The Camelbak HAWG NV
Being arguably the biggest player in the hydration pack market ensures you need to make every move count to stay ahead of the game. For many years, Camelbak have handled this dilemma with aplomb and there’s no indication this trend will slow down.
The biggest pack in their line-up, the HAWG NV, is loaded with features and will no doubt be a hit amongst its desired audience. The current buzz in mountain biking firmly lies with and around the ‘Enduro’ format. It’s obvious that particular market is where this pack is aimed, with a rather large 14 litres of storage capacity on top of 3 litres of hydration.
The NV system is very clever by allowing ventilation between your body and the pack itself. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of hydration packs for this very reason. I’d rather stop and refill bottles than have the enclosed and heated feeling of a pack on my back. This system worked as planned during my testing period, although it did take some adjusting to get the pack to sit in a comfortable position on my body.
Another new and clever feature Camelbak have included is the magnetic tube trap. This handy little device made a significant difference when compared with more dated packs. Having to find and massage your old tube into the previous clip system wasn’t exactly easy on more rugged trails. The magnetic set-up is definitely a step forward in usability. The abundance of pockets and storage space are well designed and cleverly placed; you shouldn’t be cramped for space with this large pack. There are specific pockets and pouches for all the items you might desire. I almost wanted to carry more things than I required just to fill the ample storage spaces.
As I mentioned earlier, hydration packs are not my favourite cycling item. I’m of the old school mentality where I carry things in pockets and on my bike. Unfortunately for this reason, I’d find this pack far bigger than anything I’d consider. I see this being of use for people who might be interested in overnight adventures or the ‘Enduro’ racing crowd who require room for pads, goggles and additional helmets for which Camelbak have integrated universal hooks.
The Camelbak Lobo
When you think hydration packs, you think Camelbak and it is for very good reason.
They have been the market leader for many years with their quality, range and innovation. With many bike manufacturers not having suitable provisions for drink bottle storage as suspensions systems become more complex, the necessity for carrying hydration is at an all-time high.
The Lobo has long been a staple from Camelbak and they have recently redesigned the pack with some great new innovations as the demands of riders change. It comes with a 3-litre Antidote reservoir, which in itself is packed full of user friendly features, several storage pockets (one of which has an organiser for tools and spares), two compression straps, helmet hooks and over flow storage.
This pack is designed for two to three hour plus rides, which for me testing it around one of Australia's most beautiful alpine regions in Victoria's North East was the perfect pack as the tracks are so close to town. Fill it up with a few litres of water, some snacks and spares, ride all morning and have lunch in town at one of the many bike friendly establishments, fill it up once again and you’re set for the afternoon.
Two of the new features of the Lobo, which were also my favourite, were the magnetic hose trap, after drinking from the hose I could just let go of it and it would locate itself and clip back into the strap. This meant more time with my hands on the bars, and I don’t think I need to explain why that’s good. With many enduro races now becoming full face helmet mandatory the problem of wearing one and carrying another helmet has arisen. Once again staying ahead of the rest, Camelbak have added helmet hooks to this pack which securely and easily fasten your full face or open face helmet to the pack.
I see the Camelbak Lobo being a very popular choice, it has enough storage for more than just the essential spares, yet maintains a very low profile dimension on your back. For most of my riding with the Lobo I didn’t even notice I was wearing it and everything work amazingly well. With a full range of colours and packed full of great features, if you’re after a pack for up to half day riding this is the one for you.