Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Camelbak Ambush

The Ambush is yet another great item by Camelbak. This hydration pack is designed for short missions or trips where not a lot of gear needs to be carried in the pack. It is also part of the Maximum Gear line, Camelbak's military line. These items are ruggedized to allow them to hold up in a harsh military environment. This pack is very streamlined and very ergonomic, making it comfortable and very unnoticeable when wearing it.

As with most Camelbaks, it features a 100 oz polyurethane hydration reservoir which is designed to collapse in on itself. This helps you to maintain noise discipline by creating less of a "sloshing" noise like you'd get with water bottles or canteens. The opening is large enough for easy cleaning (1.75 inch) and makes filling with ice or drink mixes much easier. The cap on the reservoir is tethered so it won't get lost and has a lower profile than older models. The tether, over years of use, will start to wear and possibly break, but this is a fairly normal use failure due to the constant bending of the tether. The base of the cap also has a handle to hold onto while filling the cap.

The hydration hose has an insulating neoprene cover that matches the color of the pack and also provides protection to the hose. There is also a shut off "lever" between the mouthpiece and the hose so that there is no accidental leaking if the mouth piece is pushed on. The silicone mouthpiece provides a good flow of water and has a protective cover. The cover has a small area to grab on to that makes it easy to remove even when wearing gloves. This area has ridges for grip and you can also use your teethe to remove this cap if your other hand isn't free. The only issue I have with the hose/reservoir is that it would be nice to have an automatic shut off on the reservoir at the point where the hose connects. This way the hose can be disconnected while the bladder is full. A couple reasons for this is so that the reservoir can be completely removed from the pack/hose and taken to be filled. The pack can be left behind so that a third party can take your reservoir and fill it for you while you keep the pack with you. Also, you'd be able to keep extra full reservoirs on hand and when one is empty, you just disconnect it and attach the new, full one.

For the pack itself I'll start with the features on the outside.

This pack can be worn 2 different ways. One way is to use the padded shoulder straps. The straps have several attachment points on them for carabiners and also have an adjustable removable sternum strap. There are quick release SRBs at the bottom so if you need to ditch it in a hurry you can. Another cool feature on a lot of the Camelbaks is the velcro retention straps at the end of the adjustable shoulder straps. Once you get the straps to where you like them, you can roll up the extra strap that normally dangles down and wrap the velcro strap around it and it stays in place. I tend not to use these since I loosen the straps when I take it off, and then tighten them when i put it on, but I love the concept!

The shoulder straps on this model are not removable, but you release the SRBs and there is a pocket at the back of the pack that stores the shoulder straps...which leads into the second way of carrying the pack. There are loops on the bottom and top of the pack. These loops can be used to attach the pack to a vest/plate carrier or larger pack via carabiners or Grimlocs. I have not tried this because the pack is too long for me to try it on a vest, but this is beneficial if you're going to be using this with a vest so that the straps don't get in the way of other gear.

There is also a carry handle on the op of the pack.

For pockets, on the front of the pack there is a decent sized zip closed sleeve pocket on the top flap. This flap covers the hydration cap. If you need to you can place a small clothing item, like a shirt, under this flap. The flap zips down the sides and clips closed at the bottom wit an SRB. The front of this flap has a piece of loop velcro for attaching name tapes.

The second pocket is on the lower portion and has a 2 pocket mesh organizer with a key lanyard. The flap of the pocket itself has a mesh pocket that zips closed. This mesh seems pretty sturdy too. The only issue I have with this pocket is that you have to unbuckle the SRB for the flap that covers the reservoir cap in order to get into the bottom pocket. If this pocket was meant to hold a lot of weight it'd be good to take some of the pressure off the zipper, but it's not so it'd be better if the bottom of the SRB was attached above the bottom pocket and not to the front of it. On the front of this pocket are 3 rows and 4 columns of PALS webbing.

All the zippers on the pack are quality YKK zippers with decent zipper pulls. Made of 1000D cordura and features a closed cell padded back.

I have been using this pack for a while and it holds up very well. The reservoir is an improvement over the older reservoir and seems to be much more durable. I've also used this without a reservoir and instead used the reservoir compartment for some smaller items. This is an excellent pack if you only require minimal load carrying capability, but has the option to extend that capability with the PALS/MOLLE webbing on the front of the pack.

Dimensions: 18.5 in x 8 in x 4 in
• Volume: Cargo Only – 180 cu in • Including Water – 360 cu in
• Weight: .78 lbs • Filled Reservoir – 8.03 lbs

Woodland Camo
Desert Camo
Coyote Tan
Foliage Green
Digital Desert
Army UCP

MSRP: $97.00


Jason "all in one printer" Collins said...

Its sure is handy!

Gun Slinger said...

Great and thorough review!

Shoot Straight,
Reviewing the Reviews

גיא said...

It's been a while since this article was written down but any this model still in the market and if so what is it's name.i saw that there are the ambush and the ambush ab-500. is it one of those two? it looks like the cargo compartment on the ab500 are smaller..

Jake said...

This model is still on the market. It's in Camelbak's military line. Go to their webpage,, and go to their military section, then hydration packs, and it's the first on the list. Or look up Camelbak military Ambush pack on google.

Direct link:

Jake said...

I just looked up the ab-500 model you're talking about...and yes, that's this one.

Jake said...

I have to correct myself...this is NOT the 500, but the regular ambush. The differences I can see is that the 500 is designed to use the low profile bladder, and this one is designed to use the regular 100oz bladder.