My Favorite Things: Camelbak Octane 8+ Hydration Pack

Written by Bruce R. Copeland on November 08, 2008


Nothing makes it simpler for me to ‘just get out there’ than the Camelbak Octane
8+ hydration pack. It is light enough for racing, but roomy enough for long, self-supported, backcountry trail runs. Unexpanded (525 cu in), it is sleek and efficient. Fully expanded, it has huge capacity. The shoulder straps are wide and comfortable, and the substantial belt makes it possible to loosen the shoulder straps considerably for a more relaxed upper body when running. The two side belt pockets—easily accessible while running—are perfect for carrying 5.5 oz gel bottles and/or electrolytes, meds, etc.

I’ve never been very satisfied with fanny packs for running—they simply bounce around the tops of my hips too much. Apart from this, the advantage of the Octane 8+ is that it makes it possible to carry lightweight but bulky items that would never fit in a fanny pack. During cold nighttime portions of races, I have sometimes used the Octane to carry spare tights, top, socks, gloves, emergency equipment and extra gel/food without even pushing the unexpanded capacity of the pack. I have only used the expansion capacity once, but merely knowing it is available greatly simplifies clothing choices for extended runs.

Good as the Octane 8+ is, it can be further improved. Hydration bladders tend to be really inconvenient during races (although I do typically carry 3/4 liter as an emergency reserve). I modified the Octane 8+ by adding two water bottle holders across the back of the pack, as shown in the picture. The bottle holders are attached by a combination of small carabiners lashed to the base of the shoulder straps and two mini bungee cords looped over joints in the pack belt. A small strap connects the holders. There are probably better ways to do this, but this arrangement has held up exceedingly well. I use the bottles for races and shorter training runs when a hydration bladder is overkill. For VERY long self supported trail runs, I can use the 70 oz bladder in conjunction with two 28 oz water bottles. Camelbak could facilitate these modifications if they added several appropriately-positioned D-rings and/or grommets along the lower back/sides of the pack.

Overall, this is an absolutely great piece of trail running gear!

Specifications: 525 cubic inch capacity (center zipped) or 781 cubic inch capacity (center unzipped), 70 oz hydration bladder with locking bite valve, waist belt with side pockets, breathable double mesh shoulder straps, air director back panel for breathability, weight 1.92 pounds unloaded.