Camelbak Fourteener Review
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Living in Colorado, one of my favorite seasons is the spring because the snow starts to melt and the trails begin to dry out. While you can hike with snow on the trials (and I do), I enjoy the changing of seasons and dry trails. On the larger and higher mountains and peaks known as Fourteener’s, snow often stays on the peak of the mountain year round and you have to choose the day you hike or climb carefully. In Colorado, the 14’er hiking season usually starts in late June or early July and goes through the end of August. This is typically because the weather patterns that come through in other months can get pretty nasty and dangerous. This is not to say that all days are bad weather days outside of the summer months, but your chances for adverse weather substantially increase. For more information on the Colorado 14’ers, please visit 4ers.com
While hiking a fourteener, it’s important to have the right gear with you. I like to have a first aid kit, rain jacket, warmer layer, food, headlamp, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, and a few dog treats for the pouches to reward them at the summit. With all of this gear, you need a backpack that can hold a little more than your standard hydration pack holds. The Fourteener by Camelbak is a great backpack for hiking fourteeners or other long hikes as it has a nice size capacity (1587 Cubic inches) and holds up to 3 liters of water. And while there are hundreds of backpacks out there that have a similar capacity of the Camelbak Fourteener, they don’t all have the features that make your trek that much more enjoyable.
For starters, the Camelbak Fourteener backpack has a suspension system called the DFIT that allows the shoulder straps to move as your body moves. The main compartment of the backpack zips open 2/3’s of the way to make it easy to get whatever you need while on a hike. I have also used the Fourteener from time to time to carry my 14″ laptop and other work materials and it has worked just fine. Please note, there is no laptop sleeve. There are two other outside zippered pockets on the Fourteener; one that is fleece lined that is nice for sunglasses, camera’s, or other valuables and another pocket that can hold other items you want quick access to. On the inside of the pocket mentioned, there is an internal zippered pocket with a key clip for those who want to secure their keys. If you like to use trekking poles or ice axes while hiking, there are two specific loops for trekking poles and one specific loop for an ice axe.
The back panel of the Camelbak Fourteener is covered by a mesh fabric and has padding near the lower back and on the shoulder blades. The rest of the backpack back is open to allow for some ventilation. This is nice for a little ventilation, but by no means does it keep your back dry. To keep the Camelbak Fourteener secure on your body, there is a good sized and cushioned hip belt that keeps the bottom of the backpack snug to your hips. There is also an adjustable sternum strap to keep the backpack from sloshing around from side to side. One thing that I would have liked to see is a whistle on the sternum strap buckle. For your hydration storage, there is a separate zippered compartment that sits closest to your back. And while the hydration bladder sits next to your back, it can’t really be felt sitting against your back.
I have been very pleased with the Camelbak Fourteener up to this point and I find it to be a great hiking companion. The 2011 Fourteener retails for $125 and can be found at a number of outdoor specialty retails and online stores. For more information on the Fourteener and other Camelback products, please visit www.camelbak.com.