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We took the capable and capacious Camelbak KUDU into the mountains for a fully loaded up test, hoping not to try out its level 2 back protector at the same time.
camelbak kudu
Best for...
Bikepacking far from the madding crowd, where an injury could become life threatening
Overall Score
A great, mud shedding finish with added back protection giving confidence far from civilisation
Heavy and takes a while to harness into each time

Although the heavyweight KUDU is perhaps more than most riders will need, if you are intending to do any proper mountain biking when on your trip you may just be glad of the extra facilities it offers. Hidden within the back is a full width level 2 (i.e. excellent protection) back board which should save you from nasty incidents on the trail - particularly comforting if you're straying far from the beaten track.

We're particularly fans of the KUDU as, apart from the welcome safety aspect, it's also a superb 20 litre pack. The layout of one large compartment with smaller pockets on the front, side and waist belt makes packing items very flexible, and four compression straps help to not only keep the cargo in place when mountain biking but are also useful for securing small sleep mats or keeping other items such as wet jackets out of the main compartment.

We love the separate tool roll that Camelbak include, but must confess to using it as an excellent micro washbag rather than for its intended purpose!

On the bike the pack is rock solid, even when taking on technical downhill riding. Cinch up the excellent velcro and buckle hip belt, clip the double chest harness - yes, this all takes time - and, even fully loaded, it sticks to your back like a limpet.

Whilst probably overkill for most bikepacking trips, the KUDU is incredibly well suited to those forays into the mountains where kit capacity is required and your mountain biking skills will be tested to the limit.

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