Today we’re going to be taking a look at a product from Camelbak. As many of you would know, Camelbak is best known for their hydration bladder systems made for both military and civilian use and is the leader in their industry.
800px-Logo_of_CamelBak_Products,_LLC
The product we’ve been testing for the last 2 months is the redesigned 2013 MILTAC HAWG and is part of their military and tactical lineup. This medium sized cargo pack is a favourite of US Navy SEALS . As Camelbak likes to say “if it’s tough enough for them, it’s tough enough for anybody”.  It’s currently available in Black, Coyote and Multicam. Black is suitable for low-profile, “gray man” everyday usage, Coyote for hiking and also EDC and Multicam for military and outdoor applications.
camelbak-urban-setting2

Here are some quick specifications:

  • Dimensions: 19 in x 10.5 in x 10.2 in (48 cm x 26.5 cm x 26 cm)
  • Hydration Capacity: 100 oz (3 L)
  • Cargo Volume: 1220 cu in (20 L)
  • Total Volume: 1400 cu in (23 L)
  • The pack itself weighs 1 kg empty (including the water reservoir).
What impressed me the most about this pack is it’s low profile sleek design, the top-notch quality and it’s ability to carry quite a bit of gear as well as 3 L of water.
Starting from the front of the pack and working towards the back we have a full length composite MOLLE panel on the front.
This allows room for additional storage capacity and customisation for MOLLE compatible knife sheaths, medic pouches or utility pouches to carry extra items. The material used for the front of the pack is 500D ripstop Cordura. Yes 500D admittedly is not as tough as 1000D which is used in a lot of military and tactical products but it’s much lighter. If 1000D was used it would double the weight of the bag by itself. In case you didn’t know, Cordura is a highly durable, versatile, reliable water resistant fabric and dries very quickly. It is resistant to tears, scuffs and abrasions which makes it the go-to material for packs used by the military and also outdoorsmen. Cordura is built to last so anything made from genuine Cordura should serve you for many years to come. One awesome feature about this pack is that it is NIR compliant which basically means that the webbing, fabric and buckles on the system feature technologies that reduce the infrared signature of the pack.
At the front top of the bag we’ve got the Camelback logo and also a horizontal velcro strip to attach name, morale or unit patches on there. As you can see, I have my SOG Tracker patch affixed to the velcro strip.
patch
Below this velcro strip is a fairly generous front pocket which is large enough to fit my hand inside. It’s great for stashing smaller items that you might need to access quickly. There is also a key keeper for clipping your keychain too.
top pocket
At the moment, I have a keychain with a rescue glass breaker and cutter, whistle, button torch and a Leatherman carabiner along with a handful of other small bits and pieces. This pocket is also the perfect size for storing sunglasses, goggles or reading glasses.
Moving onto the admin pocket we’ve got a decent admin panel with 3 pen slots and other slots for organising notepads and other bits and pieces.
admin-panel
The main pouch is quite large and can hold an incredible amount of gear inside.
main
It also features three lashing points. One at the top and one on each side. This is perfect for maybe tying down a sleeping system or a busy item that you don’t want moving around inside your pack.
lashing-points
 All the zippers on the bag are relatively noiseless which is perfect for situations where operational security is paramounbt and you don’t want to accidentally give away your position with noisy Velcro and buckles. The zippers are YKK brand which are very high quality and made in the USA. The zipper pulls themselves are easy to use especially with gloves and they’re made of some good quality cord as opposed to the generic metal zipper pulls which create a fair bit of noise when moving. A lot of soldiers will cut off metal zipper pulls on their packs and replace it with paracord or some other type of cord. It’s great that Camelbak took this into consideration and ensured this pack had noise security and convenience in mind.
On each side of the bag there are two compression straps – one on the top and one at the bottom for compressing the bag for maximum compactness.
straps
 The clips on these straps and also the shoulder, waist and sternum strap systems are very strong and some of the best around. When compared to the clips on my Swiss Gear backpack that I sometimes use for EDC, these clips are 10 times better. There are also Velcro keepers to keep the excess straps neatly tied up and out of the way which is something that not a lot of bags have.
waist straps
 On the top of the bag there is a generous grab handle which is stitched very well and on each side of the handle there is a velcro cover. As you can see I keep a paracord bracelet made by Cam’s Cords on here.
camelbak-paracord
Underneath these covers is a small port which is designed for two way radio antennas. My 477 mHz high gain aerial can fit through this port quite easily.antenna port
 I should also note that both ports are not designed for running the drinking tube through but they do fit. However, the drinking tube has it’s own port at the top.
backThe shoulder straps have 500D cordura fabric on the front side, 420D on the backside and high quality 10 mm EVA foam padding inside making the straps exceptionally strong and comfortable even with a reasonable load on difficult terrain. It’s also quite comfortable when running. The added bonus is that is has both waist and sternum straps for maximum comfort and to take some of the weight off your back and distribute it evenly. Again the quality of the waist and sternum clips is next to nothing
back panelAt the back of the bag we have a very comfortable back panel thanks to Camelbak’s Air Director technology. This back panel is comprised of 35D Poly, 210D Nylon linings and 14 mm and 5 mm closed cell foam. There is also a zip which starts on the top left side and goes half way down the right side. This gives you access to the water reservoir or hydration bladder.
There also two lower drink tube exit ports one on each side of the back panel so that if you wish to do so, you can route the drinking tube under one of your arms and have the tube come from underneath as opposed to running it from the top port and down one of the shoulder straps.
Underneath the pack there is some PALS webbing which is perfect for lashing a sleeping bag, sleeping mat or rain poncho. There is also a drainage hole in the centre for draining any water that might enter the bag or in case of a reservoir or water bottle leakage.

MILSPEC Antidote Water Reservoir

antidote4The MILSPEC Antidote water bladder reservoir is very easy and straightforward to use and with a capacity of 3 litres (100 oz) it is great for day trips and the like.

antidote1
 It is engineered in accordance with multiple US and international military specifications and is used extensively by military units around the globe.
It features a 1/4 turn cap for easy opening and secure closure without over tightening.
antidote2
When opened, the cap has a nice keeper to prevent it from going missing. The drinking tube is connected with quick release mechanisms and there is also a on/off valve near the delivery end.
antidote3
The tube is covered in a Neoprene liner which provides some protection to the tube and is also a quick drying synthetic material.
The bladder is very easy to fill from a tap, outlet or bottles. It is also quite simple and painless to clean as the amount of parts involved are kept to a minimum. What you end up cleaning is just the bladder itself which can be cleaned using mild detergent, the drinking tube and the delivery end (where you drink from) and that is pretty much it.

Who is this pack for?

camelbak-backside

If you’re looking for a lightweight, durable, heavy-duty, medium-sized cargo pack with a hydration bladder capability and a generous amount of storage space then this bag is for you. Perfect for hiking, short-term camping (overnighters), survival, military and other outdoor activities. Because this pack is low profile and has a modest amount of MOLLE webbing on the front, it’s also ok for use as an Every Day Carry (EDC) bag in my opinion.
Probably the only barrier to buying the MILTAC HAWG would be the expensive price tag which is currently going for around $200 AUD. Of course you could secure a great deal on eBay or get it secondhand but the price is definitely worth what you’re getting with this pack. Army surplus packs can’t even compare to the quality of Camelbaks’ products – trust me on this one. I have a military surplus pack from a disposal store and it is nothing like the MILTAC HAWG – not even close.
So if you’re a first time buyer of Camelback, here are my observations of this first product of their’s that I’ve ever tried out.
  • Attention to detail is definitely there
  • The materials used are of the highest quality – this is evidenced in the choice of fabric, clips etc
  • This product is very well thought out. For example the compression straps have little Velcro keepers to keep the excess strap neat and tidy. Also the excess sternum strap was neatly wrapped around the webbing on the side.
  • Stiching is of highest quality. No accidental double stitching, excess thread hanging off etc.
  • Every feature of the bag is designed for maximum weight reduction for example the
The final word on this bag? Highly recommended is all we can say!
Buy yours from Wild Earth Australia at this link: