Bike Radar – CamelBak MULE LR 15 Hydration Pack Review

The following is a review from


CamelBak MULE LR 15

Aptly named pack loaded with features

BikeRadar score: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5

BikeRadar verdict:

“The MULE LR is supremely comfortable, uses a top-notch reservoir and makes organizing any amount of gear easy”

Highs: 100oz low-ride reservoir, very comfortable, pockets everywhere, detachable hose, bite valve lock, useful gear storage

Lows: Not much; upper strap buckles are hard to close, still warm on the back

Buy if: Your riding needs demand loads of gear and plenty of water and you want one of the best hydration packs on the market

Back in the early 2000s, I spent a lot of time riding with a core group of 10-12 guys who rode hard, explored every valley and mountainside, and spent huge days on their bikes. While each individual varied with their set ups and riding style, there was one constant throughout the crew, we all had CamelBak HAWG hydration packs. It gained our trust through thousands of hours of riding, bushwhacking and hanging out in the forest — and CamelBak’s current MULE LR 15 pack reminds me of those legendary HAWG packs.

It is however lighter, more streamlined, easier to wear and better in every way. I’ve been abusing this one for close to a year now and while not as pretty as when new, it shows no signs of giving up.


CamelBak MULE LR features

  • 100oz Crux LR reservoir (3L)
  • 12 liters of gear storage
  • 800 gram weight
  • Airfoil back panel
  • Magnetic Tube Trap
  • Stabilizing load-bearing hip belts with cargo
  • Dual reservoir compression straps
  • Rain cover
  • Built-in helmet carry hooks
  • Separate zippered compartment with gear organizer and tool roll
  • Additional top zippered pocket with microfleece lining
  • Overflow storage via two sets of compression straps
  • Reflective accents

CamelBak MULE LR riding

If you have a hydration pack you’re probably keenly aware of the log-on-your-back feeling that most packs filled with water have. For years the standard shape of a reservoir was a tall rectangle, which put the liquid’s weight vertically on your back.

CamelBak’s Crux lumber reservoir does away with that. It’s aptly named simply because having the weight up high can be a deal breaker for some riders. The Crux reservoir lowers the center of gravity to around your hips, which makes every type of riding better in my opinion.


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CamelBak Gear Review: Franconia LR 24 Hydration Pack

From the CO-OP Journal
By Matt & Agnes Hage


As I pulled CamelBak’s new hydration daypack out of the box, my first impression was “Wow, this thing is hefty.” The Franconia LR 24 is both a daypack and a hydration pack, but it’s the Cadillac of those categories. It’s full of features found on most big backpacking rigs, such as load lifters on the shoulder straps, a generous hipbelt with expandable pockets, and compression straps to bring the load closer into your back. And, it has a metal frame. All of these give it the ability to comfortably carry a good-sized load, and with over 20 liters of capacity, that’s a real option.


In addition to what I normally carry for a day hike in the mountains (snacks, layers, jacket, water), I was able to put a DSLR camera with a couple lenses in the pack body along with a couple cans of beer to fill it out properly. There still was room for a sandwich and an apple. With the three-liter water reservoir filled to capacity, my daypack weighed about 28 pounds—all of which would cut straight into my shoulders with a classic “bag with two straps” kind of pack. But trying on the Franconia, fully loaded for a posh day hike, I could feel how the solidly built frame worked with the load lifters, hipbelt and compression straps to provide a smooth carry. This proved to be the case on a couple peak-bagging missions in the mountains near our home in Anchorage, Alaska.


Scrambling up craggy ridgelines, I appreciated how the pack is designed to pull the weight into my back. The side compression straps for the internal reservoir pocket securely put those three liters squarely up against the lumbar area of the back instead of higher up in-between my shoulder blades.

The pack’s air suspension back panel was also one of my favorite features, since hiking a good-sized load up a couple thousand feet of mountain can be sweaty work. Even though I did break a sweat, the back of my shirt didn’t get the soaked feel you can get with limited-airflow back panels. Lastly, the hipbelt tightened easily and both cargo pockets were easy to access while tight on your hips.


CamelBak’s latest incarnation of their signature hydration reservoir, the Crux LR, is topnotch. I’ve shied away from CamelBak hydration systems after years of wonky screw-on lids that often went on half-cocked only to leak two liters of water into my pack. Those days seem to be behind us now: Filling and tightening the new Crux LR is easy and secure.

The Franconia is more like a mini full-featured backpack than a daypack or hydration pack. Because its empty weight of nearly three pounds would easily eclipse the payload, you wouldn’t want this for a trail run or if all you carry is a jacket and a couple energy bars. But its awesome carrying capacity does make it a good choice for day outings (bring a cooking system for hot drinks or dinner on top of some peak) as well as minimalist overnighters (we’ve done three days out of 25-liter packs).

CamelBak Gear Review: Women’s Sundowner LR 22 Hydration Pack

From the CO-OP Journal
By Matt & Agnes Hage


Do you ever wish that your daypack carried as well as your full-size pack? So many small packs (less than 25 liters) are little more than glorified rucksacks: a bag with two shoulder straps. Sometimes that’s all you need, but the simplicity is quickly trumped by necessity once you start adding anything of significant weight, such as water. Without compression straps, your load is literally slumped in a pile in a sack on your back. And without a frame or sturdy hipbelt, every ounce of that pile is going straight to your shoulders. My favorite aspects of CamelBak’s new women-specific Sundowner address both of those issues.


This 22-liter hydration pack will carry everything you need for a full day out in the hills, whether you’re trail hiking, scrambling to the top of craggy peaks or riding a mountain bike. It comes with CamelBak’s new Crux LR reservoir with capacity for three liters (100 ounces) of water. That’s potential for packing some pounds—6.5 pounds, in fact—and the Sundowner is ready to handle it.

Designed with a metal frame, the pack transfers weight from your shoulders to your hips where you want it. What’s more, the Sundowner features a special reservoir pocket right behind the lumbar area of the hipbelt with side compression straps that cinch the reservoir up against your lower back. This helps keep your center of gravity low and also helps takes strain off your shoulders.

The last piece of this load-management puzzle is the load lifters on the shoulder straps. I use them all the time on my full-size pack to take pressure off my shoulders, so it’s nice to see them on a smaller frame pack.


As you’d expect from CamelBak, the pack’s hydration system is topnotch. The hose runs cleanly out from the reservoir and down the shoulder strap. It’s capped with their signature locking bite valve. A unique magnetic tube trap on the shoulder strap keeps the hose accessible while you hike. I found it easier to use and more secure than some other magnetic hose-keepers on the market.


The three-liter reservoir and hose also get their own external access compartment in the pack. For your gear, there are plenty of pockets that keep smaller items from settling to the bottom of your load. My favorites are the rear stuff-it pocket for quick access to my wind jacket and the two hipbelt pockets for snacks or a small camera.

Overall I found the Sundowner to be better than most daypacks on the market today. It’s a useful size at 22 liters—not too big and not too small. Heck, we’ve done overnighters with 25-liter packs and a minimalist kit. The construction appears well done and it should stand up to years of use. The Sundowner is a versatile option for those that want a do-it-all daypack. While trail running and rock climbing wouldn’t be a good fit for this pack, in my opinion, due to the metal frame and bulk, that’s not a dig on the Sundowner, as both of those sports require a certain fit and feature set. Big Updates from CamelBak for 2017


Camelbak reservoirs get big updates; MULE, HAWG, and LUXE get the LR treatment, and more…

By Zach Overholt from BIKERUMOR.COM

Looking at the current CamelBak product, it’s hard to imagine that the first reservoirs were inspired by IV bags. In the past 26 years the reservoirs have seen major updates every 5-6 years, and based on what we’ve seen at PressCamp, the latest generation is the best one yet.

Called the Crux Reservoir, CamelBak has focused on a few key areas to improve the reservoir’s usability but also improve the performance of the hydration packs themselves. Combined with new LR versions of their most popular larger packs, CamelBak continues to provide excellent options for hydration…

Starting with the act of filling the reservoir, a big change can be found at the cap. Rather than the previous quarter turn locking cap which had to be properly aligned to lock in and seal, the new cap simply threads on wherever you start it. Equating it to a gas cap or a pickle jar, the cap is super easy to close and combined with the new pan handle, the reservoir is easier to fill than ever.

The other big change came from their desire to increase the flow rate of water from the tube. The ability to deliver more water through the same pull means less time with the bite valve in your mouth, and less exertion if you’re really trying to drink a lot of water at once. To accomplish this, CamelBak had to find where the restrictions in flow were coming from. Fortunately for them it wasn’t from the bite valve or from the Quick Link disconnect system. Instead it came from the diameter of the hose and the right angle on the on/off valve. The new system now uses a larger diameter tubing and a 45 degree instead of 90 degree angle on/off valve which results in a 20% increase in flow rate. Not only does that increase the amount of water flow, but CamelBak claims the larger mass of water in the tube causes it to heat up more slowly which should make that first sip a little more enjoyable.

The new on/off valve is super easy to use with one hand and is paired with their famous medical grade silicone self sealing Big Bite valve. The new high flow hose system is compatible with current reservoir Quick Link systems so you could upgrade if you choose.

Camelbak Crux

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CamelBak 24 Hour Challenge

The new CamelBak Vacuum insulated Chute 20oz and 40oz bottles keep your beverage cold for 24hours*.

What can you do in 24 hours?

*The 40oz can keep your water (or beer) cold for twice as long! 48 hours!!

6’8 Nate Rides the Whiskey Off-Road


We followed CamelBak Proto Team rider 6’8″ Nate on this year’s Whiskey Off-Road course, and talked to him about what it’s like to walk away from a desk job and devote yourself to bikes full-time. In his words, “I would suffer through a 50-mile hill climb any day over sitting in a conference room for 8 hours of meetings.”

CamelBak | Journey to the Backcountry


Journey to the Backcountry

CamelBak Athlete, Nate Greenberg, explores his personal motivations for traveling beyond lift lines to discover new challenges in the backcountry. Nate is a Backcountry Ski Guide author and co-founder/president of the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center, a non-profit dedicated to providing avalanche forecasts and snow pack analysis for the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains.