Thursday, July 21, 2011

Camelbak 2011 Fairfax Review

Back in June, after a lot of research, I finally pulled the trigger and purchased my first Camelbak. I don't really enjoy carrying a bottle with me. I have a couple of versions that fit on a belt that work ok but still bounce around when full and at times have not been enough to get me through the run.
I had a lot of reservations about running with a Camelbak, I just knew it was going to bounce around and annoy me. I selected the 2011 Fairfax because of its smaller reservoir (50oz), it is listed as a minimalist pack for cross-training or cycling, and it came in a highly visible and cool looking green.

Right out of the box the Fairfax seemed to fit me perfectly. 

It is a small pack but has been great for hands free hydration!

My first trial run went off without a hitch, I was impressed! There is not any significant bouncing while running with this pack. I did learn right away to tuck the bite valve out of the way under the front strap while running. It flops around quite a bit which gets annoying but is easily fixed. 

Note the hose and bite valve. 

This pack has plenty of storage room for me also. I can easily keep my cell phone and much more in the upper center pocket that also has a handy key fob. I am a sweaty beast when I run, many times I have to put my cell phone into a sealed baggy to keep it dry. This pocket eliminates the need and keeps everything in good shape.
If you need more storage, the bottom pocket is quite generous too. You could likely fit an ultralight rain jacket, or other items in this pocket.

I have used the Camelbak on several runs now and on the bike. Sure I have bottles for my bike but it's pretty handy drinking from the bite valve.
The reservoir has a wide and easy to use fill opening that allows me to dump ice cubes into it and also helps facilitate the cleaning.

The only downside that I can see from using a Camelbak is that it takes a little extra time to clean it out. I don't do anything special other than rinse it well, run plenty of warm water through the hose and the bite valve, and hang it to dry.  Not quite as handy as a water bottle, but very manageable. On one of my cycling adventures in the rain the Camelbak had muddy tires streaks up the back of it. I pulled out the bladder and washed the shell on gentle cycle. It came out as good as new.

The 2011 Fairfax has been a great pack for me so far. It has put to rest my negative assumptions about wearing a Camelbak while running. The 50oz capacity is more than anything else in my hydration line up and I can safely carry my cell phone, energy bars, keys, and more. The minor inconvenience of cleaning it is really nothing when you consider everything else. This pack definitely gets my recommendation!

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