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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Packs > Camelbak Highwire 25 Antidote Pack > Owner Review by Kathleen Waters

CAMELBAK HIGHWIRE 25 HYDRATION PACK
BY KATHLEEN WATERS
camelbak logo
March 9, 2012

OWNER REVIEW

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy@backpackgeartest.com
AGE: 61
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

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 Products, LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.camelbak.com
MSRP: US $115
Listed Weight: 1.79 lb (0.81 kg)
Measured Weight: 2 lb 1 oz (0.96 g)
Torso Length: 19 in (48 cm)
My Torso Length: 19 in (48 cm)
Colors Available: Citronelle/Woodbine & Formula One/Mirage Grey
Color Reviewed: Citronelle/Woodbine

Other details: (from manufacturer's website)

* Total Capacity: 1526 cu in (25 L)
* Fabric Specs: 70D Mini Ripstop, 230D Taffeta & 420D Nylon with DWR + 1000mm PU coating
* Back Panel: LV™ (Lightweight Ventilated)
* Harness: Independent Suspension
* Belt: Load-bearing with cargo pocket
* Additional Features: Trekking pole and ice axe mounts, Sunglasses pocket

* Includes the new Antidote™ Reservoir with Quick Link™ System—the ultimate cure for dehydration. Antidote features: Quick Link™ System, quick-seal cap, lightweight fillport, dryer arms, center baffling and low-profile design, patented Big Bite™ Valve, HydroGuard™ technology, PureFlow™ tube, easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening
IMAGE 2
Picture Courtesy of Camelbak

CamelBak® Got Your Bak Guarantee™: If we built it, we'll Bak it™ with our lifetime guarantee.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

According to the manufacturer, the CamelBak Highwire 25 is intended to be used as a lightweight day pack. It has a 25 L (1526 cu in) interior capacity which is sufficient for what I generally need on a long day hike. As is expected of Camelback, the pack features a nifty hydration reservoir, in this case a 3 L (100 oz) hydration reservoir; Camelbak's own Antidote.

The Highwire features a main compartment accessible via a dual opening zipper. Inside there is an additional zippered pocket on the back of the pack for the Antidote. Inside of this pocket, there is a loop from which the reservoir is suspended.

The Antidote reservoir is opened and closed with 1/4 turn of the wide-mouth cap. The reservoir also features a shut-off valve on the "bite" and is BPA-free. The connecting tube can easily be removed thanks to Camelbak's quick release mechanism.

Also inside of the pack are a zippered mesh pocket and a clip for keys.

Additional "stashing" options are available on the exterior of the Highwire in the form of a zippered pocket at the top front of the pack. Two stretchy mesh water bottle pockets on either side of the pack and a large pouch on the main body of the pack, two small zippered pockets positioned on either side of the waist belt round out the storage compartments.

For attaching an ice axe and trekking poles, there are two equipment loops.

The back panel is firm and ribbed, made from a piece of flexible plastic and covered with a mesh fabric. Side panels are ventilated and nicely padded, as are the shoulder straps and waist belt.
Back view of Highwire 25 Front view of Highwire 25 Side view of Highwire 25

FIELD USE AND PERFORMANCE

Since I got the Camelbak Highwire 25 in January 2011, I have used it on most of the single day hikes I've taken for a total of over 40 day hikes. Some of the hikes were as short as two hours or so, but the majority of the hikes were 4 hours or more.

In February 2011, I spent 14 days in Estes Park, Colorado at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. It was there where I did short (2-3 hours) dayhikes everyday. Estes Park is the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, so the terrain is mountainous, heavily forested and begins at an elevation of 7522 ft (2293 m). While it was very sunny, it never hit the freezing mark and the winds were harsh averaging 10-15 mph (16-24 km/h) with gusts up to 50 mph (81 km/h). Humidity levels were higher than I'm used to in Colorado - about 41-45%.

For the rest of 2011, almost all of my outdoor activities were in the mountains of Colorado, mostly south central Colorado in the Fremont, Cooper and Wet mountain ranges. We had an extremely dry and very hot time of it over the summer with the temperatures regularly above average and many days, topping 100 F (38 C). The fall and winter were exceptionally mild.

I also used the Highwire on 5 day hikes in Yellowstone National Park, 2 day hikes in Grand Teton National Park and 1 day hike in the Dinosaur National Monument in mid-September and at the Outdoor Retailer Show Demo Days in the Utah's Wasatch mountains in January 2012.

Immediately when I put on the Highwire, I noticed how light it was - of course, there wasn't anything in it! But even when the pack is loaded up, thanks to the padded shoulder straps and the supportive waist belt, the Highwire remains relatively comfortable.

That was just the beginning of my admiration for the Highwire Hydration Pack. Over a year later, I'm still finding it's my go-to pack for all sorts of day-hikes, particularly here in the dry high desert climate I live and play in!

Starting with the marquee feature of the Highwire, the Antidote bladder is a good size bladder for a several hour day hike and is a cinch to fill. I've found the cap to be very easy to tighten though some times I tighten it a bit too tight and I'll have to yell for the "man of the tent" to come and release it for me. That is probably more my problem than a fault of Camelbak as I have a "damaged" finger on my right hand that hinders a good grip.

The hydration tubing is flexible and has never frozen up on me during treks even while snowshoeing. I'm very happy to report the bite valve does not leak or drip. Can't say how much I hate having a wet shirt from an inferior valve!

Thanks to that wide fill cap, I can and have easily cleaned out the hydration bladder - which by the way did not from the start and does not now retain odors - and I use a bent-up wire hanger to keep the bladder expanded and dry in-between uses.

While there isn't any adjustments that can be made as to the length of the Highwire, the pack fits me just fine and I am very comfortable with the way it sits on my back. Adjusting the shoulder straps is done by simply pulling down on the adjustment "pulls" which when warranted, I can quickly do even while in motion on the trail.

I am pleased to say that FINALLY, I have a pack with a waist belt that actually fits me without having to "knot" up the ends so they are not dangling halfway down to my knees! I do have to have the buckle pulled almost as tight as it will go though, except when I am wearing very bulky clothes. And if I had to have one complaint about the waist belt, it would be that it often slips/loosens up after a while on the trail.

Storage-wise, the Highwire isn't a very large pack and I can't imagine using it for an overnight unless my husband was willing to carry the tent, my sleeping bag and pad, the stove, fuel, etc. I could carry the food. Hmmm - not a bad idea! But seriously, there is plenty of room for day hike equipment: food, stove/fuel, a camera, extra layer, extra socks, headlight, etc. The small waist pocket is just big enough for my lip balm, an energy gel or two and another small item like a multi-tool.

The picture below shows how I've even used the Highwire to go grocery shopping when I've been stranded without transportation. It's a little trickier loading a backpack with canned goods and bulky packaging, but I found that if I ignore the weird looks from other shoppers and tear apart cardboard boxes and such, I can pack quite a bit into the Highwire and even balance out the weights. The only problem is this stuff is heavier than it looks! I weighed one such grocery pack trip and found I had slightly more than 25 lb (13 kg) stuffed in there!

Contents from trip to store
All this was inside!

While up to now, I haven't had to clean the exterior of my Highwire, when the time comes, the Camelbak website indicates "wiping your pack with a damp cloth to remove dirt" and "If the pack is extremely dirty and needs a deeper cleaning, soak it in cool or warm water with a very mild soap. Rinse the pack thoroughly with cool water." Good to know!

STAR ATTRACTIONS

1.) Roomy, yet lightweight pack with huge hydration capacity in the Antidote.
2.) Lots of options for storage organization.
3.) Comfy, padded shoulder straps adjust easily and quickly on the fly.
4.) Lo and behold, the Highwire has a waist belt that fits smaller waists!

MINOR DISTRACTIONS

1.) The waist belt adjustment seems to "slip" a bit while I'm hiking. Fortunately, it easily can be re-adjusted without stopping on the trail.

SUMMARY

I'm in love with the Camelbak Highwire 25! It's light, it's roomy enough for all my dayhiking needs and it can carry LOTS of liquids via the included Antidote bladder and optionally supplemented with the 2 water bottle side pouches.

I was very pleased to see just how much could be stuffed into the pack and how well balanced it can be when stuffed to the top (properly, of course).

And I like how intuitively the Highwire can be adjusted to fit for maximum support and comfort.

For day hiking, the Highwire 25 is now the one I'll grab when heading out. It's all I need for most every occasion, 4-seasons hiking/snowshoeing.

Kathleen Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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