CamelBak Charge Backpack

CamelBak Charge, Blister Gear ReviewCamelBack Charge

Size: One Size (Torso Length: 16.5 in / 42 cm)

Volume: 701 cu. in.  / 11.5 L

Weight: 16 oz. / 460 g

Dimensions (H x W x D):
19 x 8 x 9 in.
48 x 20 x 23 cm


  • Includes the new 100 oz (3 L) Antidote reservoir with Quick Link™ System
  • 1/4 turn – easy open/close cap
  • lightweight fillport
  • dryer arms
  • center baffling and low-profile design
  • patented Big Bite™ Valve
  • HydroGuard™ technology
  • PureFlow™ tube
  • easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening.

Days Used: 15

Test Location: Phoenix, Arizona (aka the surface of the sun)

MSRP: $115

Since 1999, I have had dozens of bikes, both mountain and road. My collection of old suspension forks would make any bike collector proud. (Remember the double clamp SID, anyone?) I have gone through dozens of helmets, shoes, and chamois. I have worn out hundreds of tires. But in that time I had the same CamelBak H.A.W.G.

I tried other packs, but they always seemed to let me down in some form or another. There are plenty of good packs out there, but many of them seem to fail my Goldilocks test: none of them have been “just right.” And, to be honest, I always seem to find an excuse to spend that $100-plus on bike upgrades rather than a new pack. But after a long search to find one that is lighter, has more features, and is more functional, I have finally found my new pack: The CamelBak Charge.

The Charge is designed for long-haul riding, with 701 cubic inches of storage space and a 100-ounce bladder. Its key selling feature, though, is its light weight. Compared to the M.U.L.E. (CamelBak’s original pack designed for 3-hour-plus bike rides), the Charge has almost 30 more cubic inches of storage space and is a whopping 3/4 of a pound lighter. While I’m not overly obsessed with weight (I could stand to lose 10 pounds myself), lighter is better in my book, especially when performance isn’t compromised.

The size of the pack is perfect for me and, I would suppose, the majority of mountain bikers out there. It is big enough to easily hold a couple of spare tubes, hand pump, shock pump, snacks, keys, phone or camera, extra layer, and a PBR, with room to spare. And with dual zippers on both the front and main compartments, everything is easy to get to. Velcro tabs in the smaller front compartment keep everything in its place and organized, a big plus when you don’t want to dig around trying to find your multi-tool.

The fleece-lined pocket at the top of the Charge is a nice touch, too, keeping your phone handy in a scratch-free cocoon. The waist belt also has pockets for additional storage, though I wouldn’t keep anything valuable here, as they are not zippered.

The pack has four compression straps to keep your gear snug while going down the trail. The Charge doesn’t flop around at all, even when charging my favorite backyard trail, National, which has lots of drops and steeps that would expose fit and function deficiencies of any pack. The upper compression straps have minimalist buckles that can be used to hold a helmet or, in a pinch, pads. That being said, this is probably not the best pack if you tend to carry a full face or pads on all your rides.

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