Review: Camelbak Racebak Baselayer Jersey with Integrated Reservoir

camelbak racebak baselayer jersey with integrated reservoir

True to the brand’s name, Camelbak’s Racebak base layer with integrated reservoir does make one appear more camel-like.

Available in men’s and women’s versions, it’s a lightweight, sleeveless polyester/polymide/elastane base layer with a full zip front. On the back is a sleeve that holds the included 70oz (2L) Antidote reservoir. It’s a somewhat updated reservoir in that it has the internal baffle, but the opening is smaller than their pack models and there’s no quick disconnect hose. It does get their insulated hose, though, and the bite valve has a shut off lever to keep it from leaking in your fridge or cooler if it gets squished.

Camelbak’s marketing guy, Seth, is the first to admit this product’s not one of their top sellers, but the more time I’ve spent with it, the more I like it. On quick trips, it saves precious packing space versus a full pack while still giving me plenty to drink on those rides (more than what you’d get by relying on two full bottles!). And in big group rides or fast paced bunches, it’s easier and arguably safer to throw the hose in your mouth and get your hands back on the bar quickly than fiddle with bottles.

Does it look goofy? Does the function overcome form? Hose down your burning curiosity below…

camelbak racebak baselayer jersey with integrated reservoir

I’m 6’2″ and about 180lbs. This is an XL and it fits snug, perfect for under a jersey. It’s what you’d call a racing cut. When the reservoir’s completely full, it can pull down on the back a bit when standing upright, but once hunched over in the riding position it’s not noticeable.

The material is very light…you can see my bibs right through it. Even on a couple of warmer days it didn’t seem to overheat me. Being able to unzip it fully is helpful, though.

camelbak racebak baselayer jersey with integrated reservoir

Between you and the reservoir is a thin pad that keeps condensation (and ice cold beverages) directly off your skin. This is about the only downside to the garment. The porous side you’re seeing here is the side that faces your body, but it still ends up feeling like a solid patch on your upper back. Camelbak would do well to make it a bit more 3D like some of their packs, putting less surface area on your back, but they have to balance thickness with function. I haven’t tried it yet, but on super hot days you could just put extra ice in your reservoir and not use the pad. Could provide a lot of cooling, which generally translates to better performance. Another trick? Put some ice in your jersey pockets just before heading out…it’s awesome.

camelbak racebak baselayer jersey with integrated reservoir

The shoulders both have wide loops to keep the hose in place, and the right side has a small loop to hold the hose close to the chest. The design means you’ll have to keep your jersey unbuttoned a few inches to let the hose out. I did notice the hose tapping the top of my quad when I had both the Racebak and my jersey unzipped halfway or so, but only when riding low in the drops or hunched over.

Because it makes drinking so accessible, I’ve found I’m drinking more frequently. I plan on using it quite a bit. It does put a hump on your back, but it’s a stable hump and after all, didn’t Lance Armstrong say his back hump gave him an aero advantage?

Retail is $100. Reservoir is BPA-free.

Comments

Bill - 05/10/12 - 12:43pm

One thing this works great for is filling it up with about a water bottle’s worth for a time trial. It’s much less bulky that way, and about all the water you need for a 40k, without having to clumsiliy look for an aero bottle or something when you’re on the rivet.

michael - 05/10/12 - 1:58pm

I use it for xc racing. saves time not have to mess with bottles on the trail.
It would not look so odd under the jersey, if he was wearing his bib straps over it like you would wear any other base layer

Topmounter - 05/10/12 - 2:24pm

What exactly is the advantage of this over their minimalist Classic or Hydrobak packs?

Tyler (Editor) - 05/10/12 - 2:51pm

Michael – putting it under my bibs would mean the upper portion of the bibs would be stretched around the reservoir, which would pull them funny and cause a bit of discomfort “down there”. Also, it wouldn’t let it flow open if unzipped all the way, something I’ve done on one particularly hot day while wearing it.

Topmounter – under the jersey it’s a bit more aero than an external pack, and it’s lighter weight overall. The base layer itself weighs next to nothing.

jls - 05/10/12 - 4:14pm

Hump?…What hump?

rico - 05/10/12 - 6:14pm

This is something only a triathlete or a mountain biker would wear.

bikehyp - 05/10/12 - 7:14pm

I have used a Lezyne bladder without the pad to do a number of century rides and off-road races. Lezyne’s zip-lock bladder feels better than the CB one did and the tubing is slightly larger giving a better flow.

ween - 05/10/12 - 7:45pm

dorktastic

Mike - 05/11/12 - 2:01am

So the water will be so hot after 50 or 60k’s that I’ll be able to make coffee?

Eric NM - 05/11/12 - 5:04am

Seriously: is this a delayed post from 4/1/12, Tyler?

ajbosch - 05/11/12 - 5:26am

May I remind you guys of Rule #32? :)

http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/

Tom - 05/11/12 - 8:37am

I like the idea but always wandered how you route the pipe out of your jersey, lets say its gold and you want your jersey zipped all the way up?

spokejunky - 05/11/12 - 11:25am

@Tyler – notice and leaking from the tube? I’ve eyed this thing for a while now and saw posts about it leaking all over the rider. Also, is it easy to swap out the reservoir? I’d imagine you’d have to take off the base layer or is it easy enough to just pull out the old and dangle in the new? Especially useful for drop points at XXC.

Tyler (Editor) - 05/11/12 - 11:31am

Spokejunky – I didn’t notice any leaking, perhaps others were just feeling condensation or didn’t have the lid on tight? The lid on this isn’t as good as their new 1/4 turn dealios. The bladder is easy enough to pull out, but if you’re wearing it, someone would have to do it for you and you’d have to remove whatever jersey is on over it to make the process a bit easier. It wouldn’t take any longer than pulling a reservoir out to fill up at a rest stop.

The Dude - 05/11/12 - 1:08pm

“rico – 05/10/12 – 6:14pm

This is something only a triathlete or a mountain biker would wear”

Please don’t lump mountain bikers in with those goofballs.

(required) - 05/12/12 - 10:15am

ajbosch – 05/11/12 – 5:26am
May I remind you guys of Rule #32?

http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/

I have read that thing several times, and what I find most depressing about it is that I’m *still* not absolutely certain that they are joking.

Jamey - 05/12/12 - 11:36pm

Forgot to post this on 4/1, dincha?

DawieO - 05/13/12 - 8:17am

“This is something only a triathlete or a mountain biker would wear”

Please don’t lump triathletes in with those goofballs.

wojtek - 07/12/12 - 12:39am

This product is a victim of human shortcomings. In reality RaceBak should be a bestseller, however this is not the case. It is great for all types of cycling, running and hiking, offering a cooling or warming option, depending on the time of the year. Surprisingly the liquid does not shift during running, thanks to the bladder divider and tight fit. It beats all hip belts, hands down.
I had it for several months, before I started using it and OMG, this thing tops all hydration systems I have (quite a few).

Dan - 09/12/12 - 8:58pm

Does the Racebak come in 2x size?

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