more over-kill reinforcements.
just like any good pack, the sternum strap is adjustable in both axis.
what makes this pack different than the typical camelbak biking pack is the little details like this - there's a very strong magnet on both the sternum strap quick-release buckle and at the end of the hydration bladder's hose.
...get those two within an inch of each other and it snaps into place so no more dangling hose all over the place. it's really not a big deal since on my other packs where i just use a camelbak bladder, i just secure the hose with a paracord against the shoulder strap. i'm 50/50 on this feature since it looks good on paper but on actual use it just seems like an un-necessary feature. especially for those who have pacemakers (the strong magnet can interfere with it and osprey does not recommend this pack for those people) - it's downright off-limits to them. another thing is the sternum strap is made of a stretchable, low-friction material so everytime i pull the mouth piece off to take a sip, the sternum strap loosens up. after i end up putting the mouth piece back i have to pull on the sternum strap to re-tighten it. what i found is if i pull the mouth piece straight towards my right with no forward movement at all is the only way to prevent the strap from loosening...not a big deal while hiking but when mountain biking that extra movement (another extra if i have to retighten the strap) just means i have that extra time where i'm riding one-handed - not good especially where we ride where it's insanely rocky. a split second of distraction can mean going over the bar and another scrapes and bruises added to the list so i have to time my drinking more than usual.
i'll ride with it some more and decide if i'll replace that strap with the usual high-friction, non-stretchable nylon webbing...easy enough to do.
a closer look at the bite piece. this is the off position. rotating it 90 degrees in either direction opens up the valve. i prefer the camelbak's squishy feeling mouth piece better although i haven't noticed any difference in water flow. the red part is solid plastic by the way. pressure needs to be applied on opposing sides of it in order for the water to flow as opposed to the camelbak so it's more resitant to accidental discharge while say putting the pack in the car and forgetting to lock the flow off and stuff gets piled on top of it. i've had it happen to my camelbak where i open my car door only to find a big puddle of water in my duffle bag.
another note about that sternum strap - when i unbuckle it and it's still attached to the hydration hose since the strap is low-friction it tends to follow the length of the hose and the strap unwinds to it's longest point. when it's time for me to strap it back on i can't grab the end of the strap easily to pull it tight since it's hiding behind the buckle.
...easy enough fix - i just added a paracord pull-cord so i can reach it easier while wearing mountain bike gloves.
the shoulder straps are minimally padded and very well vented.
it's a biking pack for sure since there are these built-in reflectors (only on the left shoulder strap though).
this pack comes in two sizes - small/medium and medium/large.
here you can see part of the exposed aluminum frame. it's a trick frame design - optimized both for lightweight and ergonomics.
the full mesh backing for maximum venting. for hiking it's perfect but while mountain biking i find that since the mesh backing also results in minimum friction against my back, every time i hit a big bump the pack tends to bounce up more than my maxpedition falcon ii (or any pack i've tried with regular backing) especially when the water bladder/weight is at it's fullest. the first few times this happened while biking caught me off-guard since it has this feeling of sudden loss of balance due to massive weight shift especially while going down hill on sketchy sections. it hasn't caused me to crash yet (unlikely it ever will since it's not that big of a change in back friction), i just had to get used to it, anticipate it and compensate for it by tightening the waist strap a tad more...so far i'm thinking the lack of friction is worth it in exchange for massive ventilation.
there's a drain hole at the bottom for those sissy, ultra-light hikers in case their puny muscles can't carry a few extra grams of sweat or droplets of rain that might otherwise collect at the bottom
there's a small, rectangular area of the waist belt that's padded although i don't really see it being of much use. also the mesh backing have these two, reinforcements running parallel and where the waist belt is attached.
i'm not busting out adobe illustrator and drawing bezier curves so these red dots will have to do to show you how the trick aluminum frame is ergonomically curved. for me, it's pretty rare to see a pack in this size to have this much thought put into it.
bottom view of the pack...notice how the frame is curved - they managed to minimize weight while in combination with the curvature and mesh it also provides a lot of cushioning without adding extra foam padding (and more weight)...that is trick
there are these two reinforcement tabs running on both sides.
...a few feet of paracord and it can be used as a strap down for a jacket or sleeping pad in a pinch.
top view of the pack. this is the heart of the pack and what separates it from the typical camelbak pack...what the store employee said to me stuck with me. he said, "camelbak makes awesome hydration bladders and make backpacks to carry them as an afterthought...osprey makes backpacks full time and built this pack around a hydration bladder."...that "minor" difference shows in the details below.
flipping the padded flap over to expose the zipper.
with the bladder completely filled to the max (3 liters in this case) you can see the bladder is tightly squeezed. what this does is you only have to bite onto the valve to start the water flowing, no need to suck the water out like a straw.
throw every detail out, this is the main difference between this bladder and camelbak...the back is rigid.
empty or full, the bladder doesn't have that annoying bulge against your back! it bulges away from your back. it's not that big a deal for hikers especially with winter clothes on but it's definitely noticeable for bikers since we have our backs hunched more than usual against the pack.
the bladder is made by nalgene specifically for osprey by the way.
wide mouth opening. i'm not old enough to have arthritic hands yet (i'm 32) but i find that the cap is much easier to hold onto and open it compared to camelbak's awkward handle shape swirl thingy inside the cap thing.
there's an external spine as a handle but it's also for keeping the bladder completely straight, empty or full. this prevents the bladder from folding onto itself and restricting the water flow.
if you take a closer look at the hydration bladder compartment, there's this u-shaped groove where that external spine slides into. this prevents the bladder from shifting position and the water swishing all over and folding onto itself - restricting water flow. it happened to me once or twice before - not that i claim to be a fast mountain biker - it probably happened when i crashed hard and went over the bar, imitating sonic the hedgehog-type of tuck and roll more than anything
the design in and around the hydration bladder is awesome except the hose comes out of the right side only instead of being ambidextrous. i'm a lefty but for some reason i like the hose coming from that direction so i'm not sure if righties feel the same way.
...end part 2 of 3.