While the company is not departing from its mountain bike heritage, CamelBak is adding refinements, colors, designs and adjustments to its spring 2003 line that will continue to strengthen the company's position as a legitimate pack company (in the SNEWS Retailer Survey for 2002, retailers named CamelBak as a top-selling pack brand for the first time ever), and encourage a broader consumer base to be even more attracted to the brand.
But this is only the beginning, SNEWS was told, to make it easier for all kinds of people, whether on a trail, on the water or at work, to drink on the go. CamelBak already enjoys strong positioning in the military market and an increasing presence in the industrial safety community.
The "hands-free hydration" category is growing, partly thanks to CamelBak, whose name has become somewhat generic for any product that sits on your back and has a drinking hose and a water reservoir. But that doesn't seem to bother Woody Scal, senior vice president of sales and marketing, who told SNEWS: "As long as we have the market share, we don't care" if others ride on the coat tails.
Big for CamelBak this year are redesigns of product, as well as new technology incorporated into the company's expanding line. For CamelBak, all are based on the bottom line that consumers want it easy -- easy to fill, easy to clean, easy to drink. Redesigns include the basic HydroBak, Classic, Siren, Rogue, H.A.W.G. (the mountain bikers classic), the FlashFlo (a favorite of women with its fanny-pack-like, waist-hugging design), the Cloud Walker, Peak Bagger, SnoBowl and Zoid. Whew, and that's not even all of 'em! The redesigns in some cases have meant adding a slightly sleeker look with more color options that will appeal to someone who is not necessarily a basic mountain bike-type user.
The Omega wide-mouth screw-top is also now incorporated into the entire line, plus it has a new handle for easier holding while filling and a new tether, making it easier to hold the reservoir with one hand while fitting the lid back on and tightening it down with the other. In addition, the patent-pending Hydrolock is a secure shut-off on the valve that means you won't be dripping water all over the fridge, the counter, the car or your clothes during transport or when not in use.
Pureflow tubing -- The new tubing is touted as being taste-free because of a PVC outer layer and a polyethylene liner in a tri-laminate design.
Strap management -- A patent-pending Velcro design allows users to secure loose strapping to eliminate dangling and annoying straps.
Rocket with new Exo-Air back panel -- The new Rocket system for the on- or off-road cyclist has a mesh back panel designed to let air flow where you need it to keep your back from turning into a waterfall. The system includes a polyethylene frame held under tension in the patent-pending Exo-Air back panel to provide stability and ventilation while keeping it off your back and minimizing contact points. The Rocket itself has an expandable inner pocket to hold gear and has a 72-ounce reservoir. It's 15-by-10-by-3 inches. Available in February, suggested retail $75.
Exo series -- This new two-pack series is all about ventilation, using the Exo-Air back panel with mesh. It also focuses on one of the markets with the most opportunity -- day hikers. Both the Ares (70-ounce system, suggested retail $100) and the Ethos (100-ounce system, suggested retail $120) have clean styling with roomy cargo areas for snacks and other gear. Both available in February.
Jetstream series -- Designed for adventure racing, the two-pack series incorporates technical features such as a one-cinch, patent-pending compression system in durable designs with full reservoir access for quick and easy reloading. The Rally 18 (1,031 cubic inches, suggested retail $70) is slightly smaller, while the Raza 28 is larger (1,821 cubic inches, suggested retail $100) and for full backcountry experiences. Both have integrated waist belts with pockets.