This is the second annual Best Non-29″er related product award post which will feature a new cycling product I thought was the “bees knees” during 2010. Last year I featured an “alt-bar” in Ragley Bikes Carnegie’s Bar, which I still am enamored of to this day, by the way. This year I veered away from the hardware side of things and I am giving the award to a hydration pack. Yep! I was thoroughly impressed with this product and it gets my nod for the “Top Non-29″er Specific product Of 2010”.

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Osprey Packs Raptor 10: This back pack/hydration system was with me on a lot of adventures in 2010. I never had any major complaints with the comfort, functionality, or overall performance of this pack at all. (See later on for my two big nits on the Raptor 10 below.) While nothing is perfect, I was pleasantly surprised at how well this pack did on rides. The Raptor 10 survived getting overstuffed, abused in mud, and totally drenched and came back with flying colors every time. For another detailed look at the Raptor 10, see my review here and Grannygear’s thoughts on other Raptor packs here.

The Raptor 10 is part of Osprey’s Hydraulic series of packs which includes the Raptor Series of packs. The Raptor 10 was perfect for my rides, but larger sizes and one size smaller are also available. My favorite feature of the Raptor 10 was specifically the hydration system. It features the HydraForm reservoir, which made it really easy to refill on rides. The bite valve was good, had an “off position”, and stowed away on a magnetic clip on one of the shoulder straps, instead of flopping around wildly like most hydration tubes do. The system as a whole was just a joy to work with, and for me, it needed to be, or why have a back pack on a bicycle ride? So, Osprey’s Raptor 10 scored highly with me on that front. The added comfort of the straps and waist band was a bonus. Inside you’ll find the normal pockets, stow away places, and a good place to hook keys to with the provided key clip.

Still, with all of the pluses, there are always a few minuses. In the case of this hydration pack I had two big nits. The first one, (and not necessarily relegated to Osprey, but shared amongst many pack makers), is that the internal pockets are just to dang deep. Put a multi-tool in there, or some energy snacks and later on it is a chore to fish them out again. Some pockets are so deep and narrow that it is difficult to get man-sized fingers in to grasp the “whatever-it-is” you are searching for in there. Frustrating it is. The second nit has to do with the Raptor 10’s “wing pockets” on the waist strap. They have some meager Velcro closure which will lose anything beyond your spent energy gel packs, and maybe not even those. These “wing pockets” would be awesome if you could trust anything to stay in there. A nice zipper with Osprey’s decent and functional zipper pulls, as used elsewhere on the pack, would be a stellar addition here. (Modifiers of packs: Get your sewing kits out!) Still, this pack, even with those nits, was a great piece of kit for me and my riding.

So, there ya go! Not a chunk-o-metal bicycle part, but something I found incredibly useful, sturdy, comfortable, and impressive during my riding time in 2010. The Osprey Raptor 10 gets my recommendo for non-29″er specific gear from 2010.

Note: This ends the 2010 “best of” posts and we’ll be getting back on track with our regular news, reviews, and more this coming week. Also: The Osprey pack mentioned in this post was submitted by Osprey for test and review at no charge. I was not bribed, nor paid for this review. I gave my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.