One of my favorite pieces of hiking gear is one I resisted for quite some time. Isn’t that always the way? What did I resist and then love? The Camelbak. Why resist, you ask? I hate buying stuff that I’m not sure I need. My husband would tell you that I am an agonizer. . .should I buy it, do I really need it? We had perfectly good daypacks and perfectly serviceable water bottles. Why did I need a new pack and water bladder?

My husband bought a Camelbak bladder for his REI Traverse 30 and loved it. He bought a larger size one and could refill everyone else’s water bottles. Problem solved. However, our daughter is a reluctant hiker. She crabs and cranks the WHOLE outbound leg of any hike. She is delightful (mostly) on the return leg and will get into the car to leave and tell you what a great time she had. That was the MOST fun hike! Huh?? Really? When we carried water bottles, we constantly had to stop. Fish the bottle from the pack. Let her drink. Return the bottle. Continue hiking. All while she complained, loudly.

When we were headed to Yellowstone, my husband bought her her very own Camelbak. It’s pink. We attached a bear bell. It can hold a small stuffed companion. She loves it. For her, it’s partly entertainment and partly independence. She can drink when she wants, travel at her own pace and bring a friend. For us, there’s no more fishing around for her bottle. Stopping for her to drink, etc. We love the independence, too. The size is perfect for her 7-year old body. Not too big, not too small. We generally tuck some kind of treat inside to lure her along the outbound leg. Additionally, she can carry her own sunscreen, lip balm, and binoculars. Also, part of the entertainment.

Tip: Not all Camelbaks come with an interior loop for holding the reservoir upright. The Mini Mule is one product that does not. Add one by stitching a portion of shoe lace into the interior pocket.

I got my own Camelbak last Mother’s Day. I was still resisting. It’s great. So much easier to carry than a pack with a couple of larger bottles of water. The weight of the water is much better distributed when its in the bladder and feels lighter and easier to carry. The pack is big enough to hold essentials for a short family hike. I have snacks, first aid, etc. Maybe next time I’ll even bring my own stuffed companion to walk with me.

Available at Altrec, Moosejaw. and Sierra Trading Post.

First Impressions:
[Rating:5/5] Features:
[Rating:4/5] Fit:
[Rating:5/5] Final Verdict:

Thanks for reading another outdoor gear review from GearGuide. Written by Cheryl K.