CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 961049 GGD

Steven B. Zisser, Esquire
2475 Paseo De Las Americas, Suite D
San Diego, California 92173

RE: Revocation of New York Ruling Letter (NY) A84182; "CamelBak Hydration System;" Carrier and Bladder for Hands-Free Intake of Liquids; Composite Article; Headings 3926 and 4202

Dear Mr. Zisser:

In New York Ruling Letter (NY) A84182, issued June 12, 1996, on behalf of FasTrak Systems, Inc., Customs classified an article identified as the "CamelBak ThermoBak" hydration system, consisting of a plastic bladder designed to contain and dispense liquids and an insulated carrier designed to be worn on the back, in subheading 4202.92.9025 (now 4202.92.9026), Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), textile category 670, which provides for "Trunks...holsters... backpacks...bottle cases...and similar containers...: Other: With outer surface of sheeting of plastic or of textile materials: Other: Other, With outer surface of textile materials: Other: Of man-made fibers." We have reviewed that ruling and have found it to be in error. Therefore, this ruling revokes NY A84182.

Pursuant to section 625(c)(1), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed revocation of NY A84182 was published on November 25, 1998, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 32, Number 47.


The name of the article at issue - the "CamelBak ThermoBak" - has recently been changed to the "CamelBak Classic" hydration system. The sample consists of a sheath-like insulated carrier (composed of an outer surface of man-made textile materials covering a neoprene rubber inner layer) and a bladder and hose (composed of polyurethane plastics) with a silicone bite valve at one end. Together, these components are designed to provide "hands-free" hydration, i.e., access to a potable liquid while the user is engaged in a physical activity such as biking, hiking, climbing, etc.

The carrier component measures approximately 18 inches in height by 6-1/4 inches in width and features padded, adjustable, polypropylene textile shoulder and waist strap(s). The carrier is manufactured to conform to the size and shape of the bladder it is designed to carry within an open-top compartment which closes by means of a hook and loop fabric fastener. The flexible bladder, which is made from hypoallergenic, food-grade plastic, features a removable cap, and contains up to 70 fluid ounces (of water, a sports drink, or other liquid). The tube, which measures approximately 40 inches in length, is designed to extend from the bottom of the bladder, out the top of the carrier, to a point of attachment (to clothing) near the user's mouth. When biting down on the valve at the end of the tube, the user may obtain fluid with minimal effort. The bladder collapses to the extent that fluid is removed.


Whether the "CamelBak Classic Hydration System" is classified under heading 4202, HTSUSA, as a container used to organize, store, protect and carry various items; under heading 3923, HTSUSA, as a plastic article for the conveyance or packing of goods; or under heading 3926, HTSUSA, as an other article of plastics.


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI.

The article essentially consists of two components which together provide a user with "hands free" access to liquids, but which, if imported separately, would be classifiable under separate headings, i.e., heading 4202 and one of the headings under chapter 39, HTSUSA. Since the component which contains and supplies the liquid is an article of plastics, we first look to chapter 39, HTSUSA, which covers "plastics and articles thereof." In pertinent part, note 2(ij) to chapter 39, HTSUSA, states: "This chapter does not cover...trunks, suitcases, handbags or other containers of heading 4202." Thus, if the "CamelBak Classic Hydration System" is classifiable as a container similar to the exemplars of heading 4202, it is precluded from classification under any heading within chapter 39, HTSUSA.

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides, in part, for "Trunks... cases...holsters and similar containers; traveling bags...bottle cases...and similar containers...." The exemplars named in heading 4202 have in common the purpose of organizing, storing, protecting, and carrying various items. The EN to heading 4202 indicate that the expression "similar containers" in the first part of the heading includes hat boxes, camera accessory cases, cartridge pouches, sheaths for hunting or camping knives, portable tool boxes or cases, specially shaped or internally fitted to contain particular tools with or without their accessories, etc. EN (c) to heading 4202 indicates that the heading does not cover articles which, although they may have the character of containers, are not similar to those enumerated in the heading.

The classification of certain containers - portable, soft-sided, insulated cooler bags with outer surface of plastics - was examined by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in SGI, Incorporated v. United States, 122 F.3d 1468 (Fed. Cir. 1997). The CAFC focused on whether food or beverages were involved with the eo nomine exemplars set forth in the tariff provisions at issue and, without discussion of heading 4202 exemplars that organize, store, protect, and/or carry food or beverages, the CAFC held that the appropriate classification for the cooler bags was subheading 3924.10.50, HTSUSA, the provision for "Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles...of plastics: Tableware and kitchenware: Other." The Court stated that this classification "does encompass exemplars that are ejusdem generis with the coolers because their purpose is to contain food and beverages."

This office concluded that the CAFC's decision in SGI should be implemented. Instructions were issued to Customs field personnel on March 18, 1998 (and approved for dissemination to members of the importing community), by which the principles of the CAFC's decision were expressly extended to portable, hard or soft-sided, insulated coolers and similar insulated containers with outer surface of plastics or with outer surface of textile materials. The instructions also stated that the classification of bottle cases, insulated bottle bags, and similar containers (if designed to contain only one bottle or similar single unit of a beverage, regardless of the unit's capacity) was unaffected by SGI. A bottle case, as noted above, is an exemplar container of heading 4202 and, unlike the articles before the Court in SGI, is not designed to contain food or multiple beverages.

The "CamelBak Classic Hydration System" is not similar to the soft-sided, insulated cooler bags at issue in SGI, nor to other household articles of plastics classifiable under heading 3924. Standing alone, the carrier component is somewhat similar to a sheath in the manner that its main compartment is form-fitted for the bladder. The fact that the carrier is designed to transport a plastic bladder filled with a single beverage also renders the carrier component somewhat similar to a bottle bag. Although the carrier component is worn on the back and bears some similarity to a container of heading 4202, the design, features, and use of the complete article are principally related to providing hydration during heavy physical exertion. Although the article may have the character of a container, it is not similar to those enumerated in heading 4202. The essential character of the complete article is imparted by the plastics component and its ability to store and efficiently provide liquid nourishment and/or refreshment.

To determine in which of the headings under chapter 39 the "CamelBak Classic Hydration System" is properly classified, we first look to heading 3923, HTSUSA, which covers "Articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics; stoppers, lids, caps and other closures, of plastics." In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 954072, issued September 2, 1993, this office compared headings 3923 and 4202 and stated that heading 3923 "provides for goods of a commercial nature (i.e., containers for packing and shipping bulk or commercial goods), whereas heading 4202 provides for containers used to convey personal articles in general (i.e., articles belonging to a person)." Although subheading 3923.30.00, HTSUSA, provides for "Carboys, bottles, flasks and similar articles," we concluded in HQ 952264, issued November 25, 1992, that the bottles classified in that subheading "are bottles such as beverage bottles which are designed to be filled and sold to the ultimate consumer with a beverage therein. They are not containers to be filled by the end user." Since the "CamelBak Classic" bladder is intended to be filled and refilled only by the end user, the "CamelBak Classic Hydration System" is not classifiable under heading 3923.

Heading 3926, HTSUSA, covers "Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914." The EN to heading 3926 indicate that the heading covers articles, not elsewhere specified or included, of plastics. In HQ 960399, issued February 26, 1998, this office classified a quart-sized plastic canteen fitted with an insulated textile cover and packaged for retail sale with an adjustable textile pistol belt. We noted that the article was designed to be worn by an individual primarily to hold and carry potable water and to be filled by the ultimate consumer as needed. As such, the canteen was found not to be designed for the conveyance or packing of bulk or commercial goods. We concluded that the canteen was the primary component of the kit and that the insulated cover and pistol belt served a secondary function. The article was classified under heading 3926, specifically in subheading 3926.90.9880. We likewise find that the "CamelBak Classic Hydration System" is classified in subheading 3926.90.9880, HTSUSA, the provision for "Other articles of plastics...: Other: Other, Other." The general column one duty rate is 5.3 percent ad valorem.


The article described as a "CamelBak Classic" (previously identified as a "CamelBak ThermoBak") Hydration System is classified in subheading 3926.90.9880, HTSUSA, the provision for "Other articles of plastics...: Other: Other, Other." The general column one duty rate is 5.3 percent ad valorem.

NY A84182 dated June 12, 1996, is hereby revoked. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin. Publication of rulings or decisions pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1) does not constitute a change of practice or position in accordance with section 177.10(c)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.10(c)(1)).

John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division