Few products are as ubiquitous nowadays as the hydration pack.  There are as many pack styles as there are preferences, so it’s definitely a crowded place for a company to compete.  Naturally, Osprey is one of the big players in the market and their Viper 5 fits the fast-and-light niche that I’m so fond of.

Osprey Viper 5 Hydration Pack Features

  • Ergo-pull hip belt
  • Panel Load Access
  • Shove-it pocket
  • Top Slash Pocket
  • Zippered Front Panel Pocket
  • Mesh organizational pockets
  • Key keeper
  • 2L Hydraulics Reservoir
  • Weight: 1lb.
  • MSRP: $89.95

Osprey Viper 5 Hydration Pack Review

Viper 5 is Clever, Fast and Full-featured

The Viper 5 is the most compact backpack in Osprey’s entire line-up so it’s also their very lightest offering.  The humble hydration pack is elevated to new levels of functionality by Osprey’s unique take on design and construction – throughout the tiny pack there are a host of clever features and thoughtful design touches that provide for a great user experience.

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The basic layout of the pack is pretty simple – there’s the main hydration compartment, a small protective pocket for glasses and devices, an open shove-it pocket and a storage compartment with several pockets and keepers.  They hydration pocket is special in that the zipper travels all the way down the right strap, thereby keeping the hose in-place and removing the hassle of having to thread it through a small opening (so nice).  The slash pocket is just deep enough for a large phone so your valuables don’t rattle around while riding – it’s worth noting that Osprey lined the pocket with a special fabric that won’t damage lenses or screens.  The shove-it pocket is roomy enough for a light shell and it has extensive drainage to manage rain.  The final organizational pocket has two mesh pockets, a key keeper and plenty of space for all of the essentials.

I used the pack while riding and snowshoeing – on the bike, there was plenty of room for several bars, my CO2 canisters and chuck.  The shove-it pocket came in handy for storing an extra layer for the descent and I was really pleased with how the pack moves.  It’s so small and low-profile that it can handle some serious gymnastics without affecting balance or momentum in the least.  I also love the trademarked ‘LidLock’ system – it’s an elastic keeper and quickly and securely fastens a helmet onto your pack.  It works perfectly with my Giro Hex.

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The pack is really crammed with design features – the sternum strap, for instance, has a magnetic pad that the included Hyraulics reservoir hose attaches to.  The straps and back panels themselves are constructed of uber-light foam that’s been die-cut to provide both structure and airflow.  I was testing this pack in cold weather so I can’t speak to how well it breathes, but I’ve used similar designs in the past and I’ve known them to perform well.  The front and back of the pack have small reflective accents, but I’d like to see a little more coverage for nighttime rides.

Other than the sparse reflective accents, my only real complaint about the pack comes down to weight – there are so many features on the pack (especially the honking big zipper pulls, which people seem to love) that the pack is actually pretty heavy – one pound doesn’t sound like much, but nobody would argue that Osprey designed this backpack with ounce counting in mind.  Is that a criticism?  No, not really – I love the features and I’d sooner lose a pound of fat off of my body than trim down the Viper 5.  Lighter packs include the Gregory Miwok and the featherweight Tempo.

photo 2

The Good

  • Jam-packed with useful features
  • Exemplary of Osprey’s design prowess and excellent construction
  • LidLock is a nifty, highly useful feature
  • Includes an excellent hard-sided 2L reservoir
  • Great options for organization

The Bad

  • Could have more reflective accents
  • On the heavier side for a 5L pack

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a trusty companion for adventures after work or Saturday assaults, the Viper 5 is a great option at a perfect size. It’s obvious that the pack was designed by people who know what we want on the trails, as the plethora of useful features attests.  The pack isn’t any featherweight, but for the proliferation of features and comfortable fit the Viper 5 is hard to beat.

Buy now: Available from Backcountry.com

About Author

Kevin Glover is an outdoorsman living, climbing and biking in Spokane, WA. Originally from the Nevada high desert, he moved to the PNW for its mild winters and allergen-free summers. He has guided throughout the Cascades and Enchantments for Peak 7 Adventures.

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