The CamelBak Solstice LR10 is the women’s version of the Skyline men’s pack. It’s been revamped and is now more secure than ever before whilst still retaining the ability to carry weight low on the back. It’s a great mid sized pack for all occasions.
The Solstice LR10 comes from CamelBak’s low-riding series meaning the weight of the pack is designed to sit low on the hips, lowering the centre of gravity and improving stability. It’s an idea that works in practice too, the packs are less likely to hit you on the back of the head and the weight distribution near the waist is much better for more technical descending, giving the feeling of freeing the upper back and shoulders. Like the Skyline the Solstice pack is set lower down on the shoulder straps, it means the pack is shorter but slightly wider than a ‘regular’ pack.
The Solstice is a 7L pack with enough room for pumps, tools, inner tube, snacks and extra layers in the main compartment. The inside of the main bag is well organised with a tool pouch and two inner pockets, one with a hook and zip for keys and valuables. There is also a top, fleece lined pocket for a phone or glasses plus two hip pockets, one with a zip and one without for quick access food or a multi tool.
Outside the bag there is a ‘stuff’ compartments for a helmet or wet coat which is spacious with two side clip fasteners to prevent gear popping out of the top. There are also loops at the bottom of the bag for extras, potentially knee pads or a small sleeping bag. I found these straps to sometimes come undone when not in use which doesn’t fill me with great confidence when carrying gear this way. They hook onto loops of material so it appears a buckle may be better employed here as seen in previous versions of the bag. That said, I didn’t lose any kit when using them. As ever with a CamelBak pack storage of the ends of straps has been thought about with elastic keepers in place to hold flapping ends in place.
The Solstice fits a 3L Crux LR reservoir in a separate compartment at the rear. The opening of this has been redesigned this year and rather than a zip on the rear of the bag which was prone to getting clogged with mud, the zipper now runs down three-quarters of the side of the bag. It’s easy to get into and use and has a stabilising loop inside on which to hook the handle of the bladder to stop it crumpling up when it is empty. CamelBak’s bladder has been updated this year with a ‘Quick Link’ bite valve which has an improved lock system which can now be operated with one hand whilst riding. The magnetic ‘tube trap’ is a great idea too, ensuring the bite valve can be secured in a hurry.
The Solstice differs from the Skyline in the shape of the shoulder straps and harness. Camelbak says the harness is S-shaped in order to better fit the contours of a woman’s frame. I don’t generally have problems with the fit of smaller hydrations backs but more well-endowed women might find the curved shape of the shoulder straps more secure! The straps of the bag have plenty of adjustment and it’s easy to get the straps positioned in the best place for you.
The Solstice is a comfortable pack which I found to be much more secure than the older version. I found that old pack to slip from side to side somewhat, there is little evidence of this with the new Solstice it sits still on the back, only moving sideways a small amount when it is packed very full and you are riding on technical steep terrain. It’s much improved though, a fact I attribute to the wider waist belt and hip pockets. The low design of the pack ensures it never hits you in the back of the head either. There is also a compression strap inside the waist belt which helps to winch in the pack close to the body. It’s the similar system as seen on the new Camelbak Repack bum bag and it works really well to keep gear still.
The pack isn’t the most ventilated pack I have used, the mesh back panel does allow some air flow but it’s no match for something like the Osprey Raven 10 I tested last year. The breathability won’t be a deal breaker though, the pack has plenty of style and other features that are in its favour. At £115 its similar in terms of cost to its competitors (including the aforementioned Osprey pack) and considering the long life of a CamelBak pack, its good value.
It’s hard to fault the CamelBak Solstice LR10, most updates (aside from the body armour straps) have been successful additions this year, its more secure, the layout works well to allow quick and easy access to gear and the bladder, its super roomy for a 7L pack and you can carry a large amount of water all day in comfort.
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