OSPREY RAVEN 10 WOMEN’S HYDRATION PACK
If you want to ride longer than an hour, a good hydration pack is a must-have accessory for any mountain biker. It’s a place to store your tools, spare clothing in case the weather changes, a first aid kit and enough food and water to power you through a solid ride. While broader women and ladies with less hip definition are often comfortable in a unisex pack, other female body shapes benefit from gender specific designs. Loading up the Raven, I was immediately pleased to see that the shoulder and chest straps offered plenty of adjustment while staying close to the body. It is a lot like the CamelBak Women’s L.U.X.E. at first sight, which is similarly priced and, like the Raven offers 10L storage including a 3L bladder. While most packs of this shape offer multiple features to stash or separate your goods, including expandable storage at the front, the Raven has some more refined features that really stand out. These include a zippered section covering the hydration hose, which makes threading the hose from the bladder a two-second job, not a two-minute one, and a wide opening at the top of the bladder that makes it easy to refill mid-ride without pulling the bladder all the way out of the pack. The helmet carrier tab is simple and effective and a roll-up tool pouch sits down the bottom via an external pocket, keeping these hard objects out of the way in the case of a crash. Material on the inside encourages users to store a pump on the side and away from the spine for the same reason. Out on the trails, the Raven seemed to disappear from consciousness which, for a lot of riders, is the best quality you could ask for. The mesh-covered foam back panel and the breathable “biostretch harness” come into their own here, moving with the body rather than maintaining a rigid shape. I also liked the strong pull of the magnet attached to the chest strap. This allowed me to reposition the hose between drinks without fiddling, or even looking, to store it securely across the torso. One end of the chest strap is fixed to the shoulder strap, which also stood out for its functional simplicity. It’s much easier to fasten while riding with gloves on, compared to trying to coordinate two straps that hang. The Raven is available in 10L and 14L options, and in three colours (the royal purple tested, as well as orange or green). The men’s equivalent is the Raptor pack in black, red or blue. While I was initially attracted to the 10L pack to carry my DSLR camera out on the trails, I was surprised how often I reached for this pack off the trails. Unloaded, it can just fit a 13” MacBook, albeit at a diagonal, and the side pockets on the waistband prove very handy for keys, snacks or an iPhone 5 sized mobile. There was only one feature that irritated me, which was the waist strap. It’s designed to offer quick, easy adjustment, but the compromise is that it’s hard to keep it neat and tidy while riding. This not only looks a little messy, but I found the loops at the end of the adjustment straps sometimes got caught on my rear shock valve when carrying my bike over objects or up stairs. The Raven 10 is a hydration pack I would recommend, not because of one big thing, but due to lots of little aspects which make it exceptionally functional for mountain biking. In fact, the longer I used it, the more I appreciated several thoughtful features that aren’t always obvious at a shop or when comparing various options online. It left me with the impression that it has evolved as the result of considered feedback from people who use and abuse these packs regularly. This certainly makes it a worthy choice if longer mountain bike rides, or carrying some extra gear, is high on your priority list.
- Moves with you on the bike - Well thought out features
- When will waist straps get neater?