Tired of swallowing a bunch of dirt every time you take a sip from your CamelBak Podium bottle? It seems you’re not alone as Camelbak has just introduced a new version of the Podium, the Podium Dirt Series. With a name like that, the bottles are relatively self explanatory, but there’s a new silicone nozzle cap that should keep your water free and clear no matter what the conditions. Plus, CamelBak has a ton of new pack options for anything from enduro with CE2 level protection to a new Chase vest that should make the roadie/gravel crowd pretty happy…
Demonstrated with an actual bottle used on rides out on the very dusty trails of Deer Valley Resort in Park City, there’s no question that the Dirt Series caps kept the Podium bottles cleaner at the end of the day. This can be very useful in wet and muddy conditions, but also in very dusty conditions – especially if you’re using the bottle for sticky sports drinks. The cover is a simple silicone design with a keeper allowing the cap to easily pop off yet not get lost. CamelBak says the cover will also be available as an accessory for other Podium bottles in January.
Offered in two models, both are actually the same volume of 21oz. The difference is that the larger bottle is insulated which takes up quite a bit of room. If you have the room for it, the insulated bottle is nice, but the stubby 21oz bottle allows you to get a good amount of water into small frames or those constricted by rear shock placement. Pricing will be $11 or $15 for standard or insulated when available.
Hip or fanny packs remain a popular option thanks to their low slung weight and the removal of a pack from your shoulders. However, there has been quite a bit of room for improvement in the hip packs from a number of companies including CamelBak. Fortunately, their new Repack seems to address all of those issues and turns out to a be a fantastic design.
Loaded with a 1.5L Crux reservoir with a lockable bite valve, the bladder does not feature a quick release for the hose at the reservoir. In total, the Repack offers 4L of total storage – 2.5L of pockets with 1.5L of water. Or, if you remove the bladder, you get the full 4L of storage. I was actually able to fit a pair of POC knee pads inside the pack with the full 1.5 liters of water, a small pump, multi-tool, and snacks.
For me, the biggest improvement of the Repack comes in the form of the strap system. Regardless of brand, before the Repack I had not found a hip pack that didn’t loosen up over the ride, needing constant adjustment. Now, the Repack has the adjustment buckle facing the opposite direction with a sort of ‘Z’ pattern which works really well for keeping the desired tension on the straps. The straps are also now fitted directly to the back of the pack which compresses the bladder and the whole bag without the additional compression straps that were used on the CamelBak Palos. Once available, the Repack will be replacing the Palos completely.
In addition to the main storage compartment with a slot for the bladder and a separate slot for storage, there are two large pockets on the wings of the bag and a revised tool roll in the center. The left wing has a large zippered pocket, while the right has an overlapped flap, both of which are good for storing snacks and things you want to have easy access too. The zippered pocket on the left wasn’t quite big enough to fit my iPhone 6 with a Lifeproof battery case, but it would fit in the main pockets of the bag. The tool roll features a velcro panel and two horizontal zippers which opens up to a zippered mesh pocket and two elastic pouches for additional storage. All of the pockets feature bright interiors to make it easier to see what’s inside.
The wings also have three positions each for the hydration tube holder, so you can choose to run it out the left or right, and fine tune the location for the magnetic clip. When available, the Repack will sell for $75.
Action camera usage seems to be as popular as ever, but strapping a solid object to your chest can have serious implications in a crash. Because of that, CamelBak has designed a new Sternum Protector which should keep your GoPro from breaking your sternum if you happen to land on it. Using a CE1621-3 level protection plate, the system uses a four point harness which can be used alone, or you can run the sternum strap on your CamelBack through it for even more stability. CamelBak says it actually improves the footage since it offers a more stable mount for the camera compared to other, smaller chest mounts. The Sternum Protector will run $100 when available.
For rear protection, CamelBak has updated the KUDU 10 and 20 with a new zip-away design which allows you to run just the CE2 rated back protector for light or race days, and the full 10 or 20 liter pack on bigger days. Using a full circumferential zipper and a safety snap, the main pack with the bladder zips away from the back protector leaving you just the protection and two rear pockets plus the pockets on the waist belt. Since there is no bladder, the rear pockets can be used to stow the CamelBak soft flasks, bottles, etc.
Elsewhere, the pack features updated straps with a new, more supportive kidney wrap waist belt, and perforated shoulder straps with double sternum straps. Offered with sized protection panels, the KUDUs are sold in SM/MD or MD/LG packs with appropriately sized protection. Pricing will run $200/$230 for the KUDU 10/20, which is also a reduction from the previous model.
CamelBak’s protection panels as a whole have also been improved with a new six layer CE2 rated design which is far more flexible to contour to your body. They’re also perforated to allow airflow through the layers of the pack.
The TORO 8 and 14 are sort of the KUDU light with the same level of protection, but smaller protection panels which are still CE2 rated. The packs also lose the zip off design, rain cover, and kidney wrap waist belt of the KUDU, but see a lower $160/$180 price as a result.
Lastly, CamelBak has a new vest which is specifically designed for cyclists. After seeing a number of cyclists riding with running vests which are really only designed for running, CamelBak started to devise a cycling specific vest with the help of athletes like Yuri Hauswald. Seemingly perfect for long distance events like the Dirty Kanza, or particularly hot days on the road, the Chase bike vest offers room for a 1.5L Cruz reservoir plus additional storage on the front for a CamelBak soft flask. Made from super breathable mesh on the parts that come in contact with your body, the exterior features a more durable material than their run vests to hold up to snags from branches or the occasional crash.
The design also sits high enough on your back that you can still use the three pockets on your jersey underneath if the vest’s pockets aren’t enough. The vest lacks a waist belt, but it does feature a dual sternum strap to keep things tight. Price TBA.