Review: Camelbak LUXE NV 2016

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camelbak luxe singletrack magazine review vicki vic alker

By Vic Alker

Camelbak’s NV airflow system consists of 4 individually articulating ‘pods’ which make up the sum total of the contact area with your back. The idea is that each pod moves with your back, reducing friction, and the spaces around the pods allow air to flow, keeping you cool and sweat-free. The ladies specific shape makes it narrower than the mens option, and the S-curved straps are meant to circumnavigate boobs and therefore be more comfortable.

It’s a full-sized riding pack, coming in at 11 litres plus a 3 litre bladder. So it’s designed to carry all that you need for a big ride or if you’re me, all the layers you might need on a short changeable-British-weather ride. Its a smart looking thing, practical black with some fashionable euro-neon and a touch of pastel blue (just so you know it’s a girls’ pack, right?).


The Luxe NV is made out of Camelback’s Arrow 100D nylon fabric which feels suitably robust. It has all the expected niceties of a pack at this level – helmet hook, waist belt pockets and a rain cover to keep it nice and clean, which is bright and really useful for commuting. The bladder is a generous 3 litres, with a nifty magnetic tube holder and a wide opening for easy cleaning. There is a pocket on the front of the pack with dividers in it designed to hold tools and a handy small top pocket for your glasses, purse or mobile phone. The main compartment is fairly large, and more easily accessed by releasing the compression clips.


When loading it up the main pocket did seem a little smaller than I’m used to, but then again I do carry a lot of junk. I found that removing the rain cover from its underneath pouch helped give me some more room, as that takes up space underneath the main pocket. I did find the ‘open’ section between the main section and the front pocket too small to hold my knee pads which was a shame as it’s where I would normally shove them. I also noticed that the tool pocket, once fully loaded with a tube etc, does stick out a fair way from the pack.

So let’s get to what’s different about this pack, and what makes it cost £10 more than the LUXE model with the normal back system. When I first started riding in the NV pack on my back I could feel the edge of one or two of the ‘pods’ on my spine – it wasn’t painful and didn’t rub, but I found it mildly irritating for the first ten or fifteen minutes of my rides. After that I did not really notice it, it was quite comfortable. It curves well with your back but does not sit especially closely due to the bulk of the pods. As for the pack not moving as much and a reduction in friction, it definitely has this in its favour. It articulates well and I didn’t feel this pack sliding up and down as I ride; it is very stable.


Those S-shaped shoulder straps fit well and are supportive and very comfortable. The chest and waist straps all work as they are supposed to; they adjust and clip and unclip easily. And that magnetic tube holder, once adjusted to your required angle, works well.

So did this pack have any impact on the sweatiness of my back? Could I feel any additional airflow? To be honest, not really. Obviously more air does get to your back but I still sweated at the contact areas as the pods themselves are rather padded. Maybe in hotter weather you might notice the benefit more but I’m not convinced. I would prefer less padding and a more uniform distribution of the contact area across the back.


Overall: The Camelback Luxe NV is definitely a quality pack, lovely and narrow and a nice size, even if the layout of the pockets and the back system don’t suit everyone.



Review Info

Brand: Camelbak
Product: LUXE NV 2016
Price: £109.99
Tested: by Vic for 3 Months

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