High Gear: 2016 Osprey Skarab and Skimmer reservoir daypacks
Osprey Skarab and Skinner reservoir daypacks
Sizes: 18, 24 and 32 liters (men’s); 16, 22 and 30 liters (women’s)
Capacity: 25 pounds
Pockets: Three (one large main, two small auxiliary)
Hydration system: Hydraulics Hydrapack 2.5-liter bladder and hose (included)
Features: BioStretch back panel and carry system, separate bladder pouch, stretch side stash pockets, trekking pole straps, tool loop
Find it: Wilderness Sports in Dillon
For more info on the Skarab and Skinner or to purchase, see www.ospreypacks.com.
A backpack can make or break a long day on the trail.
The same can be said about plenty of gear — boots, outerwear, even something innocuous like the right socks — but even a nasty blister doesn’t compare to aching everything. In my years of hiking, biking and backpacking across the world, the heaviest and most noticeable piece of equipment is always the tangle of straps and pouches and nylon riding on my shoulders.
The hallmark of a good backpack, then, is when you hardly think twice about the 15 to 50 pounds of weight you’re carrying. It’s built with an eye for anatomical comfort, not to mention versatility and simplicity, which means it can handle anything and everything you encounter on the trail: rain, sleet, tangled underbrush, tight granite crags.
The hallmark of a stellar backpack, then, is when you hardly notice the weight, size and shape, and yet you know exactly where every piece of gear is stowed, from water and trail mix to your GPS and first aid kit. These once-in-a-blue-moon bags become a part of your body, just like that other most important piece of a trekking gear: boots. There’s a science to building a backpack, and, like the best science, it’s useful.
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Osprey might as well win a Nobel Prize for backpack science. The Cortez-based manufacturer was born and bred in southern Colorado, where designers tested and retested their packs in the burly San Juan Mountains. Not only does that mean Osprey is a local company — nothing can beat the hometown selling point these days — it means the company’s gear is built for Colorado conditions.
The 2016 Skarab and Skimmer daypacks are part of Osprey’s new collaboration line with Hydraulics. Like all other bags in the line, including the minimalist multi-day Manta and Mira packs, the Skarab (men’s) and Skimmer (women’s) feature a built-in hydration system, complete with a 2.5-liter bladder and separate bladder pouch between the main compartment and backpanel.
But, oh, the Skarab and Skimmer are so much more than a hydration system. The bags come in three sizes: 18, 24 and 32 liters for men, or 16, 22 and 30 liters for women. All share a similar design, including one main compartment, two smaller pockets (think sunglasses and granola bars), an outside stow pouch or elastic, side straps for trekking poles, and lower loop for ice axe or other tools. There are no extraneous pouches or additions to get caught on rogue tree branches — just the essentials.
Those essentials are all built around Osprey’s true claim to fame: a nearly unbeatable carry system. The shoulder and hip straps are made of breathable yet rigid foam — the thick, Tempurpedic style, rather than the plush and easily compressible stuff. The back panel features similar material layered between mesh, which gives the support of a soft frame without the heft of a rigid frame.
What’s this all mean? It gives the Skarab and Skimmer line reliable longevity, whether that’s on a single trip or over the pack’s lifetime. Add the Opsrey lifetime guarantee — they’ll replace any bag, any time, for any reason — and the pack is more than worth the price. At $80 for the smallest model and $120 for the largest, this bag will hardly break the bank, and you’d better believe it won’t break your back.
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