Gadling Gear Review: Osprey Raptor 14

I have a bit of a fetish for daypacks and, as such, I’ve become quite particular about what I like and what annoys the heck out of me. That’s why I was so excited to try out my new Osprey Raptor 14 on a recent trip to Zion National Park. With temperatures pushing 100°F, hikes lasting hours and the air as dry as a bone, it’s incredibly important that you have the right supplies and that you’re comfortable throughout your time on the trails.

Did the Raptor 14 live up to Osprey’s reputation?The Raptor 14 has a 14L volume (duh), so it’s neither a tiny scramble pack nor a large daypack. Even with its 3L reservoir full of water, there is still plenty of room in the pack for other supplies. It features an exterior compression pocket, a small front storage pocket, a large main compartment, a small top pocket and the reservoir sleeve. Beyond that, it also has Osprey’s new favorite feature, the LidLok, which allows you to attach your bike helmet to the exterior of the pack. Additionally, there are two small pouches on the hipbelt (more on those shortly).

Osprey packs always feature impeccable construction and the Raptor 14 is no different. It feels indestructible. The reservoir is held snug and I never felt any sloshing around when I was hiking. The Raptor series utilizes Osprey’s AirScape suspension system, which helps distribute weight evenly and allows for airflow so that your back doesn’t become a sweaty mess. That said, it definitely adds some weight and the Raptor feels slightly heavier than other packs its size.

The pockets do not feature a tremendous amount of organizational options, but that’s to be expected as this is a pack for outdoor rather than urban use. However, I was disappointed in the lack of pockets on the shoulder straps and the pouches on the hipbelt. I hate having to constantly take my pack off to access gear, which is why I enjoy convenient pockets for storing a snack or my phone. I certainly understand wanting to maintain a sleek profile, but some pockets on the shoulder straps – the kind that you see on Osprey’s Momentum series – would be useful. The pouches on the hipbelt are always open. The lack of zippers disappointed me, as I never felt comfortable storing anything in those pockets.

The reservoir is a 3L Nalgene bladder. It has a bite valve, which I love, and clips magnetically to the harness so that it’s always conveniently located and never dangling annoyingly. The handle on the reservoir makes removing, filling and repacking the bladder significantly less awkward than with other hydration devices and is a simple feature that makes a huge difference.

Thanks to the compression straps, it is easy to squeeze the Raptor 14 down once you’ve packed it. I’ve never been one to utilize hipbelts on small packs, so I was particularly thrilled to see the small loop on the front of the pack that allows you to neatly wrap the hipbelt around and clip it so that it is out of the way and doesn’t dangle uncomfortably off of your torso.

It’s small details like that, the LidLok, the reservoir design and abundance of large pockets on a small pack that make up for some of the minor disappointments on the Raptor. Combine those positives with Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee (a lifetime guarantee to repair any damage or replace anything that cannot be fixed) and I was won over by this pack. If it had pockets on the shoulder straps or the hipbelt (I refuse to use the open pouches), it would put icing on the cake, but that is certainly not a deal-breaker.

While the $109 price tag certainly is steep, the lifetime guarantee ensures that you’ll get your money’s worth from the Raptor 14 for years to come. It’s built for aggressive outdoor use but is plenty comfortable for even the most casual adventurer.

Let’s break it all down:


  • Durable construction
  • Ample storage in multiple pockets
  • Comfortable on shoulders and back
  • Magnetic bite valve and handle are my favorite features on any reservoir I’ve tried
  • Holds reservoir tightly
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Slim profile
  • LidLok for holding bike helmet


  • Suspension does add some weight
  • Lack of convenient harness pockets
  • Pouches on hipbelt cannot be closed

Would I recommend the Raptor 14? Absolutely. The few things that it failed to check off of my wishlist are more than made up for in its positives.

The Raptor 14 is available now for $87.20 at EMS but normally retails for $109 at REI and other outfitters.

Video: World’s largest “slip and slide”

Take one massive reservoir, thousands of dollars in video equipment and a bunch of people with no fear – and you get the largest slip and slide in the world. The creators of this video filmed their fun at a “top secret location” and recorded it on a Canon 5D Mark II, a $600 Glidecam mount and a special underwater housing for the camera.

End result is a ton of fun sliding down the plastic liner of the reservoir. Still, I’m not entirely sure that water is made to swim around in, and I suspect the burn from falling off your board would hurt like hell. Watch and enjoy.

[Via: Gizmodo]

Venezuelan church back from watery grave

Potosi, Venezuela hasn’t been on anyone’s travel radar much since 1985. That was the year when the town was deliberately flooded by the Venezuelan government to build a hydroelectric dam. That left most of the worthwhile souvenirs from Potosi rather soggy. However, severe droughts in the region have resulted in an odd miracle, of sorts. The water levels in the man-made reservoir are so low that the town’s previously submerged church is now completely above water and resting on dry land.

National Geographic has some haunting photographs of the 82-foot-tall church that hasn’t been seen in its entirety in 25 years. The good news is that visitors can now witness this beautiful church and marvel at the effects of El Niño. The bad news is 68% of Venezuela’s power is hydroelectric. That means that the country is now experiencing an officially-declared energy emergency.

One could assume that the drought will eventually end and the reservoir will once again drown the town of Potosi. Until then, the church stands in the center of a ghost town that is seeing visitors for the first time in over two decades.

Photo by Flickr user JunCTionS.