From our research and review we have found the Camelbak Mini Mule hydration pack to be among the best mountain bike backpacks for kids. It can also be used be used for hiking, camping, running, and traveling.
This pack has been designed especially for kids, children, and teenagers. The bladder hold 50oz of water as compared to an adult water bladder which can hold 100oz.
The reason why this hydration pack holds 1.5 liters of water is to make it easier for kids to carry. It needs to be lightweight so children won’t get tired too soon using the backpack.
To keep kids safe there is a built-in safety whistle children can blow if they get lost or if they encounter a dangerous animalor stranger. The whistle is especially helpful if mountain bikers or hikers get stuck outside after sunset in a dark place like a forest.
There are also reflective accents on the pack to help you be seen by other people as well as other vehicles.
It is important for kids to get water when they need it most. The Camelbak mini mule is equipped with a crux reservoir which provides 20% more water per sip.
The reservoir is high flow ensuring a smoother delivery of water for each sip. There is an on-off lever which is simple to use and intuitive. It enables the crux reservoir to be leak proof. There is also an ergonomic handle which makes refills quick and easy.
This pack is comfortable to wear and easy to put on and off. There is a mesh back panel that is breathable. This increases your comfort by keeping your back cool. The shoulder harness is also ventilated to keep you dry and cool. Straps can become sweaty and slippery. This is no longer a concern with breathable straps.
This 50oz water bladder has a trademarked wide mouth opening called Antidote. It allows you to top off the bladder when you fill it. Then use the filler cap to secure it quickly and easily.
Another trademarked item is the Hydrolock. This is a valve which shuts off the water so there is no leakage when you are biking, hiking, or traveling.
The liquid capacity is 1.5 liters and the gear capacity is 2.5 liters so there is lots of room to store your things. There is a bike tool organizer pocket so you can bring essential tools. The many zippered compartments can be for extra layers and your essentials.
The stretch overflow pocket is great for storing a rain shell or added layer. Its top zip media pocket is best for keeping a music player or cell phone secure and dry.
The Camelbak mini mule comes in a variety of colors. These include, hot pink purple strip, black flames, camelflage, baton rouge flames, and racing red check. Plus atomic blue navy blazer, and lapis blue white stripe and pink.
23 Camelbak Mini Mule Tips
1. The mouthpiece is part of the regular Camelbak hydration system. If the mouthpiece breaks or you lose it some how you can replace it.
2. The water bladder is removable if you want to clean it. You can also remove it and put it in your freezer so it is colder just before you use it.
3. This pack has a top and bottom compartment. An iphone 7 will fit in both of them. An iphone 7 plus will only fit in the bottom compartment.
4. This backpack is meant to be used by children 5 years old and up. Depending on the size of your child 3 and 4 year olds may use it as well.
5. The maximum arm and shoulder opening for the straps is 35 inches. When completely extended the straps are 26 inches and the area of the backpack they connect to is 9 inches. This pack can be comfortable for someone who is 5 feet 4 inches and 125 pounds.
6. The Camelbak mini mule should have its registered trademark symbol on it. Otherwise it may be fake.
7. The backpack is not insulated like a lunch box normally is. However the water bladder keeps water cool for many hours, especially if you put ice in it.
8. The zipper pouches in the front are big enough to fit 2 bags of multiple serving size of sour patch kids and childrens sunglasses.
9. This pack can be used for running even though there is no waist strap. You can take out the bladder, put your keys in the top pocket and carry a water bottle in the pouch area. The rear pocket can be for your phone.
For more stability when jogging the chest strap can be moved very low on the straps. If the water bladder is full it will bounce when you run. For a more custom fit use a Camelbak with waist straps.
10. If you want to clean the hydration bladder the tubing does not come off the bladder. On some bladders the tubing is easily removed. A Camelbak bladder, the tubing is permanently attached to the bladder. There is no problem cleaning and drying it out.
11. Remember mold grows due to moisture. To prevent mold be sure to open the bladder and expand it with something. You can use a bladder hanger. Using a clothes peg or a little clamp keep the mouthpiece open and then allow it to dry properly in an open area.
12. If you open the clamp and bite on the mouth piece and nothing happens, you might think the mouthpiece does not work. You also have to flip the switch on the mouthpiece.
13. In order to take the bladder out of the pack find the T-shape in the pouch. Pull the bladder over one side of the T and then slide it off the other side. Then you put it back on the same way.
14. Each mouthpiece comes with a dust cover in order to prevent dirt and debris from going into the tube. This is incase you crash, fall off your bike, or encounter bad weather. All Camelbak dust covers are replaceable.
15. When you first receive your backpack you should wipe down the outside and inside of it. Plus before using it clean out the water bladder. Use soap and water to clean the hydration bladder.
16. This pack fits 9 and 10 year olds very well especially if they use it for biking and hiking. It is small enough so that the backpack does not feel bulky.
17. Maintenance of the Camelbak mini mule is easy. Make sure you let it dry completely before closing the cap and putting it away. When you don’t use it you can close the spout. There are cleaning kits you can buy for it.
18. If you have a boy or girl who likes to wander around there are two adjustable straps you can use. They are on the back pocket sides which you can then loop a carabiner through, which is a coupling link.
19. This pack comes in many colors, one of them is azalea. Which many people don’t know is a raspberry colored, dark pink.
20. This pack does fit 13 year old girls who use it to go mountain biking. There is enough water for several hours of riding.
21. The mini mule can be used for half marathons. You can put ice cubes in the bladder and it will keep your Gatorade cool for the full 2 hours of jogging.
22. If your child is going to a hiking camp they usually spend 4 hours outside at a time. This pack has plenty of room for lunch, water, snacks, and an extra layer. If your child needs to carry more things then compared to the mini mule vs Scout, the Scout would offer more room.
23. Some of you might be worried about the backpack color bleeding through onto your clothing when you are sweating. This does not happen so no need to be concerned.
Review of Positive Customer Experiences with the Mini Mule
1. Parent of 3 and 5 year old
Mom explained that her 5 year old son loves the pack. He is a big 5 year old and wears 6 and 7 year old clothing. It holds enough water for him to also carry a snack, magnifying glass, and his other tools when they go hiking or exploring.
The 3 year old is also big for his age. The mini mule fits him perfectly. They use it to explore new cities. Mom filled the water bladder so it was full and it was no problem for her boy to carry.
2. Training for marathon
This woman is 5 foot 6 inches and 140 pounds. She is training for her first marathon and using the pack. She bought it because she gets dehydrated too often.
The Camelbak mini mule now allows her to drink water any time without having to wait for water stops or store water bottles along the route. She keeps the drinking tube tucked inside the front of her shirt. It does not feel too hot and uncomfortable which she was worried about.
3. Three little kids
This Mom bought 3 packs for her 3 small children. She says it carries enough water for a good 3 mile hike. Plus it is easy to refill. There is a lot of storage for bringing a compass, magnifying glass, pocket book, pencils, and rocks they collect. The packs are very durable.
4. For kids and women
This woman is using the kids mini mule for herself. She says it is much cheaper than an adult backpack for the same quality. It fits her perfectly as she was worried it might be too small for her because she is 5 foot 7 inches.
She uses it for day hikes and music festivals. It holds enough water while still being lightweight. She uses 2 small zippered areas to hold sunglasses, small wallet, sunscreen, granola bars, and chapstick. There is an expandable area for her to put a raincoat or light jacket.
She has used the backpack a lot and there are no signs of wear. The only negative is the holder for the mouthpiece is not so good.
5. Perfect for small women
This woman is 4 feet 10 inches tall. She is very happy with the mini mule. It is easy to clean and fill up because it has a wide opening. The material is flexible and thick. No leakage. It is easy to drink from and to lock in order to stop the water flow.
The straps are fast and easy to adjust. She likes the safety whistle which is built into the chest strap. The only negative is the drinking tube does not lie flat, so she just tucks the tube under the chest strap.
6. For running
The woman is a smaller framed woman who used this pack for a full marathon. She found it comfortable for the entire run. It stayed in place when she ran.
Plus it was able to fit a first aid kit, extra layers, and snacks. She likes this pack better than a runners pack because it has many separate compartments.
This is probably why it stays in place so well. The water bladder, extra layers, and smaller items, each have their own compartment. It is lightweight when she runs and less expensive compared other running packs, she says.
7. Spartan race
This woman used the pack for a Spartan race. She is petite and wanted a kids Camelbak. She explained that the 50 ounces of water was just right. She liked the 2 zipper pockets for food and energy bars.
What she liked best are the straps because they are very lightweight and breathable. She forgot she was wearing the pack even though she had it on for hours.
8. 4 and 6 year olds
This Mom bought 2 Camelbak mini mules for her 4 and 6 year old boys. They use them for all day hikes and bike rides. The Mom said she filled the bladders so they were full and fit 2 snacks. The boys did not complain about any discomfort.
There was a lot of water left after their hike or bike ride. The boys like the whistle because it makes them feel safe. There have been no leaks. One time the boys left their packs on the ground where it was stepped on but the backpacks were okay.
Review of Poor Customer Experiences
Even though this pack has high ratings there are always customers who have a poor experience with the product. These experiences are good to be aware of even though they happen rarely.
1. The first person said he filled up the bladder but could not get the lid to screw on straight. This caused leaking. He kept on trying and finally got the lid to screw on properly. But it still leaked out of the cap.
He thinks the seal must be defective. He started using the Camelbak mini mule almost a month later from the time he bought it so he missed the return window by one day. Make sure to use the backpack soon after you buy it.
2. This next person needed a new water bladder for their older mini mule. But instead of getting a new reservoir he got a new mini mule for $15.00 more. He explained that the difference in design and quality between the old and the new one is disappointing.
There is no padding on the new packs straps and no main storage pocket. Plus the reservoir pocket to close it uses velcro instead of a zipper. Finally the fabric is thin and cheap. The only good thing is the safety whistle on the chest clip.
This seems like he may have gotten a fake mini mule because he has 6 Camelbaks already. Some of them are over 15 years old.
3. The third person bought this pack for his 5 year old grandson. He says the size fit well but the pack did not work properly. The hydration bladder was difficult to get out of the backpack.
The pack should be able to hold 1.5 liters of water but he could only fill it up with 1 liter before the water spills out of the mouth. Last he screwed the cap on tight but it leaked. The seal did not fit on very tightly. In the end he returned the backpack.
4. This Mom bought the mini mule for her two boys 5 and 8 for a week of hiking. On the first day both bladders broke. She says the tubing seems to be the problem. One pack poured water out the end onto her 8 year olds leg because it broke by the spout so it did not stay on.
The other pack poured water out of the bottom and onto her 5 year olds back because it broke where the spout was connected to the bladder. She missed the return date by a couple of days.
5. This guy bought this backpack for his 12 year old son. He explained that it came with an old style bladder. The bladder has square corners instead of rounded corners like it should on newer models.
The fill cap of the bladder is not the locking type which should 1/4th turn. Instead like the older models it must be screwed on. It does not screw on very easily. Both his son and him had a difficult time of it.
6. The last person says she can’t lie the pack flat because then water leaks out of the top. She has another pack which has never given her this problem. She thinks the backpack has good storage space and is lightweight but she can’t use it because of the leaking.
Don’t be discouraged by these experiences above, they don’t happen very often. The Camelbak Mini Mule has very high ratings overall. It is highly recommended.