Camelbak Apex Pro Review: A Running Hydration Pack That Performs For The Long Run

This 11L capacity running hydration pack comes fully equipped with two 17oz Quick Stow flasks, a trekking pole quiver, and all the features you could ever need for you long trail runs and races.

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Imagine heading out for a run, not a worry about where to stash your essentials or how to stay hydrated. Sounds good, right? That’s exactly what you get with a running hydration pack, but they’re not all quite as good as the Camelbak Apex Pro, and in this review, I’m going to do my best to explain why.

In this Camelbak Apex Pro review, I’m going to be sharing how this hydration vest blends all the important features, high capacity gear storage, comfort, and adjustability into one sleek package. I love how natural it feels when adjusted correctly, as if it’s an extension to my body – and that’s really what we all want from our hydration vest right?

Camelbak Apex Pro review | Trail & Kale Running Co.
Camelbak Apex Pro review | Trail & Kale Running Co.

Key features and specifications

Before I get into the details of how this running vest performs while running, here are the key specifications worth knowing about.

  • Price: $180
  • Sizing and fit: Unisex sizing with 4 size options.
  • RECCO® Reflector included: a built-in lightweight rescue transponder ensures safety, security, and ease of mind when running in remote areas.
  • Trekking Pole Quiver included: a quiver that attaches to the pack, designed to hold stow your trail running poles when not in use. You can alternatively use the removable front trekking pole attachments.
  • Safety whistle included: a whistle is sometimes mandatory gear in ultra races.
  • Reflectivity built in.
  • Best for: Carrying all your essentials on long trail runs and ultra running events.

Introduction to Camelbak

Before we get into the performance of the Camelbak Apex Pro, I want to quickly introduce Camelbak for those who might not be familiar with the brand yet. Camelbak is a pioneer in the world of hydration solutions, especially known for their innovative hydration packs.

Founded in 1989, the company has a rich history that starts with a simple need – the need for hands-free hydration during rigorous activities. Camelbak has continuously evolved, focusing on innovation to meet the diverse needs of athletes across various sports. Based in Petaluma, California (just up the freeway from Trail & Kale HQ), Camelbak products have become a staple for outdoor enthusiasts, athletes, and military personnel worldwide.

Their commitment to quality, innovation, and safety has made Camelbak a trusted name in hydration, and one that I have used personally for many years – and that segways me nicely onto my performance review.

How this running hydration vest has been so thoughtfully designed when it comes to performance and comfort on the run

The Camelbak Apex Pro running hydration pack is a testament to where athlete insights fuel innovation, and while I didn’t have any direct input in this design, at times it feels like I did. Designed with the needs of serious runners in mind, the Apex Pro is an essential race day companion that helps ensure you’re prepared for a day out on the trails.

Adjustability is commendable, allowing for an optimized fit

Available in four sizes with an apparel-like fit and 4-way stretch materials, the Apex Pro ensures comfort and performance for a wide range of body types.

The dual adjustable chest straps fine-tune the fit, minimising bounce when running
The dual adjustable chest straps fine-tune the fit, minimising bounce when running

The dual adjustable chest straps fine-tune the fit, minimising bounce, and ensuring the vest stays secure while running. I also like how there’s a mechanism to keep the excess strap help out of the way to stop it from flapping around.

It’s also possible to detach and reattach these chest straps at different heights along the chest, which is something women will be pleased to read about! Most good running vests have this feature, so I’m glad Camelbak included it.

There’s a hidden gem (and other features) that will help keep you safe

With the inclusion of a RECCO® Reflector, the Apex Pro offers peace of mind, making you searchable by rescue teams in case of an emergency. I love RECCO tech, and also have a Reflector in my waterproof running jacket, which I tend to take with me when running in the mountains, it packs down small and stows in the lower rear hidden pocket on this vest nicely.

With the inclusion of a RECCO® Reflector, the Apex Pro offers peace of mind, making you searchable by rescue teams in case of an emergency.
With the inclusion of a RECCO Reflector, the Apex Pro offers peace of mind, making you searchable by rescue teams in case of an emergency.

It gives me peace of mind, knowing I’m extra visible to ‘Search and Rescue’ teams, should I ever need to be – mountain running can be dangerous if you’re not properly prepared.

The tiny, included safety whistle and reflectivity features on the front and back of the vest, further ensure your safety by enhancing visibility and audibility.

Storage capacity is one thing but having choice about how to use it is also important

The Apex Pro comes equipped with a removable trekking pole quiver and front pole attachments, providing flexibility in how you choose to carry your running poles while running.

Speaking of poles, if you’re interested to learn how they help during a mountain marathon, and how to properly use them for that matter, read our trail running with poles guide, next.

It offers ample space for all your run essentials, from energy gels and chews, to a secure phone pocket.
It offers ample space for all your run essentials, from energy gels and chews, to a secure phone pocket.

The hydration pack’s gear capacity of 11L, combined with water-resistant and stretch overflow pockets, offers ample space for all your run essentials, from energy gels and chews, to a secure phone pocket. It even has water sealed zips, to help keep your essentials dry when the rain rolls in.

There is room for improvement however, when it comes to accessibility of the rear pockets whilst running. They’re just a bit awkward to reach in my experience, and maybe a longer zip pull would help me reach it in a future version of the Apex Pro.

There are two options when it comes to hydration

The pack includes two 17oz (0.5L) Quick Stow Flasks and is compatible with up to a 2L reservoir, though a 1.5L Crux reservoir is recommended for the best fit. This system ensures you stay hydrated without interruption, with features like the Tube Trap to secure your hydration reservoir tube.

I prefer to use the soft flasks over a water reservoir during racing, as they’re much faster to fill up at aid stations, having said that depending on how much water you drink, you won’t need to refill the reservoir as often due to the higher capacity – horses for courses and all that.

Runners looking to be a bit more leisurely will probably enjoy the water reservoir option.

Sustainability and Durability

In line with Camelbak’s commitment to the environment, the Apex Pro is made with recycled materials and safer chemicals, bearing the sustainability green badge.

The durable nylon construction, combined with water-resistant features, ensures the pack withstands the most demanding conditions.

Saucony Endorphin Rift review trail running shoes 8

WATCH ME RUN IN THIS VEST: I have been wearing this verst for a few months now, and although I still haven’t needed to wash it yet, durability does seem good so far. Here are three recent running shoe review videos that show me running in the vest, to give you an idea of how it looks whilst running:

Is it worth buying?

Yes, I’m still choosing to wear this running vest for a reason… The Camelbak Apex Pro is a comprehensive solution designed with the insights and needs of athletes at its core – and this becomes very apparent after you take it out on a long run for the first time. Its combination of optimized fit, safety features, capacity, adaptability, accessibility on the run, and hydration storage make it a great companion for trail runners looking to tackle their next race or endurance challenge.

Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or stepping into the world of ultra-running, the Apex Pro promises to keep you hydrated and prepared whilst following your training plan or gritting out race day miles.

More photos of the Apex Pro

Alastair
Alastairhttps://www.trailandkale.com
As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.

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