Review: Camelbak Volt LR Hydration Pack

Camelbak’s Charge was one of the manufacturers most popular bike packs when first introduced. It featured a unique low mounted reservoir, which centred the water weight over a rider’s hips. The Charge was adapted from Camelbak’s adventure/trekking line to include bike features, but was fairly compact with a 2lt reservoir and 8lt cargo space. Its popularity prompted Camelbak to design the Volt LR, which adds both extra cargo and water capacity making it all-day friendly.

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I have been looking to get a bigger hydration pack in order to comfortably carry more gear on rides and at the same time have enough water for longer rides. When out reviewing a bike I usually take a shock pump, a GoPro with different mounts, adaptors, spare batteries and fittings, and a camera to take some pics. All of this over and above the usual multi-tool, car keys, and something to snack on. My current Camelbak Charge LR was getting a bit small for "review" rides, but I've really grown to love the lumbar mounted reservoir. I looked around at what's currently available and decided to get a Volt LR. It adds some much needed cargo space and an extra litre of water, but keeps the lumbar reservoir and all the practicality and durability we've come to expect from Camelbak.

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The 3L lumbar reservoir is designed to place water weight low on your hips, thereby taking the load off your shoulders and upper back. By placing it lower, the water is more stable and doesn't throw you off balance as you race down the trail. The 3L reservoir is taller and less triangular than before, but a central baffle still keeps the contents from sloshing around.

To further stabilise the reservoir, Cambelbak has added compression straps. All you have to do is pull the contrast coloured webbing that is tunneled behind the waist belt pocket to compress the reservoir and keep it tight and secure. To loosen it, lift up on the tension lock and fine tune to your liking. In addition, the bladder's lid has a hard plastic extension that hooks into a special pocket that adds extra security.


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With a convenient rear-entry panel, that provides the added benefit of a full-length main storage compartment in front, the reservoir is easy to fill and load.

Pockets and pockets and pockets



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Integrated helmet hooks utilise the helmet's chinstraps to be able to carry a variety of styles and sizes. Storage is spread across a number of compartments and pockets to help keep things better organised and neatly tucked away. Designed to carry a helmet, multi-tool, CO2 pump and cartridges, spare tube, extra layer, energy bar or snacks, phone and keys in it's multitude of pockets, I found the Volt LR more than big enough for all the extra bits and pieces I have to lug around. It features:
  • Main Compartment with:
    • zippered pocket for your phone or camera
    • two mesh pockets (divided into 2 thirds and 1 third of width)
    • bigger pocket with a Velcro top
  • 2 hip pockets for gear and snacks you'd like to keep close as you won't need to take the pack off to access these
  • Front zippered pocket with a main storage area as well as two mesh pockets and a clip for your keys.
  • Stretch panel between main compartment and front zipper compartment to keep base layer or or jersey.

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On The Trail


The back panel features a pair of airmesh-covered foam strips that are raised to cushion your back and allow even more airflow. Camelbak calls this "Integrated Ventilation System" and it proved it's worth on hot summer rides. The shoulder straps are virtually unpadded, but even with it fully loaded, comfort and stability is excellent thanks to being wide and well ventilated. A testimony to the "lumbar" design of the Volt LR and it's base weight of only 550g excluding the reservoir.


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Fully loaded (read stuffed to the brim) with a maxed out reservoir the pack stayed in place and never felt as heavy as I knew it was. Movement, up and down as well as left to right, is non-existent when tackling rough terrain, jumps and drop offs.

Comfort is high and one hardly ever takes notice of it once it's loaded up and strapped down. The bite valve "tap" works when it's supposed to and stays drip-free the rest of the time.

Verdict


Looking at the Volt LR with all it's built-in features, I cannot help but think it's a design study in finding solutions to issues mountain bikers have. The lumbar reservoir is a genuine plus out on the trail and a heavily loaded backpack has never felt this comfortable and secure, allowing the rider to get on with riding.

With it's sorted design, years of experience designing class leading hydration packs, extreme comfort on the trails all backed up by Camelbak's Got Your Bak Guarantee the Volt LR is hard to beat.

RRP: R 1,850.00






9 Comments

Cptmayhem, Aug 03 2015 10:02

I've been eyeing this one out... 

Iwan Kemp, Aug 03 2015 10:38

I've been eyeing this one out... 

 

Will lend it to you to try when you drop the Monkey

Cptmayhem, Aug 03 2015 10:41

Will lend it to you to try when you drop the Monkey

Sweet. 

marko35s, Aug 03 2015 11:16

Nice review.

Looks like a nice bit of kit too.

nonky, Aug 03 2015 11:23

I have owned a pack in this range for 8 months, which I bought to alleviate back pressure (I have a stuffed back / fusion).

 

I can recommend the pack, as it really DOES shift the weight to your hips and off your back.

 

It sits nice and snug and never shifts or sloshes around.

 

The pack has held up to use and abuse, and works as a half-decent back protector in wipeouts.

 

Only downside is that the hip pockets are hard to open and close while riding/racing and have got progressively harder to access. Whether this is due to design, abuse or simply wear and tear is hard to determine.

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Ken Krige, Aug 03 2015 05:55

Nice bag, as long  as the etro clip (sternum strap rail adjuster) does not pop off and break or get lost. I've been waiting for a replacement for 6 months. LBS sent photos and all to Camelbak agent in CT. They sent the wrong thing twice, including complete strap slider (older design). Now they don't seem to be able to get a replacement at all. So, based on after-sales service, I would avoid Camelbak in SA.

Iwan Kemp, Aug 04 2015 08:10

That's quite strange as one of the main reasons I just about always opt for Camelbak (apart from the features) is the fact that it's available EVERYWHERE and replacement bits are easy to get hold of. 

 

I have emailed your comment to the local agents to try and help sort you out.

Ken Krige, Aug 05 2015 08:23

That's quite strange as one of the main reasons I just about always opt for Camelbak (apart from the features) is the fact that it's available EVERYWHERE and replacement bits are easy to get hold of. 

 

I have emailed your comment to the local agents to try and help sort you out.

Thanks Iwan. The agents, Cape Cycle, responded quickly to your email and are replacing the part, which I had expected to pay for, free of charge.

 

So, I was certainly wrong in my previous comment about avoiding Camelback in SA based on service.

Iwan Kemp, Aug 12 2015 07:38

Thanks Iwan. The agents, Cape Cycle, responded quickly to your email and are replacing the part, which I had expected to pay for, free of charge.

 

So, I was certainly wrong in my previous comment about avoiding Camelback in SA based on service.

 

Great news!