This is a hands on review of the Camelbak Octane Dart. Although the pack is aimed mainly at runners I thought it looked perfect for my mountain biking needs.
I decided to test it out on the local trails for a one hour ride. These single track MTB trails have a good mix of fast flowy, rooty technical, switchbacks and small jump sections. So enough to put it through it’s paces.
This pack is for you if you want something light weight and small that doesn’t leave your back soaking wet from sweating. If you go shorter distance rides/runs and don’t want to be bogged down with a massive pack it’s perfect.
If you are riding all day or more than you’ll probably find there isn’t enough storage space. The 1.5L bladder might not cut it either.
It’s very small and will only fit the essentials. Once you realize you need to fasten the bladder very tightly after filling it won’t leak.
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The hydration pack is arrived in a plastic bag, no fancy packaging with this one. There are plenty of instructions and labels detailing how to use it. It feels light and high quality. It’s much smaller than I’m used to but that’s the reason I bought it.
All seems to function as you’d expect. There are two main pockets on the sides used for storage and the large main pocket holds the bladder. The bladder is latched in with a small cord to keep it in place.
Filling the bladder is made easy by holding the plastic handle. It can fit just over 1.5 litres of water. The first time I filled it and put the screw cap back on it leaked immediately. So I tried again this time screwed the cap on very tightly. This did the trick and it never leaked again.
I typically take the following for a 1-3 hour ride:
- Spare inner tube – (Yes I’m still riding tubes)
- Mini tyre pump
- Shock pump
- Car Keys
Everything fit inside the 2 pockets at the back other than the shock pump. It’s not really an essential thing to carry unless you are setting up a new bike/shocks, so I did without it.
There is even a small storage pocket on the left strap. This seems like a handy little place to keep a snack.
The inner tube was a bit of a struggle to fit but can squeeze in there with some persuasion. If you’re going tubeless I’m sure things would fit much more easily.
There was still some extra room in there and I could have fit a few more small items if needed. I also filled the bladder to max, if you don’t need as much water this could also free up some space.
How it Performed on the Trail
There is nothing worse than a leaking pack. I was a bit worried after it leaked the first time I filled it but it was water tight the entire time. Just make sure the bladder is done up very tight.
There is a switch on the drinking tube to seal it but I found it unnecessary. The end of the tube is sealed off until you bite the end and suck. It never leaked leaving the switch open but I can see this being handy if it ever does after a lot of use.
The “tube trap” holds the tube on the strap below your chest. This stops the tube flapping around and also keeps it close enough to take a sip when needed.
I did notice a slight plastic taste. I didn’t properly clean the bladder before use so this might be why. This is a common issue with hydration packs. Next time I’ll try cleaning it out with some diluted bleach.
The camelbak stayed solid on my back, there was very little movement in any direction even on the fast turns. Although I could hear some sloshing around from the water, it wasn’t to loud.
Weight and Comfort
It does feel better having less on your back. I’m used to full size backpack and that felt like overkill for the type of riding I’m doing. I also hate having to carry a water bottle.
The breathable material on the straps and back part do their jobs nicely. The profile of the bag takes up less room against your back and I can say I had a much less sweaty back at the end of the ride.
The bag itself only weighs 440 grams obviously that changes once it’s full. It felt noticeably lighter compared to my previous pack on the trail with the same gear inside.
It was comfortable, there is padding in the right places. I was worried it might fit to tightly but there is plenty of room to adjust the straps and you’re packing a few extra pounds like myself.
Summing it up
The Camelbak Octane Dart is ideal if you’re happy with just the essentials and a light weight pack for shorter runs, hikes or MTB rides.
It’s priced at the lower end of the market and is good value if you’re after a quality hydration pack.