CamelBak Products, LLC (stylized as CAMELBAK) is an outdoors equipment company based in Petaluma, California, best known for its hydration products, such as hydration packs and water bottles. CamelBak is also a supplier of hydration packs, protective gear, and other products to the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies around the world.
In 1988, CamelBak founder Michael Eidson was competing in the "Hotter 'n Hell 100" bike race in Wichita Falls, Texas. Eidson, who was an EMT by trade, filled an IV bag with water and stuck it in a tube sock. He then pinned the tube sock to the back of his jersey, pulled the tube over his shoulder, and secured it with a clothes pin. Within a few months, Eidson began selling the first CamelBak product, the ThermalBak, which quickly became popular among cyclists.
U.S. troops took CamelBak products into battle in the first Gulf War and they quickly became a popular product at military exchanges. CamelBak's defense sales grew further during the second Gulf War and the War in Afghanistan. U.S. and foreign government contracts made up about 40% of CamelBak's business as of 2012.
CamelBak was sold to San Francisco toymaker Kransco in 1994 for $4 million. Bear Stearns Merchant Banking bought it for $210 million in 2003.
In 2006, CamelBak expanded into the water bottle business. The company differentiated its bottles by making them taste-free, using bite valves designed to stop leaks while allowing easy sipping, and eliminating the use of BPA In 2011, water bottles accounted for about 31% of CamelBak's sales.
Compass Diversified Holdings, a private equity firm, purchased the company in August of 2011 for $258 million.
In February of 2015, CamelBak filed a patent-infringement suit against Osprey to protect its hands-free reservoir hydration systems. The suit was settled in July 2015 on confidential terms.
CamelBak's hydration packs come in capacities of 1.5 to 3.0 litres (50–100 US fluid oz) in a backpack style primarily for biking, hiking and other outdoor activities, with smaller belt-type 0.83 to 1.3 litre (28–45 US fluid oz) packs designed for runners and walkers.
CamelBak also makes bottles, general purpose backpacks, and some specialized military and law-enforcement gear, ranging from simple back-worn water reservoirs with little to no cargo capacity, to large rucksacks with various accessories, even PALS webbing to accommodate MOLLE gear.
One of CamelBak's military lines features reservoirs that resist chemical and biological weapons; they are designed to be used with gas masks. The United States Army approved the use of CamelBak CBR X hydration packs in November 2015. The Army's office of the Product Manager-Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment and the Army's Test and Evaluation Command approved the three-liter CBR X after exposing it to nerve agents for six hours after thirty days of use in the field and then verifying that the water inside remained uncontaminated and performing numerous other tests since 2006.
CamelBak manufactures a line of water bottles, including water bottles with a dip straw and a collapsible bite valve and another line for cyclists with a centered valve, no dip straw, and a squeezable body. Reusable water bottles increased in popularity after bottled water was denounced by environmentalists.
Since 2008, these CamelBak products have been manufactured without BPA, a potentially toxic chemical commonly used to harden polycarbonate plastic, or phthalates. CamelBak now uses copolyester from Eastman Tritan. CamelBak claims to be the first company in its industry to stop using BPA in all its products.
In January of 2012, CamelBak started selling its All Clear portable water purification system. All Clear uses ultraviolet light to make untreated water potable in about one minute.
In 2014, CamelBak released a filtered water pitcher called the Relay. CamelBak claims that the Relay filters water ten times faster than competing products; this is fast enough to keep up with the flow rate of a kitchen faucet. The Relay uses large pleated filters that last about four months.
In May of 2015, Nephros, a medical device company that specializes in liquid purification, announced that it had licensed its HydraGuard line of military-grade water filters to CamelBak. The terms of the deal give CamelBak the exclusive right to sell HydraGuard products.
CamelBak moved to Petaluma, California in 1999. As of 2012, about 80 people worked at CamelBak's headquarters there. CamelBak converted its rented office space into a LEED-certified facility. All CamelBak products are designed and tested in Petaluma. The company manufactures its products at other locations in the United States, Mexico, and Asia.
Layne Rigney took over as the firm's head on February 1, 2016. Rigney served as CamelBak's senior vice president of global sales since 2012. He has 25 years of relevant experience with companies such as PowerBar/Nestile USA, RockShox, and REI.
Sally McCoy served as CamelBak's chief executive officer until 2016 after leading the firm for nine years. McCoy is also a co-founder and former chair of the Outdoor industry Association, formerly known as ORCA. She was a founding partner at Silver Steep Partners, a financial consultancy that caters exclusively to companies in the outdoor and "active lifestyle" markets. McCoy has served as president of both Sierra Designs and Ultimate Direction. She served as vice president at The North Face. She received the Outdoor Industry Leadership Award and was named one of the "Top Innovators of the Last 25 Years" by Outside Magazine. She won the 2011 Outdoor Industry Pioneering Woman Award from the Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition. McCoy earned a bachelor of arts degree in history from Dartmouth College.