Camelbak H.A.W.G. Hydration Pack Review
Words & Photos by Rob Dunnet
Camelbak has been at the forefront of mobile hydration for as long as we can remember. Their packs have changed greatly over the years and the H.A.W.G. (Holds A lotta Water and Gear) has been a pack we’ve used in countless iterations over the years. We were excited to test the newest version. The Camelbak H.A.W.G. has the ability to carry all your essentials
and then some. It’s sure to prevent you from being ‘that guy’ who is seemingly always asking to borrow this or that. “Hey bro, can I stuff this jacket in your pack real quick.”
While I typically carry my stuff on the bike now, nothing replaces a quality pack when the weather’s unpredictable or we’re setting out for an all-day epic. And the cooler winter months tend to be the perfect time for those nasty explorations into the cold, wet woods.
The Camelbak H.A.W.G. is a 17L pack that was built with a low center of gravity in mind. Everything about this bag shifts the weight from the shoulders to the hips. The dual waist belt transfers weight to your hips and compresses cargo to stop it from shifting. The large 3L bladder has a wide profile to distribute the weight to the sides rather than up your spine as other packs do. This helps keep weight low and off your shoulders.
A removable tool roll keeps things organized and makes tools easy to access. The pack also comes with an integrated rain cover to shield your pack and gear from the elements. There is also a soft-lined pocket to keep sunglasses and electronics safe.
No doubt about it, the H.A.W.G. is a giant of a riding pack but it doesn’t feel overly large when loaded down. With a full load, the backpack’s weight is down low and doesn’t make a huge impact while climbing. The shoulder straps are wide and padded enough that the weight doesn’t cause the pack to dig into sensitive shoulders.
A lot of packs will shift side to side while climbing out of the saddle but due to the design of the waist belt, we found that the pack stayed put after being tightened. On aggressive downhill sections the bag doesn’t ride up and never once came in contact with our helmet. A problem that we have seen in some of the larger riding packs.
On several short night rides, all that was in the pack was a pump, tube, some snacks, and the light battery. On these rides, the Camelbak H.A.W.G is hardly noticeable and was extremely comfortable to ride with.
Due to the size of the bag, it is easy to misplace things. Dropping a tool into one of the larger compartments mid-ride means that finding it later will take some digging. We found that organizing the bag and trying to stick to that organization was the best way not to misplace something inside the bag.
The Wolf’s Last Word
We do have a couple of complaints with the Camelbak H.A.W.G. The buckles are not the traditional style buckles that we see on packs. They are hard to adjust on the fly and they can be difficult to open. Going back to traditional buckles would solve this problem and make this bag better in our opinion. Another complaint is that if you want to access the lower tool compartment, the outside flap of the bag has to be opened up. Opening this flap means that whatever you have stuffed into the outside flap needs to be removed before accessing your tools. This creates an extra step and takes time out of your ride.
That being said, the positives of this pack far outweigh the negatives. The waist belt is one of the best we have ever used; even with the non-traditional buckles. It is easy to adjust on the fly and due to the shape of the lower bag and waist belt, it stops the pack from shifting around when riding. With the number and size of pockets on the H.A.W.G., you can bring a lot of stuff with you on a ride. Storage options are plentiful! The shoulder straps are comfortable and evenly disperse the weight of the pack, which further aid in comfort.
If you are in the market for a large riding bag the Camelbak H.A.W.G. is worth checking out. We will continue to use it to haul a lot of gear and even for shorter rides when a comfortable pack is needed.
Low Center of Gravity
Magnetic Tube Strap
Integrated Rain Cover
So Much Storage
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