Osprey Hydraulics Series Preview and Review – Osprey Raptor 6

The new Osprey Hydraulics line of mountain biking, trail running, and multi-sport hydration packs is an all new category for the backpack and travel bag maker and the early word is this is going to be a killer line of packs for a variety of activites. The Raptor series are the smaller packs aimed at mountain bikers and trail runners. The Raptor 6 we got our hands on to test is the smallest in the series with big brothers the Raptor 10Raptor 14, and Raptor 18 there for those that need to take a little more gear with them. The Manta series is the bigger end of the Hydraulics line with the versatile Manta 20, Manta 25, and Manta 30 for bikers, day hikers, and multi-sport adventure athletes.

The heart of Osprey Hydraulics is the new Osprey/Nalgene Hydraform Reservoir that is exclusive to the Hydraulics packs. It features a rigid spine and handle combination that makes the reservoir easy to slide in and out of a full pack and a specially shaped plastic panel sewn in between a nylon panel and the back of the reservoir that creates a sort of baffle that forces the reservoir to conform to a specially designed shape that fits perfectly with the reservoir compartment on the packs. The result is a reservoir that is easy to take in and out of the pack and keeps the water compressed so that the water doesn’t slosh around inside and upset your balance during your active adventures. Osprey is the first company to really think about how the pack and resevoir interact and design a system that is a lot more than a bag full of water and a sleeve in the pack. It may seem to be making something simple more complex than it needs to be, but attention to detail is  what makes Osprey stand out from the crowd.

The Osprey Hydraulics Hydraform Reservoir

The Raptor 6 we got for early testing here at Tahoe Mountain Sports is just the right size for a couple hour bike ride or trail run. It has just enough space for 2L of water, a pump, tube, and flat repair kit, and a few energy bars. If you’re looking to take a camera and an extra layer, you may want to step up to the higher capacity Raptor 18.

Osprey Raptor 6

Both the Raptor and Manta Series packs share a lot of innovative features aside from the new Hydraform Reservoir system. One of them is the new LidLock helmet holder, a simple oval shaped plastic piece attached with stretch cord that you can thread through a helmet vent and turn to simply and firmly attach a helmet. Another is the magnetic sternum buckle that keeps your hydration hose in easy reach. Also the AirScape suspension and back system to keep your back cool and the pack secure.

Osprey Raptor 6 with LidLock holding a bike helmet

Overall the Osprey Hydraulics line looks like its going to live up to the hype and deliver some of the best multi-sport hydration packs around. The only gripe that I have with the pack is that its difficult to get all of the water out of the reservoir when you are done using it, opening up the possibility of mold and bacteria growing in there. However the reservoir does have an special coating on the inside to prevent this kind of growth, so this will likely be a minor gripe.

The Osprey Hydraulics line is being released soon and we expect to have all packs in stock and ready to ship by 2/25/10. These have been drawing a lot of interest so if you want to get in on the first shipment I recommend placing a pre-order today!

Osprey Raptor Series Back System

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