CamelBak Chase vest review

Race-oriented hydration pack for MTB, road, or gravel riding

Hydration
CamelBak Chase

CamelBak’s Chase Vest is a minimalist hydration pack. It carries 1.5-liters of fluid and offers front pockets for quick access to calories.

What is it

CamelBak’s Chase Vest is a minimalist hydration pack that’s ideal for fast and light missions like gravel racing and mountain biking thanks to its large, accessible front pockets and a 1.5L reservoir.

Pros
  • Comfortably carries 1.5L of fluids, thousands of calories, and other necessities
  • Provides quick access to extra fluids and food without interfering with jersey pockets
  • Highly adjustable fit
  • Slim design allows for wearing of jackets over the vest
Cons
  • Limited capacity compared to larger packs
Mtbr’s Take

CamelBak’s Chase Vest was designed specifically for gravel events, where most participants wear a Lycra, road-style kit, and when it can be difficult to carry enough fluids and food. Developed with input from CamelBak athlete and former Dirty Kanza 200 winner Yuri Hauswald, the Chase Vest is a minimalist pack that carries a 1.5-liter reservoir. Large pockets on the front of the shoulder straps keep snacks and other vital items within reach. At the back are more pockets, with a large zippered compartment, an even larger outer elastic stow space, and smaller side pockets.

CamelBak Chase

The Chase Vest sits fairly high and, in the riding position, retains access to rear jersey pockets.

Because the Chase Vest sits fairly high, it preserves access to rear jersey pockets. This means that your ability to use, and easily reach, five or more pockets between the pack and your jersey is greatly enhanced. This keeps riders on the go with fewer stops, a key to long-distance racing. It’s great for any ride with few options for food and water top ups.

CamelBak Chase

The right front pocket can zip shut but also has a drawstring to control contents. Shown here with six gels, there is room for many more. The mesh pocket is handy for wrappers.

I’ve used the Chase Vest over several months, including long training rides as well as Land Run 100 and Trans Iowa gravel road races. Together with a pair of one-liter water bottles on my bike, it helped me carry, and easily access, everything I needed for 100-mile sections without resupply.

CamelBak Chase

The large, elasticized pocket is great for lightweight items like a jacket. At the sides are two more pockets for ride essentials.

I find that hydration packs help me drink more on rough roads and trails. This alone makes them compelling for the events I like to do. But the real key to the Chase Vest is the large front pockets. The front right pocket easily carries eight or more gels or several bars. It has both a zipper and a drawstring to keep contents from flying out. There is also an outer mesh pocket that is great for used food and gel wrappers. It is also compatible with CamelBak’s own Quick Stow flasks in the event that you want to carry extra fluids up front.

The left pocket is slimmer, shown here with an iPhone and some waffles. It also has a small, zippered pocket great for ID and a credit card.

The left pocket is slimmer, shown here with an iPhone and some waffles. It also has a small, zippered pocket great for ID and a credit card.

Because it has a flatter shape, I used the left front pocket for Clif bars, Salted Nut Rolls, and sometimes to carry my phone. It also has a small, internal zippered pocket that’s handy for ID, a credit card, and cash.

CamelBak Chase

A large zippered compartment leads to further pockets and a high-vis lining that helps finding items easier.

The reservoir has a designated sleeve that sits directly against the back. A well-ventilated mesh back separates the bladder from your back. So on hot days, well-iced contents can help cool you as you ride. Of course, over time, it will heat up but I like the option. On top of the reservoir is another zippered compartment that houses a series of mesh pockets and a key clip. I carried spare battery lights, eye drops, sunscreen, wet wipes, a plug kit, chain lube, and a cog brush inside. Outer most is a large elasticized pocket where I carried a rain jacket. While a minimalist pack, the Chase Vest is still capable of carrying an impressive amount of gear.

CamelBak Chase

Adjustment is performed via a pair of sternum straps and this dual-anchor trunk strap.

Adjustability is accomplished in two ways. A set of dual sternum straps work well on the go, allowing you to open up the vest for extra breathing or cinch it down as you drink down the reservoir or empty the pockets. At each side is another strap with a huge range of adjustment, enabling the Chase Vest to fit a variety of trunk sizes and shapes. There is no waist on the vest as it doesn’t extend that low. This isn’t a complaint. I found the Chase Vest to be exceptionally stable. Even on mountain bike trails it never wanted to creep up or rotate. But to keep it under control, I did find it necessary to adjust the sternum straps, in particular as I drank down the contents of the reservoir.

While the Chase Vest can certainly be used on its own, it has really come into its own for me when used in conjunction with bottles on my bike and a top tube bag full of further calories. I like to put water in the reservoir and high-calorie drinks in my bottles. CamelBak clearly did its homework on the Chase Vest. Thanks to its impressive comfort and accessibility it will remain at the top of my cycling kit.

Rating: 5 out of 5 5 Flamin' Chili Peppers
Price: $100
More Info: www.camelbak.com


About the author: Nick Legan

Nick Legan is happiest with some grease under his nails and a long dirt climb ahead. As a former WorldTour team mechanic, Legan plied his trade at all the Grand Tours, Spring Classics, World Championships and even the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In recent years, gravel and ultra-distance racing has a firm grip on Legan’s attention, but his love of mountain biking and long road rides hasn’t diminished. Originally a Hoosier, Legan settled in Boulder, Colorado, 14 years ago after finishing his time at Indiana University studying French and journalism. He served as the technical editor at VeloNews for two years and now contributes to Adventure Cyclist, Mtbr and RoadBikeReview. To follow along on Legan’s cycling adventures, find him on Instagram at @nlegan and be sure to check out his new book Gravel Cycling: The Complete Guide to Gravel Racing and Adventure Bikepacking.


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  • Cooper says:

    Behold, the mannary glands! 😀

  • Chris says:

    Been using this for a few months now for trail/all mountain/enduro, was using a hip pack before. Really like this vest pack a lot, having the easy access storage at the front is great. Pack doesn’t shift at all on gnar steep and technical trails.

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