CamelBak K.U.D.U. Protector 20 hydration and protection pack review
The K.U.D.U. Protector 20 is a high-ish volume pack that, with a whip of a zip, turns into a standalone back protector. This is great if you want somewhere to stash kit while you go and bang out some laps without sacrificing any protection. There’s room for enough gear for multi-day trips into the mountains, with careful packing.
The bulk of the 17 litres of storage is in a single main compartment, which has just one zipped mesh pocket. Other zips that extend all the way to the base of the pack on either side allow easy entry, and don’t work loose when you’re trying to stuff a jacket in, for instance.
There are enough adjustment straps to keep the pack stable even when the main compartment is only partially filled. It also has a number of external pockets, including a soft-lined one for goggles and one with a tool-roll. There are two more on the deep, supportive waist strap, which is secured with Velcro and a clip.
At the bottom of the pack are a couple of straps that can be used to attach knee pads, and a rain cover that pulls over securely and does a good job of keeping things dry. When fully loaded, the pack is remarkably stable, even on the roughest trails.
With a whip of a zip, turns into a standalone back protector Steve Behr
Removing the main body of the pack so that you can use the back protector on its own is an easy job, although the zip is exposed to mud and can get gritty. The protector is as wide as the pack itself and well ventilated.
With the waist strap providing the bulk of its stability, I found I had to cinch up the twin chest straps and shorten the broad, ventilated shoulder straps to stop the protector riding up to maintain a close, secure-feeling fit. This pulled the shoulder straps in quite tight towards the neck and, even on my relatively broad shoulders, used almost all of the chest-strap adjustment. Smaller-framed riders may be better off looking at the more compact 10-litre version of this pack instead.
There are two jersey-style pockets on the back protector, but their mesh construction means anything you carry can get wet and muddy. Because of this, I wore the protector under a jacket whenever possible, but that’s not practical in warmer weather.
No bladder is included, so if you want to add hydration, you’re looking at forking out another £40 / $35 / AU$75 (for a 3-litre CamelBak Crux reservoir) on top of an already high price.