Osprey Viper 13 Hydration Pack Review
Need a hydration pack that’s slim enough for a weekend blast yet keeps you hydrated on a day-long ride? The Osprey Viper 13 hydration backpack might be the one for you.
We’ve been using this Viper 13 for two seasons in both summer and winter conditions, so it only seemed fair that we finally got round to reviewing it.
£75 from ospreyeurope.com
Viper 13 Specifications
First off, Osprey – who are they and where do they stand on the backpack scene? As far as mountain biking goes, Osprey make some of the most ergonomic hydration packs for riding on the market, and the Viper 13 is no exception. Their reputation for quality, innovation and value for money stands true.
- Weight: 0.55 kg
- Maximum dimensions: (cm) 48 (l) x 29 (w) x 18 (d)
- Cargo Capacity: 13 Litres
- Bladder: 3 litres
- Fabric: 210D Polyester Triple Diamond Ripstop
- Number of Pockets: 5
- Large front compression pocket
- Internal key attachment clip
- Internal organisation pocket
- Zippered scratch-free sunglasses and electronics pocket
- Sternum strap buckle with magnet
- Die-cut foam back panel with BioStretch™ harness
- LidLock™ bike helmet attachment
Viper 13 Comfort and Fit
So, is it comfy? Yes. The moulded back panel adapted readily to the shape of our backs even when loaded with extra gear, lunch, tubes, maps etc. plus a full water bladder. This ergonomic shape allows spreading of the load evenly across our shoulders, so the pack felt balanced and secure without being restrictive.
The padded and breathable shoulder straps are firm but comfortable, too. That comfort level didn’t diminish either as the miles and the hours racked up. This is due to the venting and BioStretch fabric used.
While other packs can sometimes feel like they’re waging a war against your clavicle and rubbing your shoulders raw, the vents and BioStretch harness helped to any side effects of carrying the weight of the pack without getting too hot.
The chest and waist straps are removable, although we’d recommend keeping it strapped up. We found the bag had a tendency to move around if not secured correctly with all the straps. Yet, without strapping up, the only real stability issues were when going airborne on jumps or turning tight berms.
For really long rides, or multi day trips this wouldn’t be an issue. It also depends on how much stuff you like to carry. But who rides without kit correctly worn? Just keep it strapped on.
Viper 13 Storage Features and Capacity
It looks good, and feels robust. Like you would expect from Osprey, the Ripstop fabric is hardwearing and designed with practicality and common sense in mind. Even on big wipe-outs, the bag stayed together whilst protecting soft fleshy areas of our bodies.
We were big fans of the stretch pocket on the shoulder strap for phones or snacks, too. We just kept our multi-tool in there though for quick access. I actually wouldn’t recommend you keep your phone in there.
Other highlights we liked included the soft rubber hoops on all the zippers. These were extra-large and made the Viper 13 easy to open even wearing gloves or with teeth. The band of stretch fabric across the back of the pack was handy for extra quick-access storage and for light attachments to stay visible.
Finally, as on all Osprey mountain bike packs, is the LidLock strap. This is a plastic toggle on an elastic cord to attack your helmet securely to your pack when not in use. We found it great after riding to keep our kit together or when we had to get off and push the bikes.
With a total number of 5 pockets in the Viper 13, we found it easy to keep all our stuff organised and separated. We liked the drainage hole in the front compression pocket. More for when our Ribena carton leaked rather than from rain, as the fabric is water resistant.
The sleeve pockets are well thought out for bike pumps, tubes, and multi tools. This compartmentalizing makes it easy to get at stuff without having to unload the rest of the pack. Plus, everything stays in place and doesn’t rattle around.
The stash pocket up top has a soft fabric lining making it a safe place for sunglasses and smartphones. There are plenty of easy access pockets for different bits of your kit.
The main compartment is also roomy. Plus, no matter what way you pack your stuff, it’s unlikely it will end up poking you in the back. Even when crashing, nothing from the pack came through due to the padding and design of the storage areas.
Viper 13 Hydration Features
The Viper 13 comes with the proven and reliable 3 litre Hydraform bladder. It’s unique to Osprey and is already one of the best bladders out there. The delivery system is close to near perfection for us.
First off, the bite valve design eliminates accidental leakage without being difficult to use. It’s a combination of rubber and plastic, so can’t be completely squashed by accident. It requires pressure from two opposite directions to avoid unintentional leaks.
Our favourite feature of the Viper 12 is thanks to the clever placement of magnets in the sternum strap and bite valve. This completely eliminates any ‘wandering hose’ problems as it’s so quick to secure. We love this innovation and can’t imagine going back to anything else.
Taking a slurp is pretty effortless, too. Even if you can’t see where to clip it back in or have to focus on an approaching turn, the magnet is strong enough to secure the hose back to your chest if it’s in the general area.
The bladder is also easy to fill and clean, being semi-rigid with a full-length handle to keep its shape.
We initially worried the Osprey Viper 13 might not be big enough for an all-day ride after we’d been riding with the Raptor 14 (check out our Osprey Raptor 14 review ), but thankfully we didn’t find that to the case at all. The pack took everything we wanted to pack it and we didn’t have to leave anything at home either. It’s the largest in the Viper range, with the Viper 9 and Viper 5 being smaller options depending on your riding style.
Although similar in design to their Raptor range, we knew we’d made a smart choice with the Viper 13 when we filled it up before a day of dusty, sun-drenched trails. With a liquid capacity of 3 litres, this will be enough for to keep you hydrated. The slim-fitting bladder didn’t bulk out the bag as it has its own compartment to hold its shape.
The design has been well thought out, with functional, innovative features and excellent comfort to the fore. It’s a high quality hydration backpack, and one well worth owning for any mountain biker worth their salt. Osprey have definitely nailed it again. Thumbs up from us.