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  1. #1
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    New question here. Camelbak MULE NV Comfort

    I have an issue with my 2013 MULE NV when it's about a liter full. When it's more or less full than that, it feels pretty good on my back. However, when it's at about a liter, it digs into the small of my back/spine.

    Does anyone else have this issue or otherwise know how to address it (adjustments, etc)?

  2. #2
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    I have never felt my Mule digging in to my back. Sometimes depending how much water I have, it can sit funny. In those cases I adjust the shoulder and waist straps on it, then its ok.

    One thing you might want to check... When putting the bladder in the backpack, the fill opening and hose should be away from your back - facing out.

    Other than that, it must be something you are carrying in your pack.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply.

    I do put the bladder in with the the tube facing outward. I will try some strap adjustment next time. I don't think anything I could carry would dig in and then stop as the bladder empties. I am pretty sure it is the bladder itself.

    I am also going to compare the mule against a raptor 14.

  4. #4
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    I was about to buy a Mule NV, but fortunately was able to try it on at the same time as the Raptor 14, even thought the Mule was $40 cheaper due to a sale I went with the Raptor, it is by far the nicest hydration pack I've ever seen. I have only done 3 rides with it, but it is very comfortable and i can't really tell the difference between it being full or empty, much better than the Hydrapak I was using.
    195 lbs-6'4" Banshee Prime XL
    Ride Mammoth, Tahoe & Vegas

    PLEASE GIVE ME NEGATIVE REP!

  5. #5
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    I purchased a Raptor 14 to compare. Hope to try it this weekend.

  6. #6
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    I hope you enjoy yours as much as I enjoy mine! Hopefully you can return the Mule NV???

    The only downside for me on the Raptor is the bladder, I can't figure out why Osprey chose to make their own crappy bladder instead of using a Hydrapak or Platypus bladder. I do like the stiffness of the Osprey bladder though, makes shoving it into a fully loaded pack really simple.
    195 lbs-6'4" Banshee Prime XL
    Ride Mammoth, Tahoe & Vegas

    PLEASE GIVE ME NEGATIVE REP!

  7. #7
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    I've been looking at the Raptor 14 vs the MULE NV to compare. I see some advantages to each.

    The Raptor has that nice clip-in part to carry a second layer ... seems very useful. They both have some nice compartments.

    The MULE has the pods that move the pack away from your back ... but I'm wondering if the last one is taking all the weight when the bladder is nearly empty and that's what I feel digging into my back.

    I'm wondering how I'm going to dry out the Raptor 14 bladder ... I think I'll have to find something to prop it open so it dries properly. The MULE bladder has those arms that sort of hold it open (I don't think they work terribly well).

    I'm going to try one of them out on a ride tomorrow ... Either the MULE with the straps adjusted, or my first ride with the Raptor 14.

  8. #8
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    How'd the ride go?
    195 lbs-6'4" Banshee Prime XL
    Ride Mammoth, Tahoe & Vegas

    PLEASE GIVE ME NEGATIVE REP!

  9. #9
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    The ride went well. I took the Raptor 14.

    I cleaned the bladder and then added a couple of liters using the dispenser in my fridge. The frame on the bladder made this a pita. Conversely, when filling it from a tap, it's really nice. The Camelbak bladder has no frame, so it fits in that little alcove in the fridge for filling. I also found the cap a bit fiddly on the Osprey ... it's like the right side didn't want to catch, so it was cross-threading all the time. No biggie, just have to push level.

    It was easy to insert the bladder into the pack. That is a significant improvement over the MULE. As an aside, I would prefer a bladder like Platypus makes, where you can turn it inside out and put it in the dishwasher ... or just easily drain the damn thing. It's not stiff, but that can be solved with either a hanger, or by putting snap-away struts on the side. These caps in the upper middle (Osprey and Camelbak) are a pain to drain and clean.

    The first time putting on the Raptor 14 with water and my gear, I thought it felt good. I think when I tried it on at the store, the lower portion went all the way to my butt. But it doesn't do that now. Not sure what the difference is. I'm 6'1", so it shouldn't fit big on me. Anyway, no issue here: it fit me well, with the weight distributed along my back and not concentrated in any one place.

    As I went to put the tube on its magnetic holder, I couldn't get the tube to go that far. I don't have a big chest, so this surprised me. I was layered up, but no bulky layers. I tried pulling the tube a bit and that didn't help. I opened up the pack and the tube was routed around the bladder cap. I rerouted it and it was better. But the tube leaves the bladder to the left side. I think I need to route it to the right side for more slack. Nevertheless, without changing that I got the tube to sit on the magnet. Very little slack though. Makes me wonder how this fits people with big chests.

    On the trail the pack felt OK. I think the MULE is more comfortable with about 2L of water in it (I'm going to confirm this on my next ride). I have been filling up with 2L my last several rides. However, the Raptor always felt the same: there was no change as the water level got lower. So maybe not as comfortable all-around, but never bad. It was pretty cool out, but my back was pretty sweaty. I don't think either of the packs do all that well in this regard. I'd like to take the MULE out again and try that.

    The Osprey bite valve works pretty well. I don't think it works quite as well as the Camelbak, but it's good enough certainly. I think because the lack of slack in the tube, I never was able to get the angle of the valve just where I wanted it. No big deal though.

    For me, the standout feature of the Raptor 14 was the Shove-It Pocket. As it warmed up, I took off my Gore jacket and just strung it through that thing, with the ends hanging out the sides, not bothering to stuff it way in. I found that really convenient. I could have taken off another shirt and put it in there too. The MULE has something similar, but it has higher gills at the sides that make it less versatile in my view.

    Both of these packs have just a ton of features, and I'm only using a fraction of all they can do. These both deliver water well. After that, job #1 is comfort. Neither of these is outstanding in that regard for me (yet). I think I need to spend some time doing adjustments and see where I am after that.

  10. #10
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    I've noticed this with my Mule NV as well. Seems like there is always something pushing in my back. Not sure if it's the spare tube, pump or ice cubes that have frozen together.

  11. #11
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    The interesting thing about the MULE NV in this case is it's the pods that are against the back, not the pack itself. So I don't think anything in the pack could directly be poking into my back. However, I do think, when the bladder is at about 1L, most of its weight is on the last pod. I think if there are other items down low in the pack, this can be exacerbated.

    I partially unfolded my spare tube and moved it to one side. This might have improved things slightly for me on my last ride.

    I was also noting that the MULE seems a bit more curved at the lower end. This might contribute to the pressure applied by the last pod. In comparison, the Raptor 14 is curved in the upper-middle of the pack and flat toward the lower end.

  12. #12
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    I wanted to post a follow-up to this in case anyone is interested.

    I've decided to go with the MULE over the Raptor 14. The deciding factors were:

    Bladder

    While the Osprey bladder is more convenient to store in the pack, in every other situation for me (filling from the fridge, draining and cleaning), it's less convenient than the Camelbak bladder.

    Comfort

    I figured out why the MULE was digging into my back. I had the waist strap too tight. I loosened it on my last two rides and the MULE was comfortable the whole time. Pretty silly, but glad I figured it out.

    With that solved, the MULE NV is more comfortable on the trail than the Raptor 14. It stays a bit cooler (but not as cool as I was hoping) and feels lighter on my back.

    The Rest

    There are a few things I liked on the Raptor 14 more than the MULE NV, but they aren't as significant as the previous items. These include:
    • The magnetic attachment for the hose. But I bought the Source clip which solved that. It's even better than the native one on the Raptor 14.
    • The more versatile shove-it pocket, with it's lower gills, which makes it easy to shed a layer.
    • The zippers with their finger loops. Very nice touch.
    • The way the hose is fitted to the shoulder strap with a zipper instead of having to push it though a slot. Great design.


    I never used the tool pouch on the Raptor 14. I guess I don't carry that many tools, so just putting them in pockets is more convenient to me. I don't want to unroll something for my multi-tool. And other than that I just have my tire levers. I'm sure other people make better use of it.

    Also, I think the pockets are a bit better designed on the MULE NV, at least for my purposes. For example, zipped outer pocket, with the clip for keys is much easier to use in the big floppy pocket on the MULE than the vertical pocket on the Raptor 14.

    In the end, these are both really good packs.

  13. #13
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    you guys clean your bladders .... hmmmm never once have I cleaned my bladder... do I have a stomach of steel ??

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    you guys clean your bladders .... hmmmm never once have I cleaned my bladder... do I have a stomach of steel ??
    Haha... Define "clean." I just keep the water I don't drink in it until my next ride and dump that, rinse with warm/hot water, refill, ride, repeat. I don't put anything but water in mine and have never used any type of cleaning agent/soap in it. Smells just fine so I don't sweat it.

    Been using camelbaks/bladders since the 90's and have never had any funk.
    Quote Originally Posted by CannondaleF9 View Post
    You see, I don't have a single brand name in my signature because I know most bike brands and component brands 99%.

  15. #15
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    Have never had any issues with my Mule. Like it.

  16. #16
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    thought I was the only one

    on some rides I get back... and my lower back is burnt from friction

    some rides it doesn't happen. never happened before mule nv was purchased

    holy crap now i need to consider a diff pack

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