During Outdoor Retailer in January, I posted about CamelBak's new backcountry hydration backpack– the Roulette for women and the Pit Boss for men. After the show, CamelBak was nice enough to send me the women's version to try out. I have taken the hydration backpack on my backcountry skiing and snowshoeing trips up in Tahoe over the past couple of months now and absolutely love it.
The most enjoyable feature for me is that the CamelBak backpack keeps all your gear in one tight, compact bundle close to your back, making it easier to maneuver in the backcountry or even in alpine situations. With a volume of 1700 cubic inches, I was able, at one point, to stuff my down jacket, hardshell, 2 softshells, a liter thermos of tea, extra gloves and a hat all in the pack with a full hydration bladder and snowshoes strapped to the back. With all this gear, the pack still did not feel bulky or unruly.
Small design details such as the ability to roll up and velcro secure excess strap lengths, or tuck inside unused closures and loops make it even easier to have a neat, compact backpack setup. CamelBak is still working out some of the final details such as the exact design of the snowboard and ski carrying straps.
I would personally like to see the bottom fabric loop on the side snow shovel handle connector made a bit larger. If you have snowshoes or a snowboard strapped to the back of your pack and want to secure your poles to the side of the pack, you will have a hard time getting two big rubber handles through that loop.
In the video below, I walk you through the design features of the CamelBak backcountry hydration backpack. Scheduled for release in September 2010, the Pit Boss or Roulette, at only $100, will make a great addition to your winter backcountry gear lineup.