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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > CamelBak Alpine Explorer > Test Report by Brian Hartman

CAMELBAK ALPINE EXPLORER 3L HYDRATION PA
TEST SERIES BY BRIAN HARTMAN
INITIAL REPORT
April 19, 2014

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brian Hartman
EMAIL: bhart1426ATyahooDOT com
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Westfield, Indiana
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 20 years throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and most recently in Western USA. In addition to backpacking I enjoy family camping with my wife and kids and being outdoors in general. I would describe myself as a mid-weight backpacker. I use fairly light weight equipment and gear but still like to bring more than the bare essentials with me while on the trail.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Photo courtesy of Camelbak

Manufacturer: Camelbak
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.camelbak.com/
MSRP: US $115.00
Listed Weight: 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg) with hydration reservoir
Measured Weight: 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg)
Hydration Capacity: 100 oz (3 L)
Total Capacity: 1,648 cu in (27 L) + 3 L Hydration Reservoir
Dimensions: 21.5 x 10.5 x 10.5 in (54 x 26 x 26 cm)

Other details:
Torso Length: 19.5 in (49 cm)
Back Panel: Air Director - Foam Pods with Mesh Covering
Harness: Dynamic Suspension with Slider Sternum Strap
Belt: Removable 1.5 in (38 mm) wide
Fabric: 70D Diamond Clarus and 420 Nylon with DWR + 1000 mm PU
Available Colors: Bamboo/Sprout, Soil/Brick, Dark Navy/Orion Blue

Camelbak describes the Alpine Explorer as "a versatile pack with enough cargo space and hydration for full-day ascents".

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

IMAGE 2 My initial impression of the Alpine Explorer was very positive. I really liked the two tone red color scheme and the pack felt light weight yet rugged enough to handle trail conditions. Upon closer inspection, I found the pack to be well-crafted with tight, precise stitchings and no frayed fabric or uneven seams. The zippers and buckles functioned as expected and it was obvious from all of the features I saw that a lot of thought and attention went into the design and manufacture of this pack.

The Alpine Explorer is made from 70D Diamond Clarus and 420D nylon with a DWR and polyurethane coating. Camelbak designed a number of features into the Alpine Explorer including their Dynamic Suspension System. According to the manufacturer this system allows the shoulder harness to pivot, adjusting automatically for improved comfort while carrying a heavy load. The waist belt provides added stability but can also be removed when it's not needed. In addition, the back panel is designed with ventilation channels to increase air circulation during hot weather hikes. The pack appears to have plenty of storage space with a main compartment and five exterior pockets. The pockets include an organizer pocket, quick-stash pocket, sunglasses/media pocket, and two mesh side pockets. Between these five I'm most interested in the organizer and media pockets as I'm not comfortable carrying important items like my car keys, phone, wallet etc. in my pant pockets while hiking. Compression straps are provided to help secure items in the main compartment so they don't shift around while hiking on uneven terrain. Finally tool attachment points are provided to store trekking poles and an ice axe.

Now on to the hydration reservoir. Admittedly this is my first hydration pack. Till now I've carried my water in Nalgene bottles because I felt they were less prone to developing a leak and easier to clean. Camelbak's hydration reservoir, which they refer to as Antidote, seems to have addressed these issues. It has welded seams and center baffle for added strength and stability, and a wide 3 in (7.6mm) opening that should allow for easy cleaning. Furthermore it is made of BPA-free polyethylene with Camelbak's Hydroguard antimicrobial compound which is an added bonus. The Antidote hydration bladder that comes with the Alpine Explorer can carry up to 100 fluid oz (3 L) of liquid. This is three times what I can carry in one Nalgene bottle and the Antidote weighs only 6.5 oz (184 g) which is the same weight as one 32 oz (0.95 L) Nalgene bottle. Two other features that I really like are the turn easy open/close cap and the folding arms that hold the reservoir open so it can dry out after cleaning. The reservoir, which measures 18 x 8 x 3.5 in (46 x 20 x 9 cm), is held in place by a hydration sleeve that keeps it flat against the back panel of the pack so it doesn't interfere with equipment storage. From my research on Camelbak's web page they designed the Antidote so that it can accept accessory items as part of their Quick Link system. The list of accessories includes water filters, insulated tubes for hot and cold weather hiking, as well as flow meters.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

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The Camelbak Alpine Explorer came with a small hang tag that described the overall capacity, weight and key features of the pack. I found instructions for cleaning the pack on Camelbak's website and they are pretty simple. Simply wipe it with a damp cloth to remove dirt. If the pack is extremely dirty it can be soaked it in warm water with a mild soap but afterwards it needs to be rinsed thoroughly with cool water. Camelbak warns not to wash it in a washing machine.

According to the manufacturer, cleaning the hydration reservoir is pretty simple. The instructions for cleaning the reservoir are simply to mix hot water and a Camelbak cleaning tablet or 2 tablespoons of baking soda or bleach inside the reservoir, allow it to flow through the drink tube and bite valve, and let it sit for 30 minutes. Next wash the reservoir with hot water and mild soap and then completely rinse the reservoir and drink tube before using, allowing it to air dry overnight if necessary. I will spend the next two months field testing the cleaning procedure before deciding how easy, straightforward and effective it is.









TRYING IT OUT

After filling the hydration reservoir with water and loading a light jacket, gloves, and some other items into the backpack I tensioned the compression straps to compress everything together and headed outside for a short walk. Since there's no torso adjustment on the Alpine Explorer I simply slipped it on and adjusted the sternum strap and waist belt to fit my needs. The sternum strap and waist belt were easy to adjust and I was on my way within a matter of minutes. Although not padded, the waist belt was comfortable and supportive, and fit well around my torso. The shoulder straps and back panel had plenty of cushion and the mesh side pockets were positioned far enough behind me that when I swung my arms I didn't bump the two empty Nalgene bottles I had packed out of force of habit. While hiking the water tube was easy to reach and I had no problems using the bite valve on-the-go. In fact it was a welcome change of pace for me after years of stopping on the trail to retrieve my water bottle for a few sips.

Based on what I read about the waterproof coating on the Alpine Explorer, I'm anxious to test its weather resistance. I'm also looking forward to loading this pack up with more gear over the next few months to see how it handles the additional weight. Finally, I plan to use the hydration reservoir extensively and access how easy it is to clean and maintain. From what I've seen so far, Camelbak has done a good job of designing a lightweight backpack with all the necessary essentials. IMAGE 4IMAGE 5

SUMMARY

The Camelbak Alpine Explorer is a well-designed and feature-rich backpack. In my initial testing, it was comfortable to wear and it seems to have plenty of room for essentials. With 1,648 cu in (27 L) of storage space this pack is sized for day hikes but it has many of the features found on larger multi-day packs. I am looking forward to putting it through its paces on the trail.

I will post a Field Report in approximately two months. Please check back then for further information. I would like to thank Camelbak and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this backpack.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > CamelBak Alpine Explorer > Test Report by Brian Hartman



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