The M.U.L.E. has been a staple in the Camelbak product lineup for literally decades. Introduced in 1996, the MULE continues to be a bestseller due in part to its sleek profile, comfortable fit, and functionality. When I think of the MULE the term iconic comes to mind.
The M.U.L.E., and its big brother the H.A.W.G., have gone through a number of upgrades and reiterations over the years. Yet a commuter-specific pack eluded the Camelbak faithful, until now. This year Camelbak is introduced two new commuter packs based on the successful H.A.W.G. and M.U.L.E. platform. Camelbak was kind to send us a MULE Commute 22 sample to share with our readers.
- 22L capacity
- Waterproof zipper enclosures
- Reflective accents for safety
- Blinky loop
- Stretch side pockets for bottles, U-Lock, or extra gear
- Internal padded laptop sleeve
- Felt lined external accessory pocket
- Bladder port (bladder not included)
- Accessory pockets on shoulder straps
- Sternum and waist belt for added comfort and load stability
- Ventilated Air-Support to reduce the dreaded sweaty back
- Expandable front section for extra storage
- Internal zippered pocket
I like the size of the 22L MULE Commute. I’ve been rolling with a 40L Osprey commuter bag for the past four years. At 40L, it always felt a bit overkill for most of my day-to-day needs.
The 22L Commuter by comparison is the perfect size. I can drop my 14” laptop safely in the sleeved section in the main compartment, store my glasses in the top pocket, stash away a few cords and cables in the inner zippered pockets, and throw my lunch in the main compartment without overloading the bag. In fact, I can comfortably stuff a hoodie in the main compartment with the aforementioned gear and still have plenty of room for a few more things.
Mesh side pockets allow you to stuff a Yeti bottle or U- lock for easy access. The shoulder straps are comfortable on my 6’ frame. The accessory pockets on the straps add to their functionality. Kudos for the front expanding section, too. Last week I got caught in the rain and was able to stuff my jacket in the front section without compromising the interior’s contents.
On the bike, the Commute 22 feels good. The load is positioned well so there’s not a lot of movement. The sternum strap and waist belt keep everything right where they need to be. Finally, I really like the understated lines and overall esthetics of the pack.
I would like to see more options for organization inside the main compartment. There are only two zippered pockets inside the pack. In contrast to other packs I use, two pockets are not enough. I am used to multiple smaller compartments to store personal effects, cords and cables, and tools. Most packs position accessory pockets on the backside of a pack’s interior wall. Camelbak has chosen to place the pockets on the outside wall interior. It just feels odd to me.
The main interior pocket is near the bottom of the main compartment. I find it difficult to see in the pack to retrieve things down in this pocket. For example, I travel with a small GoalZero power supply. It gets lost in the deeper-inner pocket. My workaround is using a small Topo Designs zippered pocket for things I need easily accessible.
The designers opted for a top-loading zipper on this pack which makes for easy access to the zipper pulls. However, the opening does not zip down very far limiting visibility into the pack and the ability to stuff larger items in the main body.
The size is perfect for my daily commuting needs. The load distribution feels good keeping everything where you need it. Despite the lack of interior organization and some other small design issues, I would recommend the Camelbak M.U.L.E. Commute 22 to anyone looking for a new pack to get to work or school.