Top positive review
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2011 Camelbak: A Day Hiker's Dream
on April 29, 2011
I am a frequent hiker and for the last 2 years I have been using an old model Military HAWG. I converted it into a Day Pack and integrated tactical pouches. Although it was rugged and reliable, I needed something more practical for National Parks and strenuous hikes. The Fourteener alone, provides the space needed for a day hike but is lightweight and incorporates 2 big leaps in Camelbak tech.
The first big improvement is the Antidote Bladder, it is lighter (by 19%) and takes on a flatter profile when full (25% loss in depth). The bladder is less intrusive for the main pouch (big problem for my HAWG) and is hooked in more securely so it doesn't shift with movement. It has a large fill port that requires an easy quarter turn to open or close. There is the easy button to separate the tube and the bladder port will not release water when the tube is removed. Last, the fill port ring houses 2 curved arms that drop down and expand the bladder for drying. This eliminated my need to put the tube in the bladder to expand it.
The second big improvement is the NVIS system. It provides a comfortable feel and a ventilation system for your back. The top layer is only mesh and behind that is 3 pieces of ~1in deep foam placed left/right on your spine and lower back. The pieces create a large wishbone shaped air channel. The 3 pieces of foam also have multiple ~.5in air channels to make sure your entire back in ventilated. Finally, there is a flexible piece of plastic separating the back and water bladder. With that and the new Antidote, a full 3L bladder does not effect the comfort of the new NVIS system.
It is longer than a traditional backpack and comes with well padded shoulder and waist straps. The waist straps are more comparable to a rucksack than a simple add-on like in basic packs. The smaller front compartment houses multiple spaces and is a great place for snacks or small tools. The middle compartment is open at the top with elastic sides. It is a great place to put an extra layer of clothing. At the top, there is a fleece lined pouch made for your high-valued items. The main compartment is quite large thanks to the new Bladder. I have a large med-kit, survival-kit and packable Rain Shell taking only half the space. With the longer pack you can space your items out, giving your pack a shallower profile. There are 2 small elastic pouches on each side; great place for gloves, bug spray, etc. The pack also has straps at the top and loops at the bottom for a pair of poles or a climbing axe.
The first complaint I have is that accessories are sold separately (Insulated tube, Bite Cover). Like the military packs, I wouldn't mind paying a little extra to have everything for it. The other complaint I have is that the waist straps are not packable if you do lighter hikes. An easy fix is to shorten the straps as much as possible and buckle them inside out so they are out of your way. I have done basic hikes and geocaching with this pack and I'm very pleased. The Antidote bladder is much easier to prep and dry. The lightweight with straps allowed me to ascend in knee high bush very easily. I still sweated a little more where the pack was but the NVIS allowed for the cool morning air to travel through my back.