The Camelbak MULE NV 2011: The Hydration Pack for a Packrat like Me

After almost a decade of use, I'm finally retiring my Camelbak Blowfish. We've been through lots of wonderful adventures over the years. I even bought a new reservoir three years ago and a new bite valve last month, but it would take a number trips to Mr. Quickie to patch up the holes and fix the straps.
The Old Camelbak Blowfish

After extensive research in Camelbak's website, I managed to cut down the choices to just two packs: the Camelbak HAWG NV 2011 and the Camelbak MULE NV 2011. Being a packrat, I need to have lots of space to put the essential stuff when I ride (pump, tire levers, patch kit, extra tube, multi-tool) plus my additional stuff (small bottle of chain lube, zip ties, duct tape, first aid kit, and a Missing Link). I also drink a lot so I need the 100 oz water reservoir.

I went to Extreme Bike Shop right after work and looked for the two models. Unfortunately (or should it be fortunately?), they don't have the HAWG NV so I ended up with the terrific MULE NV 2011.

The Camelbak Mule NV 2011
After seeing this pack in person, I knew this is the one. It was love at first sight! Check out the features after the break.

My Camelbak Mule NV 2011 is proudly made in the Philippines
I'm surprised that this Camelbak is made in the Philippines. With this type of workmanship and attention to detail, I'm very proud.

The front pocket is great for bike tools
See that? That's just the front pocket and it fits in all my tools with room to spare.

Another view of the NVIS back
The NVIS back panel is one of the things I love about this pack. No more hot sweaty backs from now on!

Velcro strip at the end of the strap to prevent this from fluttering when you ride
Here's a nice touch that I really appreciate - velcro strips at the end of the shoulder straps. Now I can neatly fold the extra strap and it'll stay that way. No more fluttering in the wind.

The rain cover is included
No need to bring a plastic bag to protect my phone and other gadgets. The pack comes with a built-in rain cover.

A view of the back with the rain cover on
Here's another view of the pack with the rain cover on.

It has a pocket where you can stash a rain shell or your helmet
There's a pocket where I can stash a rain coat or even my helmet. This will be perfect for stowing slippers for overnight trips, too!

You can put a lot of more stuff in here
Look at all that space! With my tools stashed in the front pockets, I don't know what else to put here! Now that's a change!

A velvet-lined pocket for your MP3 player
And finally, they have a velvet-lined pocket for my second-generation iPod Nano. A nice touch but I doubt if i'll use it that often as I don't recommend wearing headphones while riding.

I'm excited to test this new pack out. I'll be doing the Laguna de Bay loop next week. I think I can give a better review then. If it doesn't rain tomorrow morning, maybe I can do Antipolo-Teresa-Antipolo.

Thanks for reading.