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CamelBak Day Star 18

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: CamelBak Day Star 18 hydration pack

The Daystar is a really nice daypack offering good comfort and storage and an excellent hydration system.


  • Camelbak's hydration system is unmatched, functional, durable


  • No waist strap, so keep the load manageable

Picked up this women-specific Camelbak for my wife and it's a winner. If you're looking for a nice daypack with a good hydration system, this one should be near the top of the list.

The front of the pack features a very tall and spacious storage compartment that spans nearly the entire top-to-bottom area of the pack. Inside is a small organizer pouch with a couple of zippered pockets for items such as wallets or other small or important items you want to protect, and plenty of room for additional storage. 

The front storage area isn't deep but will work great for smaller and flatter items like maps, beanies, snacks, etc.  The front of the pack also features several daisy-chain style loops which can handle smaller carabiners or clips for items you want to access quickly. Two external mesh pockets, one on each side, are provided and are deep enough to handle extra water bottles or other fairly tall items.

The main storage compartment here is definitely "day pack" sized, offering enough space for an extra layer or two, hat and/or gloves, an extra water bottle, food, camera, gps, sunscreen, and just about any other item you might need for a day trek.  It's not meant for multi-day backcountry adventures, but it's plenty big for a day outing.

The pack has a special zippered storage area for the included 2 liter hydration bladder on the back of the pack.  Camelbak's bladders are awesome — never had one leak or fail on me. The drinking tube runs through a small slot in the storage area and secures onto either shoulder strap. The bite valve that activates water flow is simple and effective, and features a shut off valve for times when you won't be drinking (before or after hitting the trails or slopes when you're transporting the pack, for example).

This pack has a chest compression strap but no waist strap, again affirming that this is for shorter day trips instead of longer, more physically demanding outings where the added support of a waist strap would be needed.  The shoulder straps have velcro ties to keep the loose ends of the straps bundled up and out of the way.

What makes this pack women-specific is a slightly tweaked fit on the straps, suiting them to a generally shorter and more narrow torso size. The straps also have a nice soft fleecy binding that adds a little comfort. 

All in all this is a great day pack for the ladies and is recommended.

Source: bought it new

Overall - I was very pleased with the Women’s Day Star hydration pack. I am petite (5’ tall) and this pack was short enough to fit comfortably on my back. I purchased it for a strenuous 12.2-mile day hike in the Grand Canyon. The hike lasted 8 hours and the Day Star allowed me to carry everything I needed in a compact, efficient, minimalist way.

Pros - The pack was large enough for me to carry three 1L bottles of liquid in addition to the 2L reservoir filled to capacity, snacks, a small lunch, suntan lotion, and other small supply items. I clipped two carabiners to the daisy chain that were handy for carrying layers of clothing which started to come off during the heat of the day. The carabiner/daisy chain system made it convenient to attach gear to my pack without having the hassle of unloading and rearranging the contents inside it.

Cons – The bite valve is made of a soft, rubber material that easily collected lint and dust whenever it touched anything, and even though a small Velcro pouch is built into the shoulder strap to house the end of the tube, the pouch itself also tended to collect dirt. It would be useful and more hygienic if the bite valve could be covered by a small, all-enclosed casing when the pack is used in transit, like when traveling through airports and stuffing the pack under the plane seat in front of you.

Price Paid: $55

Best as a daypack for light hiking, day trips, overnights, and city exploring. Also usable for commutes and school.


  • Accessible hydration pocket
  • Outer pocket with many interior compartments
  • Durable
  • Comfortable


  • No waist straps
  • No compression straps

Fit: Women and teens. The straps fit very well on large to mid-size chests. Adjustable shoulder straps and light chest strap. 

Capacity: Hydration pocket fits two liter-bladder. The larger pocket can fit enough regular clothing for 2-3 nights or heavier outdoor gear for 1 night. It can also fit smaller textbooks and up to a 14-inch laptop. The smaller pocket is ideal for any smaller items, such as flashlights, first aid kits, school supplies, electronics, etc. It can be difficult to get to the bottom of the smaller pocket. The larger pocket and all the interior pockets are extremely accessible. 

Load & Ride: The load is distributed primarily on the shoulders and back. I do not recommend it for a running backpack or heavy loads, as it has no compression straps or waist straps. However, it's perfect for lightweight hiking and for city exploring. The separate hydration pocket and two accessible mesh side pockets make it perfect for summer hikes. 

Durability: The material is lightweight and water-resistant, but not waterproof. When using it in the rain, sometimes my clothing has gotten a little damp, but my electronics have never gotten wet. Despite constant hard use, it has no rips or tears. Some minor aesthetic seams are fraying and some of the fabric looks a little worn, but that's all aesthetic and won't affect the use.

Use: Great for school, work/gym commutes, day trips, and short overnights. I've used it daily for 2.5 years for short trips, day hikes, and school. It's survived being tossed up and down mountains, constant use, rain, light snow, scorching heat and sun, and the daily rigors of school with only light fraying of aesthetic seams and no rips or tears. 

Source: bought it new

The pack details recommend it for 2-3 hour hikes. For that length of a hike, it's great. It's sleek and provides a snug fit for my short torso, although I'm 5'7". The reservoir is super durable and doesn't make the water taste like plastic.

However, when taken on a longer 5-hour hike, it really seemed to pull on my shoulders and that is where I could see that a waist/hip belt would really come in handy to take the load off of my shoulders. I almost got the Camelbak Ventura, which has a waist belt, for this very reason - but the Daystar was a better fit for my short torso. 

I was carrying a gore-tex jacket, lunch, wallet, phone, some protein bars. I had both the reservoir filled as well as two, sixteen oz. water bottles. (16 oz for my dog.)

By the way, I agree with the other reviewer, who said the reservoir tip gets dusty easily. However, wrapping a tiny bit fabric to hang down over it with a rubber band could easily solve this, since it's really a great backpack.

I'm having quite a bit of trouble finding a women's specific hydration backpack which will accommodate a 100-oz. reservoir for my short torso, so I went with the short Day Star with the 70-oz reservoir.

The bag is compact and it really distributes the items you are carrying throughout the pack, so that it's not pulling you backward and throwing you off-balance. It feels like it's part of your body when you're going up rocky hills and such. I've ordered the Osprey Sirrus 24 and I'm a bit concerned about this issue.

If you're using this for 2-3 hours, which I did today, then I highly recommend this pack for: the comfort, sleek fit, organization pockets, reservoir and price, since it's on sale at many stores.

Price Paid: $54

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Price MSRP: $65.00
Historic Range: $15.98-$89.99
Reviewers Paid: $54.00-$55.00
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