Sunday, November 6, 2011

Osprey “Viper 10” hydration pack-Gear Test & Review

I am a rabid fan of Osprey packs as their Aether 70 has become my tried & true backpacking pack.

It was because of this fact that I chose Osprey’s mountain bike geared “Viper 10” over other comparable packs in the same class.

The Osprey Viper was a replacement pack for a well worn Camelbak “Mule” that I have had for years and was in desperate need of replacement.
The Viper 10 comes well appointed for a smaller pack with multiple tool specific pockets, and the obligatory key keeper.
Inside with view of pockets
Osprey also incorporated a “helmet clip” where the rider can secure their helmet to the pack, a feature that I have as of yet found a reason to use.
The shoulder straps (which seem a bit narrow to me) were well thought out with an added pocket for gels or an MP-3 player.
The Viper comes with a slender stomach strap as well.
Osprey incorporated a small magnet in the bite valve for the hydration bladder which attaches to another magnet located on the pack’s chest strap, this idea works really well when I secure the valve one handed while riding.  
Bite valve & chest strap with magnets
The Viper-10 comes with a 100 oz Nalgene brand reservoir that is contour molded to the wearer’s back.

The reservoir is both easy to fill, and very well made, I would say it’s one of the most thoughtfully designed hydration bladders I have used.
The Nalgene bladder slides into the back of the Viper almost effortlessly due to a Velcro style tab on the back of the pack, with ample opening room for the bladder.
That being said, the tab is positioned in such a way that its rubs my back no matter how I secure the straps or redistribute the pack weight.
This “hot spot” doesn’t make the pack un-wearable, but its irritating rub is enough to annoy even on short jaunts.
The Offending Velcro-like tab
Again I love Osprey packs, but you cannot have a hot spot in such a critical area, and I have yet to figure out a way to defeat how uncomfortable it can be.
Another minor gripe is that the stitching at one end of the carry loop has pulled out, an uncharacteristic flaw from a company that typically makes bomb proof packs.   

With the exception of the listed shortcomings, the Osprey Viper-10 is a well balanced pack which has proven to be the perfect size for accommodating the necessary gear for single day trail outings from runs to rides, (multi day treks would probably warrant a larger pack for supplies).
I am able to get a Garmin GPS, bike pump, tube, wallet, phone, and Canon G-11 Camera stuffed into the Viper-10 with little coaxing.
I am having a hard time getting past the issue with the Velcro style tab that rubs me the wrong way, and as such I’m trying several different options to make sure that it’s something that I’m not doing wrong when I don the pack.

Osprey backs all of their gear with a 100% “All Mighty guarantee which I may entertain if I can’t resolve the tab issue on my own.