Camelbak H.A.W.G. NV Review

Jan 30, 2013 at 0:07
Jan 30, 2013
by Mike Kazimer  
 
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Camelbak H.A.W.G. NV
Camelbak's H.A.W.G. NV has enough room to carry everything you need for a full day bike adventure.

Camelbak H.A.W.G. NV Details:

- Capacity: 854 cubic inches / 14L + 3L reservoir
- Weight: 2.62 pounds
- Integrated rain cover
- 100oz Antidote bladder
- Got Your Bak Lifetime Guarantee
- MSRP: $150 USD

Camelbak's product offerings have expanded exponentially since their beginnings in the late 1980s, when company founder Michael Eidson put an IV bag into a sock and ran the tubing over his shoulder, creating the first hydration pack. Now, their lineup includes packs for nearly any outdoor activity imaginable, from cycling to skiing, as well as a line of tactical packs designed for military use. We tested the 2013 H.A.W.G. NV, a pack intended for multi-hour mountain bike rides. Weighing in at 2lbs 6 oz., and available in black and red, the H.A.W.G. retails for $150 USD.

Details

The H.A.W.G. can hold up to 14 liters of gear in its seemingly endless array of gear-swallowing compartments, in addition to the 3 liter capacity of the included Antidote reservoir. The reservoir is housed in its own zippered compartment, where the cap slides into a small holster to prevent it from slipping down as the liquid level decreases. The large main compartment has plenty of room for extra layers – a rain jacket will easily fit, with room to spare. This compartment also has a divider that can be closed with a drawstring to help keep the pack organized when it's stuffed to capacity. Between the main compartment and the outer pump/tool pockets is an overflow storage storage pouch with elasticized side panels. A XC helmet will fit in here, or more layers. A helmet can also be attached to the H.A.W.G. by using the plastic hooks found on either side of the pack.

Camelbak H.A.W.G. NV
An easily deployed rain cover keeps the pack dry during inclement weather. The H.A.W.G. also includes a plastic hook on each side to carry a half-shell helmet.

There are two outer pockets for tools and accessories; one of them has an elastic loop to hold a pump, while the other has a key holder and several smaller pockets to hold multi-tools, tire levers, energy bars, etc... A fleece lined pocket is located on the top of the pack to hold sunglasses or electronic gadgets. For those who ride no matter the weather, the pack also features a built in, bright yellow rain cover, which is stored in a zippered pocket at the base of the pack when not in use.

Camelbak H.A.W.G. NV
The uniquely shaped Integrated Ventilation (NV) back panels are designed to keep air flowing freely over a rider's back.

For 2013, the pack's back panel configuration has been altered, and now features four articulating panels designed to improve airflow over the back in order to keep the wearer as sweat-free as possible. This design is where the NV acronym in the pack's name comes from – it stands for Integrated Ventilation. The shoulder straps are attached to a plastic D-ring that allows them to move closer together or further apart, giving them the ability to accommodate different torso widths. The sternum strap can also be slid up or down depending on the rider's preference. A wide waist belt, with zippered pockets on each side, keeps the pack stable and provides additional storage room.

Camelbak H.A.W.G. NV
A roomy main pocket has plenty of room for extra layers, and includes a drawstring pouch to help keep items separated. The BPA-free Antidote reservoir holds 100 ounces of water and has a new cap design that is easier to open and close than previous versions.


The H.A.W.G.'s Antidote reservoir is light years ahead of the original IV bag it's derived from. It includes a Quick Link system that makes detaching the hose from the reservoir a simple procedure, as well as a wide, easy to open cap that allows for trouble-free filling and cleaning. There are two plastic pieces on each side of the cap that can be rotated to keep the reservoir open when it's hanging upside down to dry. The bite valve itself has a locking feature to eliminate any potential leakage during transport.

Performance

We went on numerous multi-hour journeys with the H.A.W.G. stuffed full of all the essentials needed for winter riding in the Pacific Northwest – a rain jacket, extra gloves, and goggles all easily fit into the pack. The H.A.W.G handled heavy loads well – it felt balanced, and the NV back panel system prevented any awkwardly shaped items from poking us in the back. Even when riding on rough, uneven terrain, the pack stayed put, remaining centered on our backs without any shifting or swaying.

The H.A.W.G. is well constructed - despite repeatedly filling the pack to its full capacity, we didn't experience any zipper failures or seam blowouts. Our favorite feature, one that riders who reside in drier climates may not have as much need for, was the rain cover. The cover saw plenty of use, as most of our rides took place on rainy winter days. It was easy to use, and fit the pack well, without any excess flapping around. Plus, the bright yellow color added a splash of brightness to the dull grey days. Even after riding in the pouring rain for over two hours the pack remained dry, which was much appreciated the next day when we headed out for another ride and didn't need to shoulder a soggy, saturated pack.

Issues

The NV back panels didn't seem to be any cooler than other designs on the market. Granted, our testing took place in cooler weather, but we still found ourselves at the top of long climbs with a pack-shaped sweat mark on our jerseys. If anything, the back panels were uncomfortable at times. The top of the lowest panel sat right above the top of our shorts, and the fabric, while undoubtedly chosen for its durability, would chafe after a few hours in the saddle. The back panels were most noticeable during long, slow, seated climbs where our body position remained relatively stationary. The rigidity of the panels made it so they didn't conform to the contours of our backs as well as they could have.

The zippers for the two tool and accessory pockets do not extend the full length of the pocket, which can make it hard to access items that have fallen to the bottom. Rather than two separated pockets we would have preferred one larger pocket with longer zippers that would let it open all the way. Flat tires and trail side repairs are never much fun, and struggling to find where your tire lever or multi-tool is hiding can make them even less so.

Pinkbike's take:

bigquotesThe Camelbak H.A.W.G.'s ability to carry large loads without complaint, as well as its integrated rain cover, make it a pack that could prove a worthy companion on epic rides. The reservoir is also one of the best available, providing leak-free access to water that tastes as it should, like water, not plastic. However, we would like to see the back panel configuration altered to be more comfortable for those long days in the saddle. The rest of the pack is well executed, from the multitude of pockets to the simple yet effective helmet carrying system, yet when a ride extends from daybreak to sunset, comfort is the most important feature of any pack. Of course, the way a pack fits will vary from rider to rider, so we'd recommend trying on the H.A.W.G. at your local bike shop to assess the NV back panels for yourself. - Mike Kazimer

www.camelbak.com
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39 Comments

  • + 10
 Firstly love this bag (ok the old Hawg, i've got one and i love it) but Camelback, if you are listening, the rain covers are 1, not big enough and 2, need some way of fixing them to the top of the bag, it works well enough to keep spray off the bag while you are riding, but if you want the whole bag to stay dry the rain cover is insufficient because it has nothing to attach to at the top it slides down uncovering the top of the bag if the bag is full.

The antidote bladder is excellent and my last camelback lasted for 10 years, I can't imagine this won't last that long so excellent value for money. I would like to see the fleece iphone pouch as waterproof just in case it rains and i've not got the cover on so I can still be happy it won't get wet, but gripes aside i'd buy this bag again. Oh and sounds like the old NV system was better then because my back is definitely cooler than a standard bag,
  • + 3
 Old NV system works wonders. I have a MULE with the rain fly and it does in fact have a way fo securing it at the top, so Im suprised yours does not. Its a small velcro strap on one side and a loop on the other. loops under the back straps to keep the fly from slipping. Love Camelbak, I had another Mule before this one and it lasted 10 years...... it was actually still good, I just wanted something new!
  • + 1
 Agreed on the Rain Fly, maybe they could use a buckle system to secure it. Or even a simple loop and string to tie securely.
  • + 3
 Like Darkstar said, there's a Velcro strap at the top of the rain fly to keep it secure. Our rain fly never slipped, and easily covered the whole pack.
  • + 1
 or since they already have hooks for the helmets on the side of the bag, just add one more to the top and get some cord onto the rain fly
  • + 1
 Is the rain fly for the MULE an additional accessory? I'm looking to buy a new one since my MULE is a very old hand-me-down from the guy that got me into mountain biking.
  • + 1
 MULE NV has it, regular MULE does not.
  • + 1
 I just bought a MULE on sale for $100 down from $130 at my LBS (worthwhile buy or should I return it?). Didn't see a rain cover on it like you said, but saw that I can purchase one. Thanks for the info though.
  • + 1
 Its inside a zipper pouch in the bottom of the bag, that specifically houses the fly when not in use. You might be able to purchase one which woul dbe fine, you would just stuff it somewhere else in the bag when you are not using it. Great bag though, you will like it.
  • + 1
 that is so strange, there isn't any velcro on my rain fly, anyone got any photos of a rain fly with the velcro loops on so I can compare? Mine just has the grey elastic edging which doesn't stay in place. Maybe its a UK thing?
  • + 1
 That is weird ...
  • + 1
 I use my hawg nv everyday commuting to University lectures etc. Works so well for that, and equally well on the trails! Such a good all round bag, would recommend to anyone. The new NV looks interesting though, I have no complaints with mine however.
[Reply]
  • + 6
 Nice review, just ordered a new MULE yesterday, love camelback products.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I have the HAWG NV with the older version of the NV back panels. Most comfortable pack I've ever owned. Way better design, in my opinion, compared to this newer version.. And I've never had a problem with the rain cover slipping off during riding.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I used too like camelbak till I found Krieger packs I have a hydrapak with a clip on ten litre add on pack which is roll top and totally waterproof as well as the rest of the pack it is the only back pack so far I have used that is comfortable all the time even with the heaviest load it cost a lot but I use it 6 days a week and after 2 years still looks new.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Had the hawg for years. Replaced with osprey manta and will never go back. Better design
  • + 1
 +1. osprey packs are much better than camelback imho.
  • + 1
 Yup, broke my last camelbak (mule NV) took it back to REI, got a Osprey Zealot 10 instead. Way better than the camelbak, though I do wish it had a reservoir disconnect, and that it cost less. Worth the extra cash though, IMO.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Is it just me or has Camelbak lost a little somethin? Before, you couldn't go wrong with a Camelbak. I loved my MULE and still have it as my backup pack but I wanted some more storage space so I started shopping for a new pack and the newer generation of Camelbaks were just way too cheap and cheesy for me to drop coin on. I switched brands and would probably never go back to a Camel unless they go back to making quality products again.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Dakine Nomad is a way better pack.
  • + 1
 I may have to check this dakine nomad pack out.
  • + 0
 You should, they make a killer pack. I've bought several camelbak packs over the years and dakine blows them away both on value and greatness.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Two leaking bladders in one year, hose leaks at quick connect and leaks at the filler o-ring. Old style bladders better quality.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Iv bag in a sock hey?!.. This one looks kinda nice though
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Pretty cool, but now that I got my zelot 16!!! I mean common, you know!?
Great backpack, lots of water lots of space, all in a small pack!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I love my H.A.W.G NV, however I need to get a new bladder/hose for it! Loyal user right here! Smile
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I've got one on the way from Chainlove, $69. Not sure if it's '12 or '13 but at that price either way is fine.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 got The Camelbak H.A.W.Gand .love the 3 l water bladder and space .but i paid 130 $ for it
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Got my rim runner for 49.99 at the show and would never pay 150
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Camel bak rim runner is a nice pack with plenty of room and rain cover highly recommend.
  • + 1
 Rim Runner is great but designed more for hiking and trail running. Their biking packs have bike-specific features, like carrying helmet, armor, tool pockets etc.
  • + 1
 Hmmm well rim runner has all those same features to carry my full face and leg armour and has all kinds of small pockets for tools any gear. Not sure your point??
[Reply]
  • + 1
 About to buy a new pak. Thanks pinkbike for saving me from this chaffing nightmare
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Camel Packs are on the heavy side. Switched to DaKine Nomads, but kept the Camelbak bladder...great warranty!!!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Spending 150 I don't want any discomfort Frown
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Nice Smile but I prefer my Camelbak Hellion! tup
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The feature that holds the bladder open to dry caught my eye. Very neat.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 150 for a backpak?..are you nuts?
[Reply]

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