Last Updated on December 10, 2020
At one point in time, everyone called a copy a Xerox, because the Xerox brand had done such a good job of marketing that they had become synonymous with making copies. Recently, CamelBak had achieved a similar level of magnitude in the hydration pack industry. The CamelBak is the original hydration pack, and many people refer to all hydration packs as CamelBaks now. But is CamelBak still the best option for portable hydration? To find out, we’re going to compare it to some of CamelBak’s most popular competitors such as the Osprey Packs Siskin 8 and the HydraHike from High Sierra. Hopefully, we can determine if CamelBak is still the best hydration pack, or if a superior alternative exists.
Osprey Packs Siskin 8 Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak Classic
The Osprey Siskin is a 2.5-liter hydration pack, so we compared it to the 2.5-liter CamelBak Cassic. The Osprey has a front panel zipper that allows for loads of extra storage and carrying capacity that’s missing from the CamelBak, which just has a small zippered pocket big enough for a set of keys. The Osprey features a magnetic holder for the bite valve while the CamelBak just has a basic clip. For us, the Osprey pack was also more comfortable, with a waist strap and form-fitting shape. But the CamelBak is quite a bit cheaper, so you’re paying a lot for the extra comfort. In the end, we think the Osprey wins this one.
Though it’s a bit more expensive, the Osprey offers some nice features that make it more pleasurable to use. The waist strap helps to even out the load and the large pocket adds so much useful carrying space. Both of them are built to a high-quality level, but the Osprey is a bit more versatile.
RUPUMPACK Insulated Hydration Backpack vs. CamelBak M.U.L.E.
The RUPUMPACK Insulated Hydration Backpack is a 15-liter backpack with a two-liter reservoir, providing you with plenty of water and carrying capacity for most single-day adventures. We’ll compare it to the CamelBak M.U.L.E. since it’s the closest in size and stature. What they’re not close in is the price. You could purchase quite a few copies of the RUPUMPACK in different colors for the price of a single Camelback M.U.L.E. pack. But the CamelBak comes with a larger three-liter reservoir. Plus, it has the sort of extras you’d expect to find on a high-end piece of gear, like the magnetic tube trap that holds your tube when you’re not drinking but is much easier to use than a plastic tube holder.
If you’re looking for a budget piece of gear, then it’s RUPUMPACK all the way for the drastically lower price that still offers great usability and carrying capacity. But if you want a quality piece of gear that will be with you for many outings, then the CamelBak has the high quality you’d expect from a piece of designer gear and it won’t let you down in the field.
High Sierra HydraHike Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak Classic 85
The HydraHike hydration pack from High Sierra is a four-liter pack that’s equipped with a two-liter reservoir. There’s no match for it in the CamelBak catalog, so we’ll compare it to an 85-ounce CamelBak Classic. The High Sierra pack offers extra pockets with plenty of storage and space for packing essentials. The CamelBak has just a small zipper pocket for keys. The HydraHike pack is constructed from 600D ripstop nylon, offering impressive durability for a hydration pack. But the CamelBak has a nicer bite valve and we got better flow from the CamelBak for a better drinking experience. The High Sierra was so much less expensive that we have to give it the win considering the similar levels of quality.
For a much more conservative price than the CamelBak, the High Sierra HydraHike provides you with loads of storage and a durable pack. The CamelBak offers a better drinking experience and superior bite-valve, but the High Sierra wins our preference overall.
TETON Sports Oasis Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak M.U.L.E.
Once again, we will compare this pack to the CamelBak M.U.L.E. since the TETON Sports Oasis pack is a full-size backpack with a two-liter hydration pack included. The TETON Sports pack is 20 liters total, making it one of the most spacious packs on our list. It’s just 2.5 pounds, which we found surprising given how sturdy it feels. It’s about a third of the price of the CamelBak that offered a cleaner look overall. You can really feel the quality that CamelBak products provide when you hold this bag. It makes the TETON Sports bag feel unrefined. And when you put it on, it sits so comfortably that you can actually forget you’re wearing it. The TETON Sports bag wasn’t uncomfortable, but it sure didn’t offer the comfort that we got from the CamelBak.
The CamelBak M.U.L.E. is just so well made that it’s in a different class from the TETON Sports pack. With sleek lines, streamlined looks, and balanced weight distribution, the CamelBak swoops in for the win.
Water Buffalo Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak Classic 70
This two-liter hydration pack is comparable to the CamelBak Classic 70-ounce pack. They both have similar amounts of storage; a single zipper pocket. The CamelBak has it on the bottom while the Water Buffalo placed it towards the top. One feature that’s special to the Water Buffalo is the insulated pack that keeps your water cold for up to five hours. But the CamelBak is more comfortable to wear and the weight feels more balanced. Of course, the CamelBak is so much more expensive, that you can purchase two Water Buffalo packs for the price of one CamelBak.
In the end, they both have pretty equal feature sets. The CamelBak is better built and more comfortable but the Water Buffalo is insulated and more cost-effective. If you want a cheaper product and don’t care about name-brand quality, go with the Water Buffalo. If you want the premium product and don’t mind the premium price tag, choose the CamelBak.
Unigear Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak Classic 70
The Unigear offers 70 ounces of hydration like the CamelBak Classic 70. The CamelBak is noticeably more comfortable and much lighter. But you can get the Unigear for a fraction of the price without hurting your wallet. The Unigear pack looks durable, but it doesn’t take long for small defects to start popping up like threads coming loose or zipper pulls breaking. You’re not likely to experience that with the higher-end CamelBak packs. They’re built tough to live rough lives and they can hold up to substantial abuse.
Though it’s hard to compare with the dirt-cheap pricing of the Unigear hydration pack, the CamelBak offers superior quality and longevity for a better product overall.
Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak Classic
The Mubasel pack is a much cheaper alternative to CamelBak, but it offers some pretty nifty features. For instance, it’s insulated to keep your water cold. The CamelBak Classic that’s closest to it in size and features is not insulated. The Mubasel pack is also available in many different colors and styles, so you get a lot more options. But the CamelBak has much better bladder and bite-tube. The CamelBak also feels better overall, like a piece of rugged gear instead of a cheap backpack. Of course, the Mubasel is about half the price of a CamelBak, so you can’t expect it to live up to the same quality.
Though the Mubasel is available in a variety of colors and styles, the CamelBak is a much higher quality product with a superior hydration bladder and bite tube that make for a much-improved drinking experience over the Mubasel.
KUYOU Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak
The KUYOU hydration pack is one of the cheapest we’ve seen. Compared to the very expensive CamelBak systems, the KUYOU definitely wins in the price category. Of course, that comes with a sacrifice, and this time its quality. The quality of the Camelback hydration packs is vastly superior to the KUYOU. But the KUYOU is ultra-lightweight and surprisingly comfortable, giving the much pricier CamelBak a run for its money. Since you can purchase three or four of the KUYOU packs for the price of a CamelBak, we’re going to give this one to the KUYOU.
Though the CamelBak packs are clearly higher-quality than the KUYOU pack, the KUYOU pack still manages to provide an ultralight and comfortable hydration pack for a fraction of what you’ll pay to get a CamelBak.
These days, there are a lot of hydration pack alternatives to the tried and true CamelBak. CamelBak may be the original, but are they still the best? After comparing CamelBak to some of the other popular options available, we think that the original still holds up. CamelBak makes some very quality hydration packs that are well-built and durable. They’re guaranteed to last a long time, and they offer a superior drinking experience over cheaper hydration pack alternatives. But you can still get a really great hydration pack for a very low investment. Some of the low-priced packs we tested even offered a better value than the CamelBaks, so we suggest keeping an eye open and being open-minded when it comes to choosing a hydration pack.
David Slone runs the TapIt Water blog. He first learned about water filtration and the impact it has on the world in college. Ever since that day he has worked towards making the world a better place. He writes to inform you about water filtration, the consequences of plastics, bottled water, and how we can do things better.
He loves to spend time with his beloved wife, 3 kids, and dog when he’s not writing.
- 1 Osprey Packs Siskin 8 Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak Classic
- 2 RUPUMPACK Insulated Hydration Backpack vs. CamelBak M.U.L.E.
- 3 High Sierra HydraHike Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak Classic 85
- 4 TETON Sports Oasis Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak M.U.L.E.
- 5 Water Buffalo Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak Classic 70
- 6 Unigear Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak Classic 70
- 7 Mubasel Gear Insulated Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak Classic
- 8 KUYOU Hydration Pack vs. CamelBak
- 9 Conclusion