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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Packs > Camelbak Circuit Hydration Vest > Owner Review by Morgan Lypka

Owner Review
Camelbak Circuit Hydration Vest
By Morgan Lypka
May 18, 2018

Tester Information
Name: Morgan Lypka

Age: 26
Gender: Female
Height: 5’4” (1.6 m)
Weight: 110 lb (50 kg)
Email address: m DOT lypka AT
City, Province, Country: Fernie, British Columbia, Canada
Date: May 6, 2018

Backpacking Background: I started backpacking 2 years ago, when I moved to the Rocky Mountains. Most of my backpacking ventures are 1 to 3 days long, typically around Western Canada. I get cold quickly, and handle heat well. My backcountry trips involve hiking, trail running, ski touring and cross-country skiing. I am getting into kayaking, rock climbing and fly fishing. I camp with a lightweight 3-person, 3-season tent and am starting to hammock and winter camp. Decreasing my packed weight in the backcountry is a developing focus of mine (fitting everything was the first).

Product Information
Manufacturer: Camelbak
Manufacturer Website:
MSRP: $90.00 USD
Size: one size (3.5 L (200 cu in) gear storage, and 1.5 L (50 fl oz) water reservoir)
Listed Weight: 6 oz (170 g)
Measured Weight: 6 oz (170 g), 10.5 oz (299 g) with bladder
Body Dimensions: 34 x 23 x 8 cm (13.4 x 9.1 x 3.1 in)
Year of Purchase: 2017
Colour Tested: Purple (current colours available from manufacturer’s website are teal, crimson red, and black)

Product Description
The Circuit Vest is marketed for running. It comes with a 1.5 L water reservoir (referred to as a Crux on the manufacturer's website). The pack has two adjustable sternum straps, and two adjustable side-body straps. The pack also has two bungee cord front pockets, one on either side of the vest, and a left zippered pocket, approximately 150 mm (6 in) in height and 75 mm (3 in) wide. The pack also has different bands which one could hook or loop various items through. I use a top hook to run the water hose through, and then there is also a bottom loop to hook the nozzle through. The water nozzle has an on/off feature (Photo 1), and when on, it still requires pressure to release water. The reservoir has a handle which allows it to be held flat while being filled. The backpack material has a 3D ventilated mesh (Photo 2) along the back to enhance air flow and comfort. Many of the straps and loop hooks on the pack are also reflective (on the front and back). The pack has one main compartment, which the reservoir sits in. There is room for additional small items in this space as well, such as a light jacket. The main compartment doesn't seal, but has an elastic top to decrease the opening.

Field Description
I have used this pack mountain biking, road biking, hiking and trail running. I have used this pack about 20 times, and I have used it in winter, spring, summer and fall. On average, I have used the pack for distances ranging from 5 to 15 km (3.1 to 9.3 mi), in above freezing temperatures, typically trail running in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

The sternum straps tightly up nicely (Photo 3), but then for me they have quite long ends with nowhere to really tuck them. The straps eliminate any bounce when I run (or bike or hike) and do not constrict any movements. However, I, like many other reviewers on the manufacturer's website, noticed that the sternum straps and the side straps do loosen after movement. I don't mind having to retighten the straps from time to time during the run, and if I want to avoid this, I put a knot or a tie in the strap before I head out.
I prefer this over the straps tightening over time.

I bought the pack because I was looking for a lightweight pack for trail running that was suited for a water bladder and a couple gear items. My previous pack chafed my lower back on most trail runs I did, although it was fine for slower moving hikes. Typically when I trail run, I carry bear spray, my wallet, a key, my cell phone and the 1.5 L hydration bladder, as well as some gummies.
I also often toss in a rain jacket depending on the season. Photo 4 shows the pack at the beginning of a road bike where the reservoir was full, and the central pocket also had my windbreaker and an extra pair of bike gloves stuffed in there. Not too much more could have fit in the central pocket. Even though the central compartment doesn't seal completely, I have never lot anything out of it.

I have ran with bear spray in one of the front bungee cord pockets, and it fits there and doesn't move around too much, but it does make me uneasy. I have bad visions of having it there if I were to fall and the cap comes off or the canister is punctured, it would be right below my face. The 3D mesh has definitely helped keep me cool while I run, in temperatures in excess of 30 C (86 F), and since it doesn't rest on the lower back there is much more breathability than other packs that I have used. During my trail runs, hikes and bikes, I have brushed up against many a branch and bush, and have not yet noticed any tears on the pack.

I have also used the bladder on backcountry ski trips. What I found, expectedly, is that the bladder line will freeze with freezing temperatures. To avoid this, I have been taught by friends to run the line through my jacket. This did help me in a low freezing temperature situation, but I have not tried it enough to speak to its effectiveness always. I have not noticed any issues with using the pack itself in cold weather.

It's nice that the pack and bladder are separable, like most packs, as I have used each separately from the other, with neither of their functions compromised.

Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3
Photo 4

•    The zippered pocket is tight for an iPhone 6C with a case, but it does fit
•    I have had no issues with the zipper since I bought it, nor have I noticed any wear and tear on the pack
•    The water nozzle swivels 360 degrees, which is a nice touch so I don't have to twist the water tube to get the        right angle

What I like
1.    Light weight
2.    No rubbing on lower back
3.    Pocket options and zippered pocked for money/cell phone
4.    Space for gear/phone/fuel
5.    On/off option on water mouthpiece
6.    Removable water bladder, useful in other packs/situations
7.    Fabric has been durable so far

What I dislike
1.    Straps always loosen after period of movement
2.    No great pocket for bear spray
3.    No place to tuck excess straps once tightened
4.    The bladder must be fully removed to fill (could be a nuisance if using during a race or timed event)

I do recommend this pack. The straps loosening is a pain, but hasn't caused me unsolvable issues. I love that I can trail run or go on day hikes without anything rubbing on my lower back and with my essentials all together.

Read more reviews of CamelBak gear
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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Packs > Camelbak Circuit Hydration Vest > Owner Review by Morgan Lypka

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