Home Reviews Camelbak CamelBak ThermoBak

CamelBak ThermoBak

by Arnie

by Arnie
RRP around
Capacity:  3.0
Litres (100 oz)

-Exterior fillport with ergonomic handle for filling
on the go.

-Use D-ring attachment points to place unit anywhere.

-Quick-release shoulder straps unclip for easy removal.

-Tough, abrasion-resistant 1000D Cordura® exterior.

-Sternum Strap for added stability.

-Convenient Velcro strap management.

or die”

what a wondrous catchphrase! Here in the hottest day of the
year yet water, and more specifically my rehydration came to
mind.. this is somewhat unsurprising as it’s over 30degC in
the office and I’m working with no air conditioning having just
returned from commuting around town on my mountain bike.

I own three different CamelBaks, one for cycling (the
Ventoux), one for skirmishing (the Thermobak), and one for day
to day use, as and when needed (the Hydrobak).

From the left, the HydroBak, ThermoBak and

to say MrsArnie can’t quite see my reasoning for so much gear,
but let me explain..

a brief history:
Whilst researching the material for this
article I discovered that CamelBak will be 10 years old in August
this year. Michael Edison the man behind CamelBak came up with
the idea after competing in the “Hotter ‘N Hell” cycle
race in Texas. Fed up with fumbling for drink bottles during
the race he set to work with his tools and came up the first
CamelBak. Consisting of no more than an I.V. bag wedged into
a bike sock with some metal piping, stitched to the back of
a T-shirt! The name? Well it was given the impromptu name buy
its creator for it’s “hump like shape on the cyclist’s
Today the same simple concept is behind the
CamelBak range, although you’ll find the hydration systems have
been built into bags and apparel somewhat better looking that
socks and old T-shirts ^_^. (source CamelBak

large main compartment is suitable for everyday items from groceries
to work files. The Ventoux includes an integral helmet holder
and air channel back panel with internal frame sheet for versatility
and anatomic comfort. Should you get caught out in the rain,
don’t worry as there’s also a raincover included in the lower
pocket to keep your CamelBak’s contents clean and dry. 3 litre
hydration capacity, 25 litre cargo capacity.

or die:
It’s a good motto, and one that drives the real
need for this gear. When you exercise, no matter what you are
doing you loose body fluids. If you’ve started to get a headache,
or are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated. When you
are dehydrated your energy levels will feel low, your attention
span will be short, and worst case scenario you risk sunstroke.

mention (with research backed figures) that you should have
about one litre of water on you for every hour that you are
exercising. For one hour of exercise you should carry at a minimum
a 40 ounce CamelBak, for two hours, you need two liters (one
70 ounce), three hours of exercise means three liters (a 100
ounce CamelBak system). It may seem a lot, but believe me, through
experience you really do need it.

in general:
So what is a CamelBak? Well each hydration pack
is based on the same underlying very simple system. You have
a reservoir which is a plastic water tight bag, with a pipe
at the bottom and a refilling cap at the top. This pipe goes
to the shoulder area, and has a bit-nozzle at the end of it.
Biting down lightly on the nozzle dispenses water into the user’s
mouth. The very simple physics of the packs allow almost all
of the water in the system to be drained in this way.

I was
somewhat worried that the packs might burst if I fell of rolled
on them. Well you don’t have to be worried, shy of being shot
these packs are fairly bomb proof. Backpacker Magazine in their
own tests actually drove Toyota truck over a fully filled CamelBak,
and it survived.

I’m not doing that with mine (I paid for these suckers), but
if you don’t believe me, here’s a video
of the test that was done by the aforementioned magazine

recommend keeping a full one in the fridge ready to go, and
to be honest it’s a good idea that I’d never thought of. Not
only does the cool inhibit bacterial growth, you also have cold
water ready to go out with you on the move. Remember that all
the CamelBak hydration systems are insulated in some way, the
fill openings are actually designed so that you can add your
own ice to the pack too.

useful hints are you can use Gatorade (or some other similar
mixable sports drink) for a slightly different drink on the
move. Gatorade or similar also helps stop the pack freezing
up if you use the CamelBak under extreme circumstances.

packs fit snugly to the body and are therefore easier and more
comfortable to carry than a standard canteen or water bottle,
they are also easier (and safer) to drink from on the move.
CamelBaks do not fill up with air as they dispense fluid, so
will not slosh around on the move. When your cycling this is
a real bonus, and out skirmishing the less noise you make moving
the better.

When you get your CamelBak for the first time it needs to
be washed through and sterilized before use. With mine I tend
to wash them through completely a good few times to get rid
of the plastic taste. I’d recommend washing it through twice
completely, then filling and leaving full for a period, and
then drained.

up is the bite nozzle. This comes sealed when you get it. Don’t
cut it open!
The nozzle needs a perfect sealing gap so as
to stay water tight. Instead roll the piece between your fingers
pressing quite hard and you’ll see a little tear appear. That’s
it, you’ve prepped your feed nozzle.

Filling your CamelBak is easy, firstly completely remove the
reservoir from the bag and the unscrew the fill cap and fill
with water, I’d recommend that you hold the bag by the open
inlet, not the cap. When you reach the top, thread the cap on
gently, and then tilt the cap sideways and gently squeeze the
reservoir until the air has seeped out through the inlet cap
(you’ll hear it bubble), when water starts to drip out tighten
up the bag.

This is something you need to do every time you store your CamelBak.
– dry it our. Never store your pack damp or with water in them,
as black mould will grow on the inside, and the only way
to clean it is to dilute some bleach (1 teaspoon to one liter),
and wash it through and use the CamelBak cleaning gear,
which consists of a mop and a pull through pipe cleaner for
the feed pipe. After washing through with the bleach you’ll
need to rinse the pak our several times.

will find that it’s difficult to dry out your pack, so I’d recommend
getting the CamelBak hanger/dryer system, which is basically
a plastic expanding hanger that you can hang the reservoir up
with to dry more efficiently.

to say both of these accessories are not standard and need to
be purchased separately. The cleaning pack is a real must, the
hanger can be done without, but it’s very useful believe me.

Now you know what I’m talking about, and more specifically
what they do, lets get on with looking at the pack itself.

(NATO: 8465-01-396-9917):
The Thermobak is a milspec CamelBak,
with a more rugged Cordura outer, and and easier filling system.
The pack comes with fitted straps which can best folded away
easily to allow the pack to be shackled to webbing easily.

The new standard. You can count on the 3-liter ThermoBak®
to go the extra mile. Its ergonomic design keeps it comfortable
for hours on end. Quick-release straps stow away inside built-in
pockets to allow easy integration with load-bearing equipment
or web harness platforms.”

this model you’ll find the following features:

  • Exterior fillport with ergonomic handle for filling on the go.

  • Use D-ring attachment points to place unit anywhere.

  • Quick-release shoulder straps unclip for easy removal.

  • Tough, abrasion-resistant 1000D Cordura® exterior.

  • Sternum Strap for added stability.

  • Convenient Velcro strap management.

manufacturing specifications are given as:

  • Capacity: 3.0 Litres (100 oz)

  • Dimensions: 18.5 in x 10 in x 1 in (470 mm x 254 mm x 25 mm)

  • Volume: Cargo Only N/A Including Water 180 cu. in. (3.0 l)

  • Weight: Empty Reservoir 1.13 lbs (0.51 kg) Filled Reservoir 7.38
    lbs (3.34 kg)

Here you an see the pack with one strap stored and
folded away, the other is left out so as to give an easy comparison.

the ThermoBak is well built. You’ll find the D-rings well made,
and the stitching up to the par that you’d expect. The entire
pack is made from DuPont Cordura, although not as light as the
material of my cycling pack, it’s more likely to stop thorns
and other nasties puncturing the reservoir.

CamelBak logo is on the back, but unlike many of their products
the military versions are pleasingly understated with their
colours. There’s nothing like white labeling for giving away
your movement.

The fillcap is external which is somewhat of a change compared
to my other packs, and to be honest is a welcome change. Simply
undo the cap, hold by the middle strap and fill under a convenient
drinking water tap. The reservoir nicely fills the pack, spreading
the material out as it goes, and the center carry handle really
does a fine job, as the pack is perfectly balanced while you
fill. There’s little chance of you dropping it anyway. The HydroPak
of mine is conversely somewhat of a swine to fill and requires
a lot of practice to get the bladder out filled, and back into
the bag.

Straps and things: All of the straps have little Velcro tie
ups at the ends, that allow you to wind up and secure any spare
strap – great for getting rid of the horrible dangly bits! The
reduction in loose strapping not only reduces the chance of
snagging, it makes the whole affair a whole lot tidier.

bite down nozzle is much better than than of the civilian counterpart
(from my other pack), although both have rather obvious advantages
and disadvantages. The mil-spec nozzle is easier to operate
with gloved hands, and being black is not as ‘gawkey’ as the
civvie version.

nozzle can also be removed to allow the hydration pack to be
fitted to a gas mask or similar. The bite piece comes away at
the first gap/ridge from the end. Beware though it’s a tight
fit, and not easy to separate, you’ll need to press the two
grey button either side and I’d recommend using a blunt but
thin instrument of some kind to separate the two halves. The
entire pipe system is covered in a thermally insulating black
cover, this helps keep the pipe cool in the summer and warm
in the winter.

chest strap can be adjusted both in width, and in height – as
the entire strap system can be slid up or down the two vertical
straps. This is ideal if you wish for the pack to fit over your

Should you need to get the reservoir out of the pack, first
you’ll need to remove the fill cap cover. To remove the cap,
unthread it from the inlet, and then carefully prise the plastic
ring that holds the cap to the inlet over the threads.

undo the poppers at the back of the pack and you’ll see the
reservoir itself. You’ll need to push the clear plastic inlet
out of the stiff Cordura holding it in place.

you’ve done that you can carefully remove the plastic bladder
from the inside of the pack.

I use these products everyday, and I wouldn’t go without one
by choice. This simple ingenious design is incredibly versatile,
and can go just about anywhere a human can.

bite valves will wear out after about 3 years reasonable use,
but spares are actually fairly easy to get hold of. I actually
found a whole load at my local outdoor shop.

If you’re
out without a CamelBak on.. you’re missing out.

for addons, the proper cleaning kit is a real must, the drying
rack isn’t quite so important. One other useful accessory is
the bite valve cover. This keeps the bite valve nice and hygienic
when you’re crawling through goodness only knows what out at
an event. Hmm I seem to remember that it was pine needles and
copious quantities of sheep droppings last time.


There’s not much you need, but if you need it CamelBak
make it


the mil-spec versions are a much more robust build than
the standard civvie version.

for Money

Here in the UK they are rather pricey. I paid £55
for my military pack


A great design, that’s truly versatile.

CamelBak UK


on this review in the forums

Wednesday, July 16, 2003 9:22 PM
Copyright 2003 ArniesAirsoft

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