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Teton Tested: Osprey’s Raptor 14 Bike Pack

All we wanna do is ride, and having a pack that carries all the necessities and fits comfortably makes it easier to do just that. The Osprey Raptor 14 is a sleek mid-size mountain biking backpack that’s full of well thought-out features that make it easy to use. This pack is meant for short to medium rides, featuring 14 liters of storage space, a 3-liter reservoir, a dedicated tool pocket, an assortment of pockets and sleeves for all your gear, and a helmet carry.

FIT AND FEATURES

Loaded with thoughtful features, Osprey's Raptor 14 comes in at $140. Ryan Dunfee photo.

When a bike pack costs $140, it had better be damn good, and after several months of wearing the Raptor 14, I can say that it has met all my expectations. The pack is available in red, blue and black, and at 1.6 pounds, it’s very close to being featherweight. Thanks to its excellent assortment of zippered pockets and gear sleeves, it can carry everything you need on your daily trail adventures.

All the zipper pulls have rubberized loops that make them easy to grab, even with gloves on. The main compartment features a long zipper that lets the pack open wide to easily access gear at the bottom of the compartment without having to pull out everything above it. Two sleeves at the sides are perfect for pumps or flashlights, and a mesh pocket right in the middle is great for small extras like gloves or snacks. 

A small pocket at the top of the pack is just right for your phone, keys, and even glasses, although it’s not fleece-lined, so I recommend keeping your glasses in their pouch if you’re going to toss them in there. Just below this pocket is a helmet carry with an adjustable elastic strap, which works really well for half-shell helmets, but wasn’t sturdy enough to keep a full-face helmet from bouncing around.

The front panel has a side zipper with two pockets for extra volume and organization. The front of the panel has a small mesh pocket that’s great for quickly stashing extra gear. I found that this is where I always tossed my gloves and glasses when I was headed out the door, making them easy to grab when I needed them. The waistband has a zippered pocket on each side, and these sit just far back enough that the contents don’t rub against my hipbones, but they’re far enough forward that access is easy, even without looking.

The shoulder strap zips open completely onto the water reservoir, meaning you can whip out your housing and reservoir super easily for cleaning and filling. Ryan Dunfee photo.

The bladder compartment is one of my favorite features of this pack. I’ve grown tired of having to thread my hydration hose through a small hole on other packs every time I have to fill it, but the Raptor 14 has an excellent solution that sees the zipper for the bladder compartment go all the way up the right shoulder strap. This means that all it takes to remove the reservoir is to open a long zipper that starts at the right shoulder strap and runs down the length of the side of the pack. A small buckle at the top of the bladder compartment lets you hang the reservoir so that it doesn’t bunch up as it gets empty. Nice!

A roll-up tool bundle sits at the bottom of the pack to keep the weight of your tools down low. Ryan Dunfee photo.

The bottom of the pack features a horizontal tool pocket with a rollout tool pouch that not only keeps your mechanical bits organized, but keeps these heavy items down low on the pack. I’m you’re classic over-prepared rider, and my tool roll usually contains way more than I’ll ever need, and then some, bringing the weight up to more than 2 pounds, but the location of the tool pocket made my ridiculous amount of tools go unnoticed when riding. This pocket is now on my list of top-five requirements for any pack from now on.

The magnetic hydration hose tab stays put no matter how rad you're getting. Ryan Dunfee photo.

The Hydraulics reservoir has a zip-style opening, which makes it super quick and easy to open and close, but better yet it makes it super easy to wash. You do wash your reservoir, right? Nobody wants to drink moldy-tasting water. Once the reservoir is full and loaded into the pack, the hose comes down the right shoulder strap and across the chest, where a magnet on the sternum strap holds the end of the hose in place. I never had any trouble with the hose disconnecting when riding, but for added security I typically tucked the hose under the sternum strap so it wouldn’t slap around if it did happen to come loose.

 The expandable neoprene-lined outside pocket can store extra water bottles or a helmet. Ryan Dunfee photo.

The straps and back panel are well ventilated and have just enough padding to make the pack comfortable when carrying a full load of gear and water. Not once did I notice undue pressure or chaffing from the shoulder straps or waistband. The straps on both the shoulder straps and the waistband are attached with sliders that keep the loose ends contained so that they don’t flap around when cinched down. I love this feature because with other packs I feel like freakin’ Medusa when the wind picks up.

Four compression straps at the corners of the pack let you cinch down your gear to keep it tight and close to your body, or to compress the pack when you’re riding with little to no gear. The size and shape of the pack, along with the orientation of all the straps, helped keep it very stable on my back and I never felt it ride up and smack me in the back of the head on jumps and rough trails.

PROS AND CONS

Good storage options and ability to keep the biggest weight down low. Ryan Dunfee photo.

Some of the best features of the Raptor 14 are its size, excellent organization, easy reservoir access, helmet carry, ventilation, tight fit, and tool compartment. The pack’s adjustability and low weight are also a big plus. My only real complaint is that because of the orientation of the zipper for the bladder compartment, it’s not easy to route the hose down the left shoulder strap. I’ve always preferred to have my hydration hose on the left side for easier access with my left hand. 

This is because I don’t like to let go of the bars with my right hand because if I have to slow down and have only my front brake at my disposal, I’m probably going to eat it. And I’m not about to switch my brake levers around Euro-style.

This isn’t a con of the Raptor 14, nor an apples-to-apples comparison, but I’ve come to like the added security and protection of packs like the Camelbak Kudu 12 because of the high-density foam spine protection. So if you’re riding hard in rocky terrain and/or are prone to being ejected from the driver seat, you might consider a pack with extra protection. I’ve walked away unscathed from several nasty falls thanks to added protection, but I’ll admit that I’m much happier with a lighter and less cumbersome pack like the Raptor 14 on my everyday rides.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Osprey makes some thought-out packs, and the Raptor 14 is no different. Ryan Dunfee photo.

If you’re looking for a pack that’s light, good looking and easy to use for your daily shenanigans, look no further. For $140 the almighty Osprey Raptor 14 can adorn your riding kit and carry all of your essentials comfortably. Features like easy reservoir access, tons of pockets, good ventilation, a slim fit, and a helmet carry have made it one of my new favorites.

If those aren’t good enough selling points, Osprey’s Guarantee should be the kicker. They’ll repair or replace any pack if it’s damaged or defective regardless of how old it is. That’s pretty cool.

From The Column: Teton Tested

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