Tested: CamelBak Skyline
THE HYDRATION PACK has become ubiquitous in mountain biking. Even if you favour frame-mounted bottles as your hydration source of choice, for those bigger riding adventures (full day or multiday), nothing beats a back-mounted pack with a hydration bladder, for both convenience when you’re on the bike and for its ability to also lug additional gear (spare tube, pump, etc.).
CamelBak, the company that originally developed the hydration pack, has now fine-tuned its design in a new model called the Skyline, in which the water bladder has been relocated to improve comfort and ease of carrying.
The theory goes that by lowering the centre of gravity of the load inside the pack, the Skyline brings that weight down to the rider’s lumbar region, where it is more easily carried. This also improves the ventilation in the upper section of the pack and allows for more storage space above the bladder – 7L in fact – so you can pack lighter, bulkier items, such as rain jackets and spares more easily. The Skyline even comes with a tool roll and a small zipped pocket on the front adds even more storage.
The Skyline fits comfortably around your back; it’s contoured, well-padded shoulder straps (and sternum strap) combine with a nicely padded waist belt to, literally, hug your hips. The included bladder is a 3L jobbie, so there’s ample hydration onboard, and the hose can be easily switched to whichever shoulder strap you prefer it to sit. It also neatly clips on to the strap via a cool magnetic clip.
One other very welcome feature in this pack is its compression system: basically, two pull cords on each side can be used to cinch in the bladder close to your back so it doesn’t feel like it is flopping around when you are riding. Other cool features include the two hooks that you can use to carry your bike helmet, and the zip pocket and pouch on the waist belt.
For something so simple, the Camelbak Skyline offers plenty of complexity – thankfully all of which is well thought out to work as it is designed to in the field.