Before I got my own hiking daypack, I’ve always used a small hydration pack I received for Christmas, with rooms for a couple snacks, phone, and wallet for day hikes. For longer hikes, I’d just borrow a hiking daypack (turns out I know tons of people who just buy a bunch of hiking backpacks and not really use them). I get it, hiking backpacks can get expensive (that’s why I didn’t get my own for years), especially if you’re picky (like I am) but I’ve learned that a well fitted hiking backpack makes a big difference especially on long hikes.
Borrowing backpacks had its advantages. It gave me insights on how the fit of a bag really matters and what kind of bags I DON’T want. I’ve used packs too big for me, where the weight distribution was off, with no hip or sternum straps and a pack where the shoulder strap continuously scratched my arm. It’s fair to say that I’ve had my share of using bad packs for a while now (although any pack is better than none!). An ill fitting backpack can throw your balance off especially if you enjoy mountain running and rubbly trails. So when it came time to get my own daypack, comfort and weight distribution were a couple of my biggest priorities.
Choosing a daypack depends on what YOU need. I chose the Camelbak L.U.X.E LR14 based on my needs which may not be the same as yours.
What was I looking for in a daypack?
- Room for enough food and water for long hikes.
- Enough room for my mirrorless camera but it doesn’t have to be a specific camera compartment.
- Something specific for day hiking, I won’t be using it for backpacking and it doesn’t need to be stylish enough to use for city commute.
- Back ventilation because it can get so hot and sweaty without it!
- Hip belt, sternum strap, compression straps, lots of pockets.
- A hydration pack.
- Something that will fit my short torso.
The Camelbak Low Rider L.U.X.E LR14 met most of my needs. If your needs are different than mine, check out this comprehensive article about daypacks by Switchback Travel that will help you pick one.
The Camelbak Low Rider was designed for biking but I use it mostly for hiking. It’s a 14L with the CRUX 100oz capacity reservoir. Here are some of the specs that stood out to me:
- Designed to distribute weight from your shoulders to your waist
- Includes 3 liters of hydration
- Magnetic tube trap to keep your tube from whacking around
- Back panel for ventilation
- Hip belts with pockets for things like camera lens cap and food!
- Compression straps to cinch the reservoir to keep it tight
- A rain cover
- Lots of storage!
- Women’s specific design featuring a shorter back panel and s-curved harness
WHAT I LIKE (this goes hand in hand with the list above also)
- It fits my torso well. This has always been a big issue because I have a short torso.
- The back ventilation keeps my back dry.
- The hip belt pocket is awesome for quick access.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE
- Camelbak color combination options are usually typical. There’s no fancy, neutral colors like maroon, cool grey, red orange, or whatever else.
- Since the hydration pack that’s included is horizontally designed to keep weight on your lower back, it may be difficult to smush a filled hydration pack into its compartment. It also leaves a lot of empty space above the hydration pack that could be put to use if there was a small pocket or something. This would be fine if you have the vertical hydration pack instead.
- The back panel isn’t removable. This is okay for me now but in the beginning I was thinking, why isn’t it removable?! Give me options! But now I’m fine with it. Others might not be though.
- The water hose sometimes gets clipped on the magnetic tube reducing the flow of water. This only happens when you curve the hose to drink from it. A little annoying but all it takes is a little wiggling to free it.
Overall, I enjoy using the Camelbak Low Rider L.U.X.E LR14. I’ve been using the Low Rider for a few months now and I’m still happy with it. It works well for hiking with enough room to fit my day hiking gear comfortably. I noticed some annoyances and improvements that can be made but they’re not deal breakers. I would recommend this for someone who’s looking for a hiking day pack if they’re not on a budget. Just keep in mind that since it’s made specifically for mountain biking, there’s also features like helmet hooks and gear organizers that may also be helpful to use for climbing. Other brands you can check out for women-specific fits are Mountain Hardware, Gregory, Deuter, and Osprey.