One thing I have always struggled with is finding a balanced day-pack that hits all my essential wickets. Being that I haul a camera on my treks, I need room for camera gear on top of the other essentials (basic medkit, compass, maps, fluids, snacks, and any layers). I found a solid pack in the wintertime that fits it ~ my Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 25.
The drawback to this pack is the compartment design for camera gear storage. In order to fit the drone case or other gear i’d have to break it down and stow it in the rear-compartment due to zipper size…. which made accessibility and issue. This is something I’m willing to deal with in winter as taking a better assessment of when/where to get the shot is a lot more strategic than summertime.
That’s where the Osprey Pack comes in. Up to this point, I had been running trad backpacking packs on all day hikes – typical top-load single compartment type stuff. Great for few to no stop treks to a single point and back… But, this season that had to change, as I needed individual access for specific pieces of gear.At one end I wanted a larger pack to house more stuff, but then at that point I figured I could just use a pack I already had cause I would need to take long stops at that point. Additionally, I wanted a hydration pack for the mountain biking I’m bound to get into this season.
After looking around at some Gregory packs, Patagonia, and Mountain Hardware, decided to go with my tried-and-true brand of Osprey. I found the largest Raptor series pack (14L) would suffice for most of my needs. For biking, it provides adequate storage for my DSLR and a couple lenses, on top of all the other gear I’d want to ride with. In terms of hiking, it makes a very low impact scramble/day pack that allows plenty of room for your essentials plus some extra batteries and camera equipment. So, I picked up the bright red one (pepper as they call it) and decided to put it through a short field test this weekend.
26 May 18 – Scalplock Lookout/Mtn. 9.2 miles out and back (on trail) with 3300 ft of ele change. I strapped the Raptor on – fluid pack filled with an electrolyte mix/lemon – and hit it. Between a quarter and half mile on the trail you cross a single-man bridge over some raging water (super cool) and continue the press. Then you begin the uphill. Switchback upon switchback, the trail is mostly unexposed and hiking with vast amounts of foliage. If you happen to take this hike, be sure to make use of all the proper bear awareness tools – unless of course you wanna be lunch.
Getting up to the top, the views expand and to break out of the trees to a solid ridgeline exposing the valleys around you. Continue your press and you’ll be there in no time. For us, there was quite a bit of snow… we diverged the main trail (due to snowpack) and did some moderate 2+ – 3+ scrambling on the way up/down. This isn’t tradition for this hike, but may be possible based on time of year.
Anyway, in terms of the pack – on the scrabling portions it went unnoticed ~ it’s light weight and super low center of gravity helped loads. The backpack it fitted with small waist pouches so you can have small snacks on hand at all times (or sunscreen, lip balm, etc).
There were a couple points in the hike when we had to stop to switch gear for the elements ~ the pack’s accordion-style central pouch allowed easy removal and stowage of my rain slick as well!
In addition to Scalplock, the backpack hucked it a bunch more over the weekend on basic flat trails – the low profile and light weight made it’s overall impact on the trek negligable. Therefore, I recommend the Osprey Raptor 14L as a very solid kit item for day-hikes and scrambles. As a mountain biking tool, a review SHALL come!
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Have a great day – get out there and enjoy YOUR adventure!