Camelbak Octane 22 Trailrunning Backpack Review

The Camelbak Octane 22 is a lightweight backpack with lots of storage options. Here I look at its features in more detail and discuss what activities it might be used for.

Firstly, the name is quite deceptive with 22 referring to the pack’s capacity of twenty two litres. This is quite small for a backpack and not really sufficient to carry enough kit for a lightweight camping trip. However the 22 refers to the internal capacity, once you add the storage of the external stretch pockets and numerous pockets on the harness the Octane offers much more volume and carrying capacity.

photo of Camelbak Octane 22 backpack

lots of storage options

As soon as you see the pack you notice how much external storage it has. On the back (I don’t know why some manufacturers call this the front!) there is a large stretch mesh pocket. This is large enough to fit my lightweight 1 person tent. Then on each side there is a slightly smaller stretch mesh pocket that will easily carry a 1 litre bladder or lightweight waterproofs with room to spare. These side pockets have an elasticated cord at the top to help keep items secure. These also act to secure trekking poles should you wish to carry them. There is a small loop at the base of each side of the pack through which to insert the other end of a pole, so you carry one at each side. The location of the loops means that you’d have to take the pack off to attach and remove the poles, you wouldn’t be able to stow them on the move.

photo of Camelbak Octane 22 pack fully loaded

loads of room in the stretch back and side pockets

On the front of the pack the chest and waist straps form what Camelbak call the “Command Centre”. This implies that all the important things that you might need quick access to are readily to hand and easily accessible. There’s no computer or bank of switches in the command centre but there are pockets – lots of them! On each of the chest straps there is a mesh pocket that is deep enough to fit a 500ml soft flask (not supplied) and below these and overlapping them there is a fabric (Cordura) pocket that can fit food, gels, compass, map extract etc. Then below this on the right hand side of the harness there is a small stretch mesh pocket with only a small opening to it. I wasn’t sure how useful this was at first but when I came to wear the pack I realised that it was ideal for stashing empty wrappers. The small opening keeps them from falling out and blowing away. On the left hand side there is a zipped pocket that easily fits a reasonably sized mobile phone. Then on the hip belt there is a zipped pocket on each side. I can just about squeeze my phone into these but they are probably better for hat, gloves, food and other small items. There is also an emergency whistle easily accessible on the upper left chest strap.

So there are lots of places to carry your kit before you even get to the main storage compartment. This is accessed by a double zip that opens up the whole back section of the pack meaning that you pack it like a holdall rather than filling it from the top. This has pros and cons; it makes packing and then accessing your kit really easy but you have to be careful not to over stress the zip. On a pack that you fill from the top you can really squash things down inside, but you can’t do that with this design.

photo of Camelbak Octane pack unzipped

main compartment zips open

With the pack fully unzipped there a more internal storage features. Five small pockets on the back and two larger ones, one on each side allow you organise items within the pack. I haven’t really found that I use these and think they are a bit unnecessary, I just fill the main compartment. You’d probably find them useful if you like to keep things organised! There is also a medium sized zipped pocket on the inside of the flap. This has a key clip so I assume it is designed as a place to keep your valuables safe. However, the very last thing that people probably pack is their car key and in order to reach the secure pocket you need to unzip the main compartment. If you’ve packed everything nice and tight then items will fall out!

photo showing inside view of Camelbak Octane 22 pack

internal organiser!

The Octane has another zipped compartment, handily identifiable by a blue zip pull, this is designed to house the 2 litre reservoir that comes supplied with the pack. The reservoir has a rigid plate to help feed it into the compartment when filled with water. I prefer to use soft flasks and a filter rather than a bladder / reservoir so in that scenario this compartment becomes additional storage. I find it is ideal to carry my tent footprint / groundsheet protector which easily slides in and keeps dirt and water away from my other items once it’s been used. There is also a small zipped pocket on the bottom of the pack that contains a waterproof cover (or a better place to keep your car keys!)

photo of Camelbak Octane 22 pack

reservoir compartment or extra storage

The Octane 22 is a unisex, single sized pack but it is highly adjustable. The two sternum straps fasten with a clip buckle and simply slide up and down to adjust for comfort. The waist has a larger buckle and there are also adjusters at either side of the harness where it connects the main pack to the front straps. I’m small – 28 inch waist and 35 inch chest so I have the adjustment straps done up close to maximum but there is loads of “slack” to let out for bigger bodies. Information supplied with the pack state that it will suit chest sizes from 33 to 47 inches. The pack is made from water repellent Cordura, lightweight stretch mesh and has a flexible foam back that provides a bit of padding and prevents items in the main compartment from digging in your back. The adjusting straps aren’t elasticated but the fabric of the chest straps is slightly stretchy. This gives the pack a bit of “give” rather than it feeling too restrictive.

The pack is ideal as a reasonably sized day-sack for hill walking and trekking. I’ve used the Octane 22 for ultralight camping trips where I want to move fast and light with minimal kit rather than carry a bigger pack. It would definitely be big enough for a mountain marathon if you were aiming for speed rather than comfort and you were sharing some of the load with a partner.

One size, unisex.
Weight – 890g (not including reservoir)
RRP – £170

Overall impression

The Camelbak Octane 22 is a lightweight backpack with much more storage capacity than its name implies. It is highly adjustable to fit a wide range of body sizes. It would be a good choice for walkers and trekkers or for campers who want to take the minimalist, fastpacking approach. It would also make a good mountain marathon pack for runners wanting to go fast and light.
Likes – Lightweight, lots of storage, more capacity than the name suggests, long zip giving ease of access to all of the main compartment, lots of size adjustability, looks and feels good quality / well made.
Dislikes – Expensive, needs a key clip on an external pocket, overkill on internal organiser pockets, “Command Centre” – it’s not a spaceship! 🙂

More detailed video review here:

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