Review: Camelbak Mule Hydration Backpack

When I used to do a running commute, I needed a running rucksack. I’d tried running to the gym with the free rucksack I’d got from the gym but soon realised a waistband is a must, unless you like a bag full of kit bouncing up and down on your back.

My first running commute rucksack purchase was a cheapy Puma one – I think it cost about a tenner – which doubled up as a hydration backpack; it just came without the bladder. I didn’t have any need of a bladder until taking part in the Three Peaks Challenge in 2008, so I bought one on eBay to save me having to keep stopping to take my drinks bottle out of my rucksack.


The Puma rucksack has been used dozens, if not hundreds of times and although it’s the perfect size to put a few small things in, I want to do some long cycle rides over the summer and it’s not going to be big enough for a full bladder and anything else I want to take with me such as a lock and also leaving room for anything I might want to buy on my travels (for example, I can’t go past the Pilgrims Hospice Bookshop in Dymchurch without popping in and buying books).

So, an upgrade was needed and the upgrade came in the form of the Camelbak Mule Hydration Backpack.Poppy-Orange

Okay, I’m cheating and using the photo from the website. Here’s my not-so-glamorous pic.


Pretty though, isn’t it? I love the colour and I love that it’s not too big and I especially love that it has about a zillion pockets in it. It’s even got pockets in pockets and ‘integrated helmet hooks that utilize chinstraps to carry a variety of styles’ (I think that means you can carry your hat on it).


It comes with a bladder and I’m not going to pretend I know much about bladders other than they hold a drink and you suck it through a hose thing because that’d be lying and we all know lying’s bad, don’t we? But according to the blurb, the bladder has a 100oz/3L capacity, 1/4 turn cap, a low profile design, dryer arms and a quick link system.


I used the rucksack on the recent 55 mile Pilgrims Hospice Cycle Challenge and it was light and comfy and it held what I wanted it to and I didn’t notice I was wearing it, which is all I want from a rucksack really.


If you want a pretty orange Camelbak like mine, or perhaps one in a different colour or style, you can get one at the Blackleaf website.

It rubs off, doesn’t it?

When I get to the station this morning, as the train is pulling into the platform, I go to take my rucksack off and realise, oh, I’ve forgotten my rucksack.  Duh.  It’s still on the chair where I packed it this morning with life’s essentials such as my gym kit, mobile phone, money, book and umbrella and I think shall I go home and get it or shall I get on the train? and I decide to get on the train without my life’s essentials and I wonder if I forgot it because I’m getting old and maybe I’m on the slippery slope to being proper old and next I’ll be buying my clothes at Marks and Spencer and going to bingo, and probably not even leaving the house to go but playing online bingo as that is more in keeping with being a hermit and at lunchtime I go for a walk along the Embankment and there’s a lot more runners than usual and they must all be new year resolution runners or something and I’m wondering if I’ll be bothered to go for a run when I get home and maybe I don’t have to, I can just watch these runners along the Embankment and maybe their training will rub off on me and there’s a girl in shiny new kit and I wonder if she’s a newbie runner or maybe she’s been running for years and got the shiny new kit for Christmas and as I go back to work, there’s a man in a wheelchair wheeling down the middle of Fetter Lane and I think if Wheelchair Man isn’t too much of a wuss to go in the road, why aren’t cyclists? and I get back to work and I’m really tired and I don’t know if I’m going to have the energy to run when I get home and I get the train home and it’s foggy and I think it’s probably dangerous to run in the fog and just as I get to the corner of my road I do a big yawn and I think falling asleep when you’re running is probably just as fatal and a danger to others as falling asleep when you’re driving so the altruistic part of me thought it was probably best that I stay in tonight and don’t have a fatal accident or cause others to do so.

Rucksacks full of life essentials taken to work: 0
Slippery slopes to buying clothes at M&S: 1
Runners along the Embankment: loads
Men in wheelchairs wheeling down Fetter Lane: 1
Fogs: 1
Big yawns: 1
Rare acts of altriusm: 1