Osprey Raptor 14 Hydration Pack Review
I love long mountain bike rides, especially the kind where you get way out into the backcountry. And when you’re far from civilization, it’s essential to have a pack that allows you to bring everything you might need, and carries it comfortably. But it’s also important that the pack handles terrain well, and is isn’t overkill for shorter, closer to home rides. Osprey has been making really well-designed packs for years, and when I got a chance to review their mid- to large-size mountain bike specific Raptor 14 hydration pack it looked like exactly what I was searching for. I wore the Raptor stuffed nearly full of everything I could think of on several rides in Colorado over the past few weeks, and I am sold.
Fit and Comfort of the Osprey Raptor 14 Hydration Pack
The Raptor 14 has a fit that I would call “snug” but not too tight or constricting. I’m a tall guy with an average to “athletic” build (6’2″ and 190 lbs) and had the straps adjusted about halfway, meaning plenty of adjustment for shorter (or taller) riders. This snug fit helps make the Osprey one of, if not the, most stable packs I’ve ridden with. Climbing, descending, cornering, even jumping, the Osprey Raptor 14 stays put. And with such a comfortable fit the pack all but disappears when riding.
Osprey revamped their AirScape back panel in the last couple of years, and it works fairly well at keeping your back cool. Although it isn’t the most breathable of back panels I’ve tried (systems like the Deuter Aircomfort FlexLite System are better) it’s far from the worst. In addition to helping wick moisture away from your back, the ridge molded, mesh covered back panel offers some support to the pack, which helps increase comfort and stability when carrying a heavier load.
I did find I had to carefully route the hose to ensure proper length out on trail. It’s plenty long for the magnetic bite valve to attach to the sternum strap, but at my height I needed to route the hose just right. Speaking of hose routing, the Osprey Raptor 14 only allows for one configuration—over the top of the right shoulder. This will work for most people I suspect, but if you require the hose to go over your left shoulder it won’t work for you.
Internal (and External) Organization
Hands down, the Osprey Raptor 14 absolutely rocks in the organization department. All the details are well thought out. From the direct zip access hydration bladder compartment, to multiple hand pump sleeves in the main storage area, a lined top pocket for easily scratched items, a front vertically zipped pocket with mesh dividers, to the hip belt pockets, roll-up tool pouch, and helmet carry system—the Raptor has you covered in storage.
By far my two favorite features of the Osprey are the helmet carry system, and the roll-up tool pouch. The helmet carry is super simple: a curved piece of plastic that you slip through a vent hole in your helmet, which is attached to a bit of elastic cord that you pull snug. Boom, done. And while I thought the roll-up tool pouch was a brilliant idea when I first saw it, I wasn’t quite prepared for how well it works out on the trail. I go on a lot of long mountain bike rides in the summer months, sometimes spending 6-10 hours out on the trail. And when you’re riding that long and that far, the chances are you’re going to need to use a tool to fix something are higher. I’ve never carried a pack that made access to my most-used tools so easy than the Osprey. The roll-up organizer puts everything right in reach, without having to dig through a zippered pocket that may or may not have an opening big enough for my hand. It’s genius.
The only thing on my want list for the Raptor 14 would be a rain fly. The larger Osprey Manta series comes with this feature, but you give up the helmet carry and roll-up tool caddy of the Raptor, a deal breaker for me. Osprey sells small rain covers for the their packs for a reasonable price, making it easy enough to pick one up and stash it in one of the many available pockets.
So Just How Big is the Osprey Raptor 14?
At a rated size of 14L (854 cu. In.) which includes the bladder if I am not mistaken, it’s on the smaller end of what I was looking for in an all-day hydration pack. However, with the smart organization of the pockets I am still able to comfortably carry all of my bike-specific tools, Leatherman, a couple of spare tubes, rain jacket, arm warmers, beanie, patch kit, first aid kit, extra warm gloves, a fleece pullover, and some spare small parts with still a bit of room left over for few other items.
Since the integrated roll-up tool pouch sits low across your lumbar region, a lot of the weight in the pack sits low as well and helps with stability. The front and slash pockets help even out the weight by distributing items vertically throughout the pack as well. And finally the overall sleek, low profile shape of the Osprey Raptor 14 makes for good weight load distribution on rides of any size and adds to the firm stability of the pack.
The Raptor 14 comes with a 3L Nalgene Hydraform bladder which has a somewhat “pre-formed” structure to it. This pre-forming, plus a vertical carry handle and perfect fit to the pack, make the ride very stable. It also adds a bit of pressure to the bladder for increased water flow. The system is works really well—between the extra push and the easy-to-use bite valve this bladder has arguably the best water flow of any hydration pack I’ve ever used.
The fill mouth is located on the side of the bladder, just above the carry handle, and is secured with a round screw-on lid. I have heard reports of the lid being easy to cross-thread, but I have not experienced that issue. One minor complaint is the hose does not attach from the bladder, which is a feature many other brands have and makes it easier to remove the bladder from the pack for filling. Osprey tackles this by offering a full zip-out bladder compartment, eliminating the need to thread the hose through a hole in the pack to remove it. Smart.
The Bottom Line on the Osprey Raptor 14
I’m basically in love with the Raptor 14. Intelligent design throughout the pack, stability, fit, and great looks make it an easy choice as my go-to pack for quick around town rides or all-day epics. This pack weighs in at 1 lb 8 oz and measures 19″ H x 9″ W x 10″ D. The Osprey Raptor 14 Hydration Pack is available in Screamin’ Green, Madcap Red, and Black and retails for $129.00. For more information, please visit http://www.ospreypacks.com/