I purchased a Camelback Motherlode 500 daysack some months ago and after some heavy use including several exercises and 2 military parachute drops I have come to the conclusion that it is quite possibly one of the best daysacks on the market at the present moment in time and certainly the best I have owned. To review this item properly I am going to break down it down into different parts and go into some detail about each bit.
The Camelback Motherlode 500 is made from 500 denier cordura which means it is somewhat lighter than other materials used in the construction of other daysacks, at first I was quite sceptical about this as I believed that having a thinner material would make it more prone to damage. However my fears were not founded because as of yet the Daysack has no damage to the material what so ever, it is also quite waterproof during use in a heavy period of rain the Daysack was only very slightly damp inside. The stitching seems good throughout and where the shoulder straps are attached to the main part of the pack there is no visible damage which is good as I have carried some quite heavy kit in the Daysack. I mention this because on previous Camelback daysacks I have owned I found this to be a weak area where the stitching has started to come away after carrying heavy loads; however it seems to have been resolved on this model. Overall the Daysack is well made and will take a lot of punishment (comparable in quality to a Berghaus Munro) and I would imagine the user would pile in days before the Daysack!
This Daysack has the ability to swallow kit up with a massive main compartment and loads of other smaller ones. The addition of a fleece lined optics pouch I think I was of the best upgrades from other Camelback daysacks and I have used it on many occasions. I'm not too sure about the smaller fleece pouch on the top of the Daysack but I would imagine that there are others that would find a use for it. The front pouch is very big and inside it is divided up into other smaller sections which are handy for storing smaller items in such as spare batts/med kit etc. I think this Daysack is the perfect size for anyone working in a dismounted combat role as it has enough room to carry all the kit needed without being to big thus giving you the temptation to overfill it.
Now I come to the only downside to this item...the price. I purchased mine for £150 which seems to be about as cheap as you can buy one of these daysacks, the price does vary on what colour you get with Multicam being the most expensive. But I was willing to pay this as I believe it will pay for itself and so far I have been proved right, although there are similar items on the market for half the price I don't think they will be of the quality of this Daysack. My only advice would be to shop around before you buy one.
I have used this Daysack on top of the issued and somewhat bulky body armour and I was very pleasantly surprised. The shoulder straps have plenty of play in them and fitted even when I had warm kit and body armour on. I did find the chest strap very useful as it stopped the straps slipping off my shoulders which I do feel they would do if I wasn't using it. The back is well padded and more importantly well ventilated compared to earlier Camelbaks. There is a small non slip bit of material on the bottom of the rear section which is supposed to stop it slipping on your back, to be honest I think this is a bit of a gimmick but I suppose it can't hurt.
In conclusion I can't really fault the Camelback Motherlode 500 day sack, it is light years ahead of anything that is currently on issue and better than a lot of others on the market as well. Due to the way it is made it is comfortable to use wearing bulky body armour which in this day and age is very important. Its large capacity and well thought-out pouch configuration is a real plus and there is easily enough room to carry all the kit needed on ops these days. I would recommend this daysack to anyone in the military and personally I am very happy with my purchase.
I finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase one of the US versions of this daysack, as I found the issue one too big and it seemed to give me back issues. I went with the US version as it gives you the ability to access the bladder externally rather than having to faff around digging it out of the main compartment on the uk version. I also preferred the padding arrangement on the back, as it has a very large lumbar pad which sits perfectly in the curve of your spine, eliminating back ache. Slight downside to the back is ventilation, as everytime I wear it my back ends soaked, but that seems to happen with any daysack I've tried.
Whilst I haven't had much opportunity to do a lot of 'angry camping' with it, I have been able to use it a few times in the field. As mentioned you can fit quite a lot of kit in the main compartment, and although I try and carry as little as possible, it's nice to know that if I get dicked with carrying extra ammo/batteries etc that there is still plenty of room to chuck bits in. Finally, and I think quite importantly, I will amalgamate comfort with build quality. As I said, I have used it a few times in the field and it has faired pretty well, however my main use for it has been tabbing as my back does not like my bergan. Having done a quite a few tab's over the last few months carrying a fair bit of weight along with a recent half marathon with CFT weight, I didn't get any back problems what so ever, all I got was a bit of strap rub on my shoulders which is inevitable. I was expecting to see some of the stitching starting to strain but there is nothing (obviously) starting to tear etc.
I would recommend this daysack to anyone. I was sceptical at first with the price, but having tried a few others, I wish I would have bought one sooner.
Agree with everything in the editor review just to add a few points:
-depending on the version you get the bladder can be very awkward to get to although some versions do have it so the bladder can be accessed without removing all your kit - a very useful feature.
-it is incredibly lightweight, definitely one of the if not the lightest military one of its size available.
-the different models come with different sizes of belt, personally the small belt supplied with the one I have is pretty pointless and for the price you would of expected a thicker removable belt available but with a spare thinner one than can be used instead for those that wish to use it.
-it is supplied with an omega reservoir, which is a very popular reliable reservoir, I have experienced no issues with other than personal preferences. This item is usually £25 separately (RVops) so goes some way towards justifying the price.
-it is a very expensive pack for its size and many others are available, if possible it is always past to try before you buy and see the differences and what make/model fits you better as you dont want to spend this amount on a pack then never use it, maybe teaching to suck eggs but obviously ensure your unit allows you to use non issue day-sacks, it seems to be going very issue only on tour now.
-the back padding/ventilation isn't great,its better than soem rucksacks but could be much better for the price.
-you are paying for the two main features; the brand and the reliability. Despite that it is very well designed but some areas still could be improved.