For yonks now, bikes have been getting closer to the ground. Head angles get slacker, bottom bracket heights lowered, dropper seat posts introduced, all in the name of getting a lower centre-of-gravity. Get the mass down low, you’ve got more stability, especially in the corners. So why, oh why, has it taken so long to apply this logic to our packs?!
The Skyline 10LR is from the new Low Rider line of CamelBak packs, so called because it positions the weight of the pack down closer to your hips, rather than in the centre of your back. The new lumbar bladder is shorter, but wider, with kind of a ‘winged’ shape that spreads the load outwards rather than up. Inside the bladder there’s a baffle, that reduces the sloshing about of the water, making it more stable once again.
Finally, there are two bladder compression straps, which are the red toggles on the hip straps. The idea is that you pull these as the water level in the bladder drops, helping squish the bladder flat against your body, which makes it more secure and also helps get all the water out without sucking like a Hoover.
In terms of features and storage, the stand out elements for us are: the inclusion of a tool roll, which keeps your spares and tools in one neat pack; the elasticised and zippered hip pockets which are ideal for stashing gels or snacks; and the quarter-turn bladder lid, that is easy to open with gloves on.
There’s a lot of external storage for a pack this size too, with compression straps for stashing a jacket and big external pouch which can hold up to four sweet potatoes.
If you’re accustomed to running your packs nice and tight so they don’t flop about, then you’ll notice the Skyline feels very different to wear. Rather than having the pressure of the pack pressing between your shoulder blades, it rests more in the small of your back, and it doesn’t press against you quite so hard. Resist the temptation to over-tighten the shoulder straps to position the pack higher on your back – it’s meant to hang a little lower. It might feel strange for a few minutes, but it’s a much more stable arrangement.
Even with a full three litres of water on board, the Skyline is a pleasure to wear.
It’s noticeably more stable than equivalent capacity non-Low Rider CamelBak packs, which were already very comfy.
For this particular tester, a notorious pack avoider, finding a pack that is this unobtrusive when riding rough trails is a big win.
In terms of complaints, we can only point our finger at the magnetic hose holder. It’s tricky to slot the hose back into the narrow little clasp when you’re riding. We also needed to keep reminding ourselves to give the red bladder compression tabs a pull every so often to get the maximum pack stability.
If you’re looking for a high-capacity pack that doesn’t feel like you’ve got a duffel bag strapped to your back, then this is the one.
Our new favourite? Indeed.
While fast and wild riding is when you’ll most appreciate the performance of Skyline 10LR, you don’t have to be riding super technical trails to appreciate the benefits either. It’s just a more comfy and exceptionally well-made pack, full-stop.