Going out for the day – or stretching it out for a couple of overnights?  Whether or not you can pack your adventure into a single day, you can still pack it into a single pack: the Platypus Sprinter XT 35.

Platypus Sprinter XT 35 Features:

  • Gear capacity: 39L (size M/L)
  • Reservoir capacity: 3L
  • Total weight: 2 lbs 13 oz / 1275 g
  • Materials: 210D PU-Coated Diamond Ripstop Nylon and 210D PU-Coated Oxford Nylon
  • Independent hydration pocket
  • Weatherproof construction and YKK Aquaguard zippers
  • Zippered top-load access
  • Ventilated/padded frame suspension
  • Removable frame sheet with aluminum stay
  • Stashable accessory straps
  • Ice axe/helmet/trekking pole straps
  • Waist belt pockets
  • Mesh side pockets
  • Large capacity mesh stash pocket on back
  • Four hose routing options
  • MSRP $160

platypus sprinter xt 35

My Experience

Platypus has historically been known more for their MTB packs than for foot-powered adventure gear, but this year’s release of the XT line shows that they are serious players in the day hiking and ultralight backpacking categories as well.  The XT 35 is their largest capacity pack that has plenty of storage for all-day trail outings, and is also more than adequate for minimalist overnight excursions.

2 days on the Pacific Crest Trail in July

2 days on the Pacific Crest Trail

The Sprinter weighs a mere 2lb. 13oz, but has design elements that help it carry significant loads (more than 30 pounds in my testing) quite comfortably.  The frame has lightweight sheet to give it rigidity, and the back side padding helps the pack rest comfortably against the back.  The shoulder straps are comfortable as well, and adjustments can be made at the shoulders, waist, and chest to help customize the fit.

platypus sprinter XT padding

Most of the cargo storage is in the cavernous main compartment, which is slightly wider at the top of the pack and tapers inward toward the bottom, matching the general shape of the torso (if you’re in relatively decent shape, that is).  Opening the 3-sided zipper completely provides wide open access to all of your gear, making it easy to find what you’re looking for and easy to reach down to the bottom even when the pack is fully loaded.

platypus sprinter xt main compartment

Cavernous main compartment with 3-sided zipper opening

On top of the main compartment is a smaller storage pocket with a horizontal zipper for small quick access items.  Unlike other large capacity packs, the Sprinter doesn’t utilize a vertical strap to cinch the load down, so if the pack isn’t full, you can’t really compress it into a smaller profile.  If there is cargo in the top pocket, and the main compartment isn’t full, the top part of the pack sags down slightly; this is an aesthetic issue more than a functional one.

At the top of Mt Whitney, CA

At the top of Mt Whitney, CA

Material construction of the Sprinter is rugged, with very durable and tear-resistant weatherproof ripstop nylon, while taped seams and water-resistant YKK Aquaguard zippers ensure that water won’t seep in through the cracks if you get caught in a deluge.   A large, hybrid ripstop and mesh elastic pocket runs the vertical length of the pack to provide another quick access location; this is ideal for stashing and then retrieving a top layer on a long trail day.

The Sprinter is also built with significant versatility in mind, with a number of features that may or may not be utilized depending on personal preferences and the type of outing you’re on.  Loops and clasps are present for walking poles, a helmet, or even an ice ax, but these can all be tucked out of sight if they’re not needed.  The hip belt has two zippered mesh pockets that can tote extra items like cameras or smart phones, but the entire thing can also be folded into the main body if you don’t need or want the waist pocket access.

3L fluid reservoir with detachable tube

3L fluid reservoir with detachable tube

An independent fluid reservoir compartment sits between the main compartment and the frame sheet, allowing you to access the reservoir anytime without disrupting the contents of the main compartment – which is a tremendous convenience when refilling on the trail.  The 3L reservoir is locked in place by a somewhat ingenious attachment system where two elastic pins are stretched through the reservoir clasp and then rotated into place.  The drink tube can be routed through any of four outlets – top or bottom, and either side – and is held securely by a combination of loops and clips on the front straps.  The bite valve delivers a generous volume of fluid when there isn’t any tube constriction (see next paragraph), while the valve opening is easy to adjust and seals tight in the off position.

Elastic pins secure reservoir in place

Separate fluid reservoir compartment; elastic pins secure reservoir in place

Considering that the company is known for their fluid reservoirs, I was surprised that my two biggest issues with the Sprinter focused on the reservoir itself.  The first is that I had much better success with fluid flow when the tube was routed through the bottom openings; it seemed that routing upward through the shoulder straps caused some impingement of fluid delivery through the tube.

Tube secured in front

Tube routed through bottom right opening; easily secured in front

Second, it’s tough to use any fluid reservoir without comparing it to a Hydrapak unit, which are becoming ubiquitous in hydration packs from multiple brands, and have become famous for their durability and ease of use.  In particular, the Platypus unit has a narrower opening across the top than Hydrapak’s purely rectangular reservoirs, and it doesn’t turn inside out, which is an enormous factor in being able to clean and dry the unit effectively.

High in Yosemite National Park

High in Yosemite National Park

The Good:

  • Huge main compartment and wide zipper opening
  • Heavy loads ride comfortably on frame and straps
  • Rugged, weatherproof construction
  • Great versatility for day hikes or overnights
  • Separate fluid compartment access
  • Stable fluid reservoir attachment

The Bad:

  • Fluid reservoir relatively cumbersome to clean
  • Hose can get pinched when using the upper exit points

The Bottom Line

The Platypus Sprinter XT 35 offers an outstanding combination of comfort, cargo capacity, and versatility for single day or multi-day trail adventures.

Buy Now: Available at Amazon.com

About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

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