Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Camelbak M.U.L.E.

Camelbak is one of the leaders in hydration packs and for good reason. Their gear has been proven on the civilian and military side. I used their gear during my service in the Marine Corps and never had any problems or durability issues with any of the gear I used. I only saw one other issue with someone else's gear and that was a bad connection at the base of the water bladder. This issue was immediately resolved and a new pack was sent.

One thing I was taught early on in my military time was about hydration. You can get dehydrated whether it's 120° or -30° due to sweating under layers of clothing. I was taught a saying when it comes to hydration... "A little, a lot". This meaning...chugging down water will only make you urinate more thus dehydrating you more instead of rehydrating you. You need to take small sips of water and do it often. The camelbak hydration system is absolutely great for this. By having the water readily available on your back and the drinking tube easily accessible, taking sips of the water becomes habit forming. Like a nervous habit you will just take sips on a regular basis. A very good system.

I received the Camelbak M.U.L.E. and noticed that it looked very familiar. I had used this pack in the Marine Corps and was able to dig it out of my old gear and compare the two. There were a couple of improvements in the new pack. The first was a much thicker water reservoir which is made of polyurethane and has anti-microbial technology. The drinking tube also has this technology that inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungus. It's also suggested that you store your reservoir in the freezer once dry to further inhibit bacteria growth. The new reservoir claims to be tough enough to drive a truck over. The other added feature is velcro on the lower pocket between the molle webbing for attachment of name tapes.

I will cover some of the features of the hydration system first:
  • Reservoir holds 3 liters/100 oz. This reservoir has a hook on the top which attaches to the pack so that the reservoir doesn't sag.
  • Reservoir features the OMEGA opening which makes filling and adding ice easy and you can fit your whole hand in the reservoir for cleaning. The ring around the opening has a grip on it which really helps with filling and the top is easy to screw on and is attached so you don't lose it.
  • Bite valve made from medical grade silicone. the water flow with this valve is great. It also includes a cover for the bite valve which keeps it clean and also helps to insulate the bite valve against freezing.
  • Bite valve is easily removed by just pushing a button on the side (it will not accidentally have to do this intentionally) to add other attachments that can be bought for the system to include water filters, etc, etc. This can be done while the reservoir is filled because there is a shut off switch called a hydrolock that shuts the flow of water off to the bite valve. This is also useful to prevent accidental leakage from something pressing on the bite valve and releasing water.
  • The drinking tube is insulated with a neoprene sleeve and also has multiple layers in itself. A durable outer layer and a taste free inner layer.
  • I have yet to try any warm liquids in the camelbak, but I've used cold water quite a bit and the insulation in this system does keep the water cold for several hours.
On top of being able to carry 100oz of fresh cold water you also have load carrying capabilities with this pack. This isn't a large 3-day pack, but one that you can carry smaller field items with you for a day out. One thing to note is that when the hydration reservoir is filled and loaded into the pack you lose a little storage space in the 2 front pockets due to the reservoir bulging out and reducing the overall size of the outer pockets. This isn't too big of a deal, but you can fit more in the pouches without the bladder in there. Just something I noticed. Here are some of the features of the pack itself:
  • The pack itself is made of 1000D cordura which is abrasion resistant. The model I used in the military got good use and it has yet to show any wear.
  • Subdued Camelbak logo.
  • Capacity is 540 cubic inches. This is slightly reduced when holding a full water bladder.
  • Shoulder straps with quick release SRBs, adjustable and removable sternum straps, and waist strap included. The waist strap can be stored in included pouches. The shoulder straps have a unique feature to hold the extra strap material in place. At the end of the straps there is an attached piece of velcro. Once you get the shoulder straps where you want them you roll up the remaining strap and velcro it down. A very nice feature.
  • D-rings on 4 corners of pack for attaching to a vest, larger pack, or vehicle.
  • The back is padded and has ventilation channels to help reduce heat between the pack and the users back.
  • Top carry handle.
  • Pouch for hydration carrier which I have found comes in handy if you don't want to carry the hydration reservoir. You can put extra gear in this area if hydration isn't an issue. I suggest flatter items as this area isn't meant to be a cargo area.
  • Top pouch which can hold small to medium sized items.
  • Lower pouch has a "sleeve" to place flat items into. It also has organizers for pens, cell phones, smaller items and one that appears to be a radio style pouch. This pouch has an elastic retaining cord which can slip over a radio or GPS and then velcros down. The pouch itself can hold a decent amount of small items.
  • MOLLE webbing on the front of the lower pouch with 2 rows of loop velcro material between the MOLLE webbing to add name tapes.
  • All pouches have drainage grommets on the bottom.
I have used this pack quite a bit, both the newer version as well as the one I used while in the Marine Corps and I feel that Camelbak products and this one included are of high quality. I have never had a leaking issue, I've never had any of the materials give out on me and after a lot of hard use, the packs are still in great condition. As far as comfort, when using a full reservoir you can definitely tell the pack is there due to the back being somewhat bloated but it is still comfy, and once you drink a little bit of the water it starts to form to your back pretty good. by attaching the sternum strap and adjusting it, and then cinching down the shoulder straps, then the waist strap I have found that this pack doesn't shift around too much. I've done military ops, biking, hiking, and short runs with this pack and it is very easy to wear.
If you need to stay hydrated and need to carry a light load of smaller items this pack would really work out for you. Check them out at
Colors Available: ACU camo, black, woodland camo, 3-color desert camo, digital desert camo.

MSRP: $119.oo


Ralston said...

Good review. I've been using this pack in the military and civilian life for many years. They are durable as hell. I've had four of them in various colors and uses and none of them has ever had a failure. I carried one the whole time I was in OIF I.

Airsoftplayer13 said...

very nice review... it rly help ive been thinking of getting one and now i think i will

steve002800 said...

would you be able to fit one MRE in the bottom pack?

Jake said...

Yes, you can fit an MRE in the bottom pocket. It's a snug fit, but not much extra strain on the zipper.

Anonymous said...

Great review man thanks !!!!