When I first saw the new Osprey Hydraulics hydration pack lineup at OR last year, I was stoked. With how much I liked Osprey’s products, I thought their new design looked great and could be a knockout-punch to the market. After testing a prototype last Fall and the production model this Spring, I’m still mixed on the overall package. It has some really good and some not-so-good points.
Osprey Hydraulics Raptor 6 Features:
- 180-degree on/off pivoting bite valve
- Bike tool organization pockets
- Size: 360 cu in space
- Weight: 1 lb 9 oz
- MSRP: $79
Osprey Raptor 6 Hydration Pack Review
After seeing the new Raptor line of hydration packs, I quickly received an advanced sample in the Fall that still needed some bugs worked out. This Spring I then received a production Raptor 6 and have been using it exclusively mountain biking this Spring.
What I’ve found is a comfortable pack with a lot of promise that may have missed the mark in some respects. I am a huge fan of Osprey packs and really dig their products, but this one is borderline for me, so let me explain.
First off, the HydraForm bladder is a great concept and does have some really good attributes. What I really like about the bladder is the plastic handle to hold onto it while refilling — giving you a firm hold on the bladder instead of feeling like you’re juggling a sea slug. It also does a great job of keeping the water from sloshing around and thus provides one of the most consistent flows I’ve tested. It doesn’t come without its downsides though. To refill, the hole is too far from the top of the bladder and it makes it difficult to get fully under a water cooler or the refrigerator dispenser. Additionally, because the backside is firm plastic, the wide-mouthed hole is blocked from the backside when dropping ice cubes inside. You have to either hand-feed ice cubes or somehow grow another arm, which got annoying enough that i rarely put ice inside.
Related to the bladder is the bite valve. While this bite valve provides excellent flow — thanks to the nature of the bladder system. The magnetic clip is quick and easy to attach, but the weight of the magnet/clip combo causes the sternum strap to loosen completely every time the pack is removed. I found it bothersome having to re-adjust it with every on/off of the pack.
Let me mix in a few good points once more. I really like the organized gear sleeves for tubes, toolkits, pumps, energy snacks, camera’s etc. The uppermost pocket is lined with a soft material that kept my iPhone nice and cozy. The back panel is superb and extremely-comfortable as well. It breathes well and conforms to your back extremely-well.
A few more gripes though. For some reason, the straps are looped-back to the waistbelt or shoulder straps to keep the strap ends from flapping around (see above). For me, it became annoying as I was prevented from simply pulling on the strap ends to tighten. To tighten, you have to grab the strap in the middle instead of simply pulling on the end loop (like every other pack in existence).
The pack rides comfortably and offers many convenient features, but there are a few more negatives than I’d like to see from a high-quality pack maker like Osprey.
Good Raptor 6
- Soft-lined camera/phone top pocket is awesome
- Very comfortable to wear
- Bite valve produces a consistent flow
- The plastic frame on the HydraForm bladder makes for easy handling (just not easy filling… see below)
- Bladder system does keep the water from sloshing around or intruding on gear space
- Helmet lock is a great feature to help keep your gear together
- Stays in place while riding
- Little flexible waistbelt pockets are great for gel storage
- Magnet clip is easy to find on-the-fly when re-attaching nozzle
Bad Raptor 6
- Zippers can sometimes catch
- Bladder can be difficult to fit under the water cooler nozzle or refrigerator spout
- Because of the firm backside of the bladder, ice doesn’t just fall in… you have to manually feed it
- The straps are really odd to adjust and the waistbelt straps max out before I can cinch them down properly (33 waist)
- Sternum strap loosens all the way with every unbuckling (gotta re-adjust it every time)
- Buckles (especially on waistbelt) are entirely too small and difficult to clip
Bottom Line: Osprey Hydraulics Raptor 6
I really wanted to love this pack and I tried hard to look past some of the annoyances, but I couldn’t. Osprey makes killer packs, but this one seems like it just missed the mark in enough areas that can’t be given my seal of approval. The necessary changes are really minor and will hopefully be addressed soon. I’d say this is a great pack if you’re willing to overlook the negatives… it rides well, breathes well and is comfortable.
Buy Now: Search for Osprey Hydration Packs at REI
I have the same pack, and agree on most points. However, the bite valve on my Raptor can be rotated 270 degrees, so I don’t have the “twist and suck” problem you mentioned. To me, the most annoying part is the belt loops — seems like Osprey assumed mountain bikers are either 1) really fat, or 2) wearing himalayan summit suits.
Mike… glad I’m not the only one nit-picking this pack. I love the Himalayan summit suit visual. LOL
Mike… as a follow-up, when you mentioned the bite valve non-issue, I quickly realized it was user-error. 🙂 I falsely assumed that by turning it the opposite direction the flow was turned off (trained by other brands, I guess). The twist and suck is a non-issue and I’m officially an idiot. Remove one strike.
Follow up on my Osprey Raptor 6. Been using it all summer, and just sprung a leak in the bladder (noticed this at the trailhead, of course). It seems I no longer get a good seal where the lid screws into the bladder. Not sure what the problem is here. My best guess is that because I have been holding the bladder by the rigid plastic housing around the hose when I fill it up, I somehow warped the opening. I’ll send it back to Osprey and update when I can.
Mine did that a time or two until I cranked the lid down tighter. I’m still really mixed on the whole system. It does a great job of not sloshing around, but I’m not certain it’s all worth it for that. Let me know how they handle it.
Realized I had bought it at REI, which has a great return policy (100% satisfaction guaranteed). They took it back with no problems. I still like the Raptor bladder system better than my camelback, so I opted to just get a new one. I decided to upgrade to the Raptor 10. While I don’t usually need to carry 3 liters of water, I found the storage space on the Raptor 6 to be a bit tight.
got the raptor 6, was using deuter race X air before (for mountain biking): my thoughts on the raptor 6: the back panel is way better ventilated and more comfortable on the Deuter, night and day here (the raptor’s back is not curved enough and result in a pressure point and the mesh is useless). The raptor has plenty of pockets … the deuter has … two … more like one and half actually. But the raptor belt pocket cant be closed (what were you thinking osprey ??). Hydraform reservoir and valve on the osprey: all good here. Magnet is cleaver and the reservoir spine makes everything easier (filling cleaning etc). Cargo sapce is small … nowhere near the 4 litres advertised (6-2 for the reservoir). I asked Osprey, a 3L reservoir can be used in the raptor 6. last point, the raptor 6 is the same weight as the deuter, so not particularly light,