CamelBak MULE Lightweight hydration pack review£80.00

Weight lost, kudos gained

BikeRadar score4.5/5

CamelBak’s MULE has always been a popular and dependable all-day pack, but it can sometimes feel like overkill for shorter outings.

That’s been especially true recently when CamelBak’s habit of overbuilding and structuring their packs has led to them being less adaptable out on the mountain when you’re inevitably trying to get a quart into a pint pot.

However, someone at CamelBak is listening. This new limited edition lightweight MULE loses significant weight and bulk while retaining all its practicality and actually adding comfort. The result is a superbly versatile pack.

The big pocket (for pump, coats, foot-long subs) and smaller pocket (for tools, gels, bars and keys) are separated by an expandable mesh stash (for tubes and random stowage) in the same dependable MULE layout.

All the harness straps are fully adjustable and there’s a soft phone/glasses/iPod pocket at the top. You get the same excellent three-litre antibacterial bladder and the ‘far better than any other system’ bite valve too. However CamelBak will have to watch the rear view mirror for Osprey, a pretender to the perfect hydration pack crown.

By using lighter and more flexible fabrics, an airmesh harness, simpler back design and a removeable – and therefore optional – stiffening panel, the MULE drops a not insigniicant 200g over the dry weight of the standard version.

Because it’s softer, it also moulds better to your back and shoulders, so it’s more comfortable, more stable and there are no big ‘ventilation’ pads to bother pressure points. It’s also £5 cheaper than its bigger brother. Frankly, we think it’s a winner.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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