“The icing on the cake is the twist-lock chest strap, which has a magnet on the bladder tube so that it stays in place when you’re descending…”


A last-minute invite to a backcountry mission in the Craigieburn Forest is something you should always say yes to. The Broken River and Cheeseman ski area offer world-class trails only an hour and a half from Christchurch.


Long alpine descents amongst the beech trees, whilst riding over cornflakes, are what a mountain biker’s dreams are made of. In fact, throughout the day when the wind picked up, it was literally raining cornflakes from the trees. Big mountains mean lots of water, snacks and tools need to be carried, to keep me fuelled for the whole day, since we would be out for over eight hours. Thankfully, the CamelBak M.U.L.E 12L 100oz Hydration Pack was the right tool for the job.


Now, for someone like myself who had shoulder surgery nine months ago – which has left me with a massive scar running across my collarbone – I was wondering how a Backpack would go, as this was my first time riding with one since the injury. The M.U.L.E pack has so much adjustability to ensure the best comfort for every rider. The 3D Vent Mesh Harness is super lightweight, breathable and has extra storage for those quick-access gels when you’re needing a boost of energy. The bag has lots of ventilation on all the main contact points on your back, with its AirSupport Back Panel, and it’s designed with Body Mapping Technology which allows for maximum ventilation on the hottest areas of your back. Considering it was 25-degrees and not a cloud in the sky, for my day in the mountains, the Air-Support kept my back cool and my shoulder comfy all day.


12L of total storage, with a 3L bladder to ensure you stay hydrated, is the setup. There’s a total 9L of storage for everything else you could need for a big day out. The icing on the cake is the twist-lock chest strap, which has a magnet on the bladder tube so that it stays in place when you’re descending – a perfect addition o the bag. Carrying a jacket in a bag is often a pain, but with the M.U.L.E’s Stretch Overflow pocket it was tucked away nicely at the bottom of the bag, but still easily accessible if the weather took a turn for the worse. Tool storage for all your necessary spares is super well organised as there are plenty of pockets to keep everything in its place nicely. You’re able to fit literally anything you could need to get yourself out of a trailside mechanical. My favourite part: the slot for storing your pump. It doesn’t get caught at all on the zips, nor does it take up any unnecessary space, a big win.


The Helmet Carry is a handy aspect of the bag as well. Not only is it perfect for carrying your helmet on ‘hike-a-bike’ sections, but it also doubles as a good spot to store your rubbish. Now, carrying tuna and rice on a ride might seem strange, but the most important thing is that it doesn’t leak in your bag – the outside pocket is the perfect way to avoid this.


Stats of the day: 40km; 1900 vertical metres gained; 5L of water; 2 bags of Haribo lollies and 1 tuna and rice.


Safe to say the M.U.L.E carried me through the day in the mountains. I don’t usually wear a bag riding, as I’ve always had comfort issues, but after eight hours of wearing the M.U.L.E, its comfort, useability, and storage systems are just too good to pass up. It is now my go-to bag for epic backcountry riding or long days in the saddle.



RRP: $199