CamelBak H.A.W.G. LR 20: At First Glance

About a month ago I picked up the all new CamelBak H.A.W.G LR 20 to help me prepare for some of the longer mountain bike trips I have planned for this year. Here are my first impressions of it.

Quick Facts:

Price: ~$220 CAD

The Pros

The Cons

The Verdict:

Buy If:
You’re looking for a pack big enough for long adventures, but just as comfortable as a small pack.

Skip If:
You only need a small pack. There are many other packs in CamelBak’s range that can fit your needs. Although this can pack down fairly small, it is definitely overkill!

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The Features

  • A 3.0L Low Rider (LR) reservoir that sits low in the pack to keep your centre of weight nice and low.
    • The reservoir also has a quick link system that allows you to remove it without having to awkwardly pull the hose back through the whole pack.
  • A dedicated soft pocket to protect your cell phone or sunglasses
  • A segmented pocket with a tool roll to help keep your tools, food and first aid organised.
  • A rain cover to help keep your pack dry on rainy rides.
  • Airfoil back padding to help keep your back cool during long days in the saddle.
  • Hip straps with small pockets to help keep the weight off your shoulders and hide your favourite snacks in.

The Pros

The Weight

While a 20-litre pack seems like it would be quite the beast to lug around, the H.A.W.G. is surprisingly light once strapped in place. The hip straps are properly placed and padded to help keep the majority of the weight off of your shoulders and to help lock the pack in place over rowdy terrain.

Secure

As mentioned above, the hip straps, in combination with the chest strap,  do a phenomenal job of keep the bag perfectly in place over just about any terrain. The straps on the back of the bag are just as helpful, allowing you tighten the bag down so it is only as big as it needs to be.

So many pockets

There are six total separate pockets on this bag, plus multiple dividers to help you stay organised on your rides. The reservoir is located in its own pocket, complete with bands to help keep the hose organised and headed for whichever shoulder you like it on. Next, there is a large pocket that is perfect for storing your rain gear or outer layer in. The middle pocket is my favourite. It features two elasticized smaller pockets and a zippered pocket. I’m currently carrying my first aid kit, snacks, and tools all in separate pockets. Finally, there is a soft pocket at the top to protect your sunglasses.

The best part about all of these pockets is they zip nearly all the way down the bag, allowing you to easily access everything – even the stuff buried at the bottom.

Low Rider Reservoir

I was worried that carrying three litres of water sloshing around on my back would affect my riding, but thanks to the new LR reservoir that isn’t the case. Instead of using the standard long reservoir that runs the length of your back, Camelbak has made a short, wide reservoir that sits right in the middle of your lower back. This change helps keep your centre of gravity low and keeps the weight off of your shoulders.

The reservoir also has a Quicklink system that allows you to connect/disconnect the hose from the reservoir quickly (and without spilling) so you can fill the reservoir without having to re-thread the hose through your pack.

The Little Details

I’ve been using Camelbak products since shortly after I started biking (15 years ago). What sets this bag apart from the rest is the absolute attention to detail that went into the design. From the magnetic hose trap to the small velcro tabs sewn into the ends of straps to keep them tidy, every little detail has been thought of to make this pack as easy to use as possible.

The Cons

Size

There’s no getting around how big this pack actually is. The pack is perfect if you’re looking for a bigger workhorse pack for those long days on the trail. However, if you just need something to carry some water and essentials, there are packs that will fit your needs much better. Check out something like the Camelbak Rogue.

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