Last Updated: July 10, 2019

CamelBak Hydration Backpacks: HAWG vs. MULE

If you love to go hiking or mountain biking in your spare time, then you know how important it is to have a good, sturdy backpack that will hold all your essentials. And, you also know how important it is to stay hydrated. Well, with these CamelBak backpacks, you can say goodbye to water bottles, because these are designed for hands-free hydrating!

Both of these hydration backpacks have a reservoir for liquids, with a tube that allows you to hydrate on the go. In this review, we’ll take a look at their shared features, as well as their differences, so that you can more easily decide which one is better suitable for your needs. Scroll down to read my review of the CamelBack HAWG and MULE hydration backpacks.


CamelBak Hydration Backpacks In This Review


What You Need To Know About These Backpacks

Both of these CamelBak backpacks are designed for people who engage in hiking and mountain biking. The main feature on them is hands-free hydration, so that you never have to stop what you are doing to get a sip of water. If you were looking for a travel-friendly backpack I’m sorry to disappoint you, these aren't it. In that case, be sure to check out my review of the Swiss Gear travel backpacks – they are actually much more suitable for your needs.

Both the HAWG and the MULE are also available in military versions. However, I’ll stick to the civilian versions in this review. Here are their main features of the backpacks, side by side:

CamelBak H.A.W.G. LR Crux Lumbar Reservoir Hydration Pack, Racing Red/Pitch Blue, 3 L/100 oz
CamelBak M.U.L.E. LR 15 100 oz Hydration Pack, Burnt Olive/Lime Punch

 Hydration Capacity

100 Fl Oz Crux Lumbar Reservoir With Quicklink System

100 Fl Oz Crux Lumbar Reservoir With Quicklink System

 Gear Capacity

17L / 1000 Cu In

12L / 700 Cu In

Pack Weight

2 Lbs 3oz

1 Lb 12 Oz

 Dimensions

21.3 X 11 X 10.8 In

18.5 X 10.2 X 9.8 In

 Fits Torso

17-21 In

17-21 In

 Fits Hip/Waist

30-50 In

30-50 In

 Exterior Pockets

7

7


Shared Features Of The HAWG And The MULE

Airfoil Back Panel

Whichever one you choose, you can expect almost zero back sweat even on your longest rides, with the Airfoil back panel. This technology was designed to provide optimal airflow and ventilation, while keeping you comfortable at the same time. 

Crux Lumbar Reservoir And Magnetic Tube Trap

Both backpacks have the same Crux Lumbar Reservoir with Quicklink System, for fast, hands-free hydration on the go. Additionally, the reservoirs in both backpacks have the same 3L capacity, so if hydration is your main concern, either one will be good enough for you.

The magnetic tube is another shared feature of both backpacks. This handy little inclusion allows you to secure the drinking tube in one place, so that you don’t even have to take your eyes off the trail when you need to re-hydrate.

Exterior Pockets

Even though the HAWG is actually the larger of the 2, both backpacks have the same amount of exterior pockets - 7. So, if you like to have all your things organized in separate pockets, either one will be just fine for you.

Note, however, that the smaller version of the MULE has less pockets, so be sure to double check its capacity when purchasing. In this review, I am strictly talking about the features of the MULE LR 15.

Load-Bearing Hip Belts

Both the MULE and the HAWG are equipped with stabilizing load-bearing hip belts. These belts actually shift the weight of the backpack from your shoulders to your hips, allowing you to be more comfortable during your rides. Additionally, this also gives you more freedom of movement, while still keeping all of your essentials close at hand.

Reflective Accents

Both backpacks are equipped with reflective accents that will provide you with additional visibility in the dark. If you like to go hiking or mountain biking during the night, then both of these will do a good job of helping illuminate the way for you. Also, props to you! My sight sometimes fails me even during the day, and I wouldn’t dare doing any of these activities in the dark without some spy-style night vision goggles. :>

Rain Cover

The rain cover is a handy feature that both of these CamelBack backpacks share. If you get caught in the rain, your backpack as well as your gear will stay dry. If this was one of your main concerns, either one will work just fine for you.

CamelBak Airfoil Back
CamelBak H.A.W.G. LR Crux Lumbar Reservoir Hydration Pack, Racing Red/Pitch Blue, 3 L/100 oz
Magnetic Tube Traps
CamelBak H.A.W.G. LR Crux Lumbar Reservoir Hydration Pack, Racing Red/Pitch Blue, 3 L/100 oz

Main Differences Between The HAWG And The MULE

Dimensions And Gear Capacity

The HAWG backpack is significantly larger than the MULE. And, while that means that you can pack more things in it, it also means that it is heavier, and that it will slow you down. Personally, I consider this a downside; hiking and mountain biking can be tiring enough on their own. When you add a heavy backpack into that equation, you will definitely get tired more quickly.

On the other hand, this depends on your size as well. If you are on the heavier side, or just a really tall person, then the HAWG is actually more suitable for you. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean this because the backpack won’t fit you – as you saw, both backpacks can fit same-sized people; what I mean is that, in this case, you probably wear larger clothes than an average sized person. And, an XXL sweatshirt will take up more space than a medium or large one.

Variety Of Ranges

There is more variety in the MULE range. This backpack is currently available in 6 different colors, whereas the HAWG is only available in 2. Different colors are priced differently, so either you could go for a good bargain and get the cheapest one, or you could get the backpack in your favorite color.

Price

Funnily enough, the actual prices of the backpacks depend on their color. And, while some people will stick to their favorite color, other people will always appreciate a bargain. Let’s just say that the cheapest HAWG backpack (the red one) still costs some $60 more than the cheapest MULE (the blue one). I don’t know about you, but when I can get an item for almost half of its retail price just because of its color, I consider that an awesome deal.

If you want to spend as little money as possible but still get the same quality, then go for the MULE. And, if blue is your favorite color like it is mine, hurry up and get that backpack before I beat you to the punch!


CamelBak Hydration Backpacks: Do I Go For The HAWG Or The MULE?

Both of these are equipped with the same technologies, and in that aspect, you can choose either one. The main difference between the 2 is their size and gear capacity. Personally, I prefer the MULE precisely because it is smaller. On the other hand, I don’t tend to carry too many things with me, and the size of the MULE is perfect for my needs.

If you are like me in this sense, then the MULE is the better choice for your. Plus, it is also much cheaper than the HAWG, so you will also save some money, which is always a bonus. Although, if you prefer to carry a lot of items with you, and you really need the larger capacity of the HAWG, then get that one. However, if you decide to get it, expect to shell out much more money than you would for the MULE.

Sale
CamelBak M.U.L.E. LR Crux Lumbar Reservoir Hydration Pack, Atomic Blue/Sulfur Springs, 3 L/100 oz
65 Reviews
CamelBak M.U.L.E. LR Crux Lumbar Reservoir Hydration Pack, Atomic Blue/Sulfur Springs, 3 L/100 oz
  • Crux delivers 20% more water per sip, with an ergonomic handle for easy refilling and an on/off lever to prevent leaks.
  • Airfoil back panel is our most advanced back panel providing maximum comfort and ventilation even on the longest rides
  • Magnetic Tube Trap keeps your tube secure and accessible when you need it and Reflective accents for visibility in low-light environments
  • Stabilizing load-bearing hip belts with cargo optimizes a custom fit and keeps essentials close at hand
  • Dual reservoir compression straps cinch the reservoir into the small of your back for a tight stable fitand and built in helmet carry hooks and secures a XC helmet while still allowing full access to your pack without removing
Sale
CamelBak H.A.W.G. LR Crux Lumbar Reservoir Hydration Pack, Black/Laser Orange, 3 L/100 oz
12 Reviews
CamelBak H.A.W.G. LR Crux Lumbar Reservoir Hydration Pack, Black/Laser Orange, 3 L/100 oz
  • Crux delivers 20% more water per sip, with an ergonomic handle for easy refilling and an on/off lever to prevent leaks.
  • Airfoil back panel is our most advanced back panel providing maximum comfort and ventilation even on the longest rides
  • Magnetic Tube Trap keeps your tube secure and accessible when you need it
  • Stabilizing load-bearing hip belts with cargo optimizes a custom fit and keeps essentials close at hand
  • Dual reservoir compression straps cinch the reservoir into the small of your back for a tight stable fit.

Whichever one of these CamelBak hydration backpacks you choose, you can expect the same amount of quality. Head on over to Amazon to get a great deal on either one!


About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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