by Marc Basiliere
February 18, 2014
A new direction for well-regarded pack brand
A new direction for well-regarded pack brand…
While relatively new to the cycling scene, Osprey’s hydration packs have quickly built a following for their well-considered designs and robust construction. Perhaps because of the company’s focus on solid construction (as backed by the packs’ lifetime guarantee), the company has until now had little to offer the fast and light crowd.
Introduced at Interbike last fall, the Rev series is aimed at trail runners and endurance athletes looking for a stable, streamlined pack. In keeping with competition’s no stopping ethos, the Rev series is loaded with pockets that are accessible without removing the pack: our 6L example had six separate strap and wing pockets that a moderately flexible cyclist can reach while riding. Add a generous central compartment, a soft electronics pouch, a dedicated bladder space, and a bungee for the odd loose end and the Rev has plenty of storage to keep necessities close at hand and compulsive organisers happy.
Loading the Rev is straightforward: the 1.5L Hydraulics LT bladder has a quick disconnect near its top, making filling and stuffing easy, even without heavier Hydraulics models’ structure. The main compartment feels bigger than the pack’s 6L stated capacity would suggest, easily swallowing bulky winter layers. An externally-accessible electronics pocket is a welcome addition- though the location of the key hook in that cocoon of softness is a bit of a head (and phone) scratcher. Stretchy mesh wing pockets happily accept anything from a snack bar to a windbreaker without issue- though smooth, dense items (like multi-tools) stored there can become missiles on technical terrain. Happily, the right strap’s zip-expandable pocket makes for a convenient tool garage, with plenty of room for a a gel or bar in the mesh pocket that sits on top. On the left strap, a touchscreen-friendly DigiFlip smartphone pouch deploys for mid-ride
Strava checks calls to the spouse. On top of this pocket sits yet another snack-sized mesh pocket, leaving the impression that Osprey really wants us all to eat more.
The bladder hose – complete with Osprey’s trademark magnetic bite valve – can be routed via either strap and the chest straps swapped without too much difficulty. That’s right- chest straps. Because the Rev 6 is designed to ride high on the back, it makes use of dual chest straps but no waist strap. Fit instructions can be found here, but in short, the upper strap should ride fairly high while the lower can be positioned to balance stability with breathing comfort.
In practice, I found using both straps somewhat constricting. Ultimately, the best balance of stability and comfort on the bike came with the the shoulder straps cinched tighter than might be expected and the upper strap in the usual mid-sternum position. The stretchy perforated foam shoulder straps are wide and comfortable for even long rides and shaped so as not to be restrictive. With a phone in place, the left strap can be a bit bulky- but the DigiFlip pocket can be removed altogether if comfort becomes an issue.
Without the structured Airscape back panel used on the brand’s cycling-specific packs, the Rev conforms to the rider’s body more- truly feeling as though it’s being worn. At the same time, the lack of any engineered ventilation means that the back panel can get – and stay – damp enough to leave even the wicking-est jerseys wet to the touch after riding. This bothers some more than others, but is likely the Rev 6’s greatest weakness.
Once a good fit is negotiated, the Rev is an impressively stable pack that keeps all of the essentials close at hand. With a wish list containing only improved back panel moisture management and the relocation of the key hook, the Rev 6 lands very close to the mark. Short of a mid-ride wardrobe change or sandwich break, there is little reason to remove the pack at all, making it – as intended – just about ideal for both endurance racers and those of use who like to keep our snacks, tools, and electronics close at hand.
Note 25 February: We have just learned that Osprey Europe will not be bringing the Rev 6 into the EU or UK. We apologise for getting anyone’s hopes up!