Hydration Packs Round-Up- by Grannygear

There are two brands of hydration packs that have found regular spots on the twentynineinches.com site.  Both Camelbak and Osprey make some fine packs and we always look to see what they bring to the new riding season.  We are going to peek at some of the newer packs for XC riders from those two manufacturers and add a new pack from Deuter.

I have to confess that I, Grannygear, am a self confessed pack-a-holic.  I love trying new hydration packs in search of the best features, fit, etc.  While many riders eschew packs altogether for shorter rides, and only begrudgingly use them for longer efforts, I like them for all rides, simply grabbing the right size pack for the right size ride.

So, we will highlight four packs that would be typical choices as all-rounders for XC riders/weekend warriors.

Camelbak:  M.U.L.E NV

The new M.U.L.E. NV® is a premium narrow-gauge mountain bike hydration pack perfect for all day rides in any weather. Equipped with the brand new NVTM back panel, the M.U.L.E. NV® allows air to freely flow between the pack and the rider, in all directions. The NVTM back panel utilizes individual articulating pods that flex in all riding positions. No matter how much you are carrying, the MULE NV stays comfortably off your back for maximum ventilation and is extremely flexible to accommodate any riding position, whether standing and cranking or hucking drops. Complete with helmet hook, integrated rain cover and plenty of room for cargo, the M.U.L.E. NV® is the only mountain bike pack you’ll ever need.

Product Details:  NEW for 2013 – AntidoteTM 100 oz. (3L) Reservoir with Quick LinkTM System – Perfect for a full-day of mountain bike riding – Hydration capacity: 100 oz. (3L) with the AntidoteTM Reservoir – Cargo capacity: 732 cu in (12L) plus 3L AntidoteTM Reservoir – Weight: 1.90 lbs (no reservoir) – Back panel: NVTM – Helmet hook – Media pocket – Overflow storage – Integrated rain cover – Belt: Fixed 20mm / .75” with cargo pockets – Bike tool organizer pocket – MSRP $135

The ne M.U.L.E NV adds a rather striking approach to the back panel support and ventilation system in the NVTM articulating pods.  Shown below, the pods should allow the pack to not only ride off the rider’s back for air flow, but should follow the curve of the riders body.  Rain cover, helmet hooks, and the expandable stuff pocket adds a lot versatility to the new M.U.L.E. NV.  We are looking forward to a sample for review to see if it works as good as it promises to.

Camelbak MULE NVCamelbak MULE NV


The Volt 13 LRTM

The Volt 13 LRTM (pictured above)  is a lightweight and streamlined hydration pack perfect for long rides with plenty of cargo. With access to the 100 oz. (3L) AntidoteTM Lumbar Reservoir located behind the LVTM back panel, the Volt 13LR offers a seamless appearance without jeopardizing functionality. Both the Volt 13LR and Charge 10LR packs utilize lumbar reservoir compression for a customized fit throughout the ride. Designed for comfort and limited weight, the Volt 13LR & Charge 10LR are the perfect packs for light and fast full-day rides.

Volt 13LRTM – Antidote 100oz.(3L) Lumbar Reservoir with Quick Link System – Hydration capacity: 100oz.(3L) with the Antidote Lumbar Reservoir Weight:1.19lbs(nor eservoir) – Cargo capacity: 600cuin(10L) plus 3L Antidote Reservoir – Back panel: L VTM – Helmet hook – MSRP$125

Charge 10LRTM – AntidoteTM70oz.(2L)Lumbar Reservoir with QuickLink System – Hydration capacity:70oz.(2L) with the Antidote Lumbar Reservoir Weight: 1lbs(no reservoir) – Cargo capacity: 500cuin(8L) plus 2L Antidote Reservoir – Back panel: L VTM – Helmet hook – MSRP$110

The Volt expands the LR series for those who like the concept of carrying the water low on the back.  Added storage and a bigger size bring more functionality to the LR series of packs. I am not a complete fan of LR type packs, but this one looks to be a nice expansion on that theme and LR packs have a growing fan base.

osprey raptor 10

Osprey: New Raptor 10

 AirScapeTM backpanel provides cushioned comfort and breathability – New BioStretchTM, ventilated harness is cool and comfortable – Full hipbelt keeps pack stable and transfers load effectively – Unique new hydration sleeve design with direct access zip for fast loading – Shoulder strap zips offer right-side hose path – LidLockTM clip quickly secures helmet – Stretch mesh front pocket for quickly stashing extra gear – Stretch mesh zippered waistbelt pockets provide secure expandable storage – Removable, roll-up pouch keeps tools handy and organized (Raptor 10 & 14) – Internal sleeves hold pumps securely – Zip access sunglass pocket with protective embossed fabric – Blinker light attachment patch and reflective graphics for safety – 3L HydraulicsTM Reservoir included in all models – Magnetic sternum buckle for quick access to the reservoir bite valve .

Osprey has taken a look at the successful Raptor series of MTB hydration packs, refined, and expanded the features.  Larger, zipped (yay!) hip belt pouches, a removable tool roll (excellent idea!), and a revised reservoir.  Guitar Ted has thrashed his older version of the Raptor 10 and it has held up but could use a good washing.  Hint, hint. :)  They also increased the flexibility in the pack so it can conform better to the riders back curve.

We look forward to getting him on a new version as soon as they come rolling into Osprey HQ.  The Raptor 10 is a 610 Cu Inch/10 liter pack that weighs 1lb 6oz without the reservoir and is also available in the smaller Raptor 6 and larger Raptor 14.  Gone is the Raptor 18 but there is now a Raven version of these packs designed for the lady riders.  Different ergonomics and colors help them fit better and stand out from the crowd of men’s packs.  Expect the same high quality that all Osprey packs exhibit.  This is good stuff from a company that knows how to do it well.

osprey raptor 10osprey raptor 10

osprey raptor 10osprey raptor 10


Deuter Race EXP Air

Deuter Packs:  The Race EXP Air and Compact EXP Air 10

This sleek, technical backpack is engineered for quick day tours with minimal baggage. If you need to take that little bit more with you, it has practical volume expansion options. Deuter Aircomfort back system effectively prevents heat build-up or sweaty backs. Streamer 100 oz / 3.0 L BPA-Free Hydration System included. BPA-Free Hydration System included.Details:

  • now with airy mesh shoulder straps
  • easily adjustable chest strap
  • fold-away helmet flap
  • front pocket with zipped valuables pocket
  • wet laundry compartment
  • mesh side pockets
  • 3M reflectors at front, sides and back
  • loop for safety light
  • rain cover.

I have a several year old Deuter Race EXP Air that had some killer features to it…rain cover, amazingly comfy Aircomfort back system that keeps the pack off your back, etc.  Nice stuff, but it lacked effective tool and small items storage.  That has been addressed in the newer versions but it still is a pack designed for moving fast and carrying moderate loads.

For a more all around use, I have a brand new 2013 Compact EXP Air 10 model in hand (shown below in red/orange), similar to the Race EXP Air but with more capacity, so I will be writing about that soon enough.  So far, it is an impressive pack and looks ready to be a contender in the hydration pack wars.

Compact EXP Air 10 – We present our popular all-rounders also in a maximum back ventilation version: the Aircomfort FlexLite System features an elastic spring steel frame and an effective, three sided ventilation system – high carrying comfort, low weight! The Compact AIR unites all advantages of our classic, such as the expansion feature, internal tool pocket and the separate compartment for the drinking bladder, with fantastic breathability. Plus it looks fantastic in its textile design.


  • mesh shoulder straps, mesh hip fins with two zipped mesh pockets and Aircomfort FlexLite back system for three-sided ventilation
  • hydration system compatible with separate bladder compartment secured by autolock zip, Velcro sealed drinking tube opening and tube line
  • reinforced back panel to avoid pressure points
  • internal organizer and tool mesh pockets
  • safety light and tube loop
  • 3M reflectors on hip wings
  • zipped front pocket
  • side compression straps also suited to storing protective pads
  • stow-away helmet flap and rain cover
deuter compact exp air 10deuter compact exp air 10deuter compact exp air 10