Gear Review: Camelbak Highwire 20 Daypack

Camelbak Highwire 20

Camelbak Highwire 20
$110, 1 lb. 9 oz.
19L/1,129 c.i.
One unisex size

A daypack loaded for an all-day adventure can turn into a hot and clammy pig on your back, but not the Highwire. On hot hikes in the Boise Foothills, my back stayed relatively cool and dry because of the Highwire’s excellent ventilation: channels promoting air flow across your back, and back padding and shoulder straps made of wide-gauge mesh. A flexible, plastic framesheet provides enough support for carrying 12-15 pounds. The narrow profile and stability made it almost unnoticeable on my back even when scrambling off-trail in Capitol Reef National Park. The one unisex size fits my 18-inch torso and my wife’s 16-inch torso. The tough, 70-denier fabric showed no wear after a few hours of squeezing through a technical slot canyon in Capitol Reef. And the Highwire has the capacity and features for an all-day hike, including a wide clamshell-style mouth for easy access to the main compartment; a smaller top pocket; deep mesh side pockets that you can reach into while wearing the pack; and a removable, one-inch belt.

On top of all that, the Antidote reservoir may be the smartest iteration that Camelbak has come out with—and that’s saying a lot. Characteristic of Camelbak, the 100-oz. (3L) reservoir that comes with the pack loads in a separate panel against your back, for easy refilling. A welded center baffle inside the bladder prevents sloshing as you drain it. Curved plastic arms fold out from the bladder’s mouth to hold it open for drying; and the hose detaches with a quick-release button from the bladder for drying and cleaning. Plus, the reservoir’s wide mouth opens and closes with a simple quarter turn. All in all, with the Highwire 20, Camelbak again raises the bar for hydration daypacks.

—Michael Lanza


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