There was a point in time when Camelbak made great hydration packs for cyclists, trail runners, and other endurance athletes, but if you wanted a good daypack for hiking, you generally looked elsewhere. In recent years however, the company has upped its game in the hiking space, bringing improved fit, better comfort, and more refined features to go along with its already outstanding hydration options. But for 2018, the company’s popular Fourteener 24 is getting a revamp that could make it one of the top options for serious backcountry explorers.
When redesigning the Fourteener, the Camelbak team took a close look at some key areas where it could be improved and went about addressing those concerns directly. For instance, the backpanel on the current model offers solid performance in terms of distributing the load of the pack and offering a decent level of ventilation. But the newly updated version offers substantially improved airflow across the back, which translates to a higher degree of comfort. The bag is also equipped with thicker padding, allowing it to ride better even when it is packed to the brim with gear.
The Fourteener’s hipbelt received a complete redesign as well, which has led to an improved fit and the ability to more comfortably carry heavier loads. The outgoing model does include a hipbelt, but it isn’t particularly noteworthy. The new version, on the other hand, features an innovative design that includes a set of “wings” that are a part of the backpack, but also connect directly into the hipbelt through a set of straps. When the belt is snapped into place, and those strapped are adjusted to fit, these wings wrap around the back and hips of the wearer, hugging the body nicely. This helps to keep the bag from jostling about, even when running, climbing, or scrambling. It also places the weight of the pack squarely on the hips, making it more comfortable to wear over an extended period of time.
As the name implies, this pack offers 24 liters of storage, yet somehow it feels like more than that. Its main compartment is cavernous in size and can hold quite a bit of equipment, including food, a jacket, first aid kit, and other trail essentials. The Fourteener also comes equipped with a fleece lined pocket for carrying sunglasses or a smartphone, and an exterior stretch overflow pocket is perfect for stashing items that you want to keep close at hand. Extra storage pockets can be found on the hipbelt and there are built-in straps for securing trekking poles.
Of course, this being a pack from Camelbak, the hydration system is top notch. The Fourteener comes with a dedicated hydration sleeve built to hold Camelbak’s excellent 3-liter Crux reservoir, which is included with the bag. The company’s redesigned bladder made its debut earlier in the year, and is easily one of the best options for grabbing a drink while out on the trail. It has a leak-proof cap, a bite valve that offers more water per sip, and a handy lock off lever for sealing the tube when not in use. It is even equipped with a handle that makes it easier to refill and pull in and out of the pack.
All of these features add up to a major upgrade to the Fourteener, which was already a solid daypack to begin with. The new version, which should go on sale in January of 2018, is simply more durable, comfortable, and versatile than the current iteration, making it easy to recommend for those looking for a good pack for longer day trips or peak bagging excursions.
The new Fourteener will be available in two colors (charcoal and galaxy blue) and in two sizes, a 24L for $150 and 20L $130.