While checking out the vendors at the NEMBAfest Expo area earlier this summer, I visited Osprey‘s tent to see what they had to offer. At the time, I wasn’t aware that they made anything other than backpacks but was very intrigued by the design of their hydration packs. Unfortunately, it was late on the last day of the festival; and they were packing up shortly, so I was unable to try one of their demo packs that day. The pack I was using back then was really starting to annoy me for various reasons, so the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to get my hands on one of Osprey’s packs. I was later able to get their Raptor 10 model for myself and give it a thorough dose of abuse for much of the biking season including some races and numerous extended trail rides.Features:
- Blinker Light Attachment
- Direct Access Zip
- ErgoPull™ Hipbelt
- Front Stretch Mesh Pocket
- Lower Compression Strap
- Panel Load
- Raptor 10 and 14 Tool Pouch
- Slash Pocket
- Zippered Hipbelt Pockets
Probably the single most unique thing about Osprey’s pack is the reservoir. The reservoir isn’t just a vinyl bag but has a semi-rigid shape of it’s own. It is BPA and PVC free – a serious plus in my book as I don’t like toxic chemicals in stuff I drink. At first, I thought I might notice the shaped reservoir against my back, but the pack has a light pad that prevents that from being an issue. The shape, along with quick removal via the diagonal pocket, makes it incredibly easy to clean. I’m probably drinking a lot less mold now than I did with my old packs. There’s no threading the hose through weird holes or forcing things into openings that don’t quite fit; just unzip, grab the reservoir by it’s built in handle and it slides out. So far, the only down side that I’ve found to this design is that I can occasionally hear the water sloshing around in the bladder when I’m getting bounced around on the trail.The bite valve bears mentioning as well. It has a soft round biting surface that, once properly broken in, gives a pretty good flow. The back of the valve has a little magnet that pairs with a metal surface on the sternum strap buckle. This magnet is surprisingly strong and will click into place just by getting the valve close to the buckle. I’ve gotten into the habit of pulling the valve off hands-free and can occasionally return it in the same manner. Very handy, and it never drips onto my thigh while riding.
In addition to holding fluids, this pack has a surprising amount of storage space. There are pockets everywhere. There are pockets inside the pockets. Their size, shape and location all seem to all be very well thought through. The bottom of the pack has an external compartment with a cool little tool pouch that rolls up to keep things dry and from rattling around. There is space for a spare tube in there as well. On top is a small, lightly padded compartment perfect for holding a cell phone, glasses and/or wallet. Inside that is a zippered pouch that I use to keep my car keys when riding. The main storage compartment is big enough to hold a mid-size hand pump along with a light jacket, gloves, snacks or whatever. Again, pockets within pockets there. Even the zippered pockets on the belt have proven useful for holding food for longer rides and races. I just have to be mindful not to put anything fragile in the belt pockets as I tend to bounce off trees with my hips when riding single-track.
The overall design of this pack is excellent. The 10 liter size (with a 3 liter reservoir) has been great for long races and lengthy slogs in the woods. The padded back gives it a shape of its own that stays comfortable when fully loaded, even on long rides. It also allows quite a bit of airflow against your back which can be felt during long descents. Every zipper, strap and seam is well put together – every thing about it reflects a quality construction. With all the storage and the cool helmet “lid lock,” I can put everything I need for a ride in one place. It makes things nicely manageable. Without a doubt, it’s the nicest hydration pack I’ve used and I’ve been using them since the summer the original CamelBak came out.
- Innovation: 2/2
- Function: 2/2
- Aestheitcs: 2/2
- Features: 2/2
- Quality/Price: 2/2
- Overall Rating: 10/10
- Diagonal access zipper makes cleaning and refilling incredibly easy
- Excellent construction quality
- Pockets and storage for everything
- Not cheap, but at least delivers value for the price.
- The bite valve took several rides to “break in” before I got full flow.
- Size: 10 liter, 610 cu. in (tested). The Raptor model is also available in a 14 liter and 6 liter size.
- Dimensions: 19″ x 9″ x 7″
- Weight: 1lbs. 6oz.
- Color: Black, Red and bright Green.
- Reservoir: 100oz. / 3 liters.
- Price: Generally available on-line for about $118.00
For more wordsmithing by our Kingdom correspondent, Mark Tucker, visit http://singlespeedslog.wordpress.com.