Camelbak Classic : What Did I Ever Do Without One?
The Camelbak Classic is one of those products that, once I’d used it, made me wonder how I’d gotten along without it. The Classic is made with biking in mind, and that’s what I use it for most. It holds 70 oz of liquid—about three water bottles worth —so with the Classic filled with water on my back and two water bottles filled with sports drink in cages on my bike I, can go for a six-hour ride and not have to stop. That's a big bonus from a training standpoint. The Classic even has a pouch that can easily house 2-3 bars or 6-8 sports gels. If non-liquid carrying capacity is a need, Camelbak makes some other 70 oz. packs with increased cargo space.
Built for speed
Though it has the relatively small non-liquid carrying capacity I mentioned, the Classic is really built to store a significant amount of liquid on the back of a cyclist while maintaining as low a profile as possible. Of course, in cycling, aerodynamics is everything. When they designed the Classic, Camelbak was obviously going for a system that contoured to the body and kept parts from flailing in the wind. They succeed in spades.
The shoulder straps are made out of a breathable yet sturdy mesh that arcs over the shoulders and flattens nicely against the rib cage, held in place by a sternum strap across the chest which is easily adjustable and non-constrictive. Once tightened, all straps tuck neatly away, out of the wind. The liquid reservoir sits on the back and has a v-like shape, tapering down aerodynamically towards the small of the back. While it can be worn outside of clothing, I prefer to wear it under my cycling jersey—where it’s even more aerodynamic and looks all the more like a camel’s hump. The fact that it actually can fit under my singlet testifies to the Classic’s low profile. The under-the-jersey method is particularly effective for long time trial races (50 miles) where aerodynamics are a premium and being able to drink without changing body position an additional advantage.
Easy in, easy out
The liquid reservoir is easy to take in and out of the pack and the reservoir opening is sizeable (the palm of an average hand), making cleaning and filling simple tasks. The cap for the reservoir screws in and out and, without too much effort, creates an unassailable seal. As easy as it is to get and hold liquid in the reservoir, it is even easier to get liquid out. The drinking tube can be clipped in in such a way that the mouthpiece floats in ready proximity, accessible to the mouth without the using my hands. Liquid is kept at bay with a soft rubber one-way valve that opens when you squeeze it between your teeth and closes when you release.
Bottom Line: An efficient, effective, and comfortable way to carry ample liquid on a ride. The Classic’s performance and ingenious design details will have you scratching your head over the low price tag.--D.C. (Jan 06)
Manufacturer's Site: www.camelbak.com