CamelBak Skyline 10LR Hydration Pack: Long Term Review
First Things First
I have never liked cycling with a backpack. The packs I had used previously were not comfortable on long rides (a few hours) and dug into my shoulders. Also, I was never a big fan of the extra-sweaty back situation.
I purchased the CamelBak Skyline 10LR hydration pack one day before leaving for Scotland on a bikepacking trip in the Highlands. This was definitely an impulse buy I won’t be regretting. There were two main reasons why I acquired this hydration pack: 1) I was afraid of running out of water during some of the longer days in the Highlands and 2) I did not have a great way to carry my SLR camera.
CamelBak Skyline 10LR
This hydration pack fits into the lowrider category. The whole concept of a lowrider (LR) is to keep the center of gravity of your bike low. A lower center of gravity helps with stability, especially around corners. Another advantage of a lowrider pack is to have the weight of your load rest more on the lower part of your back and not so much on your shoulders. This makes the bag more comfortable during longer rides and also prevents the bag from “riding up” on steeper descents.
Lowrider packs are all the rave in the mountain biking scene. Why not apply the same concept to bikepacking? So I did.
Just like any other CamelBak pack, the Skyline 10 LR is very well constructed. I have used this pack on several rides over the course of 6 months, and it is still in very good shape. The only complaint in the construction department is that the cross section between the two straps has started to fray a little bit.
The EVA foam panel is soft enough to provide padding but stiff enough to provide some ventilation, raising the pack off your back. The size and shape of the back panel are a nice compromise between comfort and ventilation. The streamlined design reduces overall bulk; a great feature appreciated by cyclists. The pack has reflective details, which are always welcome by bikepackers since extra visibility is never a bad thing. Camelbak also included compression straps that can hold some extra gear on the outside of the pack. It goes without saying that whatever you clip onto these straps will be on the receiving end of the mud and grit flung up by your rear tire.
I’m pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to keep your gear organized inside this pack. I like the fleece-lined pocket for stashing my phone and wallet. This pocket is accessible without having to open the main compartment, making it very convenient to pull out a wallet when stopping to resupply (or making a beer stop at a local bar). The waist belt has two side pockets, one on each side. Depending on the type of riding I’m doing, I’ll use the side pockets to carry extra food (Clif Bars), spare CO2 cartridges, or use the zippered pocket to stash the eTrex 20 GPS when not in use.
Since everyone loves overhead pictures of organized gear. Here is a picture of what I usually carry in my hydration pack. 2-3L of water, tool roll (with a patch kit, nitrile gloves, Ziploc bag, tubeless repair kit), Clif Bar, CO2 cartridge and inflator, rain jacket, mini pump, SLR camera, wallet and keys (not depicted). Not bad for a 7L pack.
The Skyline comes with a 3L (100 fl. oz.) bladder. The bladder is stashed in a separate compartment from your gear. This compartment is only accessible through the back panel of the pack which in theory is supposed to make it easier to refill the bladder. I found it a bit cumbersome to insert the full bladder back into the pack. The hose quick-release attachment makes it easier to disconnect and reconnect the hose to the reservoir but it is still not as easy as I would have hoped. Especially when I’m trying to avoid spilling water all over my gear, which has happened once before.
In order to keep the water distribution inside the bladder even, there are two compression straps meant to cinch the bladder tighter as it deflates. I have to say I found this to be a marketing gimmick. I can’t tell any difference as I pull on these straps. Inside the bladder, there’s a divider that prevents water from sloshing around. The standard wide mouth opening gives full access to the inside of the bladder, making it easy to clean it the reservoir. A snappy magnetic hose clip makes it easy to move the hose out of the way when not in use.
For The Long Haul
So, how does it fair on long days on the saddle? I have to say that after a couple of very long days on rough terrain, the pack did start to bother me. Keep in mind that I used the pack mainly to carry my SLR camera (Canon 5D) that is on the heavy side of the scale as far as SLR cameras go. I made it a habit to drink the water from the pack before getting into my water bottles, this removes the weight off my back sooner during the ride. 1L of water equals 1Kg (2.2 lbs), meaning a full bladder will add 3Kg (6.6 lbs) to your pack.
The Skyline did not “ride up,” not even on steep descents. It does live up to its lowrider moniker. The multitude of pockets and dividers (for its size) kept my gear organized. Stashing sun sleeves in this pack is a lot more convenient than opening one of the bags on a bikepacking rig. The same is true for the food you plan to consume on the go. Once I carried a half-baguette salami sandwich in the outside mesh pocket (wish I had pictures). I can attest that this mesh pocket is surprisingly larger than it looks.
The cross section between the two straps too thin to use as a handle. Here’s me really wishing the pack had a real carrying handle like virtually any other backpack in the world, but this is a small flaw I’m willing to live with.
All-in-all, I dig it!
- Sits low on your back.
- Good number of roomy pockets and dividers for such a small pack.
- Fleece lined pocket for phone/sunglasses.
- Magnetic hose clip.
- Streamlined design/not bulky.
- Waistbelt pockets for easy access without removing the pack.
- Lacks a hanging loop/strap. Hard to carry when not using shoulder straps.
- Awkward to refill bladder.
- Helmet carrying system is not practical.
|BLADDER SIZE||3L/100 fl oz|
|PRICE||$100 - $130|
If it weren’t for my need to carry an SLR camera, I would not have paid attention to this hydration pack. However, the lowrider design and the presence of multiple dividers and pockets are what set this pack apart from the other for me. I’m glad I gave it a try.