Our test field includes a few medium-sized hip bags with a bottle holder – but only a few of them include the bottle in the scope of delivery. The CamelBak Podium Flow is one of them and also the most compact option.
Upon unpacking the Podium Flow, the entire editorial team agreed: aesthetics are purely a matter of taste. It’s not that we have anything against the camo pattern, as this actually works pretty well with the larger Repack LR 4. Having said that, we would happily ditch the brown bits. It’s just that the colour scheme makes the pack look a lot cheaper than it is… luckily the Podium Flow is also available in black. The quality of the materials and workmanship is perfectly fine, but nothing out of the ordinary. However, the very reasonable price tag of € 50, which includes a bottle worth € 10, puts this into perspective.
CamelBak relies on a fairly simple compartment layout. The front of the pack features a large, albeit unpadded, phone pocket that can take even larger smartphone models. Due to the horizontal position, any hard or sharp objects in the main compartment will press or hit against the phone. On the inside, there are two small mesh pockets that cover only about half of the pocket height and thus work just for small objects. The compartment itself is big enough to accommodate a light windbreaker.
The CamelBak Podium Flow offers impeccable fit and comfort. The adjustment system is intuitive and works well. However, the buckles of the closure system stick out on the sides slightly, which means they could come loose if you touch them accidentally. When fully loaded, the pack tends to rock a little but always keeps firmly in place. All in all, it’s very stable considering the small cross-section, which also keeps the heat development within limits. And while the bag tends to absorb sweat, it also dries very quickly.
In terms of fit and comfort, the CamelBak Podium Flow delivers almost the same performance as its direct competitors, the Bontrager Rapid Pack and Mavic Crossride Belt. That being said, the quality of the materials and compartment layout struggle to match the same high level of quality. On the other hand, the Podium Flow managed to impress our test team with its low weight, small cross-section and the very fair price tag of € 50, which even includes a drinking bottle. All in all the Podium Flow strikes a very good price-performance ratio.
- Very good bottle access
- Bottle included
- Good wearing / operating comfort
- Stable fit
- Basic compartment layout
- Color scheme
- Back padding absorbs sweat
For more information head to camelbak.com
The test field
Click here for an overview of the best MTB hip pack in test
All hip packs in review: Bedrock Bags Greysill Hip Pack (Click for review) | Bontrager Rapid Pack (Click for review) | CamelBak Podium Flow | CamelBak Repack LR 4 (Click for review) | Dakine Hot Laps 5L (Click for review) | Dakine Hot Laps 2L (Click for review) | Dakine Hot Laps Stealth (Click for review) | Deuter Pulse 3 (Click for review) | Deuter Pulse 2 (Click for review) | EVOC HIP PACK PRO 3l (Click for review) | EVOC HIP PACK RACE 3l (Click for review) | EVOC HIP POUCH 1l (Click for review) | EVOC RACE BELT (Click for review) | High Above Cascadia (Click for review) | High Above Lookout (Click for review) | High Above Das Radpack (Click for review) | ION Hipbag Traze 3 (Click for review) | Leatt Hydration Core 2.0 (Click for review) | Mavic XA 3L Belt (Click for review) | Mavic Crossride Belt (Click for review) | Mavic Deemax Belt (Click for review) | Race Face Rip Strip (Click for review) | SOURCE Hipster 1.5L (Click for review) | SOURCE Hipster Ultra 5L (Click for review)
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Words: Photos: Andreas Maschke, Christoph Bayer