Hydrating in the outdoors radically changed after companies like Camelbak and Platypus came out with resevoirs and bags that would replace the water bottle and make drinking on the go easier and more efficient. Now Osprey has teamed up with Nalgene and designed their own bags that, in my opinion, rival the long-standing competitors. The new Osprey Hydraulics series has two lines: the Raptor and the Manta. The basic difference is the Osprey Hydraulics Raptor series has a 2 liter reservoir and the Mantra series has a 3 liter reservoir. However, the inguinity of the bags go way deeper than the size of the reservoir. I’m going to take the Raptor 18 and the Manta 20, compare them, and tell you my thoughts on why these backpacks may become a regular lineup in my outdoor gear arsenal.
I first heard about the Osprey Hydraulics lines long ago. And what everyone was talking about was how the pack and bladder are designed to work together and create an almost effortless flow of water. When you open the compartment for the bladder you immeditaly notice that Osprey has designed the pocket extremely tight. There are frame sheets on either side of the compartment and it’s actually designed in shape to match perfectly with the bladder. When you pull the bladder out, you can feel that it too, has a frame sheet on it, making it very rigid and supportive. When you put the full bladder into the compartment, the frame sheet spreads the water out over the bladder because the water cannot warp it into being all at one end. Then both sides of the compartment press up against the bladder causing pressure to build inside the bladder that, in turn, makes the water flow out easier than if you have to suck it out. This is an entirely new technology that, in the end, makes for an easier hydrating experience on the trail and bike.
Osprey decided to create two lines with two different intended audiences: The Raptors are for mountain bikers and the Mantas are for hikers. I want to compare the Raptor 18 and the Manta 20 because they are the closest in liter space. I will list what each has and provide photos for each.
Raptor 18 – Outside
Manta 20 – Outside
Raptor 18 – Inside
Manta 20 – Inside
For mountain bikers, the Raptor 18 offers easy access to pockets that would hold food or extra clothing. The lidlock for the helmet provides a secure way for the helmet to stay streamlined to your back without bouncing around when on the trails. Overall this is one of the best hydration packs I’ve ever seen for mountain biking. It has a great reservoir system, the right size compartments, and tiny features that make it an ease to have on the trail with you. I would only want to change two things on this bag: side pockets to put extra accessible water bottles and larger hip belt pockets for easy access food.
Compared to the Raptor 18 the Manta 20 doesn’t quite have the same amount of features. Its one large pocket has room for lots of day hiking necessities but, unlike the Raptor 18, it doesn’t have easy access to larger pocket for something like a rain jacket. The things that make the Manta 20 worth it for hikers is the 3 Liter reservoir, the ventilating back, and a larger compartment to put cooking equipment or other such necessities.
The other packs in the series have less or more features. The smaller Raptors become more streamlined and start to reduce the number of pockets. The larger Manta 30 has all the features combined of the Raptor 18 and Manta 20 plus it has two side pockets that would fit water bottles in it.
I’m incredibly impressed with Osprey’s jump into the Hydration bag market, one usually dominated by Camelbak. They have created a series of products that is specific in use and has many brilliant features to go along with those uses. I plan on adding the Raptor 18 to my line of gear over any Camelbak for mountain biking. Good job Osprey!