User Review: CamelBak Fourteener
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $105
The Fourteener is very light and extremely comfortable for its volume. I love the highly-breathable open mesh back and the wide hip belt.
- Weight/volume ratio
- Comfort due to breathability and stiffness of back panel
- Comfort due to padded hip belt and wide waist belt
- Excellent arrangement of pockets/compartments
- 'Helmet' pouch good for lots of stuff
- Would have been nice to have pockets on the hip belt too
- D-rings would be wonderful
I lusted for this pack for quite some time before finally buying it on sale at REI (25% off). Like many, I have way too many backpacks—far more than I will admit to in print. Still, I was missing that ideal pack for the frequent dayhikes I take with my wife where I carry just a bit too much for my Camelbak HAWG (my gear, water for both of us (sometimes for the Great Pyrenees also) and at least a little emergency gear). We are the couple you see on the trail prepared to spend the night if we break a leg. I also wanted the pack to be narrower than my Camelbak Peakbagger or my Atmos 35 so that the 1-liter bottles in the side pockets did not bang my elbows.
I am a big fan of Osprey's mesh back panels--I own the Atmos 35 and Atmos 50. I seriously considered the Manta 25, but it was just too heavy and the side pockets would not handle 1-liter bottles (for the wife and Pyr). Also important to me is a way to attach a camera and a water-bottle pouch to the front D-ring. Camelbak has been a favorite of mine because they kept D-rings longer than other manufacturers. Alas, no D-rings, but at least the included very-sturdy nylon attachment points where a D-ring should go. This works for me. The Manta 25 was sunk by its very-flimsy shoulder straps that would make it difficult to attach your own D-rings or anything equivalent.
You may have guessed that I am unlikely to use the hydration bladder, so this review will be silent about it other than to say it looks thoughtfully designed, including a 'bracket' inside the hydration pocket that is designed to hold the bladder in place.
Another big plus that pushed me to the Fourteener is the hip/waist belt. The belt is nicely padded at the hips and remains wide in front. I find belts such as Osprey's Atmos 35 and Manta 25 just a bit uncomfortable around my slightly-too-big tummy. This might be less important if you are slim, but it adds to the comfort for me.
All in all, I find the pack just as comfortable as I imagined it and I love it! If it had D-rings and hip-belt pockets, it would be perfect!