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Osprey Raptor 14
Fluid Capacity: 100oz/3L
Cargo Capacity: 730 cubic inches
Colors Available: silt gray, spruce green, sand gold(tested)
Weight: 2lbs 11oz
Helmet compatible? Yes, cleverly so for XC helmets, and full-face helmets stay pretty stable when attached via the top two compression straps.
Media Pocket? Not really, but there is a nice No-Scratch slash pocket at the top that could be used for one. No padding or headphone port though.
Pros: Obsessive-compulsive types will rejoice with the Raptor 14’s two main compartments that each have internal pockets, as well as four open-top elastic side pockets, an open-top back pocket with a buckle, and a “No-Scratch,” zippered top pocket. There’s also a great helmet retention system that uses a much more streamlined oval anchor and elastic draw chord, verses the usual large open pocket with buckles.
Ventilation is pretty good on this pack, not only against the back with the Airscape system, but also in the arm straps. Speaking of arm straps, the suspension-style system holds the pack well and is easily adjustable, with good excess strap management.
The 100-ounce Nalgene Hydraform reservoir is very user-friendly and has a support system that keeps it rigid, which allows it to easily slip back into even the fullest of packs; a rarity for most hydration packs out there. The magnetic bite valve lines up well on the chest strap and the magnet strength itself is actually able to stand up to mountain bike conditions.
Cons: There are so many straps, zippers, zipper pull tabs, flaps and pull cords on this pack that it feels like playing Simon Says when it comes time to find something inside. Some of the straps themselves are noticeably longer than they should be, which just adds to the busyness, too.
Though I was initially very impressed with how rigid this pack was with its Hydraform system, when it came time to actually go ride the pack had a tendency to teeter on one vertebrae of my back, which wasn’t very comfortable after more than a few minutes on the trail. It’s a great system for hiking, but for a hunched over cycling position the rigidity isn’t welcome.
The locking mouthpiece knocked open when I threw it in the back of the van just enough to cause most of the remaining water to flow out onto the floor. This could obviously be remedied with a little more tender loving care, but it’s mountain bike gear, not a corsage.
Bottom Line: I really wanted to like this pack with its high-quality feel and original features (the helmet system really is cool), but the hot spot created on my back from the almost over-engineered rigid Hydraform system will most likely keep it on the shelf until those rare days that I get duped into going hiking by some girl I’m interested in but who doesn’t ride. Seriously, why else would someone go hiking?