- Loads of storage options
- helmet hooks are a nice touch
- Won't move about on rough sections of trail
- Faffy hose retention
- Buckles don't engage perfectly everytime
- No weather-sealed zips
The M.U.L.E is the Camelbak's best-selling and longest-lived pack – and for good reason. It’s feature-packed, and carries three litres of water and 12L of kit. This new version is built around Camelbak's new Crux reservoir, and features a few cool updates.
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The M.U.L.E is rich with features. The whole pack has been built around a new design of reservoir, the Crux, which is claimed to deliver 20 percent more water per sip. Okay, 'My sips are taking too long' is very much a first-world problem, but at last that nightmare is over.
The Crux reservoir also features an ergonomic handle, which helps a lot when you’re filling the pack, and a removable hose.
The pack itself spreads its 12L of storage across five compartments, each aimed at storing your kit however you please.
The stretchy overflow compartment on the outside is perfect for storing extra layers, and is easily accessible as it’s open topped. It can be cinched down with the straps that wrap either side of the back.
On the straps you find helmet hooks built into the buckles. It’s pretty tough to cram helmet straps into these hooks, but once in place they're secure.
The second compartment has a number of mesh pockets which are perfect for storing tools, spares and trail snacks. There’s also a zipped pocket which is perfectly phone-sized, and it keeps important belongings more concealed from the elements.
Behind the tool compartment is a big open one that's ideal for stuffing in a first aid kit and any other bulkier belongings.
It's mostly a great, well thought-out design, but nothing's perfect – there are still a few niggles and missing pieces with this pack. It could really use a key hook and waterproof zips, in particular, so you'll need a dry bag / cover if you're out in all weathers (plus a locksmith if you're really unlucky...).
Meanwhile, the buckles that cinch the overflow pouch are an unconventional design, and don't connect properly unless everything's lined up perfectly.
Another issue is the Magnetic Tube Trap. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple pull off/snap back magnet as found elsewhere. Instead, to release the hose you must pull horizontally towards the centre of your chest, which feels unnatural, and it can be a faff to liberate the thing whenever you need a 20 percent bigger sip than before.
I often find myself pulling the hose right out of the magnetic clip instead, then having to awkwardly squeeze it back in as I pedal.
The Magnetic Tube Trap can also sit uncomfortably on the shoulder if the chest strap isn’t adjusted properly.
Overall the M.U.L.E is perfectly stable and secure, and it's not massively sweaty either, thanks to the Air Director back panel which works well given the pack's considerable carrying capacity. It’s capable of holding more than I’ll ever need, and is a great option for longer rides or adventures into more remote places.
The Camelbak M.U.L.E. does a great job of carrying a lot of kit and fluid while remaining fairly compact. It’s stable, secure and well thought-out. If you’re planning a long ride to the middle of nowhere and need to carry kit to cover a multitude of eventualities, the Camelbak M.U.L.E. is a rugged, dependable design that won't let you down.