User Review: CamelBak M.U.L.E.
Price Paid: $80
I have used this pack extensively for the six months hiking hillsides and moderate distance trails. I find the pack has ample room for all needed equipment and enough water for a hot hike.
About the pack. I own both the military style and the civilian style of this pack. I use my civilian style, which is the Dark Cheddar and Charcoal color, when out on everyday hikes. Great visibility for trekking. I use the military version for work and hunting.
The pack has four compression straps that allow the pack to be snugged up if running only a full water bladder. The top two straps have a cinch buckle that fits into a receiver, which acts as a quick disconnect to allow easier access to the center mesh pocket and when loading the main compartment. I find this a handy feature.
Only thing I did was add a three foot piece of round shock cord with a press lock through the points where the compression straps attach to the outer part of the pack. This allows a quick cinch for placing light weight rain jackets or some extra gear. I find I can cinch trekking poles to the back of the pack with the shock cord.
The Camelbak website boasts a Dynamic Suspension™ Harness System for load stability with an adjustable sternum strap. I find the harness system does really work nice. The shoulder padding is wide enough that the straps don't cut into your shoulder with a full bladder and moderate load. I did find that the sternum strap is a must as I have wider shoulders and without the harness tends to slide outwards. Because I use the pack for hiking rather than biking I don't use the waist strap.
One thing I did find is if there is a need to drop the pack quickly there are no releases for the shoulder harness. On the Military version the shoulder straps can be unclipped and allowed to drop. I cut my harness and added buckle clips to the straps near the pack, which allows for a quick drop and still gives full adjustability.
The back panel of the pack has the "Air Direct" system. This is actually some moderately raised pads that allow great air flow between the pack and back. I find that there is little difference between this system and my other packs. My back still sweats to the same degree. The pack is comfortable on the back and you don't get the "lumpy" feel from your pack contents when the bladder is empty.
This is the primary pack I use for day hikes. Carries enough snacks and water and other gear for a day on the trail. I would recommend this pack.