We received a Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E. right at the tail-end of winter and have had the opportunity to use it on through spring both hiking and biking in varied conditions. The kids’ Mini M.U.L.E. is built like the adult version with its focus on biking, and is an excellent light-weight hydration pack for little explorers.
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The Mini M.U.L.E comes in a variety of bright colors and styles to satisfy the adventurous spirit in any kid. By subtracting some of the bells and whistles featured on the adult M.U.L.E. packs (less defined storage, no magnetic tube trap, no waist belt, no helmet carry hooks), Camelbak has targeted this pack strictly to kid’s essentials, making it ultra-lightweight and easy to carry.
- MSRP: $50
- Volume: 1.5 L
- Weight: 7 ounces
- Dimensions: 14 x 7.5 x 7.7 in
- Hydration Compatible: Yes,1.5 L CRUX™ reservoir included
- External Pockets: 2 zippered, 1 overflow stretch compartment
- Material: 200-denier polyester
- Fits Torso: 30-40 cm/12-16 in (2+ years old)
- CRUX™ reservoir delivers 20% more water per sip, with an ergonomic handle for easier refilling, and an on/off lever that makes it easy to prevent leaks
- Breathable air-mesh back panel for a lightweight, comfortable fit
- Secure zippered pockets for essentials
- Stretch overflow storage compartment lets you easily stash a rain shell or extra layer
- Safety whistle built into sternum strap
- Reflective accents add visibility in low light
Best Uses for the Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E.
Unlike higher capacity packs, the Mini M.U.L.E. has a sleek 1.5L design specifically made to fit little bikers. It is super lightweight and fits close to the body without any extra bulk to throw off your kid’s center of balance.
The pack is adjustable at the shoulder and sternum straps. At 3.5 years old, my son (who is slim but tall) wears both on the tightest settings possible when he is wearing just a t-shirt, and we loosen them up a bit to accommodate a coat or layers. He also wears the sternum strap as high as it will go.
There is no waist belt for this pack. However, due to the narrow width of the pack, the close-fitting profile, and the light load I think a waist belt would add little in the way of stability and would only serve to get in the way.
Even if you’re not into biking, the small size of the Mini M.U.L.E. makes it an excellent starter pack for little hikers. It is a great way to introduce them to hauling their own gear, by carrying their most important item: their own water. With the additional small pockets you can sweeten the deal by packing a special snack, fun toy, or letting a stuffed friend ride along!
As mentioned, this pack is designed to carry only their water and the essentials. If your kiddos are ready to upgrade to a hydration pack with more storage, check out the Camelbak Scout Hydration Pack, the Osprey HydraJet 12, or the REI Tarn 12!
What Does It Hold?
About the most I’ve been able to fit into the Mini M.U.L.E. at one time (along with the water reservoir) is a couple snacks, an extra pair of socks, and binoculars, with a puffy jacket stuffed into the overflow pocket. However, we rarely carry the extra layer and instead use the easily accessible cargo pocket for tools and treasures found on the trail.
What We Love
Firstly, the Mini M.U.L.E. is quite the versatile little pack. Though it is designed for biking, it can be used on all sorts of other adventures like hiking or canoeing as well as activities like going to sports games, the beach, or Disneyland!
I love that it is so lightweight and doesn’t inhibit freedom of movement. When out on the trail, our son is able to crawl, climb, and romp as much as he wants without the pack getting in the way.
One of the best things about this pack is that there are no worries about outgrowing it. It fits my 3.5 year old great, and with two quick strap adjustments it fits me as well! I have read multiple reviews where adults have been searching for a small, streamlined hydration pack and purchased this kids’ pack over other adult options.
Easy to Use
The ergonomic handle on the hydration bladder makes it super easy to fill, and it is easy to slide and secure into the pack. I like that the pack allows you to thread the tube through either side depending on whether your kid is a righty or lefty.
This pack is also easy to drink from. Our son started using Camelbak water bottles before he was 2, and had no trouble using the soft bite valves, similar to what is on the Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E. The only trouble he ever has is when an air bubble occasionally gets in the line and he has to be persistent to suck it out before he gets some water.
The tube has an on/off switch which works great to prevent the valve from leaking and is easy to switch even for little fingers. Also, if you have a chewer, never fear! The on/off switch allows you to use the straw even if you have to remove a damaged bite valve.
Best of all, I love that I don’t have to worry about hydration for my little guy. Normally, they have to think about it and ask for a water bottle from mom or dad’s pack. We know that if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated! This way, they have their own water accessible and carrying their own bright, fun pack themselves also reminds them to drink water more frequently.
What We Aren’t So Crazy About
While the back panel is nicely padded, it would be nice if it had air channels or vents for comfort in warmer weather. Conversely, the shoulder straps are made of breathable mesh but it would be nice if they had some padding. That said, I typically don’t fill the reservoir all the way, so my son only carries about 1 L, but I haven’t heard any complaints about discomfort so far.
The Mini M.U.L.E. makes it easy to carry water and essentials, is one of the lightest and sleekest kids’ packs available, and is able to grow with your child indefinitely. If you’re looking for a pack with plenty of storage for long adventures, this is not it. However, if you are aiming for a minimalist, lightweight pack for your littles, the Camelbak Mini M.U.L.E. is aces.
Where to Buy
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