Modern materials and design still take a beating
After 8yrs or so of 3-4 days a week usage in hot California desert sun to coastal cool fog and rain, the fabric finally started to fall apart. I replaced it with this new MULE.
Some of the things that I like about the new design:
Pocket design: while the older model had more compartments which I liked, the newer design has deeper pockets. I can keep tools, spare tubes, a pump, and a rain jacket inside the pockets more easily, and the pack doesn't stick out from my back as far. The weight of the pack is more evenly distributed on my back, and doesn't shift the center of gravity so far back because everything lies flatter.
The hardware (clips, zippers, etc.) are more robust than the older design. Easier to open and close with full-gloved hands in cold and wet.
The pack feels noticeably lighter, and the ventilation between the pack and my back works better for my body shape and style of riding.
I have liked the improvements in the reservoir design in every Camelback iteration I've owned. The opening has gotten larger and easier to open, and I've had years of several-times-a-week usage with no gasket or leaking problems. A few iterations and many years ago I had some gasket issues, and was given replacement gaskets as part of the warranty with no questions and no fuss, and have not had any issues with any reservoirs since.
Some things I wish were different:
The strap for the magnetic clip is only on the right side, and I'm a lefty. I moved the magnetic clip to the chest strap, and that works ok. I was surprised that the shoulder straps don't have a symmetrical design.
On both the older design and this newer design, the excess strap length on the waist straps is kept out of the way with elastic bands. On the shoulder straps, the extra strap length is held with velcro bands. The elastic bands degraded on my old pack after about a year or two. I'd like to see the waist straps with the same velcro bands as the shoulder straps.
The newer design doesn't have a rain fly. I'm not sure how I feel about this... the fly was useful on my old pack because in cold and wet weather I carried extra layers that couldn't fit inside the pack. I used the rain fly to cover those extra layers, strapped on top of my pack, on my long climbs in the rain. With the new design, I can fit all those layers inside the pack. I would probably find the rain fly to be more cumbersome than it's worth. In muddy conditions, it's kind of nice to only have to clean the rain fly after a ride.