CamelBak Charge 450 Review

Hydration Pro Reviews

Impressions
The Charge 450 and its smaller brethren the Charge 250, are part of their LE series, which uses the LE or Lightweight Exoskeleton back panel, and lighter materials and designs for the ultimate in weight savings. The LE panel has a skeleton like set of padded strips on the back, which help soften the load and keep it comfortable on the back. The shoulder harness system is thinly padded and slightly stretchy, and has an inner soft mesh material, a center honeycomb substructure and an outer blend of nylon and a mesh fabirc. Although the shoulders were comfortable and worked well, the slider adjustment for the sternum strap seemed to bind on its webbing, and during usage, it bunched up the harness material where it pulls from.

The pack is really comfortable, since it wraps around and conforms to your body, and sort of pops into every nook and cranny of your back. The lightweight makes it enjoyable to wear on a ride, as the pack; minus its contents; pretty much weighs nothing. When loaded, the pack carries the weight well, and it stays centered into your back, with the load tucked in tightly. Like all CamelBak packs, it has an excellent set of pockets, and the helmet slot was quite handy to carry jackets and apparel items. The pockets were all useful, and the main compartment had a functional shape for easy stowage of gear, and the front pocket had plenty of room for lots of items. The little pouches on the hip belt were perfect for gel packs and small energy bars, which was handy so the pack didn’t need to be removed to grab the munchies. The compression straps worked well, and helped pull the load into the pack and keep things from jostling around. The pack does have some mild hip lift on uber steep and bumpy terrain, and it was most notable when going over drop-offs and big ledges.

The way the pack carries its weight is through the synergy of the shoulder system and hip belt with the extremely flexible and conformable LE back panel. If the pack is overstuffed, it starts to lose some of the useful wrap around characteristics, and bows out slightly along the panel edges, so it works best not to max out its capacity. The helmet slot or pouch works excellently to carry any extra gear, and helps keep the pack from getting bloated, although it makes folding over the clamshell opening more cumbersome.

One odd thing is that the pack gets a layer of moisture that gets trapped between the hydration reservoir and LE back panel material, and it happens in both warm and cold conditions. It doesn’t make the pack uncomfortable or damp; it just looks sort of strange? The pack doesn’t really have any major ventilation system due to the thickness of the LE skeleton strips, and since the coated material doesn’t absorb much sweat or water, and the strip’s sizes are minor, the moisture dissipates or stays on the apparel side of things, so you don’t get a clammy back from the pack. So far, the material has been durable, which is amazing since it seems fragile, and the addition of the polyurethane coating helps with both water resistance and toughness.

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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