The Camelbak T.O.R.O. 8 offers three litres of liquid storage and five litres for other cargo in a narrowly shaped backpack with an integrated back padding for crash protection.
The key feature that makes the T.O.R.O (and K.U.D.O.) range stand out from over the other packs offered in the Camelbak is the back protection.
The back padding slips in between the hydration bladder and the comfort padding and breathing space against the back. The padding is removable with the pack being wearable without it. Camelbak claims that the protector meets CE Level II Protector standards.
The protector spans almost the width and length of the pack sitting high up between the shoulder blades and along the spine down to the middle of the back. The protector helps the pack hold its shape with no hard protrusions or inflexibility causing any comfort issues while riding.
As expected from a Camelbak pack, the storage is thoroughly considered for convenience and practicality.
At the bottom of the pack are straps to hold soft armour like knee pads onto the outside of the pack. There are clips to attach a helmet higher up the pack. At the top of the pack is a sturdy handle to carry it around when off your bike.
The T.O.R.O. 8 offers three storage compartments, one for the hydration reservoir and to access the removable padding and two for cargo.
The uppermost compartment houses the reservoir and padding without space for much else. The protective padding is removable but it is awfully tight fit so it takes a bit of force to replace.
The top cargo hold has two webbed compartments for holding smaller items like a phone, wallet, action camera, car keys, or nutrition.
Lie the T.O.R.O. 8 flat to easily access the largest cargo hold which opens fully with two parallel zips and a velcro seal at the top. There are two elastic straps for holding shock, hand pumps, or a tube and a larger webbed compartment for tools and spares. There is just enough space remaining to squeeze in a very compact riding top but don’t expect to stow much more in there. The bright yellow interior contrasts well to keep items visible.
An advantage of the upper velcro design is that riders with removable chins bars can be easily slipped in and out of the pack without too much risk of the contents of the pack spilling out.
For those looking for more storage, the T.O.R.O. 8 has a bigger sibling, the T.O.R.O. 14 which boasts a bigger 11-litre cargo complement over the T.O.R.O. 8's five litre offering. Another option in the Camelbak stable is the K.U.D.U. range which also offers back protection in a larger feature-filled pack. The T.O.R.O. 8 backpack retails for R2,700.
Comfort and Fit
The T.O.R.O. sits high on the back between the shoulder blades with the reservoir holding its load horizontally up the pack to match the shape of the back protector. This means that the hydration weight sits higher on the back than some other packs. It’s worth noting that Camelbak’s lower position lumbar reservoir offered on other models does provide superior comfort and weight distribution. That said, the T.O.R.O. did feel supremely secure with good all-day comfort.
Contact on the back is good with no rubbing or hard poking parts protruding into the back. Cooling is not class leading (probably due to the thick back protector) but it is adequate.
The shoulder straps provide excellent support and, in conjunction with the two sternum straps and waist belt, the pack sits snuggling in place during riding. Having three straps across the front can feel like a lot of clipping in but the adjustability and security they provide is top notch. There is also the orange safety whistle to blow should you find yourself in trouble and need to grab someone’s attention.
Our T.O.R.O. 8 with an empty reservoir and protection padding in place weighed just under 1,000 grams. The protection padding alone weighed 240 grams.
Camelbak prides itself in their hydration reservoir and delivery system, and rightly so.
The refill cap opens and engages for closing with ease. The top side placement of the large refill hole and fill handle means that the reservoir is easily filled under a tap as well as river-side out on the trail.
The tubing runs unobtrusively from the pack down the right shoulder strap to the bite valve. The valve opens effortless when biting down with lips or teeth providing good flow with only a modest suck. I experienced no leaking from the bite valve or the reservoir during testing.
If back protection is a concern, then the T.O.R.O. is an excellent choice. The size and storage capacity of the T.O.R.O. 8 makes it ideal for day trips. The external straps and helmet clips make carrying these items far more convenient. While the fit is secure and comfortable, if protection is not a concern, Camelbak does offer packs where the weight of the pack is located in a more comfortable lower position.