By Jenn K.
The Annadel was received from the manufacturer for the purpose of this review.
The Camelbak Annadel is designed especially for women cyclists and cross-trainers. It has a 50 oz. water reservoir and holds 150 cu. in. of gear. I think this pack is enough for me to get by on my mountain bike rides that are around 2 hours in length.
This is a pretty simplistic pack in my opinion. It is designed with aerodynamics and sleekness in mind. I would consider this pack to have a V-shaped design. It is larger at the top and gradually tapers to the bottom.
The Annadel has a small hydration reservoir that is loaded into the back panel. This panel is closed by a hook and loop closure. The reservoir has a wide mouth opening and is treated with HydroGuard. This treatment is to inhibit the growth of bacteria that can cause odors, discoloration or deterioration of the reservoir. The hydration Pure Flow tube has an Ergo HydroLock at the end with a bite valve. This lock helps prevent spillage. The HydroLock is bent at 90 degrees for more ergonomic drinking.
The Annadel has no hip belt, which I find is not necessarily needed when carrying a light load. The harness of the Annadel is called an S-Curve women’s harness. It is designed with Air Mesh and has light padding. The harness has an adjustable sternum strap, torso adjusters (with hook and loop to store the excess strapping), and loops (with reflective material) for routing the hydration tube. The hydration tube routes from inside the back panel to the harness via a small sleeve (or maybe what I would just call a small opening).
The back panel is padded along the sides with three pronounced areas of padding on each side. Each of the areas of padding is covered by mesh. The center portion of the back of the Annadel has no mesh material and is V-shaped in design.
The main body of the pack is made of a nylon material with some reflective piping. There is a hang loop at the top of the pack and a tab to hold a light on the bottom pocket. This pack only has two storage areas. One runs vertical and the other is more of a pocket type. Both have zippers with pull tabs. The vertical pocket has a 6.5 in. opening and houses a key clip and a divided mesh stash pocket. These pockets are able to hold my mini pump, lip balm, a snack, and some tissues. Other items can be stuffed in front of the mesh pockets (such as arm warmers, a light shell, and more snacks). The bottom storage area of the pack has no mesh pockets on the inside. It is roomy enough to store extra gloves, a small first aid kit, and a bandana. I am certain I can cram more items into both storage areas, but we shall see. I am considering placing my tools and my extra tube in the bottom pocket.
I have wanted to try a smaller, minimalist type of pack for my short mountain bike rides. I can not wait to try out the Annadel on the trail. I tried the pack on for sizing and adjusted it for my level of comfort. It seems to fit well.
A month has passed and the Annadel has been on many mountain biking adventures with me. I will admit that is has only gone with me on my short rides; 13 miles and under. I took it on a hot 16 mile ride that extra clothing and gear was not necessary. The Annadel just does not have the storage space or water capacity for my rides above 13 miles. The Annadel has seen the dirt at least 2-3 days a week during the past month.
It took some getting used to the Annadel, just because it has no hip belt. I never rode with a pack that did not have one. It is funny now when I switch to another pack I forget to fasten the hip belt. Riding without a hip belt is working out well for me while climbing uphill and for riding gradual or non-technical downhills. On technical downhills the Annadel is moving up or from side to side; even with the chest strap and the shoulder straps tightened more. If I tighten these straps too much it is uncomfortable. The first time the Annadel started to bounce from side to side on the steep stuff it kind of caught me by surprise. Now it is expected and I just deal with it.
The Annadel is great for short rides because it is lightweight and is roomy enough to carry my essential gear. I will say that the back panel and the shoulder straps are comfortable. Even with just the chest strap the pack rests in a comfortable position except on steep downhills as mentioned above. Of course I get some sweat on my back while riding where the pack rests, but I consider this to be typical.
I like the padding design on the back of the Annadel. It is mostly one large piece on each side of the pack with no padding in the center where my spine would be located when wearing it. The padding is divided with small spaces. This is a comfortable design because the spacing is not far apart. Therefore there is no padding pressing uncomfortably into my back.
Let’s talk about the gear I typically fit into the Annadel. I usually fill the hydration reservoir just shy of full. So, that gives me just over 40 ounces of water. My pump, keys (on the key clip), snacks, gels, arm warmers, tissues, and lip balm are stored in the main zippered compartment. The bottom small pocket holds a small light, small first aid kit, and my electrolyte powder.
The water reservoir has not leaked yet and there have been no signs of mold. I hang the reservoir up to dry after every use. I found that if I pack the Annadel completely full first and then try to place a full hydration reservoir into the compartment it is very difficult to get it completely in the sleeve. I now remove some of my gear before placing the reservoir in the sleeve. I noticed that it takes some extra time to route the bite valve of the reservoir through the sleeves on the shoulder straps. The bite valve tends to get stuck as I am trying to push it through. Sometimes I have to poke my index finger and my thumb through the opposite end to pull it through. Also if the bite valve is locked it is almost impossible for me to feed it through. The tubing on the reservoir was long in my opinion. It was getting in the way while I was riding. So, I took the bite valve off and cut the tubing a few inches. I am much happier now.
Final Update 9/27/10
Summer is winding down here in Southern California and it will be soon time for me to put the Annadel away. Well just until it begins to warm up again and when I am not limited to mostly night riding. When it starts to cool off or when I am riding at night I need to carry extra clothing and the Annadel just does not have the room.
The Annadel has been with me 2 -3 days a week on my short to medium length after work and weekend mountain bike rides. This pack has worked out great for my mountain biking adventures that have been around 2 hours in length. For any rides that were longer in length I had to use my larger pack; mostly because I needed to carry more water. I have found the Annadel to be very comfortable. It has not caused me any back pain or shoulder soreness. I really like the design and the placement of the back panel padding.
I can still fit all my necessities in the Annadel: pump, keys (on the key clip), snacks, gels, arm warmers, tissues, lip balm, small light, small first aid kit, camera, cell phone, and my electrolyte powder. Sometimes I can squeeze an extra tire tube in the pack when I am not carrying my arm warmers.
The hydration reservoir has been hung up to dry after every use and so far I have not seen any mold or encountered any weird tasting water. There is one thing I need to remember and that is to lock the hydration valve when I am transporting the pack or placing it on the ground. Countless times I forgot to do this and water comes out of the valve and creates a mess. When I have the valve locked I have no problem. I wonder what it will take for me to remember to lock it.
When I fill the hydration reservoir with ice and water the reservoir sweats when I am riding and sometimes the inside and the back panel of the pack feel damp. I have not found this to be an issue and I can live with it. Cold water is especially important to me when I am riding in hot temperatures.
The opening on the shoulder straps really needs to be made wider for the hydration tube and the bite valve to easily fit through. I can not have the valve locked and push it though. When it is unlocked sometimes water squirts out as I am struggling to push it through the sleeve.
The Annadel has become dirty and there were some salt stains on the straps. A little bit of soap and water made the Annadel look like new. There is no noticeable abnormal wear nor has the material ripped (even after getting brushed against trees and cacti). All the straps and zippers are working like they are new.
I am finally used to the pack shifting on steep descents or when I am riding fast through turns. I actually like not having a hip belt while I am climbing uphill. It puts less pressure on my lower back.
The Annadel is a comfortable hydration pack for mountain biking. I plan on using it in the future for my short mountain biking adventures.
The Annadel comes in three colors (Aurora/Pink, Azure Blue, and Black) and retails for $48.00. If you are interested in the Annadel please visit www.camelbak.com.