After having arrived at 2nd Ranger Battalion I began the process of being issued gear. Not your standard uniforms, those were provided by the CIF facility. Instead the Ranger specific gear: fast-rope gloves, Oakley sunglasses (ballistic with four different lenses), CamelBak, soft armor, ceramic plates, ruck, combat gear (Rhodesian, etc), sleep systems, you get the idea. Of all the gear I was assigned (and was allowed to keep after leaving the military) my CamelBak ended up being the most used piece of gear I retained for post-military activities.

I was issued the CamelBak Stealth, and I used it through 4 combat tours, all my military training, and all post-military activities (hunting, fishing, camping, etc) over the next 8 years. In total, I used this one CamelBak for around 12 years. I didn’t use it for anything except water, I cleaned it regularly, and I took good care of it. After all this, it was exposure to some kind of spore that made me finally retire it. While I was out hunting I exposed my CamelBal, a daypack, and some other items to some kind of spore that began to grow on the exterior surface. No, it was’t mold, it only grew in a specific spot and didn’t look like any mold I’ve ever seen (disclaimer: I am not a scientist it may have been mold).

CamelBak MULE Hydration System
My original CamelBak Stealth

I was able to clean all items (again), disinfect them, and prepare them for use again. The problem was I just couldn’t get over the idea of drinking some kind of microscopic biological matter (X-Files episodes kept running through my head). I wanted something similar to my Stealth.

Current Stealth Specifications (Courtesy of

  • Hydration Capacity 70 oz (2L)
  • Total Capacity 122 cu in (2L)
  • Weight 1.2 lbs (544g)
  • Dimensions 14.4 x 10 x 2.4 in (36.5 x 25.4 x 6.1 cm)
  • Torso Length 12.5 in (39 cm)

The Stealth basically amounted to a water bladder in a light-weight slim carrier. The carrier has shoulder straps, and a chest fastex buckle. If you wanted to carry more items with you then you would place the Stealth in a larger daypack, or take the bladder out altogether. The downside to the Stealth is there was nowhere to place small items, almost always forcing you to take a daypack if you were hunting (food, compass, etc.). So I began to search for my next CamelBak with the hopes of improving on a product I absolutely loved for over a decade.

CamelBak MULE Hydration System
CamelBak’s Stealth (left), and MULE (right)

After a lot of research I decided on CamelBak’s M.U.L.E. (Military/Tactical version). This model is larger than my Stealth was, but it would allow me to carry essential items without the need of a daypack. Additionally, it has a larger hydration capacity allowing me to travel further to water sources. A nice finishing touch was giving the user three choices (ports) for the antidote tube (drinking tube). This allows me to change where the tube is depending on what activity I am performing (left, right, high-center).

Current M.U.L.E. (Mil/Tac) Specifications (Courtesy of

  • Hydration Capacity 100 oz (3L)
  • Cargo Volume 488 cu in (8L)
  • Total Volume 671 cu in (11L)
  • Weight (empty) 1.9 lbs
  • Dimensions 17.5 x 8.5 x 7.9 in (44 x 22 x 20 cm)

One of the most notable upgrades over my Stealth is the M.U.L.E.’s quick release antidote insulated tube (drinking tube). Where the tube attached to the reservoir you can activate a release (without spilling water), and remove the tube for easy cleaning (or replacement). The M.U.L.E. (like the Stealth) has shoulder straps and a faster bucket chest strap. However, the M.U.L.E. also has a waist strap which can help accommodate its larger carry capacity. It should be noted that all straps have fastex buckles which can be used for expedient removal of the system.