CamelBak Delta-5 Tactical Hydration Vest

(James Mac, of BFE Labs, has been working on refining his personal set-up for first and second line gear, and has picked up a CamelBak Delta-5 Tactical Vest in the process. He’s taken it on various excursions and put it to repeated use as a load-bearing system for abandoned mine exploration. His professional responsibilities to the weapons lab where he works have kept him from penning a full review, but he prepared the following initial impressions awhile ago and wanted to go ahead and run them until he could finish a complete review.)

First impressions: Straight out of the “box” the Delta 5 looks like a simple LBE vest that is covered in MOLLE compatible webbing. It has an insulated pocket for the included 102 oz. bladder. It also has an attachment system for a belt, it seems that donning and doffing multiple times will be inconvenient. I have estimated about 15 minutes to doff and don. The vest is fully adjustable, including shoulder adjustments. Once adjusted it felt really comfortable. I ended up wearing Under Armour heat gear under the vest because of the form fitting nature of the rig. I have it setup up with numerous 5.11 VTAC pouches. I have it loaded with my essential must-haves, including: Blow-out and boo-boo kits, my XD-45, E-tool, MRE’s, binoculars. All this gear weighs in between 40 and 50 pounds. The weight was well balanced enough to feel like 20 pounds. It worked well while scrambling up and down rocks. Feels good for hiking, looking forward to taking it in a cave or a mine. [Editors note: James has had this rig down hole since he wrote this, and came away pleased with its performance]

James wearing the Delta 5 down hole – Approx. 200 ft below ground.

I have done some experimenting with carrying a pack on top of the Delta 5. With the pouches removed from the back of the vest it is very easy to adjust a pack to fit well. It is helpful that my normal pack has the ability to carry MOLLE pouches. I have timed myself in taking the pouches off my pack and putting them on the vest (already doffed), it takes about 6-7 minutes; even in the dark. [Ed.: CamelBak’s PALS webbing is well sewn, with even spacing, making attaching and detaching pouches far less of a hassle than some systems with inconsistent spacing].

Running the Delta 5 in the Magdalena Mountains.

[Editor adds:]
Specs on the CamelBak Delta-5 are as follows:
Hydration Capacity: 102 oz. [3.1L] (OMEGA™ Water Beast reservoir)
Cargo Capacity: 500 oz. [8.2L]
MOLLE compatible front and rear
Ambidextrous, no-slip butt stock seating
Ambidextrous metal sling/accessory attachment points
Velcro for ID and patches
Adjustible to fit most sizes, with or without body armor.
Heavy-duty, low profile drag handle

We’ll be posting a finished review of the Delta-5 in the future, and hopefully at some point James will further elaborate on his overall kit, and the evolutionary process behind it.

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3 responses to “CamelBak Delta-5 Tactical Hydration Vest”

  1. […] beginning with the 5.11 Chest Rig, and continuing with James Mac’s evaluation of the CamelBak Delta 5, are not the typical weekend on the gun-range evaluation that many readers are used to seeing in […]

  2. Paul Treadway says:

    GREAT review (I read part 2 also) and thanks! I own one of these Delta 5 vests and plan on hiking and camping the High Sierras with a rig similar to yours. My goal is to haul enough gear/supplies for 3 nights (warm months) and keep my total weight (carried/worn) at 37LBs or less (1/5th my body weight). It’s a lofty goal but I am going to attempt it (assuming water re-supply is available on the trail). My hiking buds think I am nuts. They might be right, but I hope to prove them wrong. If successful, I will write a thank-you note to Camelbak.

    • BFE Labs says:

      Paul – If successful, we’d love to hear about it as well! This seems to be a very little used piece of kit, so we’re interested in hearing more from end users! Thanks for sharing.

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