Lightning Review: Camelback Raceback

As is advised by Glen when embarking on his tours: “bring two water bottles or you will dehydrate and die”. This goes double if you’re riding longer distances with less stops than an organized tour. After nearly experiencing this fate on a recent century ride I decided to give the 72oz Camelback Raceback a try as a means to carry (and drink) more water.

The test ride was 1.5 hours worth of laps around Central Park at a brisk pace.

I’ll begin by saying that having a straw dangling next to your face makes it really easy to drink more water than you’re used to. Even though it was a cool 74 degrees I drank through all but 6oz of my water during my ride. So while the carrying capacity equals three large water bottles, the ease of drinking may cause you to go through water at nearly double your usual rate.

I’ve known some who became afflicted with “camelback attacks” where more “natural breaks” are required all along their riding route. I think if you’re riding hard enough you will likely sweat the large % of the extra water right back out as I did. I did rather like “feeling” more hydrated by taking more frequent sips and keeping my mouth feeling wet. This offered both a psychological as well as slight physical boost.

The overall experience on it’s maiden voyage was mixed, but leaned towards the positive, both in number of plus points as well as the importance of them.


  • easy to remember to drink, easier to get at the water
  • drinking small amounts often allowed me to ride harder without muscle cramps
  • no worries of throwing bottles over bumps
  • water was kept tight against back, didn’t throw itself around too much while standing
  • I noticed after finishing the ride that my heart rate felt much lower than normal after a ride

not as good:

  • need to be a yogi master to get in and out of the vest
  • no way to refill quickly without outside help
  • lower back was a little sore at the end — probably just part of a natural adjustment period


  • could be brilliant if filled with ice water on a hot day (until you melt it down at which point I fear it will feel like a sweater)
  • I’m guessing the straw may make it difficult to dump water on your head on hot days
  • cleaning (even with proper tools) would be a pain if used with sports drinks


  • you look a little like a hunchback but it doesn’t seem too unnatural

Bottom Line: 3.5 stars

Definitely looks like a strong choice for fast rides up to 40 or 50 miles. Will have to report back when we’re out there long enough to require (multiple) refills on the road.

Camelback Raceback is a base layer that fits under your jersey
Camelback Raceback is a base layer that fits under your jersey
Camelback Raceback doesn't make you too much of a hunchback
Camelback Raceback doesn't make you too much of a hunchback

One Thought to “Lightning Review: Camelback Raceback”

  1. Linda Blackman

    I enjoyed reading your review of this product as I signed up for Bike New York and will not be permitted to wear my usual camelback. However, I purchased the women’s which was what you pictured in a medium and could not get in on never mind with a full bladder. The measurements on the box were misleading- medium was 35.75 to 38.5 and the one I received measured 15′ across the front meaning it was barely 30″ around. Does the one you are using have a zipper all the way down the front because the one in the picture I think is the women’s version that I had so much difficulty getting on. Camelback doesn’t make this product any longer.

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