Gear Review: CamelBak Mil Tac HAWG

The CamelBak Mil Tac HAWG is a frameless 500 denier Cordura daypack with elaborate webbing on the front. In addition, the pack comes equipped with a baffled 100 oz antidote hydration reservoir. The fact that Mil Tac HAWG is designed with soldiering in mind means the bag is a little heavier and a bit more expensive than other Camelbak commuter products.

So, why should a snowshoer consider going in on more weight and higher price? Because of the durability. The 500 denier Cordura fabric used in the pack’s construction will stand up to crampons and ice that would cause havoc on a slimmer, less costly bag. So, let’s dissect the features of the Mil Tac HAWG.

man with snowshoes on pack walking in snow with tree in background

My 25″ MSRs stowed in the HAWG’s compression straps. Photo: Matthew Bradley

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Suspension and hydration bladder

As most users wear it with body armor, the HAWG is light on suspension. But the foam sewn into the hydration compartment for insulation provides structure when worn in combination with a filled reservoir. Also, the newest model of the HAWG comes with the Air Director back panel to help with load distribution and provide breathability.

Also, in the new HAWG, CamelBak updated the reservoir to the Mil-Spec Crux reservoir from the Antidote bladder. The updated reservoir purposed to include up to 25% water per sip. Moreover, the reservoirs’ designs lessen sagging and sloshing, a generous neoprene sleeve covers the hydration tube, and a plastic cover protects the mouthpiece.

These features do a great service to the cold weather user. Of course, I would still advise to “blowback” the contents of the tube in frigid temps, but the insulation will at least provide you with the opportunity to do so! In addition, the mouthpiece cover is a sanitary feature that all reservoir systems should employ, in my opinion (Registered Nurse’s son speaking here!).

Finally, there are lower exit ports if you choose to route the drink tube under your arm.

Read More: Handy Hydration: Camelbak’s Eddy Water Bottle

Side view, w/ hydration hose run from bottom left port.

Compartments and organization

The Mil-Tac HAWG includes two compartments for up to 20L of extra cargo. The internal compartment is undifferentiated, but you can suspend up to three pockets or pouches via the three inner hang loops.

In front of the internal compartment is another deep compartment with several organizational pockets. You can include a fob for your keys, pens, and pencils and a hook-and-loop secured shock cord loop that keeps your GPS unit in place should you take an inadvertent (or intentional!) tumble. Moreover, this deep compartment is large enough to hold a second reservoir if you choose.

Then, access a simple half-length pocket from the front of the pack. Stow a couple of items in this pocket to ease the opening of the clamshell pocket behind it; their weight will help the compartment flop open.

The hydration pocket, as well as the clamshell gear compartments, are all drained via the inclusion of a grommet. Individuals who have ended up carrying a few extra pounds for the rest of the day after having their pack soaked will appreciate this feature. The four bottom loops provide lashing points for items such as puffy layers or ground pads. I would recommend against stowing much weight underneath, however, given the limited structure of the pack.

Read More: Choosing a Backpack: Features To Consider for Snowshoeing

Camelbak Mil Tac HAWG backpack: internal compartment with three hang loops

The internal compartment with hang loops allows you to carry extra items. Photo: Matthew Bradley

pockets with gear in backpack

The HAWG comes with multiple internal pockets for the ideal admin set-up. Photo: Matthew Bradley

CamelBak Mil Tac HAWG backpack: open front pocket with yellow notebook

You can access a simple half-length pocket from the front of the pack. Photo: Matthew Bradley

CamelBak Mil Tac HAWG backpack: close up of four bottom loops

The four bottom loops provide lashing points for items such as puffy layers or ground pads. Photo: Matthew Bradley

PALS (aka, MOLLE) webbing

The front of the HAWG includes a loop segment to marry with a hook-backed patch should the user so choose and is covered with the webbing system known as PALS or MOLLE. The webbing, which has been extended in the newest Mil-Tac HAWG model, allows for the extension of the pack’s capacity via the attachment of various accessory pouches and panels.

Read More: How To Attach Snowshoes to a Pack (3 Methods)

Camelbak Mil Tac HAWG front view with snow and trees in background

The PAL webbing helps extend the pack’s capacity. Photo: Matthew Timothy Bradley

A good winter daypack

The HAWG makes for a nice winter daypack for winter snowshoe outings. Let me emphasize that it is definitely a daypack; while it can fit a stove, food, puffy layer, etc., to hunker down for an unintended night out, those planning on spending the night out should look at a larger pack.

But with that caveat in mind, let me say that I find this a nice pack, indeed. The 500 denier Cordura is tough without being as heavy or unyielding as the 1000 denier Cordura. The dimensions of the HAWG are also to my liking. The pack’s design does not ride higher, per se, but the length works for my stubby torso. Plus, the foam segment sewn into the bottom back snugs nicely into my deep lumbar curve.

Finally, the pack includes several straps. You’ll find an upper and lower compression strap and an adjustable sternum strap. The easy-to-remove waist belt provides stability more than pulling weight into the wearer’s hips.

Read More: What To Bring When Snowshoeing: Top Accessories for the Day Hiker

man in push up stance with backpack on

The Mil-Tac H.A.W.G. compresses down tight. Photo: Matthew Bradley

The Mil Tac H.A.W.G. is priced at $180.00 on Amazon,  but a little patience and shopping around should turn up one at a lower price.

Have you used or would you buy Camelbak’s Mil Tac HAWG? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

This article was first published on June 9, 2013. Susan Wowk most recently updated it on July 11, 2022.

Read Next: Types of Snowshoes for Big People and Heavy Loads

About the author

Matthew Timothy Bradley

Born and bred in Southern Appalachia; currently residing in lovely Southern New England. Follow @MateoTimateo and my blog The Human Family; circle +MatthewTimothyBradley.

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    • We’re so glad that you enjoyed the article, Sommer! We know how difficult choosing packs can be, and we are happy the info in our review was helpful for you. 🙂 Thank you so much for your feedback! -Susan, Snowshoe Mag Editor

  • I have been searching for the right back to take with me on my hiking travels. I am planning a 2 week hiking trail which will mostly consist out of climbing snowy mountains and being in pretty wet conditions. Would you recommend this pack for a beginner hiker? We are a group of 10 going out and doing some sightseeing so between all of us, overnight gear will not be a problem. Also, does this pack have a chest strap? If not, can it be added?

    • I would not hesitate to recommend the Mil Tac H.A.W.G. for use as a day pack. It fits an underserved niche in terms of size and features. It comes equipped with a 100oz hydration reservoir, when all too often packs of a similar size only fit a 70oz reservoir. There is plenty of room to fit a stove or other water purification system should you need to draw more water along the way, as well.

      The main compartment is large enough for a compressible insulated layer and/or rain gear. There will be room left over for a Mylar blanket and a day’s worth of food, as well.

      That said, if your group is staying outdoors the entire two weeks then at least some of you will need larger packs to load up your tents and sleeping bags. The Mil Tac H.A.W.G. is too small for those items and lacks a framesheet and/or stays, besides.

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