Product Test: CamelBak Chase Vest
CamelBak has been an industry leader when it comes to hydration. From its extensive lineup of hydration packs to its water bottles, CamelBak has the answer when you’re thirsty. In a way, CamelBak has even had an impact on frame designs over the years, with companies not including a water bottle cage in the main frame and justifying it by saying, “You can just wear a CamelBak.” Whether to wear a hydration pack or carry a bottle is a personal choice.
Tech info: The Chase vest is a minimalist hydration pack designed to use a 1.5-liter (50 ounce) bladder. This is about enough water for a 3–4-hour ride, depending on the climate and intensity of your ride. The Chase vest has an overall capacity of 3.5 liters, including the storage pockets on the back side. CamelBak designed the Chase to fit like a vest (hence the name), wrapping around a rider’s chest and shoulders with wider straps that are made from thinner material to still allow for airflow. To optimize the airflow, CamelBak uses a 3D mesh around the whole pack.
While the Chase has a very ergonomic fit, it was designed with two sternum straps and two straps on the lower part of the pack to adjust the fit against your back. Up front are pockets built into the harness for easy access to gels or snacks during your ride. For added storage, CamelBak designed the Chase vest with one larger zipper pocket on the back and two smaller compartments just below it. Retail price on this hydration vest is $100, and it is avail- able in two different colors.
On the trail: Putting on the Chase vest for the first time, we were surprised at how comfortable it felt on our backs. Dialing in the strap tension provided a very ergonomic fit. The location of the bladder did put the weight higher on our backs than we are accustomed to, but the front harness held the vest snugly in place. The hose to the bladder was easy to find and sip on, and the bite valve prevented water from leaking when we weren’t drinking. With the bladder full, there was plenty of room for our phone, keys, wallet and all the snacks that we would need for a longer ride. Even with half a buffet in the vest, we still had room for a spare 29er tube and inflation system.
When we hit the trails, the Chase vest didn’t bounce or flop around, even in chattery sections. The bladder proved to be large enough for a 3–4-hour ride in ideal conditions, but in the summer months we would take a water bottle for some insurance on longer rides. The lightweight mesh allowed for plenty of airflow and cooled us more effectively than other hydration packs we have used. One of our only real com- plaints was the 3D mesh not insulating the bladder very well. This meant that our body heat was warming the bladder and the liquid inside, making for sips of warm water that we weren’t too excited about. Even with the warm water, the Chase vest converted a few of our “packless” test riders. If you are looking for a lightweight pack that isn’t intrusive and is easy to use, the Chase vest should be at the top of your list.
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