Monday, 18 July 2011

Camelbak Octane 18x - Review

I have recently received the Camelbak Octane 18x for my birthday and so thought I'd share my views on it with you.

I have for 14 years been an avid fan of Camelbaks and have owned several for different reasons.  I've currently got a Rogue and a Hawg.  The latter has been with me for years and been excellent for both my longer off road adventures and my daily commute to work.

I got mine in this black with yellow trim colour, although you can get it in red and grey and luminous yellow.  Despite it having a similar three litre bladder and 18 litre capacity to my Hawg, the Octane is a totally different backpack.  The reason for this could be down to its original purpose for hiking, walking, and trail running.  However, bike riders have started to show that this is a great pack for riding and has been given rave reviews in recent bike magazines.

The pack it self is built to the usual high quality standards I'd expect from Camelbak (I'm yet to destroy one).  It is a much lighter pack than the similar sized Hawg and also much more floppy.  Yes Floppy.  I know that might sound odd but when you put the pack on, it just seems to contour to your back so much better.  This also means that when riding it

doesn't move on your back, it stays where it is not hitting your helmet but moves and twists with you, which is great.  One negative point to this is air doesn't pass down your back easily so can feel quite hot on warm rides.  The straps themselves are no longer straight but are curved inwards, which make for a comfortable fit.  The usual chest straps and waist straps are there and work well and don't seem to slip from place.

The pack itself has fewer compartments than say my Hawg or the Mule, yet I've still found good enough homes for my pump and tools.  However the Octane does have a few tricks up its sleeve I really like.  The pack has a zip down the middle that when undone gives a huge amount of space to put shoes and clothes and stuff like that for commuting, or food, water proofs etc for long rides, hiking, marathon running.  When zipped up the the excesses it holder means the pack remain flatter so isn't so bulky on your back.  I also like the zips on the waist.  It means easy access to a mobile phone, ipod, energy gels or whatever else you'd like of that size without the need to take the pack of your back.  A handy feature.

Lastly, the Water bladder itself.  This still retains many of the features that make Camelbaks great.  It has a large hole for filling the bladder up which also allows easy access in to clean the inside.  Locking bite valves stop water leaking in transit, and there is the ability to take the tubes of easily for cleaning.  Its all well engineered stuff that has gained a few tweaks but retained its excellence.

I think this pack totally justifies its reviews and is becoming an ever essential part to my bike rides.  It is hands down better than my Hawg.  I shall update this review after further long time testing to see if I'm still as happy with it, but for the time being I'd recommend this to anyone.


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