Osprey Raptor 6 Hydration Pack ($79): Keep water for the whole family and hiking essentials all in one lightweight pack.
The hydration pack market is (forgive me) flooded. Sew an extra sleeve inside, buy an unbranded IV drip for a bladder, and you’ve got yourself a product line. Now along comes Osprey, a small company very much not into copying others, with an offering of seven “hydraulics” packs, and the obvious questions to ask are, are they different and are they better? Well, I gave the smallest pack, the Raptor 6, one of National Geographic Adventure’s gear of the year awards a couple months ago, so in my eyes the answers are yes and yes. Details to follow.
The Raptor 6, however, is a bit too small for my purposes–perfect for hour loops, training rides, a trail run, but lacking the capacity for three hour, four hour, all-day adventures. That’s where the Raptor 10 comes in. It’s still compact and trim enough to be an everyday sprint pack, but has the room for a few thousand calories, some extra layers, and an industrial-sized patch kit.
All seven of Osprey’s hydration packs are built around the idea that sucking hard to get your water sucks, so they’re designed with a simple system called HydraLock, which pressurizes the reservoir and increases water flow. HydraLock stabilizes and squeezes the bladder, which also cuts down on sloshing–not a huge issue for cycling but something that quickly becomes annoying on a trail run. The flow it creates isn’t exactly at the level of a fire hose, but it is improvement over traditional systems. Bite the valve and it’s like opening the faucet a trickle, give it a pull and it streams.
Okay, brownie points for a executing a good idea. Lack of water pressure isn’t the biggest issue in hydration packs, though. That would be poor design and inattention to how these suckers actually feel on your back. And that’s where the Raptor 10 really shines–this little pack carries great, whether you’re bombing down a rock garden on a rigid single speed or motoring like Legolas along a loamy old-growth trail.
The key, I think, actually comes from HydraLock. For this pressurizing system to work, it needs structure–a plastic spine on the reservoir, a semi-rigid frame that doesn’t collapse under its own weight, a back panel that’s more substantive than simple padding–and that provides the Raptor with corporeal stability that translates to carrying comfort. It’s found the perfect blend of conforming to your body yet having enough backbone to carry a full three-liter reservoir without tugging on the shoulder straps at every pedal stroke.
Other features worth noting include a helmet carrying system that secures your lid without letting it flop around like an empty turtle shell on a runaway poacher’s pack, stretchy pockets on the waist belt for energy packs, and a strong magnet on the sternum strap to hold the bite valve at the ready.
The Osprey Raptor 10 costs $89. It comes in gray, dark green, and gold, weighs 27 ounces, has a 10-liter capacity, and measures 18 x 8.25 x 7.50 inches.
For more on Osprey Packs, including warranty, factory locations, and where to buy, see The Adventure Life’s company profile page.
To prepare for and finish the Speight’s Coast to Coast, a 151-mile adventure race down under, my relay partner (and wife) Mary and I faced two broad challenges and scores of little ones when it came to gear.
For one thing we were complete novices at two of the sports (road racing on bikes, whitewater kayaking), and we were about to get a re-education on the third (running). So we needed to borrow, purchase, and gain a basic competence with a lot of gear we didn’t already own.
Buy a hydration pack just big enough (25 liters) to fit the mandatory first-aid gear and extra clothing layers for the 21-mile mountain run. Go even smaller by ditching the hydration bladder and drinking from streams as locals do. (As a rule, you do not want to drink from streams near livestock, campgrounds or industry.) For the race, my wife, Mary, opted for the Mountain Hardwear Fluid 26 ($100). For longer training runs, she swears by the Osprey Raptor 14 (right; $99). I found that there’s no hydration pack that fits my torso that well. If I cinched the shoulders, the hip belt ended up squeezing my diaphragm. If I loosened the shoulders and cinched the hip, the pack banged against my shoulder blades. And so I came around to something I swore I’d never be: a waist-pack guy. For runs over 8 to 10 miles or longer, I carry water, snacks, mobile phone, ID in an Osprey Talon 4 (below; $54), a sturdy belt that easily carries up to 240 cubic inches(room for a shell, even nano-puff jacket), and two quart/liter water bottles. Just don’t call it a fanny pack; the preferred terms are hip or lumbar pack.
Get on the water: Log time in a sea kayak or, ideally, a “long boat,” such as the Sisson Evolution, the kind you’ll want to rent/race in New Zealand. Get used to cycling in a pack: Drop by your local bike shop and ask, “So, when’s ‘the ride’?
Osprey Packs, Inc., a leader in creating top-quality, high-performance, innovative packs to comfortably and efficiently carry gear, is pleased to announce that for the first time, the company will be attending Sea Otter Classic to showcase their Raptor Hydraulics Series.
Osprey invites Sea Otter attendees to stop by the Osprey booth (#242) April 15-18 to participate in activities throughout the day including complimentary pack sizing and fitting as well as gear giveaways.
“Osprey’s entry into the bike market was a natural evolution of our brand,” said Gareth Martins, marketing director of Osprey. “Our presence at Sea Otter demonstrates our commitment to this market and our passion to develop innovation solutions for outdoor exploration of all kinds.”
The Osprey Raptor 6 is a hydration pack with wings – or at least it feels that way. This sleek pack swallows 2L of water and a surprising amount of gear without harshing your ride. In fact it might just be the most comfortable hydration pack we’ve ever tested.
Osprey has made a name for itself over the years for producing high quality packs for multi-day hiking and camping trips and that experience shows in the Raptor 6, one of the first bike-specific packs from the company. Osprey spent 3 years and rolled through 100 prototypes before releasing the 2010 Raptor series. The hydration pack is covered in a reflective, rip-stop material with mesh venting in the back to keep you cool on hot rides. Stretchy material on the waist straps provides additional comfort while the same material is used on the outside front pocket for expandable storage. The strapping system is intuitive and makes it quick and easy to get a customized fit.
The team at Osprey has a new pack series; the Hydraulics Raptor series. They come in four different sizes and are marketed for mountain biking, adventure racing, fast hiking, and trail running. I have been waiting to get my hands on one of these packs.
So, now I have a Raptor 10 pack. I will be using it mostly for mountain biking and for day-hiking while working as a trail guide. I have the size S/M which has a storage capacity of 600 cu. in. /10 liters, and it houses a 3 liter hydration reservoir.
There are seven key storage areas to this pack. I m going to describe these going from the back to the front of the pack.
The pack, which was first available last month, fits enough clean clothes and tools for an all-day ride. And it has ample room for clothes, shoes and a lunch if you want to use it as your daily commuter pack.
Perhaps the best thing about the pack is that, unlike many others, it expands outward away from your back instead of across it.
Not only does that keep your load centered, it allows you to see behind you when you’re looking for fellow riders or cars.
I rode with the pack for hundreds of miles last fall and took it snowshoeing a couple times this winter. Each time, I was impressed.