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  1. #1
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    New question here. Hydration backpacks: Osprey vs. Camelback, quoted capacities

    I've been looking at hydration backpacks, and I'm wondering if anyone actually believes the quoted capacity of these backpacks. Does Osprey have a reputation of reporting higher volumes for the same size pack?

    I'm planning a Great Divide trip next summer (2015), and plenty of littler bikepacking trips beforehand to get more experience bikepacking. After scouting around online, I bought an Osprey Raven 14. It's a women's pack, the sister of the Raptor 14. Both the Raptor 14and the Raven 14 are bike-specific backpacks that claim to hold 14 liters of stuff.

    I had the Raven 14 around the house for a few weeks but didn't wear it, and I eventually decided that for the intended use, bikepacking, it just didn't seem to hold enough. It seemed small. I'm used to having front and rear panniers, so I want to make sure that with rackless bikepacking I'm still able to carry what I want to carry. If I feel like shoving some extra fresh food in the pack after visiting the grocery store, I want to have room for it.

    So back I went to REI. I ended up looking at the Osprey Tempest 20, little sister of what I've heard is a popular bikepacking pack, the Talon 22. The Tempest 20 holds, supposedly, 20 liters. I also looked at the Camelback HAWG, which allegedly holds 14 liters.

    The Tempest 20 holds a lot more than the Raven 14, as it should, since the literature says it holds 6 more liters. But as far as I could see (and I spent a long time with the two packs in front of me, doing things like putting pillows in them) it holds just about as much as the Camelback HAWG. I couldn't figure out where the Tempest's 6 more liters were.

    I bought the Tempest. That didn't last long; as soon as I left the store, put the pack on and started to ride my bike home, I realized that for me, the Tempest was incredibly uncomfortable. I didn't even get out of the parking lot before I turned around, went back in the store, and said, "I know I just returned a pack, and I know I just bought this one five minutes ago, but I'm going to return it." The sales people were nice about it, perhaps because the store was almost empty.

    So I finally came home with the HAWG. It doesn't come in the nice purple that the Osprey packs come in, but it appears to be big enough, certainly way bigger than the allegedly-same-sized Raven 14, and it's a lot more comfortable than that Torquemada-designed Tempest.

    After all that story, I'm wondering if anyone else has tried to verify the capacity of these packs by putting things in them. Are these quoted capacities based on anything but guesses?

  2. #2
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    ASTM F2153 - 07(2012) Standard Test Method for Measurement of Backpack Capacity

    Basically they fill them with beans or pingpong balls or something, dump em out and measure them. Pretty straight forward and fairly standardized.

    Fit and comfort are totally subjective. I find Osprey's stuff to be very comfortable and Camelbaks less so, but to each their own.

    Also, you may want to try to get away from wearing a pack as they can become fairly uncomfortable after a few days. Better to find clever ways to carry stuff on the bike, or bring less.

  3. #3
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    Thanks.

    It's amazing that there is a Standard Test Method for backpacks. I wonder how it measures when the fabric of the backpack is stretchy.

    I certainly agree that fit and comfort are subjective. And the Osprey Tempest/Talon are not designed for cycling, which may go some way to explain why I found the Tempest so uncomfortable in a cycling position.

    Thanks for the suggestion about trying to find a way to fit everything I want to bring along on the bike. I'm still figuring out how to pare down my stuff. I've done a lot of road bike touring, and I have some ideas of some things I won't do without. I'm pretty used to wearing a hydration pack day after day, though I haven't previously worn a hydration pack with more than water.

  4. #4
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    My wife just got the osprey mira 18 which is a womens specific hydration pack that is listed under the bike option on thier site. Mira Series - Osprey Packs, Inc :2014: Official Site It seems like a fantastic pack and has some great features. One is a mesh screen that holds the backpack off your back for air flow. She is yet to use it as we haven't had good enough weather to ride. Maybe tomorrow.

  5. #5
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    I have no idea about the whole measuring system, but I have seen some people mention that some of the Osprey packs hold less than their size would indicate. One reason may be that each pack comes in 2 or 3 sizes, and the nominal volume is for the biggest version. The smaller versions have less volume. For example, the Manta 28 has 28 liter capacity in the M/L size, but only 26 in the S/M size. Also, the 3 liter bladder takes up at least 3 liters of space in the pack, probably more.

    I second the Mira/Manta suggestion. I have a Manta 28 and it's fits me great an is very comfy. I have not used it bikepacking, but have used it for some fastpacking and it's very comfy. The airspeed suspension thing works OK while hiking, even better while riding.

  6. #6
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    I guess I'm going to stick with the HAWG for now. Thanks for the suggestions of the Mira 18. It does look like it might be good, but so far the HAWG looks like it will satisfy my needs.

    I've always used front panniers, rear panniers and a handlebar bag for my bike touring. I'm a bit nervous about how to fit everything I want in seat bag, frame bag (tiny, because the size small Krampus has a miniscule triangle), handlebar harness, plus a few little addons.

  7. #7
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    I have a MTB specific Osprey Raptor 10, it looks like it could hold 5 day ride(according to my friends) but in reality it's tiny. Good thing my riding buddies have Camelback hawgs to bring water filters, rain jackets, food, chain breakers, and other essentials 'cause I need it...

    My fault really, I saw how large it looked in my LBS and ASSumed it was huge, it's not.... they claim 10L storaqe(not much) and a H.A.W.G is 19L...

    It is comfy tho, going to sew some buckles/straps on it to hold a rain jacket.

  8. #8
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    The HAWG is advertised at 14L. That's what confuses me. It looks like the HAWG and the Tempest 20 hold about the same amount, yet the Tempest 20 supposedly holds 20L.

    Anyway, I now have a HAWG. Soon I will also have a Krampus, and then I can put them together and see how they work.

  9. #9
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    OOps, you're right, typo above. Have fun on the Krampus...

  10. #10
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    I'm slowpok's wife. I had been using a very small women's specific Camelbak pack. I tried out my new Mira 18 pack, and I LOVED it. The top of the pack doesn't have a hole to feed the hose out of the pack. I thought this detail would bother me but I couldn't even notice. I loved that the mouthpiece has a magnet. It was convenient to reach for while riding since I was able to keep the flow open. I keep my mouthpiece locked on the Camelbak since it tends to leak while riding. The back of the Mira also kept the pack off of my body and kept me cool.

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    Thanks, CharityKase. Would you mind telling how tall you are? I was looking at the Mira 18, and then I saw reviews from a couple of 5'3" women saying how great the fit was. I'm 5'8" with a long torso, so possibly the Mira 18 might be short for me.

    I tried out the HAWG today, with water, sweater, wallet, glasses, snack bar. First we went on a six mile hike with a lot of climbing-- the HAWG was splendid. Then on the way back from lunch I went on a four mile bike ride; I was noticing that the backpack straps were a little wider than I might prefer. I'll try a longer ride of course, but I may once again be happy for REI's generous return policy.

  12. #12
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    I'm all about my Ospreys. I have 3 different sizes in fact. I also used to have a HAWG, not that I don't still have it, but it rarely sees use unless I'm letting someone borrow it.

    Their customer service is second to none as is the Osprey Guarantee.

    Even the new generations of HAWGs can't hold a candle to my Ospreys. The Ospreys are way more comfortable and ergonomic. Plus when you buy an Osprey they already have the anti ballooning reservoirs/bladders from Osprey. Not the super janky ones that camelbak is still using to this day that end up pushing the bag up off your back when it's full of liquid.

    No brainer. Osprey's the way to go.

  13. #13
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    Hydration backpacks: Osprey vs. Camelback, quoted capacities

    I just picked up a Raptor 10 and have been really impressed with it! I have used Camelback products from the very beginning when they were just a foam black bag with webbing straps and have loved them...but the Osprey is just great and the bladder that doesn't push into your back is really really nice. Only problem is I can't ever tell how much water is left in my pack because it feels the same the whole time. This is actually a great thing.

  14. #14
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    Hydration backpacks: Osprey vs. Camelback, quoted capacities

    I use osprey packs for biking skiing and backpacking. They're wonderful!


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

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    I have a feeling that backpack preference might be like saddle preference-- different backs like different backpacks.

    As I mentioned, I tried the Osprey Tempest 20, and it did not work for me AT ALL. I put it on, got on my bike, and I didn't even get out of the parking lost, I disliked it so much. But what works for me isn't necessarily what works for others. Also perhaps the Osprey Mira 18 has a different back pad, I don't know.

  16. #16
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    I have Osprey's Talon 22 and love it. It is a M/L so it is truer to the 22L (I don't recall what the volume is for the small but it is probably around 16-18L) and is very large (bigger than the Hawg). I sometimes worry about having too much space since it is too tempting to pack it full. I found it very comfortable and conforming to my back (it has several ways to adjust the pack) and don't even notice it while riding. I particularly like the pockets on the waist straps - easy to access small stuff, like Gus/power bars/chapstick/etc., without stopping. It is also pretty durable. I was annoyed at first that it does not come with a reservoir but then decided that was a good thing since I could pick which one I like. However, I agree that comfort is in the eyes of the beholder and will vary from person to person and may also vary depending on the type of use and what you are carrying.

  17. #17
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    I'm 5'7" and have an average to short waist. I like to have my pack sit higher. I'm pretty sure I had the straps tightened all the way. We rode on Saturday for 2-3 hours and I maybe took off the pack for 5 minutes.

  18. #18
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    Thanks, CharityKase. Osprey says that the Mira is for women with a torso length of up to 18". I have a long back; I just measured my torso length at 19", measuring from C7 vertebra to iliac crest as detailed here: Sizing and Fitting - Osprey Packs, Inc :2014: Official Site

    So the lesson here is, everybody's different. When buying a hydration pack, pay attention to sizes and try on different packs to see what you like. When trying on a pack for cycling, try it on in the position you'd be using when you were riding.

    The second lesson, from Bikeny, is, if you buy a pack from Osprey that comes in different sizes, and you didn't buy the biggest size, don't believe the rated capacity. Your pack could be a lot smaller.

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