In the end of 2020 we were so fortunate to be offered to test several CamelBak products in return for unbiased reviews. While Blaz has his beloved Osprey Talon backpacks, I actually haven’t owned a proper hiking backpack – till now! I received the CamelBak Rim Runner 22 hydration daypack with an included CRUX water reservoir (will be reviewed separately later), which I have been using for three months now. I have been using the backpack for various outdoor activities as well as everyday life (without the hydration system), and can therefore confirm that the CamelBak Rim Runner 22 is suitable for:
- Everyday use
The CamelBak Rim Runner has been a part of CamelBak’s hydration pack line for more than a decade now, but has been redesigned and updated a few times. Mine has “CamelBak” printed horizontally and “Rim Runner 22” printed vertically on the front while older models either have the reverse or both titles written vertically. A new quality of the backpack now is that part of the material stems from post-consumer recycled materials, so the fabric is more sustainable in origin. Besides the smooth but durable body fabric, the Rim Runner features a strong tight-woven mesh fabric on the elastic side pockets and the sides of the stash pocket on the front, while a more airy mesh fabric covers the well-padded shoulder straps, hip belt and foam back panel.
The bottom of the pack and the outside of the shoulder straps are made of an extra dense and durable material, but the thickest material is that of the compression straps, sternum strap, middle of the hip belt and the daisy chains on the front and shoulder straps, where you can clip on more gear with a carabineer or HeroClip. The hip belt is connected to the backpack via quite rigid flaps to enable a better weight transfer to the hip muscles. Like many other high-quality backpacks, the CamelBak Rim Runner 22 is highly water-resistant, but not completely water-proof as the zipper and seams aren’t sealed against rain water seeping in.
Comfort and Fit
On some pages (REI for example), the CamelBak Rim Runner is described as a men’s hydration pack, but CamelBak itself characterizes it as a unisex pack although it also offers the very similar Helena 20 pack with a women’s specific fit (i.e. it fits shorter torso lengths, and the hip belt and backpanel looks slightly different). Nevertheless, I haven’t had any fit or comfort issues with the Rim Runner. As I have a torso length of xx, I fit comfortably within the specified range for the backpack which is 43-53 cm (17-21 in). Both the hip belt, backpanel and shoulder straps are well-padded, and thus provide good cushioning even when carrying heavier loads. I can’t, however, yet attest to how much ventilation the backpanel provides as I have only been using it in winter months, while wearing a down jacket. I will of course update the review in case testing in summer should reveal something extraordinary (whether good or bad).
One thing I would like to note about the fit of the CamelBak Rim Runner is that it is a really neat detail that the sternum strap is not sewn onto the shoulder straps in a fixed position but that you can move the two parts up or down along the daisy chain on each strap. Especially as a woman it means a lot to be able to move the strap to that exact placement where it doesn’t infer with your bosom. You can also remove the sternum strap entirely. Whether you are a male, female or anything in between I recommend that you follow our guide on how to to fit a backpack – it’s amazing how tightening or loosening some (to me) seemingly random straps will make you feel much more comfortable carrying the backpack. The pack also has multiple fixation points for securing the hose of the water reservoir, so it doesn’t get in your way regardless of your movements.
Features and Functionality
The CamelBak Rim Runner has really good pockets and two compartments. As CamelBak is a brand which has always been focused on hydration and quenching thirst while on the go, the compartment closest to the backpanel is meant for the included CamelBak CRUX reservoir as it features a rigid loop inside where you can slide the handle of the reservoir into to make sure that the reservoir doesn’t move around the compartment – especially as it is being emptied gradually. This compartment is “marked” by having a single bright blue zipper (all the other zippers are the color of the backpack). Between the “water compartment” and the double-zippered main compartment, there is a padded wall which is relatively stiff and thus offer some extra structure to the pack besides the back panel.
The main compartment is of course where you have the majority of that 19.5 liter cargo space the Rim Runner 22 offers in addition to the 2.5 liter CRUX reservoir. But there is also extra space in the front stash overflow pocket with semi-elastic sides and the side pockets, where you can easily fit in pretty big water bottles or the CamelBak Chug Mag 32 insulated bottle – if you’re so lucky own one. For smaller items, I’d recommend using the zippered front pocket above the stash pocket. It has two open mesh panel pockets (each approx. 10.5×12.4 cm/4.25 x 5 in.) where you can fit a smartphone and a big wallet respectively. It could be cool if one or both of these pockets were zippered, but as the front pocket is quite small I guess CamelBak deemed it unnecessary. Inside the front pocket you’ll also find a strap where you can clip a set of keys onto.
The two zippered hip belt pockets are about 18 cm (7 in.) long and 9.5 cm (3.75 in.) wide at the widest point, and taper towards the middle; they basically have the perfect shape for carrying a 100 ml tube of sun cream each! You can of course also use the pockets for powerbars, a GPS device and whatever else you might need handy on your hike. I should mention that the interior of the CamelBak Rim Runner 22 is usually a light grey color from what I can see on all websites, but for some reason the interior of mine is bright orange! At the time of posting CamelBak has not yet replied why there is this difference, but for now I assume that I got a sample which color aside is identical to those packs with a light grey interior.
The CamelBak Rim Runner 22 hydration pack is a great daypack with lots of conveniently placed and designed pockets. The movable and removable sternum enables you to custom-fit the backpack to your preferences, whether you are a man or woman.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.