Blast From the Past: CamelBak Bandido Product Review

Originally posted on April 7, 2016 at 7:00 am


Editor’s note: If you think that lumbar waterpacks are a recent innovation, you’d be wrong. Back in 1998 Adam Lipinski reviewed the way-ahead-of-its-time Camelbak Bandido for Dirt Rag Issue #69.

The Bandido is a lumbar pack that doubles as a water pack. The Bandido has two pockets on the sides for popular tools, money, power food, keys or any other high-need items. The bag also has three compartments that, while in position, rest on your back and hips at the bottom of your lumbar curve. The largest pocket, which is insulated, holds the 64 ounce bladder. Large tools and spare tubes are held in the middle compartment. Next is a space for a light jacket, shirt and pump—with a pump strap that allows pumps to stick out of the sides of the pack. This was only a problem with large pumps or pumps without locks to deter extending to the side. Finally, there is another small compartment that’s ideal for maps or other thin accessories. I can’t say that I have found enough items that I need on a ride to fill the Bandido to its 530 cubic inch capacity, but I’m trying.

Early on in the test the side pockets occasionally caught on trees in tight turns, which was soon not a problem when the extra width was accounted for by the rider. The pockets on the sides are great; any item in them can be easily accessed while the Bandido is in position. As far as the main pockets, unhook the front buckle and swing the Bandido to the front for easy access. The water tube strap, which travels over the shoulder, holds the Bandido while accessing the main pockets. The same compression strap acts as a quick fix for bag adjustment as the water supply depletes. The strap also holds the trademarked Bandoleer bite valve and tube placement device in a very suitable location.

The Bandido’s low center of gravity and efficient retention straps keep it from flopping or swaying as regular shoulder packs can. When installing the Bandido on one’s back, first release all tension on the “ripcords.” These are fine-tuning compression straps located by the side pockets with rings to grab and aid in positioning of the Bandido. Snap the main buckle, adjust the shoulder strap, bounce and wiggle while pulling on the two rings. The installation process is moderately annoying the first few times, but later comes with ease. Perhaps the best part of the Bandido is the low center of gravity for crossing under trees in limbo situations.

For 1999 CamelBak is altering the Bandido by adding a bungee cord to the back flap and eliminating my favorite side pockets. The good news is the price will drop and two additional lumbar packs with removable front pockets will be offered. Traditional packs now feel a bit top-heavy and awkward. I think I’ll stick with the Bandido for a while. Price: $95.

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