Gear Box: CamelBak Charge LR Hydration Pack

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For active, outdoor enthusiasts, the hydration pack just might be the greatest invention ever. The ability to conveniently carry our water with us no matter where we go or what activity we’re doing, has made our ability to play and work outside much easier. Over the years, the hydration pack has evolved to the point where they are now lighter, easier to use, and more ergonomically designed to fit our bodies. They’ve even become specialized to the point that there are now hydration packs built for specific sports. Take for example the new Charge LR from CamelBak, a pack that has been built from the ground-up for mountain bikers.

The Charge LR takes a new approach to the hydration pack design by shifting the water bladder onto the lumbar section of your back. This changes the dynamic of where the weight sits and actually results in a much more comfortable fit, particularly when wearing the pack for extended periods of time. In fact, this change is so dramatic, that I would go so far as to say that the Charge might be the most comfortable ultralight hydration pack I’ve ever used. The design works especially well while riding too, never impeding movement or restricting your ability to hit the trails hard.

The lumbar-based design isn’t the only thing that the Charge LR brings to the table for mountain bikers however. The interior storage compartment provides designated spaces for carrying a multi-tool, spare tubes, a cell phone, keys, and other assorted items. There is even enough room for a lightweight jacket, just in case the weather shifts while you’re on your ride. Zippered hip pockets on the belt are a great place to keep energy bars close at hand, while an exterior stretch pocket handles overflow gear with aplomb.

CamelBak went all out on making the Charge easy to adjust and super comfortable to wear as well. The padded belt and shoulder straps carry a full load without missing a beat and the 3D mesh suspension system means that the pack will work well for riders of a variety of sizes. In another nice touch, the pack designers included lumbar compression straps which allow riders to keep the pack snugly in place, even as the water in their hydration bladder  goes down.

With all of those features and design elements combined into this one pack, the question is, how well does it work while mountain biking? Quite honestly, the Charge LR is is even more than the sum of its part and it makes a perfect hydration option. The narrow design of the pack and lumbar based hydration bladder really are a fantastic approach for riders. CamelBak has done a great job of recognizing the needs of mountain bikers, and delivering them a product that fills those needs nicely.

Unfortunately, the Charge LR isn’t available until February, when it will hit stores with an MSRP of $100. Trust me, it’ll be worth the wait.

Kraig Becker