CAMELBAK BFM 3L HYDRATION PACK REVIEW
At a Glance
The CamelBak BFM 3L Hydration Pack is designed to carry a large amount of gear and water. The pack holds 48 liters (2929 cubic inches) of gear and two 3-liter reservoirs of water. There are multiple drink exit ports so you can route the water over the shoulder or under your arm. The BFM 3L should comfortably hydrate you with hands-free operation.
CamelBak has a wide variety of packs and hydration products. The BFM is their premium product with the largest reservoir and storage capacity. Note that slight feature changes have sometimes been made to the BFM over the years. In most cases, you’ll want to buy the BFM new from the manufacturer in order to insure you’re getting the latest model.
Water should always be a part of your gear. Whether you’re undertaking a military action or simply going for a short hike near your house, you need a source of clean, drinkable water. While you can purify water found in the wild, the best course of action is usually to bring water with you.
CamelBak is known for their hydration products including hydration packs and water bottles. Their products are popular in the civilian market among runners, outdoor adventurers and even photographers. CamelBak also supplies military and law enforcement agencies. They’re a U.S. company based in Petaluma, California.
Their BFM 3L Hydration Pack is one of their biggest, most feature-rich rucksacks. I’ve used plenty of CamelBak products in both my military and civilian life, but this was my first time with the BFM 3L. Over three weeks, I tested the pack for strength, functionality and more. Here’s my complete review:
- The outer shell is made from 500 denier Cordura, 420-denier high-density nylon, padded contact zones and a 210-denier nylon lining. There are multiple storages spaces on both the inside and the outside of the bag. These include a safety kit pocket, side pockets and a zippered flat pocket. The pack has a full clamshell opening which makes accessing gear easy.
- CamelBak has a lot of optional accessories which can easily fit into the BFM. Their Chem-Bio Reservoir (4.0) easily attaches to gas mask adapters Type M, A and S. Also, the MedBak Insert can be added to the main internal compartment. Carrying comms? The ASIPS Radio attachments hold dual antenna ports.
- Three colors are available: ACUPAT, black and foliage. A popular accessory is CamelBak’s reversible tactical cover. This tactical rain cover will keep your pack dry, even in harsh and wet weather. The cover is reversible, too. The Foliage Green side provides camouflage and an overall reduction in battlefield profile. The other side is Signal Orange, perfect for maximum visibility for emergency situations, hunting and more.
The CamelBak has multiple storage spaces. The safety kit pocket is designed specifically for a first aid kit, although anything of a similar size can certainly be stored there instead (not that I recommend heading out with no first aid kit). The lower side pockets can store MREs, ammo or just general supplies. The zippered flat pocket is a great storage space for files, papers, maps and other flat objects you might need to access frequently.
Even with a full load of gear and water, I never really had trouble with the pack. The weight was evenly distributed, and the dual compression straps helped keep the load stable. The straps are made from 420-denier high-density nylon with a 10mm EVA foam adjustable shoulder harness. There’s also a padded waist belt.
An independent suspension harness kept the load stable no matter what type of terrain or incline I faced. Heavy duty nylon cinch straps further supported the overall structural integrity. The back and hip sections are padded for comfort, and the adjustable straps never bit into my shoulder. Also, the front belt is pretty wide. It’s also removable, which works great if you’re wearing web gear.
The main compartment has dual zippered mesh pockets and a divider. The primary compartment has a total cargo volume of 48 liters (2929 cubic inches). The back panel has zippered access, which makes it easy to load a full reservoir. The fabric of the BFM is 500D Cordura.
One of my favorite features of the pack is how easy it is to organize all your gear. Each compartment and pocket was well padded and felt very secure. I stored a camcorder in one of the side pockets and there were no problems – even after I took a short tumble down a hill near my house.
Size and Dimensions
The BFM is 21” (L) by 20” (W) by 14” (H). The cargo capacity of the pack itself is 48 liters, with a three liter reservoir. This means the total volume is 3,112 cubic inches and the cargo volume is 2,292 cubic inches – an impressive use of space. The torso length is 17.32 inches long. The total weight of the empty pack, without the reservoir, is 5.6 pounds. Filled, the reservoir is 11.8 pounds.
The hydration system is really where this pack shines. The BFM includes an OMEGA Water Beast Reservoir with HydroLink Exit Port. The Water Beast material is rugged and durable, just as I’ve come to expect from previous experiences. The wide mouth OMEGA opening is easy to fill and keep clean. There’s a leak-proof screw cap and insulated PureFlow tube. The HydroIink Exit Port and Drink Port allow for one-handed flow control. One of my favorite features is the Big Bite Value, a patented device only available on CamelBak products.
Since this pack is all about water, I figure I’ll throw in my two cents regarding water filters. For the BFM, I used the Katadyn mini. The silver impregnated ceramic filters down to .02 microns. The silver also acts as a natural antimicrobial. This unit can filter up to 2,000 gallons, depending on the starting condition of the water.
Durability and Product Life
The 500D Cordura Fabric is easy to clean, tear resistant and durable. Clean up requires nothing more than a damp cloth. You can even use a little bit of water right from your reservoir to keep your pack clean on the go.
CamelBak seems to genuinely care about the products they sell. Their Lifetime Guarantee handles any manufacturing defect. While no company will cover damage caused by normal wear and tear, CamelBak does pledge to always work with you to resolve any issues related to their products.
Here is a video of CamelBack BFM 3L hydration pack for more information and review
Among CamelBak products, the BFM is their largest hydration pack. So there’s really no comparison if you’re looking for the biggest hydration pack CamelBak offers. Fortunately, the pack is also extremely well made, so you’re getting more than just a large reservoir.
There are plenty of quality packs on the market which also have container reservoirs, such as many by Maxpedition. The reason I give the edge to the BFM is mainly because of the manufacturer. CamelBak is THE hydration expert. If a hydration system is the most important part of your pack, CamelBak is the company you should probably choose.
Interestingly enough, the founder of CamelBak built the prototype product out of necessity. He needed a hydration system for a marathon he’d entered. So he filled an IV bag with water, put the bag in a sock and pinned the sock to his shirt. He ran a tube over his shoulder and the very first CamelBak hydration system was born. This type of passion and ingenuity is why I turn to CamelBak when hydration is my main concern. They basically invented the system themselves.
If water is the main feature you need, CamelBak is the manufacturer to go to. Of all the CamelBak products, the BFM holds the most water and has the largest storage area. The quality of the BFM is really high, and I found the pack comfortable even with a full load out.
Without water, you could quickly be in trouble – even in an otherwise safe situation. With the CamelBak BFM, your water supply will be plentiful and secure. The pack is durable, large and easy to organize. I’ve long been a fan of CamelBak and I absolute recommend the BFM pack. This is a premium hydration pack from an expert manufacturer.