Review: CamelBak Zephyr

I out the Zephyr through 12 weeks of testing. From moderate distance runs in the city where minimal gear was needed, to long days in the mountains with a pack so full I couldn’t squeeze another gel in, this pack has been well and truly worked!

With a RRP of $249, you want something that has plenty of bang for buck, and thankfully from the start you get a sense of the quality. Aesthetically it looks great. The minimal styling and grey hue are safe bets for anyone that’s a bit fashion conscious. But 4 hours into an ultra, it’s substance that matters, not style. That’s where the Zephyr excels.

The fit is very comfortable, with side straps that easily adjust and lock into place, as well as two chest straps that you can quickly adjust on the go. Personally, I like to have the sides fairly tight so more of my front is exposed. Apart from feeling better and reducing pressure on my diaphragm, it also creates more airflow where I want it. The sternum straps are also moveable, so you can position them higher or lower, depending on your preference.

The front holds 2 x 500mL soft flasks, which I stashed in the stretch cord pockets. You can also house them in the upper mesh ones, but I found it less convenient and on one occasion when bombing down a rocky hill, a bottle popped out. On long runs I used the mesh compartments to hold my gloves, buff and gels. The zippered pocket is where your valuables go. In my case a phone, key, drivers licence and credit card were perfectly at home within.

The back has loads of space for all your race-day mandatory gear. If you pack smart and have lightweight gear, you can squeeze thermals, a waterproof jacket and pants, plus a few other small items into the large pockets. When completely loaded up, it was still really comfortable and with some minor adjustments to the straps it didn’t bounce around at all. The trick is to make sure you pack anything you might want easy access to, either on top, or in the most exterior section. Also on the back are elastic straps for holding your hiking poles.

The mesh is true to the marketing spiel – light and breathable. Being a very skinny guy, with most packs I have problems with rubbing on my neck and shoulders. With the Zephyr I got the tiniest amount of chafe on my collarbone on one occasion when wearing the pack for an extended period on a very hot day. I attribute this to the friction of the salt crystals from all the dry sweat!

Overall, I’m really happy with how it performs. It does a great job of holding all my gear, it’s very comfortable and can endure a serious beating.

FEATURES

  • Engineered Knit Mesh: Light and breathable material made with body mapping technology to ventilate areas of the body that generate the most heat
  • Dual Adjustable Sternum Straps: Offers a range of adjustments for a custom fit and increased stability
  • Fuel and Gear Storage: Multiple stow options, easily accessible
  • Secure Phone Pocket: Keep essentials safe and easy to access
  • Reflectivity: For low light safety
  • Stretch Overflow Pocket: Quickly stash or shed an extra layer
  • Trekking Pole Attachment: Easily attach and remove poles when needed
  • Polygiene® Anti-Microbial
  • Safety Whistle: Be heard in case of an emergency
  • Reservoir Compatible, not included
  • Dual Exit Tube Routing
  • Made with Ultra Light Materials

SPECS

  • Unisex
  • HYDRATION CAPACITY: 1L
  • HYDRATION TYPE: 2 x 500ml Quick Stow Flasks
  • BPA/BPS/BPF FREE
  • GEAR CAPACITY: 11L
  • PACK WEIGHT: 200g
  • DIMENSIONS: 39 x 27 x 15 cm
  • BACK PANEL: Engineered Knit
  • 8 EXTERIOR POCKETS