The Camelbak K.U.D.U. was designed specifically to meet the needs for hydration, storage and enhanced protection while racing enduro. Modern MTB enduro is essentially the equivalent of racing downhill on 6″ travel bikes with minimal protective gear, and with riders pushing the limits, crashing is common. The KUDU was designed address these specific needs, carrying the necessary gear for full days of racing, with the addition of an integrated impact protector.
Besides the removable impact protection, the KUDU includes Camelback’s Antidote reservoir with 100 oz / 3 liters of hydration capacity, with a pack only weight of 2 lbs 7 oz.
The Kudu includes a tool roll, a lined pocket for glasses, internal organizer mesh pockets as well as outer full face helmet and pad storage. The helmet/ pad straps also serve as compression straps to cinch the pack down with minimal loads, and could be useful for lashing other items on if needed.
The excellent waist belt we’ve become fond of from the Low Rider series is carried over, while the shoulder straps are secured in the front with the addition of a second sternum strap for maximum stability.
Camelbak has continued to refine the design of their water bladder, and the bladder features a wide mouth making it easy to fill and easier to clean. The low profile fill port only takes a quarter turn to open, with a reliable seal that is quick to close without cross threading issues. An anti-microbial liner in the bladder helps keep the funk down, and a quick disconnect from the hose allows you to remove the bladder without having to reroute the hose through the pack.
The bite valve also includes a shut-off switch, which we’ve gotten in the habit of using when traveling to avoid pools of water that inevitably occur otherwise.
On the trail
In use, the KUDU stays put and adds a sense of security when charging technical trail. In Wilderness First Aid classes, much of the discussion and training revolves around being a responder to mountain bike crashes and falls with the potential for spine injuries. After becoming aware of how common back injuries are, a pack with a built in spine protector makes a lot of sense.
The downside is that the addition of the protective insert adds weight. The fully loaded KUDU is not a light weight pack, especially if you’ve become accustomed to riding with minimal loads or waist packs, like Camelbak’s Palos. (read our Palos review here)
We prefer using the Palos or Lowrider packs for the bulk of our XC riding, saving the KUDU for use on shuttle days, at the bike park or on double black diamond trails.
To stay nimble, I’ve taken to carrying a bottle on my bike with a minimal amount of water and gear in the pack. Thanks to the waist strap, the pack does carry weight well when you need it. Living back in the northwest, we have a few great destination trails that are easily shuttled, and I initially used a waist pack. That doesn’t make sense with access to pack like this — it only takes one crash to end a riding season after all.
Riders pushing the limits looking for additional protection should take a close look at the KUDU. With the integrated spine protector, it is inexpensive insurance for when things go awry. It’s become my go-to pack for shuttles and gravity riding thanks to the fit and peace of mind.
- Reflective elements
- Great waist belt with storage
- Carries weight well, stable
- Spine protection
- Good organization internally
Not as great:
- On the heavy side – protection adds weight
- Helmet carry could be more versitile
The K.U.D.U. 12 lists for $200. Check it out on Camelbak.com