CamelBak Rim Runner 22 Review 2019

  • Day Hiker

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CamelBak Rim Runner 22 Overview

We’re privileged to hike in a world that’s brimming with excellent day packs to choose from. Fierce competition leads to product innovation and refinement, qualities which are evident in the CamelBak Rim Runner 22.

A long-standing favorite among avid day hikers, the Rim Runner line has recently been updated with a fresh aesthetic and CamelBak’s new CRUX reservoir hydration system. The old-school hydration bladder company has breathed new life into this tried-and-true day hiking backpack without spoiling the elements that made it great in the first place.

Due to the above improvements on an already stellar pack, we have named the CamelBak Rim Runner 22 our Classic Pick for Hydration Packs.

CamelBak Rim Runner Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Packability
  • Fit and Adjustability
  • Hydration
4.3

Summary

The updated CamelBak Rim Runner 22 is a capable hydration pack for day hiking, and has an ace up its sleeve in the CRUX reservoir. Excellent hydration and outstanding pockets make this a pack worth exploring.

See the full CamelBak Rim Runner 22 review below.

CamelBak Rim Runner 22 Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 1 lbs 9 oz. (730 g) A medium weight for a good-sized hydration pack. The Rim Runner excels as a hiking pack with an included bladder, and isn’t too heavy, but also isn’t very light.
Capacity 19.5 Gear + 2.5 L Bladder A decent amount of room for a full day’s hike, and an included 2.5 liter bladder. The bladder fits nicely into the pack. Learn more about backpack capacity in our Guide.
Frame No Frame, Mesh Backing CamelBak doesn’t use a rigid frame on this pack, which is true of most hydration packs. It does have air mesh back panels, shoulder straps, and hip belts that are decently comfortable.
Hip Belt Fit 28-46 in. (43-53 cm) The hip belt is substantial, padded, and has pockets, though the pockets aren’t very large. Learn more about backpack hip belts and how to measure in our Guide.
Torso Fit 43-53 in. (17-21 cm), Not Adjustable The Rim Runner is sized to fit most people, specifically men, but it works for a large range of sizes. If your torso is smaller and you want the women-specific pack, check out the Helena 20. To learn more about backpack torso measurement and adjustable torsos see our Guide.
Exterior Pockets 8 Pockets galore! Many places to store your items.
Hydration Bladder CRUX Reservoir with Standard Exit Port The CRUX is the latest reservoir from CamelBak. It is made of durable material, has an excellent valve, and makes drinking an easy experience.
Main Pack Access Zippered Most hydration packs have a zipper opening, and the Rim Runner is no different. It has a few zippered openings.
Trekking Pole Loops Yes There are small but functional loops for attaching things, like trekking poles.
Sternum Strap Yes A solid sternum strap will keep the pack’s load evenly distributed on you.
Materials Not Listed, “Nylon” We wish CamelBak would list material specs!
Warranty Got Your Bak Lifetime Guarantee The Rim Runner has a limited lifetime guarantee, so if anything breaks, like a zipper or buckle, get in touch.
Retail Price $100 A solid price for a solid pack. CamelBak doesn’t skimp on features, and if you’re looking for a highly capable day hiker that doubles as hydration pack, this may be it.

Gear Review of the CamelBak Rim Runner 22

Here in TrackTown USA (i.e., Eugene, Oregon) there are a myriad of trails and public paths that cut through town, scale the local buttes, and extend far into the mountain ranges. The Willamette Valley, which cradles inhabitants within a protective embrace, has been called a hiking haven for a reason.

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Exploring TrackTown with the CamelBak Rim Runner 22.

The CamelBak Rim Runner 22 has had my back much of this past summer as I’ve traversed the area’s urban and rural trails on day hikes, dog walks, and long jogs. On each excursion it has provided stellar support when I needed it most.

There were days when I took my dogs Huckleberry and Buster out to popular hiking sites, such as Spencer’s Butte and the Fern Ridge Reservoir, where I cherished the Rim Runner’s multitude of pockets.

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Pockets galore on the Rim Runner 22. There’s a place for everything.

Separating my own snacks from the dog treats was convenient, but even more important was having separate storage compartments which kept everything I hold sacred in this world far away from the used (ahem, poopy) dog bags. Pack it in, pack it out, people! Even if it’s icky.

I tended to completely remove the CRUX water reservoir on urban hikes in favor of a water bottle or two, which were easily stored in the mesh side pockets. This allowed me to pack more gear, like a small laptop, into the reservoir’s compartment.

On long runs, however, the hydration bladder was a godsend. Snagging a sip of water was as easy as could be.

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Hydrate!

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

Fun fact: I’ve always been a fan of pockets. Big pockets, small pockets — doesn’t matter. The more, the better. You’ve likely noticed this trend if you’ve read through my other product reviews.

That said, Whoa Nelly! — does the Rim Runner have a lot of pockets for a day pack. There are eight (!) exterior pockets and two interior mesh pockets, not to mention four exterior gear loops, a key ring hook, and multiple adjustable straps.

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The exterior mesh pockets fit water bottles well.

My revelation was when I first packed up the Rim Runner for a day out on the town. Fully packed and organized, this backpack sparked joy in my heart. Marie Kondo would have been happy to see that every piece of my gear had a home within the pack.

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A well-pocketed pack makes for a well-organized hiker!

The largest compartment was home to the hydration bladder, the next largest was home to my change of clothes, and each smaller pocket was perfectly sized to house such things as my netbook, wallet, keys, phone, and so on.

When I needed my credit card to buy a burrito for lunch, I knew exactly where to find it. Bucket-style backpacks are great for some people, but I like to keep things organized. You know that the item you need always finds its way to the bottom of those bucket packs, especially when you need it in a hurry.

Digging Deeper

The CamelBak Rim Runner 22 is a multi-faceted backpack that acts bigger than it is. The Rim Runner is fitted with structural support and padded comfort that are comparable to some of the lightweight backpacking backpacks on the market, but its limited 19.5-liter carrying capacity is middling for the day pack segment.

What makes this day pack stand out from its competitors is the integrated 2.5 L CRUX hydration reservoir. This new system delivers water 20% faster than its previous rendition — according to their testing. With my testing, sipping on the go is actually faster than it ever was before. CamelBak invented the “hydration pack” market, and still does it best.

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The CRUX Reservoir from CamelBak, included with the Rim Runner 22.

A plastic hook on the CRUX bladder slides into a rigid loop within the Rim Runner, locking the reservoir in place so you don’t end up collapsing a lung trying to slurp through a crooked hose. With this setup everything stays in place as it should, even during a bouncy jog.

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The CRUX reservoir hooked into the Rim Runner 22.

Without the bladder, the Rim Runner weighs in at a class-competitive 25 ounces, but that number spikes to a hefty 32 ounces when you add in the empty water reservoir. It’s not the lightest pack in its segment, but the supportive hip belt will help keep things comfortable.

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The hip belt on the Rim Runner 22 sits a bit high, but is more supportive than most hydration packs.

Speaking of which, the hip belt fits 28-42 inch waists and is lined with a breathable mesh that continues up the entire back of the pack. Two small pockets adorn the hip belt, which is a nice touch not often seen on day hiking packs, but they’re so cramped that you’d be hard-pressed to fit more than a tube of chapstick or a snack bar in each.

Comfort – 4 Stars

A well-padded back panel and straps provided me with all day comfort that was supported by a surprisingly capable structure. All of this was covered in a breathable mesh which helped to keep things dry, but the lack of true ventilation channels resulted in a sweat-soaked back more often than not.

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Standard fare for a hydration pack, including air mesh support. The hip belt support is a bit extra.

Durability – 5 Stars

The thick fabric on the Rim Runner feels impenetrable, and it is complemented by an assortment of sturdy straps, zippers, and buckles. I noticed some wear on the mesh padding that contacted my lower back, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary, and overall this pack appears as if it should last a long time.

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Full packed and ready to get dirty.

Packability – 4 Stars

Pockets and compartments galore! This pack has adequate space and storage for just about all your needs. The hip belt pockets are laughably minuscule, however, and filling up the 2.5 L reservoir certainly reduces any extra storage space you may desire for bulky items. Ditch the reservoir in favor of a water bottle when you need to carry a heavier load.

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Here’s what I can fit inside one hip belt pocket.

I reduced a star for the hip belt pockets — if you’re going to include them, make sure they can carry stuff. Otherwise they’re just adding weight.

Fit and Adjustability – 3.5 Stars

The hip belt and shoulder straps adjust well enough to fit a person of certain stature, but they can be restrictive if you don’t have the body type the Rim Runner was designed for. Check the measurements to make sure this pack is right for you.

The Rim Runner is CamelBak’s male-specific pack in this segment. Women and/or shorter-torso’d men should look into the CamelBak Helena.

Hydration – 5 Stars

CamelBak is synonymous with hydration systems, and for good reason. The new CRUX hydration bladder is the company’s best integrated hydration system yet. Drinking is easy, the bladder stays in proper position, and it’s simple to fill and clean.

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Many integrated bladder points on the Rim Runner make on-the-go hydration a breeze.

Grievances

A little more bolstering could have gone a long way. Though the Rim Runner is covered in breathable mesh everywhere that it touches your body, I found I always had a severely sweaty back after a few miles under the summer sun.

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Contemplating the sweat.

The cushioned protrusions that press against your shoulder blades and lower back should be more pronounced with thicker grooves in between them. This isn’t because the pack needs more cushy comfort, but the separation provided by thicker padding would allow better airflow to dry out sweat-covered skin.

As it was, my back and this pack were soaked in sweat after a few miles on those hot summer days.

Final Word

The integrated CRUX hydration bladder is a game changer, but that’s not all that makes the CamelBak Rim Runner great. Durable design, convenient storage options, and impressive structural support are the true pillars of this iconic day pack.

Where to Buy CamelBak Rim Runner 22

We tested the CamelBak Rim Runner 22 in Charcoal/Grecian Blue. It is only offered in this size, and is technically a unisex pack, though it caters more towards a male’s physique.

The counterpart to the Rim Runner 22 is the Helena 20, which costs the same, has different color options, and fits a female physique better. It’s also slightly smaller, with an overall capacity of 20 liters (rather than 22), but with the same 2.5 L CRUX bladder included. It also has a women-specific S-shaped harness and shorter back panel.

Compare CamelBak Rim Runner 22 and Helena 20 prices below.

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arthur mcmahon bio pic

Arthur McMahon

Arthur loves to walk. It's as simple as that. Whether it be in the mountains, on the beach, or along the city streets -- he believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. He and his wife chronicled their journey in their book Adventure and the Pacific Crest Trail. They now regularly travel into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest seeking new trails to hike. Follow his adventures at arthurmcmahon.com and on Instagram.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.

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