Our Review of the Camelbak M.U.L.E. Hydration Backpack

For just about any type of exercise, the brand name Camelbak is synonymous with hydration packs. Mountain biking is no exception. The Camelbak MULE is as tried-and-true as any hydration pack on the market, despite the fact that some designs come and go. It was one of the first hydration packs on the market, and it's still one of the most popular. It was also among the first mountain bike hydration packs to be adopted.

A Well Designed Backpack for Long Distance Rides

The Camelbak MULE's storage compartments are divided into three distinct sections. On the face of the bag is a smaller pocket that is for times when you need your phone in a hurry. Looking at the top portion of the MULE, there is a tiny section for other types of gadgets that is waterproof and is secured by a zipper. This spot is perfect for anyone who wishes to utilize a phone along with wired headphones. The exterior has small leather trim, as well as a smaller patch of plastic on each side. The bottom of the bag is designed with four D-rings for attaching accessories. Inside, there are two sections divided by a zipper in the shape of a U that makes it simple to get things in and out.

This bag's name, as well as its description, informs us that it can contain water up to 100 oz. The Crux reservoir's handle and the big mouth make filling it a breeze. The bladder is hung in a separate compartment to minimize bunching. You can fit about three liters in the reservoir, which is only about a quarter of the pack's full size.  The mouthpiece (which Camelbak calls the "Big Bite") is very efficient and has never made me feel like I needed to work hard to take a drink. The locking function also keeps water from leaking out.

A Comfortable Pack

The MULE's design is well-tested and solid, although it isn't particularly innovative. The pack's minimal design and form, combined with its molded foam back panel, allow you to cinch it close against you, which is crucial if you are on a rough ride where you don't want the pack bouncing and swaying around behind you. The MULE's straps have been engineered to be simple to cinch up and release, so you may tighten them on the run as your fit grows looser with more water consumption. I rode my bike for a few hours in the scorching sun over fields and trails, and I was at ease with the MULe on my back, with less sweat dripping down me than in past excursions with similar backpacks. The straps, on the other hand, do not have the greatest padding. The harness, like its predecessors, is extremely functional. It's made of the same material as the packed bag and is packed with pockets for storage. They are padded well enough to protect your back while you're carrying a lot of weight in them, but some people may want more cushioning in their hydration pack.

The Camelbak MULE's ventilation, while not as good as other bicycle hydration packs we tested, is superior to previous versions. The rear panel is made up of CamelBak's system that is called Air Direct, comprised of mesh fabric draped over elevated ridges made of foam.

The M.U.L.E. is Easy to Clean

It is not difficult to clean, but cleaning the hydration bladder takes longer. The zipper access is simple, but you must dig into the bottom of the bladder compartment to find the fast-release button that controls the drinking hose. We were able to get good (but not necessarily simple) access to the interior after removing the bladder. Water and detergent may cause problems, particularly with older models. However, all of these bladders can be cleaned without difficulty if you follow the proper methods best results. They're also simpler to clean because they have a full opening capacity. When compared with wider-mouth designs, the Crux bladder provides adequate but not exceptional access.

Keeps Hydration the Primary Focus

There are many items of the MULE that set it apart as a hydration pack. If you compare other normal water bottles you may use for exercise, the MULE can hold up to three of those in its bladder. — enough for any person's full day, so long as you're not planning on racing your whole ride. The bladder is held in place by a storage pouch that features stints that are built-in, such as rigid plastic pieces, separating the pack and the bladder and making it simple to remove and replace.

Camelbak's Magnetic Tube Trap is a great way to keep your hose in place while exercising rapidly. Additionally, the CRUX reservoir's mouthpiece has been updated to provide greater assurance in preventing water drip.

A Minor Con of the M.U.L.E.

For hikers and bikers that want a quick-access pocket for their phone (or any other gadget), this bag is poor. While the primary exterior shove pocket is fantastic and expandable, it's still a little too far for me to reach anything without unlatching the straps. In the end, it's not a huge issue, but you may need to grab your phone to capture a video of animals in action at times. The aforementioned hip belt pockets, if they were big enough for today's bulkier phones, would also assist with this!


The Camelbak M.U.L.E is a fantastic bag for carrying a lot of gear and fluid while remaining small. It's strong, safe, and well-planned. The Camelbak M.U.L.E. is a robust, reliable design that will not let you down if you're riding long distances to the middle of nowhere with gear to cover a wide variety of possibilities.

Theis a small-framed pack that has been designed with mountain biking in mind, yet it would make an excellent companion for any trip outdoors for those who wish to go light but still be prepared for anything. The cost of top-quality equipment might seem to be prohibitive, but the MULE will serve you well as a single pack that can fulfill whatever your plans are outdoors because it is so versatile and adaptable.

About the author

Paul Stitt

Paul's greatest passion in life is to ride through forests and anywhere else his bike will take him on adventure. His second highest enjoyment is to talk about that passion with anyone who will listen.

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