CamelBak H.A.W.G LR20 Review: BIG Pack, BIG Features, BIG Comfort

CamelBak Hawg LR20

“Hold a lotta water and gear” – H.A.W.G.  It really is an appropriate name for a pack of this size.  But in this latest iteration it somehow manages to do an even better job of managing all that water and gear.  Gone are the days of glorified book bags masquerading as technical hydration packs, modern packs are awesome.  I’ve been using the H.A.W.G for nearly 4 months now and I’ve definitely come to appreciate the gear swallowing ability of this pack.

Details via CamelBak:

Product Specifications
Hydration Capacity: 3L / 100 oz

  • Total Capacity: 20L / 1000 cu in
  • Total Weight: 2 lbs 3 oz / 1 kg (pack only)
  • Dimensions: 54 x 28 x 27.5 cm / 21.3 x 11 x 10.8 in

Product Features
The brand new Crux LR reservoir delivers 20% more water per sip while keeping weight positioned low on your back, which translates to better stability in the saddle and on the trail.

Airfoil™ back panel is our most advanced back panel providing maximum comfort and ventilation even on the longest rides

Magnetic tube trap keeps your tube secure and accessible when you need it

Stabilizing Load-bearing hip belts with cargo optimizes a custom fit and keeps essentials close at hand

Dual reservoir compression straps cinch the reservoir into the small of your back for a tight stable fit

Rain cover keeps your pack and gear shielded from inclement weather

Built in helmet carry hooks and secures a XC helmet while still allowing full access to to you pack without removing

They pack a lot of features into this pack, as they should, it is a premium priced item at $160.  But what all does that money buy you?  

  • Dual reservoir capability for really big hot days on the trail (think Moab in the Summer)
  • A tool roll – a pretty brilliant addition that keeps all your spares in one place
  • Rain Cover
  • Pockets – Seriously this thing has all kinds of pockets.  Zippered pockets, waist pockets, fleece pockets for your phone, pockets for snacks.  Basically all the pockets.
  • Low rider bladder that keeps the weight low.  
  • A really comfortable hip belt with zippered pockets (that don’t really fit a modern phone).  I do have to cinch the straps pretty far down in their adjustment range for my waist, so if you have really small hips you may want to try one .
  • Perfect spot to clip a flashing tail light
  • Really comfortable shoulder straps, seriously they’ve come a long ways.  

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CamelBak Hawg LR 20 inside
The two main compartments hold the majority of my gear.  This traditional big pocket holds bulkier items.

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CamelBak Hawg LR 20 inside
This front pocket is where I keep snacks, wallet, keys, tool roll, etc. The full zip is awesome because it makes it so easy to see what all you have packed without having to pull out everything.

I am a mountain bike guide in Western North Carolina and I chose this pack because of its’ capacity.  I need to be able to carry a lot of gear: First aid kits, extra food and water, GPS locator, spare parts, jackets, pumps, tubes, etc.  The H.A.W.G. really does an admirable job of not only holding all that gear, but keeping it organized as well.

Riding with this pack is exceptionally comfortable.  My previous Camelbak M.U.L.E. was around 8 years old, but I never really thought of it as uncomfortable until I received the new H.A.W.G.  Apparently, 8 years is plenty long enough to make significant improvements in comfort!  The shoulder straps and hip belt are really impressive.  They do not dig in or cause any irritation.  The adjustability really lets you get what feels like a custom fit.  I have done some hiking with this pack as well and been equally impressed off the bike.  The H.A.W.G. is also versatile enough to use for technical bike packing where a full suspension limits on the bike storage.

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CamelBak Hawg LR20
The Airfoil back keeps lots of air flowing over the back to help keep you cool.

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CamelBak Hawg LR20
Waist-belt pockets on both sides are nice to gain quick access to tools, keys and gels.

I do have a few nitpicks about the pack.  The upper two cinch straps use a different kind of buckle than what I’ve seen before.  It allows you to clip your XC helmet straps in nicely while still allowing access to the main compartments.  However, it is a two handed job tightening these for some reason as they don’t want to pull snug very easily.  Not a big deal, but worth noting.  Also, I am not a fan of the new lid on the latest generation of CamelBak bladders.  I liked the old quarter turn lid.

Now not everyone needs this size of a pack.  If your rides rarely take you more than an hour or so away from the car or outside of cell signal, you may not need quite this much stuff.  That’s why there are a lot of different options in CamelBak’s lineup.

There has been movement away from riding packs lately.  A lot of people are moving to a hip pack and water bottles, especially for short rides.  It is always nice to go on a ride without a pack for sure, but if you need to be able to carry more than just a phone and keys then I would not hesitate to recommend CamelBak.

“My CamelBak works fine, why would I want a new one that does the same thing?”  That was pretty much my way of thinking for a long time.  I don’t like to spend money without good reason.  But if you haven’t checked out the new ones, you are missing out.  They really are much improved.  And if this pack lasts through 8+ years of hard use like my last one, then it’s well worth the money.

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