The Camelbak Sequoia is one of the brand’s largest women’s hydration backpacks available. The 22 litre pack is designed for hiking, so has plenty of technical features to make outdoor adventures easier. As I’m no hiker, I’ve been using it as my main travel hand-luggage, and as a general-use backpack since it arrived at my place a few months ago.
Up close with the Camelbak Sequoia
I’ll start with a quick tour around the bag. The back panel is stiff and features two moulded ‘pods’ that are designed to move with the wearer and provide ventilation. Below them there’s a foamy lumbar panel with cushioning that extends through the load-bearing waist belt with front zippered pocket. The straps are made of a similarly thick foam covered in ventilating fabric, and include a chest strap to help keep the bag in place, and which is mounted on sliders so you can wear it high or low, and has elastic tabs to store your bite valve. The shoulder straps are further reinforced by stabilising straps at the top of the bag to help distribute weight evenly.
The Camelbak Sequoia has two deep and generous side pockets, wide enough to easily fit 750ml bidons, and so deep that there’s no risk of them falling out. These pockets can also be strapped down by one of two pairs of side compression straps. The other pair of compression straps mount higher up the bag between the front section and the main section, and unclip for easy access. These straps mean that there’s an expandable area between the front section and main compartment of the bag—perfect for stuffing with your jumper or jacket if you’re in a hurry.
The bag has four zippered pockets: A compartment for the reservoir at the very back, a main compartment, a small valuables front pocket that’s lined so your phone and sunnies don’t get scratched, and a ‘hiking essentials’ pocket with its own zippered and elasticated compartments and key clip. The Camelbak Sequoia also has mounts for hiking poles or tools at the front.
Using the Camelbak Sequoia
The Camelbak Sequoia is one of those rare women’s products that manages to look the business and perform properly without shouting ‘GIRL!’ at you. I really love the dark purple fabric (210-denier Dynagin ripstop nylon) and the blue details, including zippers, logo, and zipper tabs. Incidentally, I loved the zipper tabs on the Sequoia. They’re made of cord encased in a tube of metal, they’re easy to grab and have a wonderful cool tactility that made the bag a pleasure to use.
The bag is supported by an internal frame and weighs 1070 grams. Much of this weight has been dedicated to back support and ventilation. The frame helps support the bag without making it feel stiff, helped in large part by the back panel ‘pods’ that sit evenly and comfortably about the upper and middle back and provide generous cushioning when compressed by movement or otherwise. The lumbar panel is more traditional foam, and could get a little hot and feel rough against the skin, but was very comfortable during testing nonetheless.
The three-litre Antidote reservoir features some of Camelbak’s most up-to-date technology: The Quick Link system, which allows you to detach the tube from the main reservoir in a click, an easy opening cap, fill port (the plastic bit you hold onto while you fill it up), drying arms that flip out from the fill port and expand the reservoir so it dries, and centre baffling for a narrower profile so you can pack more in your bag, and forget about weird water bulges forming. The Big Bite valve delivers 30 per cent more water with every sip, and is designed for easier cleaning. The fill port handle also slides into a little sleeve inside the bag’s reservoir compartment to keep it in upright and in place.
I am a biker, not a hiker. I love getting out and walking, sure, but big day trips are impossible to fit in around training and racing. The Camelbak Sequoia has, however, fit perfectly into my cycling lifestyle. I was a little worried about riding with it, to be honest, given the number of cycling-specific backpacks out there, but, thanks to the excellent back panel construction and its ingenious ‘pods’, if think the Sequoia is the most comfortable backpack I’ve ever ridden in, and I’ve been using cycling-specific backpacks for fifteen years. I’ve ridden with it at races, to and from the gym, and commuting, and it always sits perfectly balanced and snug.
I’ve also used the Camelbak Sequoia for a bunch of other things, particularly travel. When jet-setting I’ve taken the reservoir out because I wouldn’t be drinking that much and to free up space. With the reservoir gone I’ve used the rear compartment for my laptop. It’s stiff and reinforced, so my laptop is protected, and it’s been really easy whipping it in and out of the pocket at security and on budget airlines. The only minor problem with this adaptation is that one of the side straps attaches over the front of the zipper and needs to be unclipped before you can access the pocket.
I also notice that, if you’re busily pulling things in and out of the bag a lot like I am, it’s best suited to a right-handed person. The waist-strap pocket (lip balm pocket) is on the right-hand side, and the upper valuables compartment zips closed on the right-hand side—so it suits someone who pulls the bag off their left shoulder and reaches around to the right to access it in a hurry. That said, the important thing— the bite valve—can be routed to either shoulder.
I was a little worried about space, having traded a roomier 26-litre pack for this 22-litre one. I found it very little issue. The expandable section between the main bag compartment and the front pocket took a bit of overflow, and while I was a bit hesitant to use it at first, I found I could secure anything in there really tightly by tightening the compression straps, and it was perfect for items I’d want in a hurry, rather than buried at the bottom of my bag—jumpers, jackets, snacks.
The verdict? The reservoir technology is among the best in the business, and the Camelbak Sequoia shines in the comfort department thanks to it’s excellent back support system. A bunch of adaptable features and intelligent design provide a place for everything. This high-end hiking bag performs just as well on the bike and on the road as it does on the trail.