Ausgabe #034 Issue #034 Review

CAMELBAK M.U.L.E. 5 – Our long-term review of the hip pack with a 1.5 L bladder

For many, hip bags are like Adam Sandler’s films: If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. The CAMELBAK M.U.L.E. 5 Waist Pack, however, has some features that promise to make it stand out from the crowd. We put the hip pack through its paces and found out if it has what it takes to be your personal water boy on the trail.

Weight: 558 g | Price: € 90 | Size: 5 L | Manufacturer’s website

The CAMELBAK M.U.L.E. series offers a versatile range of products designed to work for both short rides and long adventures. That’s what M.U.L.E stands for: Medium to Ultra Long Endeavor. At first glance, the M.U.L.E. hip bag looks significantly more compact than the specified 5 litre capacity suggests. With a large main compartment, a small, zippered pocket on the front, two bottle pockets on the sides, and two pockets on either side of the hip belt itself, it offers plenty of storage options, nonetheless. The € 90 price point includes a 1.5 L lumbar reservoir. The belt clips in place with a classic buckle.

The hip bag gets clipped in place with a standard buckle.
Despite the 5 L capacity, the M.U.L.E. 5 looks quite compact. But it offers plenty of space for all your trail essentials.

Like the bag itself, the main compartment of the hip pack isn’t huge, though it offers enough space for all your trail essentials. The compartment is divided into two small mesh pockets, and a compartment for the bladder. The CAMELBAK CRUX bladder has a special screw cap that can be found on many of CAMELBAKs other reservoirs. The twist-lock closure is easy to open and close thanks to the large handle, making it easy to fill the bladder. However, the large cap takes up a lot of valuable space in the bag – there are significantly more compact closures on the market. Moreover, the blue tube clashes slightly with the otherwise all-black look of the hip pack.

The tube is held in place with a magnet – simple, but not the most secure.
Small items are always within reach in the belt pockets.

If you want to take a sip while sitting on the bike, the M.U.L.E. 5 makes it easy to do while always keeping at least one hand on the handlebar. The lever on the bite valve allows for one-handed operation and the tube is attached to the belt with a magnet. However, we found that the magnet wasn’t secure enough for active riders and rough trails, resulting in the tube coming loose when you hit it with your arm. Pro tip: if you stick the mouthpiece into the left pocket in addition to using the magnetic clip, the tube will stay put. The tube isn’t attached to the bag at any point between the outlet port on the hip pack and the magnetic mount, allowing it to dangle around – no matter how securely the mouthpiece is attached. The hip bag itself, on the other hand, sits very securely. It didn’t shift on the descents, and we experienced no pressure points or the like, even on long days in the saddle.

All bottles we tested fit easily into the two bottle pockets, and they can be cinched down with the provided straps. The straps also serve to take up slack if the hip bag isn’t fully loaded or you’ve emptied the hydration bladder. However, this only works if you haven’t got any bottles in the pockets. Depending on the setup, the M.U.L.E. 5 can carry between 500 and 3,000 ml of water, so it really will work for everything from a post-work jaunt to an all-day adventure. The bungee cord on the top of the hip pack adds to this versatility. Referred to as the Bungee Overflow by CAMELBAK, it lets stow a lightweight jacket or other clothing items if necessary.

The CAMELBAK M.U.L.E. 5 Waist Pack looks simple at first glance, but it boasts some features that make it super versatile and thereby stand out from the crowd. The hydration bladder is easy to fill thanks to the large screw cap, though it takes up a lot of space in the bag. Thanks to the magnetic clip and the one-handed valve, you can drink and ride – no problem!


  • bladder is easy to fill
  • valve can be operated with one hand
  • comfortable and secure fit


  • reservoir screw cap takes up a lot of space
  • magnetic tube clip isn’t secure enough when things get rough

More info:

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Words & Photos: Simon Kohler

About the author

Simon Kohler

​​Simon loves speed. He has many years of racing experience as a longboard downhill skater, blasting down alpine passes on his board. In the meantime, he’s swapped four wheels for two, charging down trails and bike park lines aboard his mountain bike instead. He’s savoured some of Europe’s finest trails on various road trips through the Alps. Having lived in Austria for some time, he knows the local Austrian bike parks like the back of his hand. He’s a tech nerd through and through, using the skills and know-how from his engineering degree and his attention to detail to put the latest bikes and components through their paces for our reviews. As an early riser and self-declared muesli connoisseur, he lives his life powered by oats and the strength of his legs.