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I guess I’m an intermediate-level hiker (if that): someone who loves to get outside and explore, but I’m not conquering the entire Appalachian Trail anytime soon.

I need something more than a flimsy backpack and less than the beast you could pack a week’s worth of supplies and a tent into. It should fit a good amount of water, room for extra clothing, bug spray, snacks, maybe a dog bowl and towel. And a selfie stick or travel tripod. ‘Cause you know we’re gonna be cheesin’ at the summit.

I finally invested in a CamelBak a few years ago and am so glad I did. It’s been my around-town backpack as well as my day-tripping, semi-serious hiking pack.

 

So here’s a brief review of the one I purchased, the CamelBak Day Star Hydration Pack. The two main versions include the Day Star 16 or the Day Star 18.

Hiking With a Full Bladder

 

The primary reason I bought the CamelBak is for the reservoir, which is the bladder inside the backpack that makes it easy and convenient to carry and sip on water as you go.

I used to toss a big-ass water bottle into a backpack, which would then bounce around during a hike. That also made it tough to pack a camera or anything else that I didn’t want to get crushed or nicked.

The Day Star’s reservoir holds 2.5 liters or 85 ounces, which is a solid amount of hydration. It’s lasted me an afternoon during the heat of summer, though I always have more water in the car for the ride home. And the two mesh side pockets allow for extra water bottles, which I’ve taken along as well, whether for the dog or for me. (Beer and wine also fit well. Just sayin’.)

The reservoir fits in its own section of the daypack and is removable if you want to toss something else in that space. It’s padded, which makes this a great backpack for laptops and for travel. It’s a convenient size for a carry-on.

 

Fit a Little, Fit a Lot

 

The CamelBak website says the “gear capacity” is 800 cu in, or 13.5L … whatever that means.

Personally, I need to see it to understand.

So here’s some of what I’ve taken along at any one time: towel (to wipe off the dog or myself after a dip), bug spray, sunblock, windbreaker, sneakers (in case my new boots gave me blisters), fruit and cheese, napkins, small paperback book, selfie stick (again, cheesin’), travel dog bowl, Band-Aids, car keys, Chapstick, extra water.

The backpack includes two main compartments – again, one is a padded area for the reservoir, which is removable – and a smaller front compartment with a handy number of small to medium-sized pockets.

Made for a Woman

 

I’m a towering 5-foot-4, so a lot of backpacks are way too long for me.

The Day Star is a women’s backpack, meaning it fits 15-19 inch torsos. In other words, it has a shorter back panel and fits much more snugly and appropriately. This makes it easier to carry.

Mine has a chest strap to secure it even more and the newer models have a waist strap, the lack of which is a primary knock against the model I have. And CamelBak boasts an S-shaped harness, which it says gives it a closer fit. (I wasn’t aware that women are S-shaped, but the backpack fits me well so I’ll take their word for it.)

 

Additional Specs

 

A few more features of the Day Star 16 backpack, as per the CamelBak website:

  • External attachment points to attach trekking poles and other gear to the outside of your pack
  • Breathable air mesh back panel (though I still sweat like a kid on stage at the Spelling Bee)
  • A new “Crux” that allows for 20 percent more water per sip, along with an on-off lever to prevent leaks (pay attention to this. I’ve left it in the “on” position and lost my water multiple times.)
  • Removable waist belt for more stability on the trails

The Day Star 16 costs about $84, so it’s definitely an investment. However, I’ve had mine for more than three and a half years and it’s still in great shape. And trust me when I tell you I’m not dainty with it.

What’s some of your favorite day-tripping gear? Please comment!

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