Osprey, best known for its climbing and hiking packs, is set to move into the bike-specific hyration pack market with the Raptor range. You may not be familiar with Osprey, but the company has some interesting parallels with Specialized, which you probably have heard of. Both companies were founded in 1974 in Santa Cruz, California by people called Mike (Specialized by Sinyard, Osprey by Pfotenhauer), although Osprey has since moved to Colorado. Specialized’s success has been due, at least in part, to carefully-controlled overseas manufacturing, while Osprey takes its overseas operations so seriously that Mike Pfotenhauer now lives in Vietnam to keep an eye on things.
Clearly the hydration pack market is a somewhat crowded one, and with pioneer Camelbak doing the 800lb gorilla thing any new entrant is going to have to come up with something pretty special. Osprey’s Raptor packs aren’t due on sale until early next year, but we’ve had a good poke around at a preproduction sample of which there’s much to like.
Osprey was going for sleekness with the Raptor, hence features like the stretchy pockets on the back and sides, with lower compression straps that run inside the pockets (but can be redirected outside if you need to). There’s the usual array of compartments, a very cunning “bungee toggle” helmet holders, shaped foam/mesh shoulder straps and a broad waist belt with inserts to help it hold its shape.
It’s inside where the really good stuff happens, though. The Nalgene reservoir is, as far as we know, unique in having a high-density foam panel bonded to it to keep it in shape. There’s also a moulded plastic handle running from the bottom of the reservoir up to the oversized filler cap. This is perilously close to genius – even with the rest of the pack rammed full of stuff, the reservoir still drops easily into its own pocket. No rummaging around in the bottom, shaking the pack up and down or taking everything else out first. It also doesn’t all end up in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the pack as it empties, despite not being hung from the top of the pack.
The pack itself has a ventilated foam/mesh back panel too, and will be available in two sizes to accommmodate all back lengths. Our initial sorties out on the trail have been promising – it’s comfy, low-profile, stable and light. We’ll get some more miles in with the sample pack and update you soon. There’ll be several models (and colours) in the range when it goes on sale.
You can find Osprey at www.ospreypacks.com