This medium-sized hydration backpack from the original drinking system company has useful expandable capacity and external pockets, and is rock-solid stable. Detail fans might like a bit more help with organisation and it could do with a bigger bladder as standard.
An eight-litre main compartment and four-litre zippered expansion pocket mean the Camelbak Octane 8+4 has enough room to easily carry enough gear for a day out on the bike. The shaped back keeps it low and comfortable and the two small side pockets are great for a few tools and other small items you might want to get at quickly.
Cinch cords threaded though the outer body of the pack do a great job of keeping everything under control when it’s not stuffed to the gunwhales. A problem with mid-sized packs can be that they get floppy and unstable when they’re half-full. No such problem with the Octane.
The expansion pocket happens to be exactly the right size for a pair of falafel rolls, which is incredibly handy for grabbing a post-ride snack on the way home.
Your water slips into a bladder pocket at the very back of the pack. It goes in easily because the fabric between it and the main compartment is concertinaed for expansion. The included bladder is Camelbak’s two-litre unit but there’s room for a three-litre bag and that’s what we used for testing at the beginning of an Australian summer. We’d like to see the three-litre bladder as standard.
Camelbak's bite valve is almost legendary for its ease of use and the switch on the angle pipe lets you lock it so it doesn't leak all over the car on the way to your ride.
There’s just a single large main compartment, so folks who rely on internal pockets to organise their stuff should look elsewhere. However, there’s lots of room for tools, tubes, jacket, and all the other strange stuff we carry around.
Unzipping the expansion pocket opens up enough space for a jacket (or, as we’ve mentioned, a couple of falafel rolls), with a handy buckle to keep it in place.