CamelBak has one of the coolest names in hydration backpacks. Just the mention of it conjures up an image of strapping a dromedary-like hump on your back to tote water wherever you need to go. Fortunately CamelBak’s Vista 32 and Vantage 35 hydration packs are as cool as their name, and while they may not let you hike for two weeks without refilling the way a real camel can, their 3 liter reservoir capacity will let you go pretty far.
As just mentioned, both can hold 100 ounces of water. It is designed with a zipper opening so that it can be refilled without unpacking everything else. They use HydroGuard™ technology to slow the rate of bacterial growth, and both use a replaceable BigBite™ valve that is ergonomically designed for use along the trail. The hydration system is insulated; this helps somewhat in keeping the water cool when the weather is hot, but it is a big advantage in keeping water from freezing if you are hiking in cold weather.
Both have a lightweight internal aluminum frame and a semi-rigid NVIS back panel that offers comfort and ventilation. The packs have adjustable waist belts for comfort and stability and use a Dynamic Suspension™ harness with padded shoulder straps. The back side that is in contact with your body has a lining of soft mesh for better air flow.
The Vista 32 and the Vantage 35 use a duffel bag style that loads from the top to hold gear. If you like this system of having one main compartment, chances are that you would love these packs. This design makes them most useful for single overnight or weekend hiking; they can be used for day hikes as well. Both have tool loops for adding extra gear.
The numbers 32 ands 35 are loose estimations of the pack’s volume in liters. That means the Vantage 35 is slightly larger than the Vista 32, but the numbers are not exact. The Vista comes in S/M with 2135 cubic inches and in M/L with 2260 cubic inches. The CamelBak Vantage 35 Hydration Pack measures 2300 cubic inches for the S/M and 2440 cubic inches for M/L.
Although the carrying capacities are all similar, it is the torso length that is most important for comfort. Torso length is measured from the bump at the top of your spine, technically the C7 vertebra, down to the “shelf” where your hips begin. The sizing split at “medium” is about 18 inches. Another point of comfort is the width. The Vista 32 Hydration Pack is narrower than the Vantage 35 and better suited for most women.
The CamelBak Vista comes in two-tone Poppy Red with Tango Red. The Vantage is Citronelle and Woodbine, a stylish color combination that leaves you guessing if it has more yellow or more green. The main shell is durable ripstop nylon, but the accent color is taffeta that, while rugged, will fray faster than the ripstop once an abrasion starts.
The two packs have a very similar look, but there are some differences in the pockets. The Vista has one main and one flat front pocket. The hip belt is curved for a woman’s fit. The Vantage 35 has two side pockets and one front zippered pocket with another small pocket on the waist belt. The front pocket is low profile and good for storing flat maps and charts.
Both CamelBak Hydration Packs have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $150.00. They each get a rating of 4.5 out of 5 because the pockets need to be a bit more functional.