As outdoor activities such as mountain biking and motocross increased in popularity, the need for better methods of hydrating became necessary. Because both types of rider need to keep their hands on the handlebars as much as possible for optimal control of their respective cycles, getting to water bottles without losing control became increasingly difficult. Therefore, the water backpack was born.
A water backpack is a hydration system that allows the wearer to access water supplies without using their hands. This is accomplished via a bite valve attached to a plastic tube gravity fed by a pliable reservoir. These became commonly known as a CamelBak® as a result of the most popular company to manufacture water backpacks, Camelbak Products, LLC.
A CamelBak® utilizes a plastic, pliable reservoir to contain water. The reservoir is then placed inside a specially designed backpack – the backpacks come in all different shapes and sizes, and come standard with several different features depending on the brand and intended use. When a user places the pack on his back, the pliable reservoir of the CamelBak® conforms to the wearer’s body. A plastic drinking tube connects the reservoir to a bite valve – a mouthpiece the wearer can gently bite to release the flow of water. Some bite valves on CamelBak®-style backpacks feature cut-off valves that restrict the flow of water when not in use.
The camelback is a general term that is used, colloquially, to refer to any system of hydration pack. However, the name CamelBak® is specific only to the CamelBak® brand packs and hydration systems. After CamelBak® packs became popular among mountain bikers and motocross riders, recreationalists from other sports found the concept appealing and began applying the camelback hydration systems to their own sports, such as trail running, skiing, snowboarding, and hiking. Several brands of camelback style hydration systems –including CamelBak® – have met the demand by designing packs specifically for those activities and many others.