1) since it makes it easy to fill. If I hold onto the lower part of the plastic ring below the reservoir opening, it actually balances nicely when filling the reservoir with my refrigerator in-door water dispenser.
The large cap allows for a good grip while unscrewing but it can still be difficult to turn (see item 3). It is a secure closure. I have never had any problem with leakage.
I like the feel of the bite valve on this pack (see item 2) and changed my old Blackburn pack valve to this type too. The Big Bite valve can be used hands-free and does not leak during activities. The valve also has a Hydrolock which allows the flow to be locked open or closed. If it is left open, water can flow to the bite valve. When it is closed, it is useful for transporting the pack to keep it from leaking if the bite valve is accidentally squeezed. I use the lock often during use just so I don't forget to lock it when I throw it in the car. I haven't had any problems with water leaking.
The pack is nylon with an HDPE framesheet. It has a waist belt which is lightly padded. The padded shoulder straps have load stabilizer straps and a fixed location sternum strap. There is a top lift loop on the pack as well as a ice axe loop.
The pack has a pocket which has a zipper running along the top and the full length of one side to provide access to the reservoir. This makes loading a full reservoir very easy. The reservoir has a plastic tab which hooks onto a cord loop inside the top of the reservoir compartment. This holds the reservoir in place during use and keeps it from slipping down as the water level lowers. It is also helpful when using the reservoir in my backpack. I can hook it around one of the backpack straps to hold it in place.
There are two mesh side pockets on the pack which I use mainly for large items such as a light fleece. In this case, I would use the clip straps to hold the top of the fleece. The pockets are somewhat loose, so I am afraid to use them for small items since they could fall out. One time a pair of glasses fell out during a rest break (fortunately some other hikers found them).
The back of the pack has gear loops running the entire length (5 total). I have used these to hang sun block and hand cleaner using carabiners to secure them.
The outer compartment has a key clip and two mesh pockets. I really like these features. The key clip is above one of the pockets, so if I hook my car keys then they can sit inside the pocket. The pockets are a perfect size for a small wallet or a small first aid kit which is what I use the two for holding. The rest of the volume in this pocket can be used for other quick-access items such as a camera, map and snacks. Then the main compartment can be left for larger bulkier items. The large compartment provides quite a bit of room although the pack still seems to be comfortable even with an empty main compartment. The side straps can be used to compress the main compartment.
The product claims to have an air mesh back panel to keep cool, but I have never used any pack that kept my back cool. Outdoor activity is just plain sweaty but I did not notice that the Camelbak was any warmer or cooler than any other pack that I've worn.
I have used this pack over the past 5 years literally hundreds of times for mountain biking, day hiking, snowshoeing and fishing trips. I have also used the reservoir alone for several backpacking trips.
My typical uses are as follows:
Day Hiking, Mountain Biking & Snowshoeing: I fill the reservoir completely with cold water and possibly several ice cubes. The main compartment is used to hold a light fleece, lunch and occasionally a Nalgene bottle of energy drink. The outer smaller compartment is used to hold keys, wallet, first aid, map, a camera and a couple of energy bars. One gear loop on the back is used to hold small bottle of sunblock and/or hand cleaner which are held on with a carabiner.
Fishing: Similar use to hiking, but main compartment holds collapsible fishing rods and lure box also.
Backpacking: I remove the Omega Reservoir from the Camelbak and slip it into my hydration pocket on my other overnight backpack.
I also own a 100 oz (3.0 L) hydration pack that has a small cargo compartment. It is great when I only need to carry a snack. But the Camelbak is much more versatile since I usually am out for the day and like to carry more gear and food.
I use the reservoir only to carry water (see item 4) and have found no distortion to the taste. I have never tried to put any other type of beverage in the reservoir.
I typically empty the reservoir when I get home. Then using a drying hanger made for hydration packs (not included), I hang it until dry. The cap opening is large enough that I can fit my hand inside for cleaning which is nice because no special brushes are needed. A long flexible tube brush (not included) is great for cleaning the tube (see item 5). I use it along with a cotton swab to clean the valve. I have replaced the bite valve one time when it just seemed too grungy and I was not able to adequately clean it. There are corners in the bite valve that are difficult to access for cleaning.
The pack is comfortable to wear all day. The load seems to be balanced in the pack without taking much care with how things are packed. I have used the pack fully crammed with items as well as fairly empty and have found the comfort level to be great either way. Both the waist belt and sternum strap are easy to use and are sufficiently adjustable to stabilize the load.
I have seen no issues with durability. The nylon fabric is intact without any significant abrasions. The straps, buckles and zippers work fine. The reservoir looks and works like new.
Overall I really like this pack and use it quite often. The 70 oz (2.0 L) reservoir is a good amount of water for my typical activities and the cargo capacity is just right for carrying lunch, a camera and extra clothing.
THINGS I LIKE
Roomy main compartment
Front pocket w/ key clip and mesh pockets
Gear loops for easy access to sunblock
Security of reservoir top
Bite valve is easy to use and does not leak
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
Mesh side pockets are not useful for small items
Cap on reservoir can be difficult to open
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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