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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > CamelBak Alpine Explorer > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence

Test Series by Theresa Lawrence
Initial Report - May 22, 2014


Name: Theresa Lawrence
Email: theresa_newell AT yahoo DOT com
Age: 36
Location: Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)

I have more than 15 years of backpacking experience. Day hikes and 2-3 day backpacking trips take place on most weekends throughout the year while longer trips are only occasional. I backpack predominantly in mountain terrain (Coast Range, Cascades and Canadian Rockies) with the goal of summiting peaks. Activities I use my gear with include mountaineering, ski touring, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, trail running, Search and Rescue and overseas travel. I like my gear to be reasonably light, convenient and simple to use though I would not claim to be a lightweight hiker.

PRODUCT INFORMATIONImage Courtesy of Website

Manufacturer: Camelbak Products, LLC
Manufacturer's URL:
Year of Manufacture: 2013

Made in:
MSRP: $155 US
Listed Weight: 2.2 lbs/ 1 kg
Measured Weight: 2.5 lbs/ 1.15 kg
Total Capacity:
1648 cu in/ 27 L + 3 L Reservoir
Torso Length
19.5 in/ 49 cm
Colors Available:
Bamboo/Sprout, Dark Navy/Orion Blue, Soil/Brick
Color Tested:
Got Your Bak Lifetime Guarantee

Images Courtesy of Website

DESCRIPTION & FIRST IMPRESSIONS        Image courtesy of website                                                                           

When I received the Camelbak Alpine Explorer I was reminded of my old book bag I toted around university back in the day. It was the same shape and size with zippered access into multiple organizational compartments. While the manufacturer states the intended use of the Alpine Explorer was for full day ascents, I did not connect its appearance with that of an alpine summit pack.  Of course upon closer inspection this pack offers more than meets the eye. First off, the pack fabric is made with 70 D Diamond Clarus & 420 Nylon with DWR (durable water repellent) + 1000 mm PU (polyurethane). This apparently translates to waterproof, breathable and durable, which is very important as I will no doubt encounter rain. Nylon mesh fabric is also incorporated into the pack  for the side pockets that are the size of 1 L Nalgene bottles, and for the expanding sides of the outer hinge pocket. This outer hinge pocket is fastened with two clips, each of which houses a shock cord to fasten an ice axe or trekking pole.  Ice axe loops are hidden in the bottom of the hinge pocket and can be pulled out when in use. There are three zippered compartments. The outermost compartment, I call the organizational compartment. It is further divided into two compartments by a nylon divider, which is further accompanied by a small nylon pocket and a wee zippered pocket for small items. A  key clasp hanger is also embedded in this compartment. The other two compartments include the main compartment and the hydration reservoir compartment. A zippered sunglass pocket is also included and accessed from the top of the pack and takes up space in the main compartment. The reservoir compartment is rigged so that the rigid 'lightweight fillport' component of the Camelbak Antidote Reservoir is supported. The hose has an exit port and clips to the right shoulder strap. It consists of a bite-lock access, also called the Big Bite Valve. The specially designed Antidote Reservoir features a lengthwise baffle down the center and a 'lightweight fillport' with a quarter turn cap and dryer arms that fold out to help hold open the reservoir when drying. The hose is also removable to make filling and drying easier.

The sternum strap is adjustable for height on a slider and has a sturdy gear loop, but no whistle. There are more gear loops on the upper arm straps and on the back of the pack. The waistbelt straps pull outward to tighten and are wide (38 mm/ 1.5 in) for comfort and stability. They are also removable. The back panel is padded in places needed for support and comfort and is strategically not padded in places where airflow will preferably occur. Camelbak calls this design their 'Air Director'. The way the shoulder straps connect to the pack is quite unique and reminds me of a D-link. This appears to be a very sturdy design with the intent to bear a lot of weight without straining the seams.

Cleaning instructions are provided for both the pack and reservoir. A damp cloth is recommended for removing dirt. For more aggressive cleaning, it can be soaked in cool or warm water with mild soap and rinsed thoroughly with cool water. The reservoir needs minimal maintenance so long as it's rinsed and dried after every use. More intensive technical instructions are available if this hasn't been done and mold develops. All of this and the customer service warranty are provided on the Camelbak website.


For my first trial I took the Alpine Explorer uptown to carry my laptop to the library. I know what you're thinking. I'm a nerd going to the library and that I shouldn't be using the Alpine Explorer for such a lame task. However, it seemed logical at the time and well, my laptop mouse, wallet, mobile phone, pens and paper all fit so nicely into the organizational compartment. And with my laptop, water, my lunch and an extra layer (in case the library temperature was too chilly), I was ready for a full day to sit down and write BackpackGearTest reviews. I will conclude here that it does indeed make an awesome book bag. Don't worry I have other plans pending for this pack.

So far I have found that the back panel and shoulder straps fit quite comfortably. The sternum strap however, even at its highest adjustment point still sits quite low on my chest. I'm hoping this will change when I'm carrying more volume and have the reservoir full of water. Where it sits now is not comfortable and I chose not to do it up.

I also left the pack out overnight in a storm, not intentionally. I forgot it was sitting on an exposed picnic table when I was at a kayaking paddle fest. It spent about 12 hours being pounded on by rain and while the material was fairly soaked through, it was still beading when I picked it up. A good sign. There was nothing in the pack at the time, so I can't say if items would have remained dry, but the inside of the pack felt damp and the pack took a while to dry. I would say that was a fairly extreme situation almost akin to falling in a river with the pack on. There was a lot of water involved.

I'm pleased with the color choice of this pack and the construction looks very well-made with no apparent flaws in seams, zippers or connecting points. I feel the weight of the pack is a bit on the heavy side. The weight I'm sure factors from the sturdy waterproof nylon material, which may translate later on as an advantage for durability and longevity of the pack. To be determined.


Overall, my initial impression of the Camelbak Alpine Explorer is that of a well-made daypack that at this point appears to have versatile uses. There are ample compartments and pockets to organize gear and the reservoir system has features that appear to offer greater ease of use and care. My intent with this test is to do its name justice by using it to 'explore the alpine'. I have plans for some hiking, cragging and climbing in the Southern Canadian Rocky Mountains, so stay tuned for my field report in a couple of months.

Thanks to Camelbak Products, LLC and for allowing me to take part in this test series, I am looking forward to tasking the Alpine Explore in the alpine.

Read more reviews of CamelBak gear
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Reviews > Packs > Frameless Backpacks and Day Packs > CamelBak Alpine Explorer > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence

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