The CamelBak Rogue is a bare-bones cycling oriented hydration pack with simplicity in mind. At its core is a CamelBak's Crux 2.5-liter water reservoir to keep you hydrated on those long grinder road rides, with enough extra storage space to carry your essential gear in secure pockets. When compared to other minimalist packs, the Rogue retains a slim profile but also has enough additional storage to appeal to a broader range of users and uses. If your uses typically include fast and light activities like road cycling, hiking, or non-technical trail riding, the Rogue is definitely a pack to consider.
CamelBak Rogue Review
Cons: Less comfort for wider shoulders, minimal storage
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Rogue is a sleek and lightweight pack for minimalists seeking to keep the weight of their hydration packs down while providing a little more storage than other ultralight models. If your motto is "light is right", then look no further.
Ease of Drinking
CamelBak has long been known for being a leader in hydration system designs, and a significant portion of that reputation is earned through easy-drinking bite valves. The Rogue carries on that tradition and with the updated Crux bite valve design, their bar is set even higher. Along with the Crux bladder system, CamelBak claims a 20% increase in water delivered "per sip" over past models. Comparing "per sip" quantities between the current generation and our trusty 10-year old CamelBak pack proved a little abstract, but we can attest to a higher flow rate in new versus old packs.
In comparison to other models in our test lineup, the CamelBak bite valve was easier to drink from by delivering a higher flow rate of water. Like the other CamelBak products in our lineup, the Rogue includes a handy on/off shutoff switch to prevent accidental water loss through the bite valve.
Ease of Filling
When it came time to fill up our Rogue, our testers found it was straightforward to top off the pack's 2.5-liter bladder. You won't find a quick-release drinking hose attached to the bladder like what is found in many hydration systems these days, but this pack is still a breeze to fill. Open the quick-release external flap, and the wide mouth of the bladder looks right up at you. Remove the lid and fill up the bladder without even removing it from the pack. Very convenient!
If you've used older hydration packs, you'll remember how awkward and messy fill-ups were…tear the entire backpack apart to access the bladder, pry it out, then try to fill it through a pinhole-sized opening and finally try to cap it off without squeezing half your water back out. With designs like the CamelBak Crux hydration systems, those days are thankfully long gone!
CamelBak includes features to improve your comfort, like light overall pack weight at 12.8 ounces and a breathable air mesh back panel. The Rogue is high on comfort if you don't attempt to overfill and overstuff this minimalist bag. Our testers found that if you keep the load to a slightly-less-than filled water bladder and just a couple small items in the pockets, like a phone and keys, that the Rogue provides a comfortable hydration experience. Once we filled the bladder past two liters, the pack's flexible mesh back panels becomes a bit deformed and distended, creating the sensation of having a semi-soft two-liter bottle strapped to your back. Keep in mind that this is short-lived, as you hydrate yourself back into a more comfortable carry. The breathable mesh shoulder straps provided adequate support and comfort, but some of our broader-shouldered testers found the fit somewhat restrictive.
We found that the Rogue performed well while doing some casual hikes on easy to moderate trails, only suffering in performance when we picked up speed on rougher downhill sections; this was due to the lack of a hip belt which allows for excessive movement of the pack when things get rough.
Next, we decided to hit some of our local Tahoe mountain bike trails to see how it would perform in harsher conditions. We filled up the water bladder to a comfortable one and a half liters, squeezed in a spare inner tube, tire lever, multitool, and a light wind shell, then hit the trail. Even without a hip belt, the Rogue felt decent while riding flat, uphill, and non-technical downhill terrain.
Once it came time for a 1200' rocky downhill, things got a bit rougher. As our wheels became airborne, so did the Rogue. Similarly, as our testers leaned into corners and back, the pack had a mind of its own, swinging dynamically back and forth with momentum. Is the Rogue the hydration pack of choice for trail riders? Nope, but keep it on the smooth, and you're in for a comfy ride. We found the Rogue performed reasonably well while trail running, especially if we didn't fill the pack's hydration bladder up completely. While we would have preferred a light hip belt to keep the pack from moving as much, overall movement wasn't too exaggerated for the majority of our run.
As you might imagine, this category's description is smaller in keeping with the smaller storage capacity of this lightweight pack. In keeping with its minimalist design, the Rogue has just 2.5-liters (150 cubic inches) of storage space, with a couple of small pockets for carrying small, essential items. The Rogue can easily carry things like phones, keys, wallets, and small bike tools, CO2 cartridges, etc.
The stretchy overflow compartment on the lower portion of the pack also carries things like light rain jackets or arm and leg warmers.
As you may have assumed, the Rogue is indeed a light pack. At a measured 12.8 oz, it is among the lightest packs in our lineup, only a couple ounces heavier than the lightest. With a relatively insignificant weight penalty, a light overall weight, and functional storage space, the Rogue is a worthy choice for a minimalist design.
Ease of Cleaning
The Rogue's design allows for relatively easy cleaning, especially the water bladder itself. With a wide mouth design, it's easy to squeeze your cleaning device of choice into the bag. While easy, this task is not quite as smooth as other top-ranked models in our test. We also found the quick-release feature found on the other test packs made cleaning the drinking hose easier as well, allowing access on both ends of the hose.
The Rogue is a definitely a solid overall value, especially considering it comes with CamelBak's limited lifetime "Got Your Bak" warranty. While it is a good value for the right user, there are similarly sized minimalist style packs available for less, and much larger, fully-featured packs available for the same price, both of which may present a better value for most users.
Do you spend multiple thirsty hours in the saddle? Does the thought of carrying more weight than you need drive you crazy? Are you someone who likes to move light and fast whether on wheels or your feet? Sleek and comfortable carry…check. Enough space for just your essentials…check. Dehydration-busting water capacity…done! The CamelBak Rogue could be your hydration pack of choice!
— Jason Cronk
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