CamelBak Hellion Review
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What started out as a simple way to carry water while biking or hiking has turned into a huge product category all it’s own. Camelbak started things off years ago and continues to be the leader in the hydration pack market. The Hellion is in the snowsports line and at 1478 cubic inches, it is big enough to carry the backcountry essentials, but is still small enough for a simple day at the resort.
Hydration is the name of the game and the 100 oz. reservoir carries plenty of water for the day. The bladder has it’s own dedicated compartment located on the back of the pack. Initially, I thought it might feel odd to have the reservoir so close to my back, but once on I couldn’t feel it at all. By keeping the bladder close to the body, the water stays warmer due to your body heat. To keep the water from freezing in the hose it has an insulating thermal cover and is run through the shoulder strap before exiting out of a zipper. This works very well at keeping the water from becoming a solid block of ice. I have used this pack skinning, resort riding and on a few day trips to the backcountry and have yet to have it ice up on me. One trick that helps is to blow into the hose after you drink to keep water out of the mouthpiece and hose. If you do this, you should have flowing water all day long.
With the hydration covered, Camelbak gave the Hellion some other great features. Starting with the exterior, backcountry users will appreciate it’s ability to carry boards or skis. 2 adjustable straps cross the pack and use buckles for carrying a snowboard. For skiers, there are Velcro loops and straps to carry your skis either A frame style or diagonally. 3 small loops stitched at the top are good for attaching a helmet to the outside of the pack and there is a shovel blade pocket as well. A medium sized waist belt with stash pockets keeps the pack from moving around and the pockets are perfect for a bar or multi-tool. The chest strap is fully adjustable and stayed put no matter how tight I pulled it, a big plus. Excess strapping from the waist belt and shoulder strap is kept in place by a Velcro or elastic loop. This keeps them from flapping in the wind on the ride down, or hitting your hand as you hike up. I was always able to adjust the fit to what I wanted and never felt constricted.
Inside the pack, the features continue. The main compartment layout is very good. I am not a fan of having lots of little storage areas on a pack. Sure it means things can have their own spot, but I find I have to go through 3 pockets before finding what I’m looking for. Give me 2 main pockets and a few small internal pockets and I’m good. The Hellion gets high marks for it’s organizational layout. On top of the pack there is a small zippered pocket, not really needed in my mind, but good for a bar, and a lined goggle pocket, which I do like. There is 1 main compartment with a water resistant sleeve running ¾ of the way to the top for keeping damp items separate. There is plenty of room for extra layers, gloves, food and 2 vertical tube sleeves on the sides to store your probe. 2 compression straps around the main compartment allow you adjust the amount of room you need. At the top of the compartment are 2 small mesh pockets, good for hand warmers or ski straps and since I can easily see what’s in them I like them. During a day trip to a local pass I was able to carry all the essentials, plus extra gear for myself and friends. When I tried the Hellion at the resort I lost some room on the lift, but it wasn’t terrible and I could still bring the bar down.
Whether you ski the resort or search for fresh powder on the pass the Camelbak Hellion is worth a look. Features like a big reservoir and a smart layout and plenty of space make it a good choice for any skier or boarder. For more info on the Hellion and other Camelbak products, visit www.camelbak.com.
CamelBak Hellion MSRP $110