Camelbak Charge 10 LR Review

by Brian Mullin on November 28, 2012

The
CamelBak Charge 10 LR hydration pack is extremely comfortable, light
and conformable, and features their lumbar Antidote reservoir, which is
located at the bottom of the pack. The design places the water low on
the hips and back for stability and comfort, and the pack becomes part
of your back, at least figuratively, as it conforms to the shape and
oddities of your body. The Charge 10 LR uses lightweight ripstop fabric,
has great organizational pockets, a softly padded back panel and hip
belt, and uses their 70 oz (2 L) Antidote Reservoir.

CamelBak Charge 10 LR
The Charge 10 LR (Lumbar) weighs in at a svelte 507 grams, and has
padded back, hip, and shoulders, and is constructed with their
Ultra-light materials, using a combination of ripstop and stretchy
nylon. The wraparound body uses their LV back panel, and Ultra-light 3-D
Mesh Independent Suspension with Slider Sternum Strap. The upper
portion of the pack has a long and narrow zippered main compartment,
which opens in clam shell style for easy access. It has three
meshed organizational pockets, one large and two smaller ones, and the
larger one has a Velcro closure tab. There is an overflow storage sleeve
on the back, which extends down the bottom two-thirds of the pack, and
closes off with a cinch strap. The sleeve uses very stretchy fabric, so
it can expand to hold various apparel or other items as required. The
padded hip belt uses 1-inch webbing with a front clip, and has zippered
cargo pockets on each side. In addition, the pack is equipped with
lumbar compression straps, which draws the bottom of the pack into the
back as the reservoir’s water volume decreases, keeping things
stabilized, with the weight in tight to the body.  All the pockets and
compartments combine together to give 488cu in or 8L of storage space,
although the outer sleeve adds quite a bit of additional volume. The 70
oz. or 2L Antidote reservoir with the Quick Link connector, sits in a
zippered pouch at the lower back, wrapping backwards around the hips and
the lumbar. The pack will come in two colors, Pirate Black/Graphite and
Skydiver/Dove (tested), and will retail for $110.

Antidote LR Reservoir
The Antidote lumbar reservoir (70 oz/2 liters)  sits horizontal in
contrast to the typical vertical layout, and it includes mini baffles
(the small cutouts) to keep the water from sloshing around and keep the
shape from getting too fat (flatter bladder), and it makes it bend
easier at the wings. The bite valve worked quite nicely, and was easy to
draw, and didn’t leak.  The screw cap for the fill port takes only a
quarter turn to open or close, and it does not get stuck and require
brute force to open. Just line up the arrow on the cap with the circle
icon ‘O’ (with arrows pointing in tightening direction), and turn it a
quarter turn clockwise until it lines up with the solid circle icon by
the top hanging hook. It only takes a light touch to close the cap, and
its water tight and snug. The fill port has a wider diameter hole for
easier filling, cleaning and drying, and has a handle which hooks
onto the drop slot of the packs zippered pouch, helping to keep it
stable and secure, and makes it handier to hold the cumbersome wide
reservoir. They added an auto shutoff quick disconnect, named the Quick
Link, which allows you to disconnect the reservoir from the drink hose,
which facilitates cleaning, filling and drying.

Impressions
The Charge 10 LR carries over most of its design from the excellent
Charge LR, and has added some great new features, yet has still retained
the excellent low lumbar weight carrying and stability characteristics
of its brethren. The Charge 10 LR has lowered the pockets in the main
compartment, changed to the LV back panel, added their new helmet hook
and an air pump holder, and placed the reservoir compartment on the
back. The construction, reinforcement and stitching have been greatly
improved over its predecessor, which adds to the longevity and
durability of the pack.

I have used the pack since the summer, and
it has been thoroughly abused, and has been quite durable and tough for
a pack made from lightweight materials.  The lumbar design pulls the
weight off the shoulders, and moves it onto the lumbar and lower back,
offering increased stability and weight carrying characteristics, and
draws the center of gravity in close to the torso.

The
LV back panel uses their ‘integrated ventilated system’, and it’s soft
and conformable, and offers good comfort and ventilation, though with
everything squished up against the lumbar, it can get damp in that
particular spot.  The bottom of the pack rolls around your hips and
feels like a favorite comfy pillow. The hip belt and back panel were
nicely padded, and highly flexible, so it conformed extremely well to
the contours of your back, and it carried the weight in a balanced
manner. The shoulder straps were minimally padded and with the lighter
loads, the pack would be carrying it doesn’t really need much anyway,
though I found them quite comfortable. The pack itself is feathery
light, and I never felt the weight, even with the full two liters of
water and the additional gear being carried. By having the weight of the
water pulled down into your lumbar and not on your shoulders, along
with the rest of the gear being snuggled tightly into the back; the pack
seems to disappear, while offering excellent stability. The
conformability and stability of the design mean the packs doesn’t flop
around on rough terrain, and stays put no matter what is going on, and
felt like it was Velcroed in place. With the weighting drawn into the
lumbar and lower back, it meant the shoulders were freer to move, which
was advantageous in technical terrain, and reduced back, shoulder and
neck  strain
.

The
lumbar compression straps, which are located on each side of the hips,
are hidden inside the wings, and help pull the bottom of the pack into
the back when the extra girth of the used up water reservoir shrinks
during usage. It keeps the pack, load and weight stable and centered on
the back, and can be done on the fly. Although its primary use is for
the reservoir, it can also be used to trim and alter the way the pack
sits on your back, giving one micro tuning customizations, and I used
this feature frequently on every ride.

The
main compartment had a nice long zipper, which opened along most of the
pack’s length, allowing efficient access to everything without having
to dig around for hidden items. The three mesh pockets in the main
compartments are located at the bottom of the pack for stability and to
keep the weight on the hips. They offered effective organizing for
tools, parts, and other sundry items, and the small Velcro closing tab
on the inner one kept things in place. The pump holder sat up higher in
the pack above the pockets, and worked nicely to keep the pump secure
and out of the way. The hip belt’s two cargo pockets are quite roomy,
and I used them for my cell phone, camera, tools, and keys. I do wish
there was a key hook in one of them, as it would be a great place for
quick access to your keys. The back sleeve pocket was excellent for
overflow storage, and the stretchy material on its side allowed a jacket
or armor to be placed in it. It was easy to route the hydration tube
from the shoulder strap, through the top of the main compartment and
then inserting it through the port by the pockets into the reservoir
back chamber.

The
Antidote lumbar reservoir system worked extremely well, and the new
screw closure only takes a quarter turn to open and close, and the wide
mount is easy to pour into and clean, though to fill to capacity you do
need to hold it with the handle at a slight angle to facilitate. A
minuscule amount of water can get stuck in the nooks of the wings,
exacerbated by the prone cycling position. Most of the water gets pulled
out of the wings by the partial vacuum produced by drawing water
towards the inlet when drinking, and body movement, such as pedaling and
hip swivel aid in drawing any lingering remnants back towards the
center. Testing showed a worst-case scenario of 4 oz or 1/2 cup of water
staying in the reservoir, some in the wings, and the rest where the
draw port wasn’t able to extract the residual. Doing the same experiment
with a normal reservoir, there were 1-2 oz or 1/8-1/4 cup of water
left. The Quick Link is pretty sweet, and facilitated clipping and in a
leak-free manner for the bladder removal, though on occasion, the hose
would dribble some water, so I would blow the hose clean beforehand.
With age, I found the push button connector on it got stiff, and made it
tougher to remove the tube.

The hydration reservoir compartment
is now located at the back of the pack, and this new design makes it
easier to swap out a full reservoir when the pack is fully loaded with
gear. To remove the reservoir, unzip the compartment, pull it out and
unclip the tube. You can fill the reservoir back up, clip the tube, push
the tails into the hip belt, and then hook it back on and zip it shut.

Measured Specs:

  • Pack Weight (no reservoir) –  507 grams /  17.9 oz
  • Antidote Reservoir (with hose) –  184 grams /  6.5 oz
  • Total Weight – 691  grams /  24.4 oz

Bottom Line
The CamelBak Charge 10 LR is a superb pack, and synergy of the lumbar
design, low slung reservoir, conformable back panel and hip belt, and
functional suspension system makes for a fantastically stable and
comfortable entity. The pack adheres to your back, like its attached
with Velcro, and it carries the weight centered properly on your hips,
lower back and lumbar. It seems to all but disappears, and during any
type of extreme riding it didn’t flop or bounce around. The lumbar
compression straps helped pull the bottom of the pack into the back when
the reservoir started to shrink in size, and it was useful for doing
customized load and fit trimming.  Besides the exceptional load carrying
and stability characteristics, the pack had some other excellent
features, including helmet hooks, the main compartments clam shell
opening and mesh pockets, the roomy side cargo pockets, and the stretchy
back overflow sleeve.  The 70 oz (2 L) of water is fine for short
rides, and the storage space works adequately, especially when adding in
the rear sleeve.

The Antidote lumbar reservoir was easy to clean,
and install in the pack, but it was cumbersome to fill (especially
re-filling) and difficult to dry properly, and the Quick Link’s button
got stiff with age. I would have liked a keychain hook in the hip cargo
pockets for convenience.

The Charge 10 LR’s innovative design,
lightweight materials, soft padding, and its highly flexible nature,
create a plush and comfortable pack, and it becomes one with the back,
and has just enough space for moderate rides.

Strengths

  • Antidote bladder system
  • Comfortable,  conformable and nicely padded
  • Weight and pack disappear
  • No flopping and bouncing around
  • Clam shell opening
  • Lumbar compression straps
  • Main compartments mesh pockets
  • Overflow sleeve
  • Helmet hooks

Weaknesses

  • Cargo pockets need a keychain hook
  • Reservoir difficult to dry
  • Reservoir cumbersome to fill/re-fill
  • Quick connect button gets stiff with age

MSRP: $110

Overall Rating: 5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Charge 10 LR Specs:

  • MSRP $110
  • Ultralight lumbar reservoir pack for light and fast rides.
  • Antidote Reservoir with Quick Link System
  • Capacity:  10L (8L + 2L Reservoir)
  • Pack weight: 0.45kg
  • Pack dimensions: 50 x 58 x 15cm
  • Back panel: LV
  • Harness: Ultralight 3-D Mesh Independent Suspension™
  • Belt: Fixed 25mm with cargo pockets
  • Features:
    Ultralight materials, Bike tool organizer pocket, Helmet hook, Stretch
    overflow storage, Lumbar compression, Media pocket
  • Fabric: 40D Diamond Ripstop, 230D Taffeta & 210D Nylon with DWR + 1000 mm PU + Silicon

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