Editor's Note: This article is part of the Mtbr Guide to hydration packs, featuring the new CamelBak Low Rider line. To see all the articles, head over to our Low Rider hydration pack hub page. This article and the articles in this section are courtesy of CamelBak.

CamelBak
has been around for a long time, even longer than Mtbr, which came to life in 1996. Indeed, it was 1989 when the world's first hydration pack was born. Yet, what is truly impressive is that all these years later, the brand remains a leader in a category that's helped shape and change the way we ride bikes.

CamelBak has also diversified, creating top-line product for running, lifestyle, and the military. To find out how this company has remained agile and innovative despite an onslaught from myriad competitors, Mtbr paid them a visit to find out how they do business and how they've managed to continually produce quality products.

CamelBak covers a range of categories including military applications.

CamelBak covers a range of categories, including military applications (click to enlarge).​

An assortment of employee-owned bikes can be found in the lobby.

An assortment of employee bikes can be found in the lobby, which speaks volumes about the company's authentic culture (click to enlarge).​

The story of CamelBak starts in the late 1980s when a man named Michael Edison grew frustrated with the lack of hands-free hydration solutions for active endeavors. So Edison started tinkering, stuffing a water-filled IV bag into a sock, then dropping it into his rear jersey pocket. He threw the hose over his shoulder and started drinking.

That brilliant novel idea soon became a company, and ever since it's remained true to that initial mission: finding hydration solutions for those on the go. Simply put, when people drink more, they stay hydrated and perform better.

Clean, filtered water is core to the CamelBak's office supplies.

Clean filtered water is ever present at the CamelBak offices (click to enlarge).​

The CamelBak lunch room is an inviting place to gather.

The CamelBak lunch room is an inviting place to gather (click to enlarge).​

A simple, healthy breakfast is always available in the morning.

CamelBak employees always have a healthy breakfast available to them in the morning (click to enlarge).​

The CamelBak kitchen serves up free snacks.

The CamelBak kitchen serves up free snacks all day (click to enlarge).​

Through the years, CamelBak has also solidified its commitment to quality. Not only are comfort and performance key, but in many cases health and survival, too. Athletes and military personnel alike have come to rely on their CamelBak hydration packs as their hydration source.

Product display walls are found in many areas of the building for easy access to the products.

CamelBak makes a lot of water bottles, too (click to enlarge).​

With over 130 employees, CamelBak has created a work environment that allows its workers to collaborate and thrive. The LEED-certified offices have ideal lighting, air quality, and sound levels so that employees can focus on their work. It's a very open environment with few high walls, allowing natural light to permeate the space. And many people have views of adjacent Shollenberger Park, which is a wetlands sanctuary for a variety of bird species.

Employees also benefit from many great perks, free (and healthy) food and a fitness facility with medicine balls, yoga mats, and a basketball court, plus an on-site personal trainer and masseuse.


While manufacturing primarily takes place in Mexico, all CamelBak product design and testing happens at the Petaluma facility. The testing lab, which appears in the video above, is one of the most impressive we've seen, as they've designed and manufactured a fleet of equipment to stress test products in a variety of ways.

Continue to page 2 for more of our tour of CamelBak headquarters


The insulating properties of a bottle is determined by specific tool that measures the liquid's temperature while inside a sealed bottle.

The insulating properties of a bottle is determined by a specific tool that measures the liquid's temperature while inside a sealed bottle (click to enlarge).​

Proper placement of the bladder is shown here.

Proper placement of the bladder in the new Skyline pack is shown here. By moving it down, a rider's balance and stability on the bike is enhanced (click to enlarge).​

The orange waist straps are pulled to compress the bladder against the back for a snug but comfortable fit.

The orange waist straps are pulled to compress the bladder against the back as water is consumed, maintaining a snug and stable fit (click to enlarge).​

Prototyping is another key task at this facility, as all research and development is performed in Petaluma. Each evening, a team of engineers queue up tasks so the $250,000 3D printer can perform its magic overnight. The printer's output is so good, its creations can be fitted and used in test applications when completed.

Many companies have one but few have one as big as CamelBak's $250k device.

Many companies have 3D printers, but few have one as big as CamelBak's $250,000 machine (click to enlarge).​

Interestingly, the harshest environment for water bottles can be found in America's kitchens, the standard household dishwasher. Harsh friction, damaging detergents, and high temperatures combine to provide an environment that puts a bottle through more abuse than in its normal day-to-day use.

The dishwasher is a key test machine in the lab since it recreates the harshest environment the bottles will be subjected to.

The dishwasher is a key test machine in the lab since it recreates the harshest environment the bottles will likely be subjected to (click to enlarge).​

Among the most unusual devices in the lab is this label abrasion tester. It scratches a label with a penny at with a very precise force and angle with many, many repetitions.

The durability of a label is tested with this machine that scratches the label with a penny at a controlled force and angle.

The durability of a label is tested with this machine that scratches the label with a penny at a controlled force and angle (click to enlarge).​

It's tests such as this - and a general commitment to make things better and back them up for life - that truly sets CamelBak apart. Indeed, this is a company that makes great products for the present day, and will continue to innovate to make the great products of tomorrow, too.