Camelbak Fairfax Review
Coming out with a simple and solid hydration backpack, Camelbak introduces the 2011 Fairfax. I’ve been testing this hydration backpack out for the past two months on runs anywhere from 5 miles to 15 miles. This 1.5 liter hydration pack is perfect for longer runs where you need water to stay hydrated. And while some hydration packs likes to add all sorts of features to sell a pack, it is important in my mind to make sure you get the basics right.
Some of the basics I find important include having a good fit, easy access to tubing for drinking, and a pocket or two to carry your essentials. For fit, the Camelbak Fairfax fits a little high up on your back and provides a nice snug fit while running. There is an adjustable sternum strap to get the best fit for each individual depending on chest size. On smaller hydration packs like the Fairfax, sternum straps are super important as this is the strap that keeps the backpack from going side to side on your back while running. One thing I would have like to see would be a whistle on the buckle of the sternum strap, something you find on higher end packs. The back of the the Fairfax has a mesh panel with an air channel that goes down the middle. The mesh panels absorb sweat, but do not keep your back from sweating.
And while so many companies claim that their mesh panels prevent sweat build up, I don’t really find that to be the case in any of the packs I have tested over the years. With the back being one of the first areas to sweat while having in increased heart rate, there is not much that will actually prevent you from sweating. Especially if you are pushing something up against your back that prevents breathability.
The shoulder straps on the Camelbak Fairfax have a smooth finish to help prevent chafage and irritation. There are two pockets on the outside of this pack. One that zips up and down vertically. As for capacity of this pocket, I was able to squeeze a mid-weight baselayer into this pocket when I started to overheat on a run. There is a mesh organizational system on the inside of this pocket, but I haven’t found much need for it, others might think differently though. On the bottom of the Fairfax there is a smaller pocket that can store a smart phone/cell phone, camera, or other small items. For added visibility in darker conditions, the Fairfax has reflective tubing on a couple areas of the pack and a piece of reflective tape on each shoulder strap. The material on the outside of this backpack is made of a waterproof material, so if you do get caught in the rain, there is a little less to worry about, but please note, the zippers are not waterproof and water can enter in through those areas.
The hydration bladder has a capacity of 1.5 liters which I find to be enough for runs up to 20 mile through my past experience, but this can be weather dependent. The bite valve has a locking mechanism so in case you accidentally put pressure on your bite valve, you don’t have to worry about things getting soaked or showing up to your destination with no water. Overall, the Camelbak Fairfax is a fairly simple running hydration pack, but it is well made and has some nice functionality. For more information on the Camelbak Fairfax, please visit Camelbak.com