Camelbak are equipped with the latest technology and innovative features that make CamelBak a leader in hydration solutions (camelback.com). Sea to Summit are the Australian distributor of their products (http://seatosummitdistribution.com.au/) and they currently have pop-up stores across the country, including one in Chiefly Plaza, Sydney. They were kind enough to hook me up with the Dart backpack and some awesome Podium water bottles too.
Camelbak Dart Features
Reservoir: Antidote® 1.5 L reservoir with 1/4 turn - easy open/close cap, lightweight fillport, low-profile design, patented Big Bite™ Valve, HydroGuard™ technology, PureFlow™ tube, easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening
Pack: Essentials pocket, front and back reflectivity, key clip.
CamelBak® Got Your Bak™ Guarantee: If we built it, we'll Bak it™ with our lifetime guarantee.
Why a hydration backpack?
The main reason I began using a hydration backpack was for my longer runs. This was incorporated into my return journey from work 1 day a week, and due to the duration of these long runs as well as hydration and nutritional needs for a quality run, my keys, phone and wallet also needed to make the journey. Not suitable in anything else other than a pack!
My main criteria in trialling the Dart model was the compact size, hopefully maximising my comfort and the packs usability.
On the run
My usual run from work encompasses 18-35km depending on the training block. For these runs I carry water and start to add gels to my run nutrition after the distance goes beyond 25km. The initial improvements I found with the Dart back pack compared to my previous hydration backpacks were the easily accessible pocket on the left shoulder strap (fits nutrition or phone). No need to stop to take off the pack and get my gel out during the run!
I was very pleased with the single chest strap design. On the other packs I have used thus far I always cut off or tied back the stomach strap. Not only do those straps restrict my movement they put pressure on my stomach which is not too comfortable during a long run. The single chest strap is plenty to keep the pack secure and limit movement for a pack this size and weight. The adjustability of the shoulder straps make it suitable for a tall or small torso athletes as well as being able to position the drink clip any where across the chest strap for desired drink location. The shoulder straps are narrower at the shoulder and wider to provide more stability nearer the abdomen, this fit help to secure the pack when running and also limited chaffing, even when wearing a vest.
The 2 pockets on the front of the pack are long and cleverly designed to sit on top of each other for maximum storage. Plenty of space for my keys, wallet and phone (or extra nutrition if needed). The narrower profile of the pockets kept the movement of my contents to a minimum.
The 2 main downfalls I found with these smaller packs was the 'easy open' bladder can sometimes be hard to open and that the bladder isn't insulated very well. These are not huge problems for my needs, but in hot conditions with the bladder so close to your body, the water can get hot very quickly as a result of your body heat against the pack.
** Anna from Camelbak informed me that with the purchase of an insulation tube and/or the placement of the bladder in the freezer before the run the heating up of the liquid can be reduced. Looking forward to giving this a go. (updated 16.02.15)
Compact size for running (especially for my return commute)
Hydration bladder hard to open
Single chest strap provides comfort
Accessible nutrition pocket
Reflective and safe design
Orientation of the pockets.
I've tried a few different packs since incorporating my runs into my commute and this is without a doubt the most suited pack for my needs.
Compact, colourful, comfortable and appropriate in its design and purpose, if you are after a small bladder pack this is the way to go!