Camelbak showed off a few new bags at Press Camp, but their real story was the new reservoirs. Apparently, I’m not the only one that bitched and moaned everytime I tried to wrench open the screw cap because they’ve completely redesigned the entire fill hole. Now, it only needs about a quarter turn to open, and from my own testing over the past week, it opens and closes quite easily whether it’s full or empty or anywhere in between.

But wait, there’s more! They’ve improved on virtually every aspect and introduced a few new features that are pure genius. Click on thru to see all the improvements and an explanation for that stealth bomber shaped bladder, too…


The new fill port screws open and closed easily, using just less than a quarter turn as illustrated by the two silver circles.  You don’t actually have to line up the arrow with those circles either, it’ll insert pretty much anywhere.  The fill hole is now 88.1mm wide, which Camelbak claims is the largest opening of any hydration bladder out there.

Notice that handle? It’s been perforated, and the material is a harder plastic than before. Overall, the changes made the reservoir’s cap 19% lighter than before (about 6% lighter for the whole reservoir, if you’re counting).


The next change is that the bladder is now wider with an internal baffle to keep it from “sausaging” out and creating a big round bulge, something sure to intimidate that lovely barista aprés ride. Now, the full bladder has a 24% lower profile:


You may have noticed that the hose isn’t attached to the reservoirs in these photos…


Camelbak has finally followed Hydrapak in this regard, making a quick release connection for its hoses. After a few clicks and connects, it actually feels like it disconnects slightly easier than Hydrapak’s, too, but time and usage will really tell. We have a couple of these new bladders we’re playing with for the next month or so.


Taking advantage of the new quick disconnect feature, they’ve created a new inline carbon taste filter. It’s not a purification system, it’s only intended to make water from lousy areas taste better, but it’s small, light and easy to use. Oh, and they say it creates no flow restriction. Hopefully, we’ll be putting that to the test soon, too.


Another great new feature are the integrated drying arms. They flip out from the handle and squeeze the bladder into an open shape. Just hang it upside down, flip the arms open and let it dry. (Or, if you’re just running water, simply disconnect the hose and throw it in the fridge and it’s good for at least a week or more…that’s what I do, try it at your own risk.)


Lastly, all their new packs for 2011 (meaning the ones you’ll be buying later this year) have integrated mini sleeves on the front of the reservoir’s pocket to hold the handle and keep the bladder upright. All packs have also been redesigned with “3D” stitching to create an physical pocket that allows for the full reservoir’s space without impeding on your cargo’s space as much as before. It’s not a rigid system, so it’s still going to compress things a bit, but because of the new flatter bladder shaping and the pre-molded space for it, the back of the pack stays flatter and cargo inside is more easily accessible.


So, about that new reservoir shape: It’s made to fit in the lower lumbar area of their new Octane LR packs, a lightweight race pack that puts the water weight low on your back. It’s seductively modeled here by Ron Koch at Bicycle/Mountain Bike (tempting, no? No.) and we’ll cover that and their other new packs on a separate post.


  1. Pretty good! I could use a new bladder as I’ve switched to a pack that didn’t come with one, I’ve been using a very old camelbak bladder in it.

  2. They are backwards compatible…they still have the little slide hook at the top to loop into that yellow loop on the inside of the pack. Oh, and these and their new packs should start showing up in October.

  3. As someone who has used most of the hydration systems from the beginning (I still half the original camelbak and halfbak) I can say with authority that most if not all of these features are NOT Camelbak innovation. The only things I’ve haven’t personally seen on cycling bladders over the years are the drying arms and the in-line carbon filter.

    -Baffled bladder – Ultimate Directions, 1992 –
    -Quick disconnect hose – Nalgene, not hydrapak (year unknown, they might not be first but it was almost ten years ago I saw this feature on their bladders which are still the industry’s best – don’t forget their no taste plastic or magnetic bite valve holder. About 6-7 years ago they also started making a tower shaped bladder for Jansport when they were making cycling bags. Nalgene now also have the antimicrobial formula and the full length bladder handle too – see the current Nalgene CXC model)
    -Large openings (various brands have had schemes on this over the years)

    As should apply to Apple – Think different, think again!

  4. I just saw some Osprey packs at REI and have to say they look way better than this new Camelbak stuff. Pretty sure they use some sort of modified Nalgene reservoir that has a plate on the pack to prevent the “sausaging” effect. Sure felt good to wear it in the store and can’t wait to try it out on the trail. Seems that if all these other companies are going after Camelbak (they did create the concept and are the biggest guys), then I would want a better response to the competition than what they did here. Not that inspiring and certainly not “more awesomer in every way”!!

  5. @Tim Pike – I mean the old bladders would take on a round, tube-like sausage shape when filled with water, which wasn’t necessarily accounted for with the pack’s design, and sometimes that interfered with packing it properly or the way it felt on your back. The new ones don’t have that issue, and the packs have internal shaping to better hold the bladder without compromising useable space.

What do you think?