The Review | Camelbak K.U.D.U 12 Pack with Back Protector
Camelbak is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. You’ll notice some retro colour and graphic schemes in commemoration of their history in the action sports community. New this year is the K.U.D.U pack, available in both 12 and 18 L capacities. We put it to the test:
Immediately, you’ll notice it is a full-featured pack, not skimping on features in favour of light weight or a minimalistic look. One of these is the much-anticipated integrated back protector, a quickly growing niche in this market.
The pad is made from three layers of flexible, high-density foam developed with Austrian company Komperdell. It adds 280 g to the weight of the backpack (the bag weighs 1210 g), heavier than some competitors but with the advantage of more protection. Unlike the others, the Camelback pad is a certified Level 2 protector, providing twice as much protection as a level 1 protector (when it comes to force absorption), so the extra weight is well worth it.
The K.U.D.U 12 is designed to be wide and flat rather than deep as it is packed with gear. This is to keep weight close to the riders body and reduce movement during aggressive riding. Combined with the dual chest straps, the pack stayed relatively steady when riding. The helmet storage feature worked without complaint with both open and full-face models.
The 3 L hydration reservoir is top-notch as expected of this brand. The large round opening is very easy to open, fill and close because it provides some structure to the bag. The hose unclips without issue and all parts can be detached for cleaning. It features two foldable arms that prop it open to dry, very well thought out!
Although it is in a separate compartment, with the 3L bladder full, there isn’t that much space left in the bag. Easily enough for the essentials but not for a heavy jacket or food for a long, epic day trip. If that’s what you have in mind, I would buy the 18L model. For most rides the Kudu 12 is more than adequate.
Inside the main compartment, there are two, easily access pockets for organization and a mesh bag near the top. I tended to use that one a lot because I’m lazy and it can be accessed by only partially opening the main zipper without unclipping any straps.
Fortunately there are a few external compartments. The sunglasses pocket is very handy and I use it for many things, in fact, I wouldn’t mind another similar pocket to keep things separated up there. Stashed underneath, you’ll find a rain cover.
On the hip strap you will find one storage location on each side. I find these to be the most important because they don’t require taking the bag off to access. The large straps are comfortable and keep the pack planted on your back.
Conclusion: At 159 € and 1210g, you are paying for the outstanding Camelbak build quality and back protector. The Kudu is good-looking and well-thought out piece of kit. It works as intended and the Level 2 back protecter is reassuring. Storage, organisation and comfort is good but not the best, especially if you live in a hot climate. If your riding involves long distances and extra gear, the 18L model is probably a better option.
Words: Tyler Malcomson Photos: Christoph Bayer