My wife has been bugging me for a long time to spend more time with her and our little girls in the outdoors. Finally I gave in and looked around for the pack to carry while hiking with them. I bought the Camelbak Motherlode, and a few months later I'm still amazed how functional and useful this pack can be.
To make a long story short, here is why I find this pack to be the no. 1 when going on trips or any outdoor activities:
- there is so much space inside! You can put all the things you need when riding the motorcycle or hiking with your kids (diapers and energy bars fit very well, I tried them both :))
- easy to track things inside, even if it’s so large
- drinking tube and a 3-liter water bladder are included.
- there is a pouch for your laptop as well
- even when fully loaded, the pack remains compact (there are compression straps on the upper and lower the sides that help do this)
- the Molle webbing is great and it’s located in the most usable zones
- the pack is well constructed and seems long lasting
- the zippers, the buckles, the webbing and the nylon are high quality for sure
- the padding on the back is very good and the pack feels light even when it’s full
- the waist strap is removable as is the hydration part (you can actually use the slot for something else)
- there is an on/off valve on the drinking tube, a dust cover and neoprene insulating sleeve on the tube... nice touches indeed!
- I used the two rings from the shoulder straps for my radio (when I’m not with my kids, of course), my flashlight and the compass (these I always take with me- kids or no kids! )
There are some things I didn’t like about this pack, but they’re not that many. It's a good exercise to mention the cons, however:
- the price is quite steep, but that's pretty much a constant with good quality packs
- sometimes, when fully loaded, for some reason (I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong), the pack seems to pull away from my body (can’t balance it right)
- the pull tabs from the zippers go untied sometimes
- even though it’s so easy to load this pack, a few pounds later the pack is overloaded and not that easy to carry anymore. So don’t overdo it, or you'll learn that the hard way!
I like this Motherload also because it has so many useful pockets, while the pack remains compact. You can take this on a multiday trip for sure, since its capacity is rather large (2442 cubic inches/40L).
All in all, I think any military or civilian will find this pack a go-getter anytime.