I have been testing two of Camelbak’s hydration packs recently. First up was the light weight Ratchet, which has converted me to using back packs. In this article I will be taking a look at the Camelbak HAWG LR. The HAWG is meant for long rides and carrying a lot of gear and water; the pack’s initials stand for Holds A Lotta Water and Gear.
According to Camelbak, the HAWG is all about “Maximum storage, maximum hydration, and better balance on your bike”. With 17L of internal space and a multitude of pockets, you have plenty of storage available. The new squat 3L Crux Lumbar reservoir sits low down on your back, for better balance. You can also add another reservoir, perfect for long rides across Death Valley!
Now, what the Ratchet and HAWG LR have in common – which I tested during long rides in Tuscany and Andalucía – is their no-fuss bladder handling. From cleaning to refilling, it’s a cinch. Every time I stopped at feed stations or water wells, it took me next to no-time to refill. The same is true for cleaning. Yes, it requires a certain amount of paying attention to, in order to get it properly dry and odour free. You should always clean your reservoir, especially when using energy drinks – but it quickly became second nature to me.
While I wouldn’t use it for races, that would be overkill, it is perfect for those long rides I mentioned above. Even on those I think I used only 50% of its potential. This guy is hard to beat in terms of clever features given its light weight. The HAWG is clearly built for a full day adventure on the trail. There are plenty of places to organise all the stuff you want to put into it. I found there was room for all my ride necessities, even somewhere to stow my helmet. And if you don’t fill all that space, there’s four point compression to keep it all from flapping around.
The HAWG comes with seven external pockets, including a soft fleecy one for your phone. There’s also a tool roll, so your tools are always easy to get to. I used the integrated rain cover on two occasions and can confirm that it works. Three hours of heavy, pouring rain were a perfect test. You need have no concerns about wet internals! Now, how CamelBack managed to nail down its weight of 940g for its sizable 17L cargo space and 3L reservoir, is beyond me.
I have to mention the sturdy build as well. Both the Ratchet and HAWG took a beating during their time with me. Under normal conditions, where you’ve time to clean and handle it gingerly, every back pack is durable enough, and will last for ages. However there were plenty of times where I was too tired to be careful with them. Despite that Camelbak’s packs are robust enough to withstand a huge amount of misuse. While I’m not encouraging you to abuse your HAWG, it’s great to know, they are built to last.
It seems to me, that due to Camelbak’s long history and expertise, many brands and users use them as the benchmark for hydration packs. Which is all the recommendation you need.