The hydration pack market is undoubtedly dominated by a single manufacturer at the moment but long-time outdoor pack specialist Osprey apparently feels it has the experience and know-how to make a legitimate dent nonetheless.
Rather than build the pack around a superb bladder and bite valve design, Osprey have come at it from the opposite direction by first designing a superb pack – but then still filling it with a promising fluid delivery system.
Osprey's range is distinctly business-like in appearance and construction. The ripstop nylon bodies are lighter and stretchier than typical Cordura fabrics; there are compression straps, internal and external pockets galore; the ventilation EVA-padded shoulder straps are ergonomically shaped; more breathability is provided by the ridged foam AirScape back panel – which is curved to closely follow the contours of your back; and the hip belt is a little more substantial than usual.
The bike-specific Raptor models also add a brilliantly elegant LidLock helmet attachment clip.
There's also some clever thought in the Osprey-exclusive Nalgene-designed bladder. A semi-rigid back panel maintains an ergonomic shape and keeps the bladder from barreling against the rider's back; an external frame on the other side provides a convenient handle for filling; and the bite valve includes a built-in shut-off switch and nifty magnet that easily attaches it to the sternum strap for always-there access.
The bladder's structure also makes it easier to load in the pack's reservoir pocket and partially pressurises it when loaded for more fluid flow.
The Raptor range will include 6, 10, 14, and 18-litre storage capacities – all with three-litre bladders save for the smallest Raptor 6, which will include a two-litre reservoir. The larger and more versatile Manta will be available in 20, 25, and 30-litre sizes for all-day or weekend adventures.
Packs will begin hitting the market around the middle of February.
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