CamelBak Octane LR Review

Hydration Pro Reviews

Impressions
The space is pretty minimal if you’re used to having a lot of room available, so you can’t carry the kitchen sink with this one. I had to become a weight and size weenie, and only carry small short items, so I changed to a little first aid kit, tire pump, CO2 cartridge, etc. I ended up putting things in Ziploc bags for organizational purposes, which also worked well since sometimes you had to pull most of the pocket contents out to grab an item. The two main pockets measured at roughly 10″ x 6″, so nothing too tall, large or fat works. The hip belt has two cargo ones, which I used for my cell phone and camera, tools or keys on occasion.

The reservoir came with a LR specific hose, and it is seemingly designed to be routed from the bottom (according to CamelBak it can be run bottom or top), and up along the lower section of the shoulder straps. I found it too short at 29″ for proper functionality, and I didn’t like the routing arrangement, so I borrowed a longer 35″ one from my other CamelBak pack’s, and routed it over the shoulder in the normal fashion, and it has worked just fine. They need to rethink the length and routing, and in addition add a hose loop around the mid back to enhance its placement. Inside the hydration pouch, there are two holes to route the hose through, so you could do either a right or left side set up, although only the right shoulder strap had a hard plastic hose clip. One of the main pocket’s ended up with a small hole that tore through into the hydration pouch near the hose egress (though never got bigger than a pinkie), so the complex stitching in that area seems to be done haphazardly, and they need to do some more QC?

lr_back

The hip/waist belt, shoulder pads and back panel were minimally padded, though highly flexible, so it conformed extremely well to the contours of your back, and it carried the weight (what little there is), in a balanced and unnoticeable manner. The pack is feathery light, and I never felt the weight, even with the full 2 liters of water. Of course, since you can’t carry many items, it doesn’t weigh much anyway, but with the weight carried low on your lumbar and not on your shoulders, it does seem to disappear, and offers excellent stability. What I really like about this pack more than anything, is when I get into rough terrain, going of drop offs, ramps, ledges, etc., the pack never flops up towards your head, so I think it’s an ideal gravity pack for that reason, though it’s missing some back protection for rolling crashes. The LR’s waist belt seems to sit snugger and up higher on the stomach, and didn’t catch on your saddle when making severe sitting on the rear tire moves that happen on uber steep terrain. Between the weight seemingly disappearing, the lack of the pack doing a head flop nor bouncing around on your back, and no saddle catching, the LR becomes near invisible when wearing! It felt very much like a mountain runner wearable hydration belt instead of a cycling pack.

lr_side

The Antidote reservoir system works extremely well, and the new screw closure only takes a quarter turn to open and close, and the wide mount is easy to pour into and clean, though to fill to capacity you do need to hold it with the handle at a slight angle to facilitate. When the bladder gets low, sometimes you don’t get the last vestiges of water due to the width of its shape. The Quick Link is pretty sweet, and facilitated clipping and in a leak-free manner for the bladder removal, though on occasion the hose would dribble some water, so I would blow the hose clean beforehand. Inserting the reservoir is an easy task, route the hose through the back hole, and place it into the pouch, push its tails into the waist belt, clip the hanging hook onto the upper yellow loop, and then flip the handle out over the flap, and finally zip it shut.

I would like to see a version with slightly more capacities, since it was a bit small for rides in inclement weather in the Colorado mountains, and you needed to be quite the minimalist to pack the sucker.

Measured Specs:

  • Octane LR pack – 342.5 grams / 12.1 oz
  • Antidote Reservoir (with hose) – 179.2 grams / 6.3 oz
  • Total Weight – 521.7 grams / 18.4 oz
  • Pocket sizes (trapezoid shape) – Right: (8″ x 4″) wide x 10″ tall x (.5″ to 3″) thick, Left (9″ x 7″) wide x 10″ tall x (.5″ to 3″) thick
  • Pack size – 19″ tall x 9″ wide, 22″ wide by hip

lr_final

Bottom Line
The CamelBak Octane LR is a superb pack, that is comfortable, light and stable, due in a great part to the lumbar design which keeps the Antidote reservoir weight down low. The pack just sits so nicely, and carries the weight well on your hips, back and lumbar that it all but disappears, and during any type of riding, that I put it through, and it never seemed to flop or bounce around, especially on steep terrain (no head slap). The design, materials, and minimal padding create a highly conformable entity, and it becomes one with the back. The 70 oz (2 L) of water is fine if you’re not a guzzler, and the 549 cu in (9 L) of storage space works if you’re careful with what you carry.

The hose is too short for a properly functioning setup, and a small hole tore through the stitching in one pocket, and I would love to see a version with additional capacity.

The excellent Octane LR is a low slung and sleek pack which work extremely well, with just enough space for moderate rides, and is ideal for biking, hiking and running.

Strengths

  • Antidote bladder system
  • Comfortable and conformable
  • Weight and pack disappear
  • No flopping and bouncing around

Weaknesses

  • Hose is too short – additional tube is $9
  • Hole in the upper pocket
  • Need a tad more space (maybe an up sized model)

MSRP: $89

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
Rating w/ longer tube: 5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

 

CamelBak Octane LR Company Specs:

  • Visit the website at http://www.camelbak.com/Sports-Recreation/Packs/2011-Octane-LR.aspx
  • Back panel: Air channel
  • Harness: Ultra-light 3D mesh
  • Belt: 1 in / 25 mm 840D lightweight tape with cargo pocket
  • Additional Features: Lumbar Reservoir (LR) provides superb stability, External Fill, Harness pockets, Front and back reflectivity
  • Designed to Carry: Extra layers, ultra-light weather protection, energy bars, head lamp, trail maps, compass
  • Hydration Capacity: 70 oz (2 L) – Quick Link™ System, quick-seal cap, lightweight fillport, dryer arms, patented Big Bite™ Valve, HydroGuard™ technology, PureFlow™ tube, easy-to-clean wide-mouth opening
  • Total Capacity: 549 CU IN (9 L)
  • Pack Weight: 12.6 oz (360 g)
  • Fabric Specs: 70D mini ripstop, 230D taffeta & 420D Nylon with DWR + 1000mm PU Coating
  • Torso Length: 16 in (41 cm)
  • Colors: Mirage and Frost Gray or Lime Punch and Graphite.

Reviewed by Brian Mullin http://www.gramslightbikes.com/

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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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  • Steve says:

    Just wondering how this compares to the Wingnut packs. My only issue with my Wingnut Hyper 3.0 is that it tends to bounce up whenever I bunnyhop or jump. I think I might try the Octane LR as is seems like it might be a bit more stable in these situations.

  • Brian Mullin says:

    This pack is sleek and low slung, and doesn’t bounce around like the typical fanny pack, and the Wingnut is a slight variant of each pack type (fanny and lumbar).

  • Rich says:

    Brian, another excellent review. Very thorough, with useful information, as usual. The only thing I question, is your conclusion. To give a pack 5 flamin’ peppers, when you note that the pack is basically too small for a lot of folks, with a poorly thought out hose that’s routed weirdly, and either has QC issues, or potentially a redesign, well, that doesn’t make sense to me.
    I understand that it’s super comfy, and stable, but it sounds more promising, than well executed. To top it off, it’s not unusually expensive, but in order to try to remedy some of the stated issues, will cost you some bucks, so it’s not really a bargain either, for a pack that really seems suitable only for post work length jaunts. Sorry to nitpick, but your conclusion just seemed inconsistent with the rest of your review.

  • Brian Mullin says:

    My job is nitpick things to death, and I go overboard, and find things wrong with anything (nothing is perfect). Some of my observations are also meant to prompt the manufacturer into making changes. Hint, Hint, CamelBak!

    1) The mini hole issue is hardly noticeable, and less than a pinkie in size, and it has not torn any worse in several months of use, I removed the redesign wording, that was a bit harsh
    2) The hose issue is also minor (but I will give you that one as a demerit against the pack), and I myself just didn’t like the lower routing, but it does work, and in that direction the length issue becomes loss prominent. Most people seem to prefer it the lower way? I had heard that for tall people it’s more noticeable? Yes, an additional $9 for a tube does add to the price.
    3) The pack isn’t too small, is just would be nice to have some more leeway, I have been using it just fine through the Winter, and just need to be more judicious in what you carry.

    It got 5 chili’s because as entire package it is a stupendous pack, that just becomes glued to you torso, and yes it has flaws, warts and all (like everything does), and works better with $9 additional tube?

  • Don says:

    I imagine the pack isn’t too small if you already have something like a HAWG, and you’re looking for a smaller pack to use for 1-2 hour rides and to utilize for trail running, which the HAWG isn’t well-suited for. I may try this one. I’ll have to fiddle with the hose in REI to see if the length is an issue for me.

    Thanks for the thorough review.

  • salimoneus says:

    I would have to echo Rich’s comments. Very thorough review and lots of good info. But a hole tears through the pocket, yet the pack still receives a 5 star rating? Just because it’s only one small hole now, doesn’t mean it won’t get worse, or that it won’t happen in other areas. All we have to go on in how it held up during the use of the review, and apparently it didn’t do too well in the build quality area. I have a cheap pack I picked up at Costco for $20 that hasn’t torn any holes in over 2 years. I would expect more from this product. Clearly there are either some design or quality control issues. I would expect to see someone give a 2/5 rating here before giving a perfect score, so it makes one wonder…

  • Charlie America says:

    I wonder if this bladder (reservoir) would fit in my 15 year old Grandito? Note: Grandito (large), not Bandito (smaller)…

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