The right tool makes the job easier, faster and more enjoyable but you need to know what you want it to do first. The CamelBak Arc 1 is a very specific pack, so you need to have a specific job for it to do. If you realise you have a need for a small pack to use for hill repetitions, speed work or any other trail running scenario in the 5-10k range between aid then the CamelBak Arc 1 is the pack for you.
Many of you may say why not just use a hand bottle; they offer similar capacity and cost? Well it boils down to what you find comfortable really, I like to have my hands free to do things with and not feel unbalanced by having a weight on the one side of my body throwing me off balance and thus I prefer the CamelBak Arc 1 over a hand bottle. Also the CamelBak Arc 1 weighs only 80 grams with the 300 ml Podium Arc bottle empty, so unless you stuff it with gear, it shouldn’t weigh you down at all.
Getting down to the pack itself, the CamelBak Arc 1 consists of three basic components; namely the elasticated webbing belt, “Essentials Pocket” and Podium Arc1 bottle/bottle holder. From this one can see the CamelBak Arc 1 is a simple pack, but it gets the basics right! CamelBak have taken some time to bring the Arc range to market, but it has been worth the wait and shows in the refinement present in the final product. The pack itself is mainly made from a 70 Denier Diamond Clarus Ripstop material with a DWR finish, so it should be quite resistant to puncturing, tearing, abrasion as well as the odd bit of light rain.
The belt featured on the CamelBak Arc 1 is built from an elastic webbing material which helps it to really conform well to the user’s body while also limiting bounce, as the belt moves with you during you natural trail running stride. The webbing is really soft so I have not had any chafing issues with the belt, even with it adjusted tight during a 3 hour lap run in Moreletakloof. Being soft it also doesn’t seem to damage the material on wicking trail running shirts as many other packs tend to do. The belt is adjustable from the left and the right to ensure the perfect fit and makes it possible to have one side looser or tighter than the other, depending on how the rear is loaded and thus where more support is needed.
This also means that the buckle, which sits in the middle of the belt, can be made to sit more to the one side or the other so that the fit is comfortable for you. This adjusting creates plenty of loose material, but the CamelBak Arc 1 has reflective loops on both sides that hold the excess webbing in place. At first I was skeptical of these loops, but to date I have not had the webbing ends remove themselves from the loops and flap around, nor do the loops move closer to the buckle and cause more excess loose webbing belt ends. Nothing worse than needing to adjust a pack all the time while trail running!