Osprey is an easy company to dislike, largely due to their unapologetically Google-esque ownership of the pack market, but more substantively because of their tendency to emphasize specialization to an absurd degree.  However, they are good pack makers and brilliant pack designers, and often enough come out with a pack whose coherence moves the bar for a given category.  The Rev 18 is one such; it is a great daypack, quite light and sparse for Osprey, and by a considerable margin the best mountain biking pack I’ve used.  Naturally it was discontinued late last year, and has been replaced by a very different product, so if the following piques your interest grab one immediately.

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The Rev series was introduced as Osprey’s first trail running pack, as evidenced by the dual sternum straps.  I can’t testify if the low riding shape works for running, though I have my doubts, but as can be imagined based on the above images works great for cycling.  The weight is biased low, which is good for both comfort on long mellow rides as well as stability on steep and technical stuff.  The shoulder straps are broad, supportive enough while still being quite flexible, and the stretch mesh wings (best seen in the second photo above) allow for the fairly narrow attachment to promote a broad range of shoulder movement without totally decoupling the weight in the pack from the users movement (which doesn’t work for any kind of dynamic activity).  The waist belt is broad, and the backpanel fairly narrow.  Most importantly, there is an inch wide strip (visibly as dark fabric in the second photo below) between the foam framesheet and the belt wings, which really allows the pack to hug and stick to you.

In other words, the Rev 18 has the basics dialed.  It’s a frameless daypack which puts pretty much all the weight on your shoulders and holds that weight very close to you.  It is not a tool for cruising easy trails with a 15 pound load.

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The user edge of the side pockets are anchored several inches out on the belt wings, which makes them both larger and much easier to access.  It’s my favorite feature, and a very elegant solution to the problem of functional (both with respect to size and accessibility) pockets on smaller packs.  They go get a bit slack when the pack isn’t on, but on the move leave almost nothing to be desired.

Another noteworthy detail is the bungie rear compression.  Ordinarily I don’t find this type of feature to do much beyond hold a jacket in place, but Osprey solved that issue neatly by stitching a thin plastic stiffener into the whole seam separating the dark from light fabric along the front panel.  Because of this, rather than just squishing the pack at the anchor points the bungie compresses the whole pack uniformly.  A simple, elegant, effective solution.

A final detail worth mentioning is the user side of the straps, belt and back panel, which is the traditional thinner 3D mesh, but sewn inside-out.  The moisture buffering and micropadding 3D mesh provides is a valuable addition to foam padding in just about any pack, and goes a long way towards solving chafing problems.  It’s achilles heel has long been the tendency of pine needles and grit to get caught within the fabric, potentially exacerbating the very problems 3D mesh should solve.  Flipping it seems to solve that issue entirely, and with no downside.  It seems like an example worth following.