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Camelbak M.U.L.E. 100 OZ ReviewBest Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking: MTB Hydration Pack Review

Best Lumbar Style Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking

  • Storage 70% 70%
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Price: $53.00-$110.00

Gear Capacity: 9l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 620g

Dimensions: 17.9” x 8.7” x 8.9” / 45.5 x 22 x 22.5cm

What We Like: “Everything You Need and Nothing You Don’t,” CamelBak Big Bite Valve

What We Don’t: Not as Comfortable as Some Newer Bags, Twist Off Water Reservoir Lid

Camelbak is synonymous with hydration packs for just about any activity, and mountain biking is no exception. While some designs come and go, the Camelbak MULE is as tried and true as any hydration pack on the market. It was one of the first hydration packs available, one of the first to be adopted by mountain bikers, and it is still one of the best around.

Osprey Raptor 14

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

Top Notch Comfort and Organization

Cons

Average Weight

Pricey

Gear Capacity: 11.5l

Bladder Capacity: 2.5l

Weight: 800g

Dimensions: 20” x 9” x 9” / 48 x 22 x 25cm

CamelBak Skyline LR 10l

  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Low Rider Technology is Comfortable and Stable

Best Water Flow in Test

Cons

Average Weight

Not Terribly Easy to Access

Fill or Clean Hydration Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 7l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 995g

Dimensions: 8” x 8” x 15” / 20 x 20 x 39cm

Platypus Duthie AM 10.0

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

Best In Class Ventilation

Great Organization

Cons

Only Slightly Above Average Water Flow from Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 7l

Bladder Capacity: 3l/100 fluid ounces

Weight: 800g

Dimensions: 9” x 6” x 18” / 23 x 15 x 46cm

CamelBak MULE LR 15

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Low Rider Hydration Reservoir Positioning

CamelBak Bite Valve

Cons

Subpar Ventilation

Heavy

Gear Capacity: 12l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 990g

Dimensions: 21” x 10” x 9” / 53 x 23 x 25cm

Dakine Seeker 15l 

  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 60% 60%
  • Weight 40% 40%

Pros

Water Resistant

Tons of Storage

Comfortable

Cons

Heavy

Not the Greatest Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 12l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 1340g

Dimensions: 19” x 12” x 8″ / 48 x 30 x 20cm

CamelBak Lobo 9l

  • Storage 60% 60%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 100% 100%

Pros

Lightweight

CamelBak Big Bite Drinking Valve

Sale Prices

Cons

Not Much Storage

Subpar Ventilation

Gear Capacity: 6l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 480g

Dimensions: 18” x 8.3” x 7.5” / 46 x 21 x 19cm

CamelBak M.U.L.E. 100 OZ

  • Storage 70% 70%
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Pros

“Everything You Need and Nothing You Don’t,”

CamelBak Big Bite Valve

Cons

Not as Comfortable as Some Newer Bags

Twist Off Water Reservoir Lid

Gear Capacity: 9l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 620g

Dimensions: 17.9” x 8.7” x 8.9” / 45.5 x 22 x 22.5cm

Thule Vital 6l

  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 40% 40%
  • Weight 90% 90%

Pros

ReTrakt Hydration Hose

Great Main Compartment Organization

Lightweight

Cons

J Shaped Zipper

Subpar Water Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 3.5l

Bladder Capacity: 2.5l

Weight: 540g

Dimensions: 8.7” x 3.5” x 17.5” / 23 x 9 x 44.5cm

Evoc Stage 18

  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 20% 20%
  • Weight 50% 50%

Pros

Top Notch Comfort and Storage

Cons

No Water Reservoir Included

Pricey

Gear Capacity: 18l

Bladder Capacity: Accommodates Hydration Systems Up To 3l (Not Included)

Weight: 965g

Dimensions: 8.25” x 17.3” x 4.75” / 28 x 50 x 12cm

Evoc CC 10l

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 50% 50%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Comfortable

Stable

Great Storage and Accessibility

Cons

Average Ventilation

Subpar Water Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 8l

Bladder Capacity: 2l

Weight: 690g

Dimensions: 7.9” x 19.7 x 3.9” / 20 x 50 x 10cm

Storage

With nine liters of storage for your gear and a three-liter water reservoir, the Camelbak M.U.L.E. 100 OZ strikes a nice balance between some of the higher volume hydration packs, and those that carry your water and virtually nothing else.

The storage area of the Camelbak MULE is broken up into three main pockets. There is a small, quick access pocket on the front of the pack , which is perfect for storing snacks, and which I use to stash my phone. A very small felt lined “media” compartment with a waterproof zipper can be found on the top of the pack. This placement is ideal for those who want to use their phone with a pair of non-wireless headphones. However, the media pocket is too small for my Samsung Galaxy Note 8, which is why it rides in the front, quick access compartment with my snacks. Finally, the main compartment features a large, U shaped zipper that provides easy access.

The Camelbak MULE also features a convenient helmet storage solution. Between the quick access pocket and the main compartment, compression straps open and compress the perfect place to stash a helmet while you are not riding, a rain jacket, or the chin bar of your convertible mountain bike helmet.

Comfort

The Camelbak MULE’s design is tested and true, although it is not revolutionary. While there is no stiff frame to the pack, its minimal style and shape means that you can cinch it tight to your body, which is important for those of us who ride technical terrain and cannot afford to have weight shifting around on our backs. The straps are also easy to tighten and loosen, so you can tighten them up on the fly, as the fit will get looser the more water you drink. However, the straps are not overly padded. This is in keeping with the pack’s minimal nature, and they are more than adequate for the weight that you are likely to carry in the MULE, but some might prefer a hydration pack with more substantial padding.

While the Camelbak MULE’s ventilation might not be on par with some of the mountain bike hydration packs that we reviewed, it is better than previous iterations of the MULE. The back panel uses CamelBak’s Air Direct system, which consists of mesh paneling stretched tight over raised foam ridges. The mesh keeps the back of the pack from collapsing to the shape of your back, like previous MULEs, and ensures that there is some amount of airflow.

Finally, the CamelBak MULE uses a standard ¾ inch webbing hip belt, which adjusts on both sides. While this does not give you much in the way of support, it keeps the pack from bouncing around and fits with CamelBak’s mantra for the MULE: “everything you need, and nothing you don’t.”

Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking

The Camelbak MULE uses Camelbak’s crux reservoir and Big Bite drinking valve. Together, these make for the best drinking experience of any hydration pack on our list, bar none. It is demonstrably and noticeably easier to get water out of the Camelbak reservoir than most others on our list, which is all the more important when your heart rate is above 190 beats per minute and every second spent drinking is a second not spent breathing.

The Crux’s hose threads through the MULE’s shoulder strap and attaches to a magnet on the chest strap to make it easy to reach one-handed. The hose also features a convenient shutoff valve, which anyone who has ever arrived at the trail with an empty water reservoir and a soaking wet backseat will appreciate.

While Camelbak’s Crux water reservoir is the clear favorite when it comes to its ease of drinking, the same cannot be said for its ease of cleaning or filling. The twist off opening for the Camelbak Mule’s Crux opening is just not as convenient to operate as the zip style reservoir found on packs like the Osprey Raptor. Furthermore, it makes getting a hand into the reservoir for cleaning much more difficult than zipper style reservoirs. On the plus side though, the hose does feature a painless quick disconnect, though only at the bottom of the reservoir.

The Crux also uses a hook from which to hang the reservoir inside the pack, although the MULE does not actually have a dedicated hook from which to hang it. There is a small loop that is meant to guide the hose, and it the reservoir can be hung from this, with a bit of work. We actually find the Osprey Hydraulic reservoir easier to hang from this loop than Camelbak’s own Crux reservoir.

Weight

The CamelBak MULE weighs in at 620g, putting it on the lighter end of the mountain bike hydration packs that we reviewed. This is made all the more impressive by the fact that it has a fairly solid capacity. On the other hand, it is a bit bare bones and minimalist in nature, which helps it shave a bit of weight. 

What Did We Really Think?

Overall, the CamelBak MULE is the same great hydration pack for mountain biking that it has been for years. It remains, as CamelBak describes it, “everything you need, and nothing you don’t.” The problem for the CamelBak MULE is that a new generation of hydration packs for mountain biking has cropped up, with newer features that outshine this classic, at least in some respects. However, the fact that it is a bit long in the tooth means that you can often find the Camelbak MULE, which retails for $110, for around $50, making this an epic steal for mountain bikers who want a minimalist, mid-sized hydration pack.

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