Review: Camelbak Kudu 12 Hydration Pack (2015)

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One of Camelbak’s newest creation is named Kudu, a backpack with which it aims to take on competitors such as POC or Evoc on the ground of the high-end category. Without having a great capacity, Kudu features very smart solutions for the transport problem, and also protects your spine, a trait you might find useful when taking part in, let’s say, enduro competitions.

This protection piece designed for the back not only is a unique feature of Kudu’s compared to other models of other brands, but is also integrated, so that means it’s part of the construction and you’ll be under its defence everytime you use the pack. The manufacturer didn’t deal with half measures when it produced it, so we can find that the protection piece bears a Level 2 CE 1621 safety certificate standard. In common language, this means that if you’ll fall on your back, the guard will absorb most of the shock caused by rocks or the ground, and, because it’s not penetrable, the most harm inflicted on you will probably be some bruises. And this component also gave the name of the Kudu line, the letters standing for Kinetic Ultimate Damping Unit. On the inside we can further find the water bladder, that can hold 3 liters of fluid, more than enough for the simply riding or competing.

I’ll have to admit though that the plastic smell and taste of the bladder didn’t go anywhere even after using it 5 times, with the according repercussions on the quality of the water. Therefore, I strongly recommend you wash it and let it out in open air for a couple of days, before actually using it.

As for storage, Kudu 12 gets straight „A”s, having pockets high and centered, with mesh or denser fabric, a place for a pump, and for the tool kit as well. It’s true you can’t fully open the main pocket, but if you’re having to stuff in there only cycling gear or food, it’s enough.

On the outside, the backpack has a pleasant appearance, and we have to give credit to the manufacturer for achieving this feat by using only a handful of colors. Further safety/transport/comfort elements are present, such as the waist and chest straps that hold the Kudu in place on your upper body or the compartments that allow you to carry the helmet and other guards. The backpack scores good points in terms of comfort by ensuring an excellent air flow between your back and it, and the mesh shoulder straps are also noteworthy.

A final word on this hydration pack? I see it as a bitter-sweet product. On one hand, its full capacity is of 9 liters, 1 liter less than the main rival’s coming from Evoc, the spine guard isn’t that comfortable and you’ll have to do something about that plastic bladder. On the other hand, the protection ensured by the guard can turn out vital if you’re caught in the wrong moment, you have more storage spaces than you’ll probably use, and it has a decent weight. Nonetheless, priced slightly lower than its main rivals, it still manages to be a backpack for those in search of higher quality.

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