It is a rare occasion that I use hydration pack for training or longer rides, let alone races. I have never been fond of hydration packs as I found them disturbing and as an additional ballast which can be easily substituted with normal water bottles, jersey pockets or mini tools attached/integrated onto/into the frame. But these new packs from the creator of the hydration backpack were too nice offer to pass, so I had to try them. The Camelbak Ratchet is meant for a XC stage race – without external support – , and the roomier one, the HAWG was supposed to serve as a multiday companion.
I saw in Camelbak Ratchet as an ideal partner for my first top-level stage race. It is small and handy enough to deal with hot race days, which is mostly associated with high intensity.
Its three liter volume seemed to me a little bit too much, but then I thought, I don’t need to fill the reservoir completely, thus I can use its generous carrying capacity instead.
High on the priority list stood a minimalistic, lightweight design sans any fussy and complicated handling. For its weight, I was more than positively surprised for its numerous, well-usable features, like a comfortable, breathable air mesh back panel, that fitted greatly from the get-go. My next negative bias toward back packs has been shed too: I can’t stand loose tubes, so it’s been reassuring a practical to have a so called Magnetic Tube Trap™
I haven’t experienced any leaks whatsoever. The learning curve of how to use it properly was surprisingly short, almost non-existent. I wasn’t sure if I would ever use its stretchable storage compartment, as the race stages lasted in average around 4-5 hours daily.
But I come to appreciate its roomy space, meaning all tools and gadgets wandered into the backpack. I have also made sure that, finally I filled the 3 liter reservoir entirely. This way I was good to go, without any interruption during the race. I wished an easier access for gels and bars without the need to open the main compartment.
Its reflective accents for visibility in low-light environments hasn’t been used in this particular race, however there are two 24 hour races coming up, where this feature will be used to the fullest.
Yes, I am back pack convert from now on. In case a back pack is so purposefully and ingenuously made like this Camelbak Ratchet, I truly appreciate its raison d’être.
Other than that its removable stability belt kept everything in place during rough rides.
Again, its weight of 300g was the top feature form me. Over time, I almost forget to have any mass on my back. I have been entertaining the idea, to take it for longer non-race rides as well. Eventually I did just that. Even though I don’t take it for rides and trainings lasting less than 5 hour, it grown on me none the less.
I am an addicted long distance hiker too, and for that purpose the Camelbak Ratchet is an amazing mate. Yes, I’m fully aware of Camelbak’s purpose built [for hikers] products in their portfolio, however I just want to have along this Camelbak Ratchet as often as possible.
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