High Gear: CamelBak Franconia 24 review on Colorado’s roughest terrain
CamelBak Fanconia LR 24 | $160
Pack size: 21 liters
Pack weight: 2 pounds, 10 ounces
Reservoir size: 3 liters
Reservoir type: Crux Lumbar system (sits low above hips)
Back panel: Air-suspension mesh
Waist belt: Padded foam with pockets
Exterior pockets: 8
Features: Trekking pole attachment, magnetic tube holder, exterior straps for extra gear
To purchase the Franconia LR 24, see Camelbak.com.
Hiking the Rocky Mountains is hard enough, and when you’re gasping for air up a steep slope it’s important to know that even if your body might bonk, your gear won’t.
In that regard, CamelBak delivers with its new Franconia LR 24 backpack.
The higher-sitting daypack is lightweight but maintains ample storage space at 100 ounces for your next Colorado 14er ascent — or any more relaxed setting, for that matter — lending a snug hug wherever you choose to trek.
Nearly weightless (yet stable) shoulder and waist straps keep the roughly 2.5-pound bag affixed to your body, no matter how technical the climb. Back support and sweat prevention are the name of the game, with an unobtrusive aluminum frame and open-air mesh back. A chest strap and pocketed hip belt offer additional fit, comfort and storage as you head up or down a craggy hill.
On recent field-testing trips to Aspen’s Castle and Conundrum peaks — a combination route that summits both 14ers — and Uncompahgre Peak in the San Juans, as well Ptarmigan Peak Trail north of Silverthorne, the bag held all of the necessary supplies. A raincoat, layers, first-aid supplies and trekking poles via an attachment or in a side pocket came along for the ride, all while also thankfully avoiding smashing the requisite tuna sandwich for the summit.
And then, of course, CambelBak’s claim to fame is its long-established hydration system. Improvements to the water bladder, tube and mouthpiece make for an even smoother, more ergonomical experience.
The updated on-off mouthpiece lever is said to prevent leaks, though I can’t honestly say I ever noticed much in the way of drips with past versions.
The new switch can be a little tricky to flip up or down compared to the tried and true former left-to-right nozzle.
The magnetic clip is also a new component to me, and is essentially a fancier form of a bag strap to keep the tube in place. It’s a take-it-or-leave-it kind of feature.
The advanced low-profile bladder design, however, is great. Rather than the traditional narrow sack, which runs top to bottom, the lumbar reservoir spreads the water weight across a larger base deeper in the bag, which provides more balance with each sloshing step all the way until the very last drop.
The reservoir handle is also easier to grip as you fill that sucker, though I initially found it somewhat cumbersome to properly arrange it in my kitchen sink without water getting everywhere. That could admittedly be user error and more time with the bladder could probably shape up the process.
This pack retails at $160 — so it is a bit spendy — but it’s clearly durable, stylish and ensures a seamless connection between water bladder and bag only a CamelBak can truly extend. The bag is sleek, comfortable, and will keep you fast and light on your next daytrip, all the while properly prepared for the next big adventure.
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