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  1. #1
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    New lightweight Camelbak Charge LR--first look...

    I've been looking for one of these since they were announced since they sound like a great solution to a real "minimal" hydration pack for shorter rides. They aren't supposed to be released until after the 1st of 2012, but I happened across a dealer who had a salesman's sample for sale and bought it--after I confirmed that it was mfg'd to the final specs of the production model, had the Antidote reservoir, etc.

    It arrived today and I really like the look and feel of it. Too late to take on a ride today, but will do so soon.

    It's EXTREMELY light and has plenty of room for a couple extra tubes, pump, levers, multi-tool and more. Nice side pockets too. Feels great on my back. Here are some pix for anyone who's interested in these.

    Standard disclaimer--no connection with Camelbak at all.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails New lightweight Camelbak Charge LR--first look...-charge-ultra-light-custom-.jpg  

    New lightweight Camelbak Charge LR--first look...-front-2-custom-.jpg  

    New lightweight Camelbak Charge LR--first look...-open-compts-custom-.jpg  

    New lightweight Camelbak Charge LR--first look...-reservoir-custom-.jpg  

    New lightweight Camelbak Charge LR--first look...-img_0840-custom-.jpg  

    The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you'll crash. ~Julie Furtado

  2. #2
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    Seems to be pretty nice. I like the lower center of gravity, and the Infantry blue coloration. The only thing I don't care for is the notches in the bladder. Might just make it a little more difficult to keep clean. Guess they did that to allow for it to bend around the wearer...

  3. #3
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    What size is the bladder? I like the look of it, and especially the quick release fitting at the bladder end. I get bored of rethreading the tubes on my current packs when I want to do a quick rinse and clean.
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  4. #4
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    I've been using the Octane LR this season and I've been quite happy with it. But this version seems to step thing up. It's on my list for next year (or whenever the become available!).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by iron29er View Post
    Seems to be pretty nice. I like the lower center of gravity, and the Infantry blue coloration. The only thing I don't care for is the notches in the bladder. Might just make it a little more difficult to keep clean. Guess they did that to allow for it to bend around the wearer...
    I agree on the cleaning/drying. It wants to collapse when empty and no air gets in. It has the same attachment points for the plastic arms that hold the "regular" Antidote reservoir open for air-drying, but they don't do anything helpful in the horizontal version. Have to hand-dry, or figure out a way to prop it open.

    Quote Originally Posted by rockerc View Post
    What size is the bladder? I like the look of it, and especially the quick release fitting at the bladder end. I get bored of rethreading the tubes on my current packs when I want to do a quick rinse and clean.
    70 oz./2 liters. I really like the quick-disconnect too. I had an Osprey pack with their reservoir, which I actually like better--has a stiff, curved back that fits better, but the quick disconnect is really handy.

    Quote Originally Posted by in the trees View Post
    I've been using the Octane LR this season and I've been quite happy with it. But this version seems to step thing up. It's on my list for next year (or whenever the become available!).
    I would have purchased the Octane LR--it's really light and nice, but then I read some announcements about this one being in the production line and decided to wait. It's a little bit heavier than the Octane, but not much and it's better padded and has more storage space. I'm stoked that I ran across the "salesman's sample" and that it seems to be a full production model.

    Still no rides...;-) Tomorrow? I'm curious about how the water reservoir is going to feel down low.
    The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you'll crash. ~Julie Furtado

  6. #6
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    What price did you pay for this sales-sample pack?

    What is the expected MSRP for this pack?


    Those reservoir "water wings" appear likely to retain water and not feed the flow tube when riding a road bike or a mountain bike - especially when in the attack position.

    Is there a cinch-system you must manually employ to aid water flow from the "water wings"?

    The waist straps appear uncomfortably narrow for the load/weight they are intended to support.

    The hip pockets useful storage space appears limited, if not hindered, by the water volume contained in the "water wings".

    This pack appears more suited for upright use such as walking or running. The pack's limited cargo carrying capacity makes it an inferior choice for hiking.


    In comparison to the many superior and quality pack manufacturers in the market place, Camelbak again fails to impress.





  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Porschefan View Post
    I agree on the cleaning/drying. It wants to collapse when empty and no air gets in.
    I always blow air into the bladder before I try to fill it or deal with it out of the pack. That makes things a lot easier. The baffles on the Antidote bladder absolutely helps the bladder keep it's shape after you blow it up vs the old Camelbak bladders.

  8. #8
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    Once you get a couple on rides in, update us and let us know how the internal bladder compression strap works as well.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bambi19 View Post
    What price did you pay for this sales-sample pack?

    What is the expected MSRP for this pack?


    Those reservoir "water wings" appear likely to retain water and not feed the flow tube when riding a road bike or a mountain bike - especially when in the attack position.

    Is there a cinch-system you must manually employ to aid water flow from the "water wings"?

    The waist straps appear uncomfortably narrow for the load/weight they are intended to support.

    The hip pockets useful storage space appears limited, if not hindered, by the water volume contained in the "water wings".

    This pack appears more suited for upright use such as walking or running. The pack's limited cargo carrying capacity makes it an inferior choice for hiking.


    In comparison to the many superior and quality pack manufacturers in the market place, Camelbak again fails to impress.





    How can you even begin to make a judgement on something you've never even used? Just by looking at it?

  10. #10
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    That is nice...Looks alot like my Camelbak Octane. I like the separate compartments in your Charge.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockerc View Post
    I get bored of rethreading the tubes on my current packs when I want to do a quick rinse and clean.
    Oops, I have a reading comprehension problem.
    Mountain Biking Is Not A Crime stickers, free! (You pay postage. PM me for details.)

  12. #12
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    Update after first ride....

    I went for a short ride yesterday. Camelbak performed fine. Me, not so much--endo'd and planted my face on a downhill. I think I cracked a rib also--sure hurts today.

    The Charge LR worked out well. It wasn't a long ride and I didn't come close to running the reservoir to the point where the water level might fall below the pickup point for the tube.

    There IS a compression strap that looks like it's meant to cinch down the bladder if it starts getting empty, so I'll see how that works out on a longer ride.

    The pluses: it is VERY light, small and feels good on the back. No leaks. I think it is great for what it is--a lightweight minimal pack for 1-2 hour rides. Construction quality seems to be first class. So far, so good.
    The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you'll crash. ~Julie Furtado

  13. #13
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    Looks nice, but I will stick to my Osprey raptor 14 that is awesome.
    WARNING : Do not ride your bicycle until you have read and thoroughly understood the owners manual.

  14. #14
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    I don't think there would be a problem with getting the last drops of water out when it runs low even if you're in an "attack" posture on a bike, as long as you don't have any air bubbles in the bladder to begin with. As long as there is no air in the bladder, it will automatically cinch itself as you drink. As you run low, it'll get harder to suck the water out but it shouldn't be impossible. To illustrate my point, take a regular Camelbak bladder and turn it upside down so that the drain is at the top. Then try to drink out of it.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by C.M.S View Post
    Looks nice, but I will stick to my Osprey raptor 14 that is awesome.
    Osprey makes excellent products.

  16. #16
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    Thanks for posting your impressions Porshefan. I have been using the same old Mule since ~2005 and, other than being covered in dust and salt stains, it really looks the same. There does seem to be a significant suction-effect when I empty any of the bladders I have had in the mule, it makes me think the perforations along the bottom won't pose a problem. If it holds up for you, I would love to get one of these!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by C.M.S View Post
    Looks nice, but I will stick to my Osprey raptor 14 that is awesome.
    I really like Osprey packs too. I thought I might find one pack that would be good for both biking and hiking and along the way I tried, and liked, the Osprey Manta 25 and Manta 30. I ended up with an Osprey Stratos 36 for hiking and I really like it. It's super comfortable and can easily handle day hikes and probably even an overnighter. I had come to the conclusion that I really needed different packs for the different activities. That said, I have taken the Osprey Stratos on a bike rides and it is surprisingly very, very comfortable also. It's kind of bulky, but when cinched down, it works well on the bike, mainly because it's so damn comfortable. The Raptor looks like a really nice pack too.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bambi19 View Post
    Osprey makes excellent products.
    Bambi19--see above and the original thread HERE where this "search" started.

    I don't totally agree with your comments about the Camelbak in this thread though. I think in many respects, and CERTAINLY in hiking packs, Osprey is a higher-quality product than Camelbak. But this is just a super-light, lumbar reservoir pack aimed directly at biking. I think it fits that bill nicely, and I am so far impressed by the overall quality.

    To answer your question on price: the MSRP on this is going to be $100, so it will probably sell in the $80-90 range, which is what I paid for the sample. I think ALL these packs are "overpriced" including the Ospreys--but that's just me being a cheapskate.

    Quote Originally Posted by primefocus View Post
    Thanks for posting your impressions Porschefan. I have been using the same old Mule since ~2005 and, other than being covered in dust and salt stains, it really looks the same. There does seem to be a significant suction-effect when I empty any of the bladders I have had in the mule, it makes me think the perforations along the bottom won't pose a problem. If it holds up for you, I would love to get one of these!
    Thanks! I'll post updates if I run across any problems with the pack. It looks to be about as sturdy as a lightweight can be. This pack is really the Octane LR concept expanded with some mountain biking features--more room, more padding. I THINK it's main appeal will be the lumbar reservoir concept--keeping as much weight as possible off the back and lowering one's center of gravity . How well that works out will probably determine its success.
    Last edited by Porschefan; 09-29-2011 at 05:36 PM.
    The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you'll crash. ~Julie Furtado

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Porschefan View Post
    ...

    I don't totally agree with your comments about the Camelbak in this thread though. I think in many respects, and CERTAINLY in hiking packs, Osprey is a higher-quality product than Camelbak. But this is just a super-light, lumbar reservoir pack aimed directly at biking. I think it fits that bill nicely, and I am so far impressed by the overall quality.

    To answer your question on price: the MSRP on this is going to be $100, so it will probably sell in the $80-90 range, which is what I paid for the sample. I think ALL these packs are "overpriced" including the Ospreys--but that's just me being a cheapskate.

    ...

    Regarding the Lumbar Reservoir (LR) hydration system from CamelBak, CamelBak states the following:

    This Lumbar Reservoir (LR) hydration system keeps water secure and amazingly stable for trail running and adventure races.

    The suggestion is that CamelBak's with the Lumbar Reservoir hydration are better suited for upright activities.


    Riding, pumping, and flowing on a mountain bike is not an upright activity. Especially when riding in the downhill or attack position.

    However, riding my Electra Townie along the beach is an upright activity - one where a pack with a Lumbar Reservoir would likely not present any difficulties.


    When using CamelBaks current website search function to narrow down their product list to packs recommended for biking and mountain biking - 21 CamelBak packs are recommended and none of the recommended pack feature the Lumbar Reservoir (LR) hydration system.

    CamelBak Link: CamelBak® - Packs


    It's common knowledge that water flows to, and collects at, a container's lowest point.

    Previously posted suggestions that when the reservoir water level is low and has settled in the water wings, and when actively riding a mountain bike, a rider can suck on his mouthpiece and draw water which will flow from the reservoir's low point water wings, against gravity, through an empty air space, to the water pick-up point to easily feed the rider is implausible.


    The existence of a compression cinch strap indicates consistent water flow be an area of concern, especially with activities which require a more aggressive body posture and action.

    The manual operation of compression cinch strap requires the user to actively employ extra physical measures to hydrate and ensure water flow; for a cyclist with two hands controlling his bike, this requirement would be both a nuisance and unsatisfactory.


    A nice $100 pack and hydration this may be, but this Lumbar Reservoir pack is one better suited for walking, running, or riding an upright comfort bike - not active mountain biking - again, per CamelBaks current recommendations.

    Especially when superior products exists for the very same purpose, price point, and are designed specifically for mountain biking....or if you prefer CamelBak, choose one of their 21 other models, none of which features the Lumbar Reservoir hydration system.

    Please understand that this is not a belittling of your purchase; rather, it is a fair and objective look at whether this $100 pack, with it's Lumbar Reservoir and water bladder cinch strap, is best suited for mountain biking when superior choices exist.


    For those who disagree with this opinion, simply disregard. The money you choose to spend is your own.

    Spend your $100 on a Lumbar Reservoir pack, fill it with water, go riding, yank/adjust the bladder cinch compression strap as the water level drops (if equipped), hydrate, ride, and enjoy.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bambi19 View Post
    Regarding the Lumbar Reservoir (LR) hydration system from CamelBak, CamelBak states the following:

    This Lumbar Reservoir (LR) hydration system keeps water secure and amazingly stable for trail running and adventure races.

    The suggestion is that CamelBak's with the Lumbar Reservoir hydration are better suited for upright activities.


    Riding, pumping, and flowing on a mountain bike is not an upright activity. Especially when riding in the downhill or attack position.

    However, riding my Electra Townie along the beach is an upright activity - one where a pack with a Lumbar Reservoir would likely not present any difficulties.


    When using CamelBaks current website search function to narrow down their product list to packs recommended for biking and mountain biking - 21 CamelBak packs are recommended and none of the recommended pack feature the Lumbar Reservoir (LR) hydration system.

    CamelBak Link: CamelBak® - Packs

    .
    The only thing I would point out here is that this pack is NOT yet released and therefore not mentioned on the website. All the Camelbak LR packs to date have been developed for the trail-running market. The Charge was developed specifically for the mountain biking market and addressed bikers requests for an Octane-like pack with more padding and more storage.

    I'm sure that when the pack gets wide release it will succeed or not based, at least somewhat (after all, there is "marketing" involved too) on its merits.

    If I run into any problems or flaws, I'll be sure to post them here too. I'm not a Camelbak stockholder, or even a big fan, but I like this pack and I like their Antidote reservoir system too.
    The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you'll crash. ~Julie Furtado

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bambi19 View Post
    Regarding the Lumbar Reservoir (LR) hydration system from CamelBak, CamelBak states the following:

    ......
    Previously posted suggestions that when the reservoir water level is low and has settled in the water wings, and when actively riding a mountain bike, a rider can suck on his mouthpiece and draw water which will flow from the reservoir's low point water wings, against gravity, through an empty air space, to the water pick-up point to easily feed the rider is implausible.

    ........
    How is it implausible? As I explained in my post, you can test it for yourself: take a normal camelbak bladder, flip it upside down so that the drain is at the top (and therefore all the water is below the level of the drain), and try to take a sip. You'll be able to continue drinking until the bladder is within teaspoons of being empty.

    This works because the bladder is collapsible. You're utilizing the atmosphere's air pressure to counteract gravity. Naturally if the bladder were rigid you wouldn't be able to drink anything below the level of the drain.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Porschefan View Post
    The only thing I would point out here is that this pack is NOT yet released and therefore not mentioned on the website. All the Camelbak LR packs to date have been developed for the trail-running market. The Charge was developed specifically for the mountain biking market and addressed bikers requests for an Octane-like pack with more padding and more storage.

    I'm sure that when the pack gets wide release it will succeed or not based, at least somewhat (after all, there is "marketing" involved too) on its merits.

    If I run into any problems or flaws, I'll be sure to post them here too. I'm not a Camelbak stockholder, or even a big fan, but I like this pack and I like their Antidote reservoir system too.
    The focus and area of concern for mountain bike use is the Lumbar Reservoir (LR) for use in other than upright pedestrian positions such as running and walking.

    What is the difference between the current Octane LR and the Charge LR?

    From what I've read, the Charge LR is simply a modified Octane LR pack with the same Lumbar Reservoir bladder and which adds a padded back panels for comfort, a top mounted drinking hose, an increased cargo capacity, and cinch straps to adjust pressure on the water bladder.

    Add to these slight changes a higher unit price and CamelBak marketing and you've got the CamelBak Charge LR in exchange for approximately $100.


    There's no doubt that the Lumbar Reservoir works for upright pedestrian positions, but there are user reviews where users have complained about the problem of not being able to obtain water which has settled, and remains, in the side Lumbar Reservoir water wings.

    This is likely why the bladder cinch straps are needed for mountain bike use and must be employed to consistently hydrate. Otherwise you'll end up riding with a set of trapped water pouches on each hip.

    Such an unneccessary nuisance.


    Again, the Lumbar Reservoir remains unchanged, the basic design of the pack slightly modified from the Octane LR, the unit priced increased.

    Add CamelBack marketing and you now have the CamelBak Charge LR for mountain bike use.

    Not the best choice on the market, but soon available for purchase.


    If someone truly must have a CamelBak product, any of the other 21 CamelBak mountain bike products would be a superior choice for mountain biking over a pack with the Lumbar Reservoir (LR)

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneTimeCRX View Post
    How is it implausible? As I explained in my post, you can test it for yourself: take a normal camelbak bladder, flip it upside down so that the drain is at the top (and therefore all the water is below the level of the drain), and try to take a sip. You'll be able to continue drinking until the bladder is within teaspoons of being empty.

    This works because the bladder is collapsible. You're utilizing the atmosphere's air pressure to counteract gravity. Naturally if the bladder were rigid you wouldn't be able to drink anything below the level of the drain.
    If you are able to flip a water hydration pack upside down, in the manner that you've described, against gravity, and successfully suck all of the water out (beyond what originally remained in the flow tube) - then you are much better at sucking water than I could ever be.

    You win. You may purchase a Lumbar Reservoir for aggressive mountain bike use, with complete confidence.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bambi19 View Post
    If you are able to flip a water hydration pack upside down, in the manner that you've described, against gravity, and successfully suck all of the water out (beyond what originally remained in the flow tube) - then you are much better at sucking water than I could ever be.

    You win. You may purchase a Lumbar Reservoir for aggressive mountain bike use, with complete confidence.
    Try to keep an open mind and just give it a try. It's not impossible or even difficult to drink water out of a bladder that's upside down, as long as it's a collapsible bladder.

    That said, please don't mistakenly think that I'm trying to advocate the design of the Camelbak Charge LR as being a wonderful thing. Only time will tell if this product actually works well overall.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneTimeCRX View Post
    Try to keep an open mind and just give it a try. It's not impossible or even difficult to drink water out of a bladder that's upside down, as long as it's a collapsible bladder.

    That said, please don't mistakenly think that I'm trying to advocate the design of the Camelbak Charge LR as being a wonderful thing. Only time will tell if this product actually works well overall.
    Couldn't do it.

    With the hydration bladder flipped upside down, the water pickup at the top (superior position) and the water on the bottom (inferior position), and nearly all air removed (by suction) from the hydration bladder, the attempt to obtain water from the hydration mouthpiece was unsuccessful.

    Gravity won.

    It is no different that trying to drink juice from a bottle or flexible squeeze-pak with a straw that is not immersed into the juice.


    Understand now that you're not advocating that the design of Charger Lumbar Reservoir (LR) is wonderful for mountain biking, as it clearly does not perform as well as a standard hydration bladder.

    User reviews of the similar Octane Lumbar Reservoir (LR) have also identified the inability to draw water at times without special attention in certain positions.

    Who wants to pay more and then have to fiddle with bladder cinch straps designed to apply pressure on a hydration bladder so they can hydrate when they're out riding?


    If someone must buy CamelBak, wants an Antidote hydration bladder with Quick Link (conventional bladder design), and wants a small lightweight design - then CamelBak has other packs at lower price points to better meet their needs.

    In addition to what competing pack manufacturers offer.


    THE VERDICT:

    > $100 CamelBak Charge LR for mountain biking use= PASS, Better choices exist.....even from CamelBak

    > $100 CamelBak Charge LR for pedestrian upright use (walking or running)= OK

  25. #25
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    Looks great! If it really does take the weight off your back, I'll need to get one next season. I get terrible back pain when I ride with a full normal Camelbak that I don't get when I ride with bottles instead.
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