Gear Review: Camelbak 32L Palisade
The Palisade is one of CamelBak’s first forays into producing larger-volume hiking packs. It has the largest capacity of a CamelBak’s hiking bag range, coming in at 32L. The pack comes with CamelBak’s patented Crux Quicklink hydration bladder to carry three litres of water plus 29L of equipment. With a dual-wing hip belt and multiple storage pockets, this pack makes for a viable option for overnighters and weekend trips or for use around town as a bag for errands or commuting.
The CamelBak Palisade At-a-Glance
MSRP: $175. This price includes the 3L bladder.
Weight: 2lb 14oz/1290g
Volume: 32 litres—the main pocket accounts for 29 litres and the back compartment accounts for 3.
Pack Dimensions: 22 inches x 11 inches x 10 inches
Suggested Use: Day packs, overnighters, commuting, international travel
Main pockets: The main pocket of this bag is 29L and has two organiser pockets that run down the back. It features an over-the-top zipper that runs about halfway down the bag. The back pocket is where the hydration bladder lives, though it can also double as a laptop sleeve for use off trail.
External pockets: This pack comes with a total of nine exterior pockets. All external pockets are really accessible, each with its own purpose. At the very front of the bag is a zippered, fleece-lined pocket for sunnies or valuables. There are three hip belt pockets—one zippered and two elastic—one large side pocket for the storage of large items like a tent or trekking poles and a front mesh pocket to store bulky items or dirty/wet gear. Finally, there is a pocket on the underside of the back that stores an integrated rain cover.
CamelBak bladder: The bag comes with a Crux 3L Reservoir with a big-bite valve. The quick release valve and handle make for easy refilling, and the handle hooks seamlessly into a loop in the hydration pocket of the bag. The bladder is baffled to help it retain shape in the bag and the tube has an on/off lever to prevent any leaks (although when I used the bladder I would always leave this open and never had any issues).
Hip belt and shoulder straps: The bag features a dual hip belt designed to compress the bag closer to your back and keep things snug. The shoulder straps come with a height-adjustable sternum strap and load lifters for increased comfort.
External pockets: All external pockets are easily accessible and have multiple uses. The side pockets don’t require an awkward reach around and the back mesh pocket makes for easy storage of even the bulkiest of items. This is great for coats, maps, or snacks that you want quick access to. Having both a zippered and mesh pocket on the hip belt was handy to store small items and a phone for quick access.
The bladder system: As you’d expect from CamelBak, the bladder system here is well tuned. The bite valve has a great flow rate, doesn’t leak, and 3L of capacity is enough for even the thirstiest of hikers. The quick-link hydration port and handle make for easy filling, and the handle doubles as a hanger to make securing this to the bag easy and keeping the weight snug to your back. The hose also clips to the shoulder straps nicely, making it super accessible yet out of the way when not in use.
Durability: The fabric and craftsmanship on this bag make for a more durable backpack than some of the other lightweight thru-hiking fabrics used. For those who want a more care-free hike and not need to worry about giving this pack some abuse this is a good option. With an integrated rain cover, the pack also holds up well in harsher conditions. This bag comes with a lifetime guarantee for any defects in the material or workmanship through CamelBaks Got Your Bak guarantee.
Weight: There is no getting around it; this is a heavy pack compared to the gear we normally review here at The Trek. At 2 pounds, 14 ounces—or 1.3 kilograms—it is heavier than my 65L ULA Circuit pack but can only carry half the volume. One of the main reasons for this is the material choices in the pack. As an example, this pack uses quite a bulky and heavy back panel that weighs over 10 ounces (300g) in itself. In addition, there is a lot of bulky padding between the two main compartments of the bag, which I assume is to reduce any condensation of a cold water bladder reaching your gear.
Some questionable design choices: There are some design choices in this bag that show this is the first go from CamelBak at designing a larger volume pack. The dual-wing hip belt is a good idea, but the bag was too padded and rigid for this to make a real difference. Even when almost empty, this pack had a similar volume to when full—a stark difference from say the Gossamer Gear Minimalist, which goes almost flat when empty. In addition, the bag felt a bit lopsided as the large side pocket only features on one side of the pack. Because of this I didn’t like using the large mesh side pocket to store anything as it made the pack uncomfortable to wear.
Non-padded shoulder straps: With the load capacity and weight of the bag, this bag should be able to carry a couple days of gear and food comfortably. I found that due to the non-padded shoulder straps, once I loaded the bag over 20 pounds (10kg) the shoulder straps started to dig. The load lifters in combination with a tight hip belt helped, but I found myself longing for some padding by lunchtime. Considering this bag is pretty fully featured, I was disappointed that there wasn’t any padding on the shoulder straps to increase the bag’s maximum comfortable carrying capacity.
Large mesh pocket sags over time: At first I really liked the large mesh pocket on the front. It is easy to access, even on the move, and allows for quick stowing of layers, snacks, or candy wrappers. Unfortunately, due to the fact this mesh stowaway pocket is on rails, after a few trips I found that with any weight in it the pocket it would become loose. I ended up losing a jumper, which I presume got snagged on a bush/tree.
CamelBak has long been seen as the go-to brand for hydration packs and this is their first foray into a larger-volume pack suitable for overnight hikes and day hikes when you don’t want space to become an issue. Whilst there are definitely some things I’d change, having easy access to water, plus the copious amounts of organised storage makes this a good option for those who are not too gram conscious and want a bag that can be used both on and off trails without looking out of place.
Comparable Day Packs
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Pack
Weight: 13 ounces
Capacity: 30 liters
Six Moon Designs Daybreaker
Weight: 20.7 ounces
Capacity: 25+ liters
Gossamer Gear Minimalist
Weight: 11.6 ounces
Capacity: 24 liters
This item was donated for purpose of review
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