Camelbak’s Chase 8L Vest hydration pack adds to the limited capacity of the four-litre version I was a massive fan of.
The lightweight, relatively minimalist Chase 4L Vest proved to be stable while riding and massively convenient to use, but lacked carrying capacity, especially if you’re looking to take on bigger rides.
That’s where the latest Chase 8L Vest comes into play. Once you’ve taken into account the two-litre capacity of the Fusion bladder, there’s still six litres of well-considered storage on offer.
That might not sound a lot, but trust me, you can really cram this pack full of kit when you need to.
Can the Chase 8L Vest live up to the performance of its smaller counterpart? Read on to find out.
Camelbak Chase 8L Vest details and specifications
Most of the Chase vest is made from a light but tough Dimension-Polyant LS07 sailcloth fabric.
This material has a sheen to its finish, not unlike some waterproof jackets, and offers a certain amount of weatherproofing. However, don’t expect the contents of the pack to stay bone dry in a downpour.
There are mesh stretch panels either side of the front pocket, which help to create the Overflow pocket (more on that later) and breathable heavier-knit mesh used through the very broad shoulder straps.
Although the back panel is padded, it’s far less rigid and way more malleable than a lot of the best hydration packs. Like the back of the shoulder straps, the back panel uses a heavy-knit mesh material designed to aid airflow and keep you from overheating.
Due to the design, though, the Chase 8L Vest sits flat and close to your back, so getting sweaty is hard to avoid.
Deceptive amounts of storage
Like the Chase 4L Vest, this bigger version enables you to pack more kit than you might initially expect.
The front pocket uses a zip either side, giving easy access to kit stowed lower down, which is handy. It also features three mesh dividers that help to keep tools organised and prevent them from shifting around while riding. For big rides, I kept spare SRAM AXS batteries, a multi-tool and bug repellent/sunscreen in here.
Next up is the Overflow pocket. This is un-zipped and relies on the stretchy mesh panels on either side, along with the anchor points for the shoulder straps, to keep the contents packed tightly.
There’s sufficient room here for a decent-sized jacket and slim elbow/knee pads if you’re not keen on wearing them for the climbs.
The main zipped pocket offers you almost the entire depth of the pack to stash the necessaries inside. I kept a tube, tool roll, first aid kit, food and my phone in here for big days out.
Camelbak includes a separate zipped pocket for the two-litre Fusion bladder. Unlike the Chase 4L Vest, there’s no popper at the end of the zip, though. A small fabric loop at the top of this compartment enables you to hook the bladder up and prevent it sinking to the bottom of the pack as it empties.
There’s ample routing for the drinking tube, along with two secure clips on the right-hand shoulder strap to keep it from flapping around while riding.
Finally, both shoulder straps feature sizeable pockets. The left pocket is zipped and big enough to stash a phone (though I use this for an easy-access tyre plug kit and one of the best C02 inflators), while the other has two stretchy mesh openings that are ideal for snacks.
Camelbak Chase 8L Vest fit and sizing
While some hydration pack brands offer different-length back panels to suit different-sized torsos, Camelbak only offers the Chase 8L Vest in a single size.
This is no bad thing though, because it’s quite a compact pack and, unlike more traditional packs, only really covers the upper half of your back.
In a bid to keep the Chase 8L Vest secure on your back, Camelbak uses its ‘3D Vent Mesh Harness’ design. This is in reference to those really wide shoulder straps, along with the two height-adjustable chest straps that can be used to securely lock the pack to your body.
Camelbak Fusion two-litre bladder
Inside the Chase 8L Vest is the Camelbak two-litre Fusion bladder. This uses a rubber zip at the top (rather than the more common round, threaded cap opening) to seal the water in.
You still get the same easy-to-release tube (which can be disconnected from the bladder by pushing a small sliding button) and lockable mouthpiece, which is arguably the best on the market.
A reinforcing back panel on the outside of the bladder helps it to keep its shape and ensure you can squeeze out every last drop when your water supply is running low.
Camelbak Chase 8L Vest performance
Comfortable and stable
The Chase 8L Vest is incredibly comfy, even when fully laden. You’ll need to be careful how you pack it, though, mainly because of the flexible back panel.
The bladder does add some padding, but as you drink and it empties out, if you’ve stuffed kit in at awkward angles, you’ll soon know about it. Pack smartly, though, and this isn’t ever a problem.
On the subject of the back panel, it’s probably worth noting that the Chase 8L Vest sits fairly flat on your back.
There’s no fancy structure to hold it off your back and boost airflow, so expect to get sweaty. The plus side is its compact size means it’s not covering your entire back, so even though you’ll get clammy, it’s still cooler than many packs out there.
The malleable nature of the rear panel means it’s able to conform to the contours of your back nicely.
There’s loads of shoulder strap adjustment to help tailor the fit and get things comfy. While the straps aren’t exactly padded, they’re decently wide, which helps to spread the pack’s weight nicely.
Being able to adjust the height of the chest straps is a plus and further helps with fit and comfort. These also massively impact on security and stability, too. Cinch them up just tight enough and it’s impressive how ‘locked-in’ you feel and just how little the Chase 8L Vest shifts around while riding.
When it’s fully stuffed to the brim, it’s a little more prone to moving when you’re tackling bigger trail features that require exaggerated body movements, but it’s still more steadfast than many. It shifts around very little and enables you to concentrate on the trail ahead.
At no point in my time during testing did the Chase 8L Vest shift up enough to clout me in the back of the head (even when wearing a full-face helmet).
When it comes to kit, I managed to squeeze plenty in for a full day out in the hills (I put this to the test by using the pack throughout the Stone King Rally, where the longest day on the bike was around 13 hours).
Aside from two litres of water, I comfortably carried a spare tube, C02 inflator, tyre plug kit, first aid kit, emergency whistle, bug spray, sunscreen, Leatherman, jacket, elbow pads and food for the day.
On some rides, I’ll stash my phone in the zipped pocket on the shoulder straps, but while racing, I kept a C02 inflator and tyre plug kit in there. That’s simply because you can access them so quickly and easily.
While you get mesh pockets within the front pocket, there are none in the bigger main compartment. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth investing in a tool roll if you want to keep smaller spares together neatly and easy to find.
Where the Chase 8L Vest comes up trumps is the Overflow stash pocket. As I mentioned previously, this can’t be fully closed (there’s no zip), but it’s deep enough and held tightly enough against the main pack that I’ve been stashing a waterproof jacket in there for months now with zero issues.
It’s also very useful for stowing slimline elbow or knee pads if you’re set for a big day of pedalling uphill before hitting the main descent.
Great but not quite perfect
In many ways, the Chase 8L Vest has become my new favourite pack, but it’s not quite perfect. Why? Well, sadly, after just a few rides, the fabric loop used to suspend the bladder stretched and then finally snapped.
This hasn’t resulted in any major issues when it comes to performance – thanks to the reinforcing panel used on the back of the bladder, it won’t just crumple down into a heap at the bottom of the pack – but it’s a shame this happened, especially so soon into testing.
And it’s not a one-off either, because I know someone else with the same pack and the same issue. I’ve since notified Camelbak and the brand is looking into this.
How does the Camelbak Chase 8L Vest compare to other riding packs?
The most obvious pack to compare the Chase 8L Vest to is the smaller Chase 4L Vest. The Chase 4L is more stable, but due to its more limited capacity you may struggle to carry enough for an all-day epic ride.
If we’re comparing directly to a similar-sized pack, the EVOC Ride 8 is the pack I’ve tested most recently. The Chase 8L Vest feels more comfortable, stable and versatile due to how the storage is laid out.
And although the EVOC I tested came without a bladder, in my experience, the Camelbak bladder is superior to the equivalent offered by EVOC.
Despite the minor issue I experienced with the Chase 8L Vest, I still firmly believe it should be included in our best hydration packs list.
Camelbak Chase 8L Vest bottom line
Overall, the Chase 8L Vest is a great pack. It’s not cheap but for the cash you get a very comfortable, stable pack with some well-considered storage and one of the best bladders on the market. Importantly, it’s really stable and barely moves while riding, which counts for a lot.
It may be relatively compact and minimal compared to some, but it certainly packs a punch on the trail.