CamelBak Arc 1 – “The Specialist”

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While I am used to having a tight belt and buckle on my belly while trail running, I know many people dislike this.  Unfortunately the CamelBak Arc 1’s belt needs to be adjusted quite tight to stop it from bouncing (which is an issue with any hip belt/pack) but once it’s adjusted properly I found that it stayed in place while trail running and the buckle did not irritate, pinch or chafe me at all.  The buckle on the CamelBak Arc 1’s belt is quite large for such a small pack, but makes it quick and easy to take off and put on, even with sweaty or gloved hands.  The large size also helps spread the pressure on the stomach more evenly.

The zippered pouch on the CamelBak Arc 1, called the “Essentials Pocket” in CamelBak speak, is a large and breathable pocket with quite some stretch to it on the outer side.  This meant that I could for example fit a packable water-resistant jacket in there without stressing the zip too much, but in reality it’s only made to fit a phone, keys and a gel comfortably.  The inside of the “Essentials Pocket” features a Nylon type backing material that I have found quite effective at stopping sweat from my back entering the pocket, so your electronics will be fine in there. There is also a key clip inside the “Essentials Pocket” with bit of cord attached between it and the pocket, which means one can access the content of the pocket with the key hanging out of the way, without losing your keys.

The outer mesh of the “Essentials Pocket” is a fine weave, making it difficult to see into the pocket without opening the zip.  I have not yet had a sharp object like a key poke through this mesh, but it’s something to watch out for in any case.  Also the outer mesh means that the contents of the pocket will become wet if it rains, so it would be advisable to take a waterproof pouch with you for your phone and keys if you plan to run in the rain and you don’t have jacket covering the pocket.The bottom of the “Essentials Pocket” features reflective loops that add to your low light safety and visibility and while I have not tested it, one could possible attach something to those loops to sit on the outside of the pack.  The outside back of the CamelBak Arc 1 “Essentials Pocket” features printed branding, but this has started to peel off almost from the get go, which is unfortunate but not really an issue in the bigger scheme of things, unless you are a bit pedantic about such details that is.

The last part of the CamelBak Arc 1 consists of the bottle clip and the 300 ml Podium Bottle Bottle.  The bottle clip is made of a plastic material with some flex in it and has so far proved to be durable with many a clipping in and out of the Podium Bottle from the clip.  If the clip does fail, it is removable so one should be able to find a replacement.  Being removable the orientation of the clip can be varied, meaning that you can attach the Podium Bottle to the CamelBak Arc 1 pack horizontally or vertically (which I prefer).  There is also some up/down variation on placement of the clip that can take place, although very slight in nature.  I prefer the vertical placement as the Podium Bottle is less likely to hit my arm on the back swing and it seemed to conform to my body better and thus move around less.  The Podium Bottle clipped in and out fairly easily once I got used to the way the clip and the Podium Bottle interfaced and is very secure (I have yet to have the bottle loosen or pop out).  Here the vertical orientation is a bit more difficult to use as it requires a bit of arm bending getting the Podium Bottle into the clip on the CamelBak Arc 1 pack, but even on longer runs or speed sessions it hasn’t bothered me and in fact I have found I can get the bottle in and out quickly and securely without dropping the Podium Bottle or having to adjust the bottle in the clip. Once it’s in, it’s in! This is a big plus when you are going fast on technical terrain versus normal bottle and holsters where one tends to have to make sure that the bottle is in there properly or cinch it down with some kind of mechanism.

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