Osprey already had one of the most innovative hydration packs on the market (magnetized hose retention thingy FTW), but rather than coast on past successes, they keep coming up with new tricks.
The Raptor series is Osprey’s compact hydration pack line geared toward cycling, running, and light day hiking. At first glance, it may appear barebones, but they have managed to cram a ton of features into a tight package.
Design and Construction
As with all Osprey packs I have encountered, the build quality of the Osprey Raptor 6 is impeccable: no stitches out of place, no blown zippers, no buckle issues. More than just the quality, though, is the thought that obviously went into the design of the pack. The straps are wide enough and padded sufficiently to be comfortable without digging in or being uncomfortably wide. This model lacks the load lifter straps of some of Osprey’s larger models, but I didn’t find that to be an issue given the overall shape and size of my test unit.
The back panel is mesh over foam padding, and while not the coolest I have ever worn, it isn’t the worst either. On the other hand, the formed sheet that makes up the interior surface of the water bladder provides a consistent fit regardless of the load in the pack.
The waist belt incorporates a pocket in each side that is well-suited to stowing small items such as keys, snacks, ID, etc. On most packs I end up removing the waist belt, but on this one it falls in just the right place, stabilizes the pack nicely, and due to the wider sections where the pockets are, it doesn’t dig into my sides. The sternum strap is pretty standard with a quick-adjust slide buckle, and the ends are secured to rails for vertical adjustment. Once adjusted, they seem to stay put pretty well.
Moving around back, there is a carrying loop for hoisting the pack when not wearing it. Immediately below this is a helmet retention cord for stowing your lid when it’s not in use. Nestled between this is the zippered access to the main storage compartment. Keeping in mind that this is one of Osprey’s smallest hydration packs, the internal space is decently roomy, and surprisingly well organized. On either side there is a sleeve that will fit a tire pump, small camera tripod, shock pump, etc. Between these is a wider pocket that fits the roll-up tool organizer. More about that in a bit…
Below the main compartment access is another zipper leading to a fabric-lined pocket suitable for a cell phone or other electronics, and within that pocket is another zippered pocket designed for keys, cash, etc.
Rounding out the exterior features, we find an external pocket secured by a strap-and-buckle closure, suitable for loose items such as arm warmers or gloves, and finally, a loop for clipping a blinky tail light.
Aside from the backpack-esque features, this is first and foremost a hydration pack. Osprey is well-known for their formed back panel hydration bladders. In my opinion, this design, more than any other, mitigates the “big bag of water” effect. The large screw-on lid removes easily, yet stays tethered, allowing for quick fills and easy addition of powdered supplements, if that’s your thing. The integrated handle makes holding it while filling a breeze. Water capacity is 2.0 liters (70 fl oz).
One notably missing feature is the quick release hose setup found on some other bladder brands. That small detail aside, the routing of the hose is brilliant. A continuous diagonal zipper spans from the pack body up and around the shoulder strap, providing access to the entire bladder in one quick motion. Reversing the process secures it just as easily. Out of the box, the drinking hose was just the right length, and of course the signature magnet valve holder is a nice touch. A simple rotation of the valve opens or closes it. I had no issues with leaking in transit, and it flows well when in use.
One thing notably missing from the Raptor series of packs is the external bungee cord from the older Osprey packs. It’s so nice to be able to quickly secure an extra jacket or other light-but-bulky item, and while the one external pocket on this pack is OK, it’s just not the same.
Another feature that, according to Osprey, should be a plus, but in practice is a bit puzzling, is the new strap design. In an effort to keep superfluous straps from flapping in the breeze, Osprey designed a sort of doubled up buckle sequence, sort of like a block and tackle setup. In theory it makes a lot of sense, but in practice it makes it difficult to get things tightened the way you want in a hurry or while riding. The jury is still out on whether it can be gotten used to, but so far it still bugs me.
To be fair, these are pretty minor issues with an overall excellent design, and even though I have several packs in my stock, the Raptor is my go-to choice for regular rides.
About that Tool Pouch
As I mentioned, one of the internal pockets is sized for the included roll-up tool pouch. This feature is awesome on several levels.
First, just having all my tools and small spare parts in one place is incredibly helpful for trailside repairs. The pouch is organized with zippered pockets to help keep things separated, and it also includes two fabric loops for a pair of CO2 cartridges.
In use, the tool pouch opens up flat, revealing a fabric flap that unfolds to make a working surface. There are also a couple of loops to hang the pouch up, but I haven’t been able to make those work for me (a single loop in the center would be better).
Finally, if you decide to go extremely light on a ride and ditch the hydration pack altogether, the pouch is the perfect size and shape to drop into a jersey pocket!
At $110, the Raptor 6 isn’t a budget model, but given the quality construction, impressive comfort, and smart range of features, it is a solid choice for the money.
After months of hard use, my test model looks as good as the day I got it and it has given me zero issues. If you are looking for a well-designed hydration pack, and if you like to pack light with the option to go even lighter, then the Osprey Raptor 6 is worth checking out.
Thanks to the folks at Osprey for sending the Raptor 6 over for review!