CamelBak's new riding packs give protection with zip-off storage

Updated Kudu 20 joined by all-new Toro and gravel-riding vests

CamelBak's product range has always been expansive, and has often been innovative too – remember the sleek hydration packs seen under roadies' jerseys in a few TT's a couple of years ago? At Eurobike 2017 it was showing a couple of interesting new products, for two very different sets of riders.

Mountain bike packs

First off is an updated Kudu pack, joined by the smaller and all-new Toro pack. 

The Kudu is the brand's all-mountain / enduro pack which came out in 2015. This year sees the pack updated with a couple of neat features. As with the original, there's integrated back protection. While it's not a hard protection, the multi-layer, multi-density foam padding is said to offer decent levels of back protection in case of a fall.

The new Camelbak Kudu 20 has 20 litres of storage
The new Camelbak Kudu 20 has 20 litres of storage

The protection sits inside its carrier, and is held against the body with a wide waist strap and two chest straps – CamelBak says that if the pack isn't held stable, it's less likely to do its job in a crash, so a snug fit is necessary.

The pack itself has many of the features we've come to expect from CamelBak's packs – internal dividers mean easy and efficient access to your kit, the reservoir is one of the best on the market, and there are rain covers and volume controllers aplenty. 

With its wide waist strap and two chest straps, this thing ain't moving
With its wide waist strap and two chest straps, this thing ain't moving

What we really like about the Kudu, though, is that the luggage part of the pack can be removed from the protection part, so you can effectively ride with just the back protector. The luggage part simply zips off the protection part, which has a couple of small pockets attached, so you can still just about carry the basics with you.

Without the storage section, you're left with a stand-alone back protector
Without the storage section, you're left with a stand-alone back protector

The Toro takes many of the same ideas, but puts them in a smaller package. It's more aimed at trail riders, as well as e-bike riders, apparently. This is because e-bikes mean more people are able to ride farther and faster, and so can benefit from the additional protection. The smaller Toro pack's protection is a slimmed-down (in width) version of that found in the Kudu, but it doesn't have the removable storage concept.

The smaller Toro pack, for trail and e-bike riders, apparently
The smaller Toro pack, for trail and e-bike riders, apparently

Gravel hydration

CamelBak has always been strong on the running hydration side of things, and it has taken this knowledge and applied it to the growing gravel sector, with the Chase Bike Vest.

There's a little bit of storage in the new Chase Bike Vest for keys, money and gels
There's a little bit of storage in the new Chase Bike Vest for keys, money and gels

As the name suggests, it's a simple vest system with a 1.5 litre reservoir in the back and two pouches on the front of the chest. These can carry food and spares, and/or an additional Quick Stow flask.

The idea is that gravel riders are likely to want additional water and nutrition supplies, but without the bulk of a traditional riding pack, when travelling longer distances on rough terrain, where bottle cages and frame bags might not be quite appropriate.

1.5 litres of fluid can be stored, along with a couple of extra little bits and pieces
1.5 litres of fluid can be stored, along with a couple of extra little bits and pieces

The wide shoulder straps look well ventilated and should be pretty comfortable, and are secured with a pair of chest straps.

And finally…

There's a neat chest/sternum protector coming, too, for users of GoPros (other action cameras are available), made of the same protective foam used on the Kudu and Toro. 

While chest-cams offer some of the best visuals on the bike, there's always the odd story knocking about of someone cracking chest bones during a stack. The added protection should help with this, while the substantial strapping should, we hope, offer a stable fit.

For chest action shots, without the sternum shattering risks
For chest action shots, without the sternum shattering risks

Tom Marvin

Technical Editor, Tech Hub, UK
Tom's been riding for 15 years, and has always chopped and changed bikes as soon as his budget allowed. He's most at home in the big mountains, having spent nigh on 30 weeks riding the Alps, as well as having lived a stone's throw from the Scottish Highlands for four years. Tom also enjoys racing events like the Strathpuffer and the Trans Nepal.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Steep and super tech or fast and flowy
  • Current Bikes: Canyon Spectral, Pivot Mach 429SL, Mondraker Vantage R +
  • Dream Bike: Transition Scout
  • Beer of Choice: Gin & tonic
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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