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Not too long ago trek7k did a write up on the Osprey Raptor 6 and if you recall he raved over its sleek and comfortable design. Today I’m writing about another offering in the Osprey hydraulics line-up – the Manta 20. Unlike the Raptor, the Manta is a larger pack designed for day trips and epic rides.

The Osprey Manta 20 includes a Nalgene hydration bladder that holds three liters of liquid and is clearly one of the best designed bladders on the market. This is the first hydration pack I’ve found that I can fill to capacity without feeling like I just purchased a giant Salami and tried to stuff it into the middle of my pack. The bladder features a contoured, molded piece of plastic sandwiched between nylon fabric bonded to the bladder so it only expands sideways when full. You also get an over-sized hose with swivel bite valve and magnetic sternum strap to hold the hose outta the way when not in use.

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The Manta 20 has a carrying capacity of 1200 cubic inches (20 liters) so you can fit a ton of stuff – and then some. The pack itself is true to Osprey quality with rugged construction, style, and a streamlined design (for those who don’t know, Osprey had produced high quality packs for backpacking and mountaineering for years). Starting from the bottom of the pack you get a compartment that contains the rain cover which comes in handy for soaking, sloppy rides. There is an external pouch that is perfect for holding tubes or fresh fruits and just above that there is a secondary zipped pouch with key holder and two mesh pockets for tools and energy bars. The mesh pouches are even deep enough to hold a pump shock pump and inflator.

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Above the outer zipped pouch there is a smaller, zippered and lined pouch that is useful for holding eyewear or delicate items like a point and shoot camera or video equipment. The main large storage compartment is accessible via the top of the pack and I found plenty of room for all my spare clothing and food for the day plus there was still room left for a small towel to dry myself. To top off all this storage capacity, you even get a good bit of side storage in the webbing along the waste belt. This area works well for nutrition bars, keys, wallet and “stuff.”

After using the Osprey on different types of rides, I now find myself grabbing this pack over the few others I have kicking around. For one thing, the understated look of the pack is a big selling feature for me (some of my other packs scream a little too loud for attention). The color shown is called Storm Grey (in between a green and a grey) and it’s perfect for those rides where I just want to look like I am racing.

On top of all the great storage, I also found that the Manta is really comfortable. Once the waist and shoulder straps are set properly, this pack doesn’t move around on the trail, even on the rockiest freeride trails I could find. The shoulder straps feature a very smart perforated and molded foam that really helps disperse the load of the pack. The added bonus is that you’re not building up excessive moisture underneath the straps which can lead to chafing during long rides. The “Airspeed” suspension on the Manta works to keep the pack off your back which also keeps you cooler thanks to an internal alloy frame that flexes the pack out of the way, leaving the perforated mesh to comfortably contour to your body.

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I have to say Osprey really done good with the Manta 20 ($129 MSRP). This pack isn’t overly huge but instead is just the right size for those who want a pack that can haul enough gear for a day of riding. The Manta 20 is a comfortable, elegant pack that you can even use off the bike with comfort (Osprey actually says this one is designed for day hiking, full day trans-alpine mountain bike rides, and adventure racing). Great stuff – check out one for yourself!

I would like to thank the folks at Osprey for sending down the Manta 20 for a review.

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