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CamelBak Highwire 25 Hydration Pack

Camelbak Highwire 25L Hydration Pack

The CamelBak Highwire 25L is a large capacity hydration pack that’s ideal for long-distance day hikes and peak bagging adventures. Complete with a 100 oz/3L hydration reservoir, it can hold 1526 cubic inches of gear, giving you plenty of capacity to carry food, extra layers, maps, and the 10 essentials.

This hydration pack is loaded with a lot of features that you only find on larger capacity day packs and backpacks, including two ice axe loops, two compression straps on each side of the pack, quart-sized elastic side pockets, a beefy hip belt, two hip belt pockets, hip belt stabilizer straps, an adjustable sternum strap, ventilated wicking back panel, pre-curved shoulder straps, and and a grab loop. Pretty impressive for a smaller capacity pack.

Being me, I was curious to see if one could use the Highwire 25 for ultralight overnights, especially given the capacity of its main compartment and all of those external attachment points. Not so, I’m afraid: it’s a very tight fit, even with a warm-weather sleeping bag and a tarp.

Camelbak Highwire 25L Backpack - External Attachment System
External Attachment System

But I do think the Highwire 25 is an excellent pack for springtime day hiking and skiing, when you want to bring a day’s supply of water, technical gear like an ice ax or snowshoes, food, and some extra layers, for a day-long excursion.

 QuickLink hose connector at base of reservoi
QuickLink hose connector at the base of the reservoir

One thing I really like about the hydration system on this pack is the ability to disconnect the hose from the reservoir when you want to refill it. I haven’t used a CamelBak hydration system for about a year, so I’m not sure when this feature was introduced. There is a QuickLink connector at the base of the water reservoir, which lets you remove it from the hydration pocket, without having to remove the hydration tube from the back of the backpack. This makes it so much easier to refill.

On top of that, CamelBak has re-engineered the locking cap on the reservoir, so that it is much easier to twist off and on. I own some older CamelBak reservoirs that I literally need pliers to twist open, so this is a really welcome improvement, too.

Camelbak Highwire 25L Hydration Pack - Hydration Compartment
Hydration Compartment

In addition to the main storage compartment, the Highwire 25 has two smaller zippered pockets, one on the inside, sized for a wallet and keys (with clip), and a small external pocket that you can stow sunglasses or snacks in. There are also two small pockets on the hip belt, large enough for a cell phone, a candy bar, and a compact digital camera.

The only gotcha I found with the Highwire 25 is when the hydration reservoir is full and the main compartment is packed tight. While there is a separate zippered hydration pocket behind the back panel, it bulges out when the reservoir is full, making the pack a little uncomfortable to wear. But this awkwardness goes away quickly as you drink down your water and the volume decreases.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed testing this pack and hiking and snowshoeing with it for the past two weeks. Unfortunately, it’s only available in a 19″ torso length, but the hip belt is surprisingly long and can be worn comfortably by people with up to a 38″ waist. The weight of this pack, including the hydration reservoir, is 2.3 lbs.

Disclosure: CamelBak provided with a complementary Highwire 25 for this review.

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  1. I looked at this pack recently. I needed to upgrade my old EMS hydration pack with a little more capacity. I settled on an Osprey Raptor 14, on the theory that I already had an old pack in the 1500 range (Dana Shadow Peak).

    The Raptor has worked out well, but I think I might have been happy with the Camelbak, at nearly the same price.

  2. I still own a CamelBak M.U.L.E, one of their first really high capacity hydration packs. I must have bought it 6-7 years ago. I hiked throughout the Catskills and Gunks with it, until I finally upgraded to a water filter so I could do even longer distance hikes. Gear piece of gear though. The Highwire reminded me of it, but I really like the extra storage it provides.

  3. This looks like a good hydration kit. I'm trying to decide on which one to purchase. I dont' want one too large that it is heavy and big to carry. Any advice?

    And I want one that is comfortable and has various compartments and pockets?

    thanks for the help


  4. Ive never really been interested in the capacity of the camelbak pack because I normally like to pack too many things, or put my jacket away.

    Instead I buy the whole thing or just the reservoir and place that in a larger capacity bag. It is normally cheaper this way as well?

    However you guys seem to like having the capacity in the rest of the bag, do you find that you pack smarter and therefore carry less stuff?

    In other words, is it worth trying out?

    P.S I am interested in doing some of my own gear reviews, but obviously buying equipment will bankrupt me. Do you get free gear if you comment on them or can you loan them for a few days?

    Thanks for the help.

  5. Alan – there's no such thing as a free lunch. You need to do a lot of work to get to the point where manufacturers start loaning you gear to review. I started by reviewing everything I already owned.

    Regarding day and hydration packs. It's a gear category I'm experimenting with. I mostly use smaller capacity backpacks, but I'm interested in the pack design, so I'm willing to try anything to help educate myself about what works and what doesn't.

  6. how is the durability on this thing? suitable for bushwhacking or too gentle?

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