Osprey Rev 18; discontinued brilliance

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  Naturally it was discontinued late last year, and has been replaced by a very different product, so if the following piques your interest grab one immediately.


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.


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.


6 responses to “Osprey Rev 18; discontinued brilliance”

  1. More and more that the time it takes to really appreciate a product is longer than it’s life cycle. It’s sad.

    Side note, I’ve found the CamelBak Octane 18 to be a good equivalent (low riding, wide breathable straps, etc.) and I’m pretty sure they still make it in one form or another.

  2. I’ve been running with a Rev 6 and a 12 for the last three to four years; the packs have racked up a couple thousand miles each and still going strong. The layout is nice and they carry well running.

    My only gripe was with the digi-flip- it’s not big enough for my phone (iphone 6)- I called them about it, hoping they would make a larger one that I could replace (they are held on w/ velcro), but so far no go.

    I probably have at least a couple of more years of use left in them.

  3. Any pack out there designed for XC skiing?

    Skiers need to get at little things while on the move (wax, snacks, phone) but waist-belt pockets need to be out of the way of arms brushing past while poling. Also, waist-pouches can’t clog the stomach area and impede doublepoling.

    The main load should be narrow.

    Seems like 15 lbs is a good max for me for fast long-distance day-skiing.

    As a work-around, my friends and I have been using a Camelbak Mule with a fannypack riding underneath that we rotate around to get wax and snacks from.

    My fannypack has bottle-holsters that I use to get around sippy-tube-freeze. But when I crash my bottles often eject. Sigh.

    Our set-ups are kludges that make us pine for something better. Like, it would be nice to have the fannypack supported by some kind of suspender but that would require unclipping to rotate. Also, our fannypack waist-straps often mess up our clothes or suspenders when we rotate them. (Some of us often wear suspenders.) …I recall a pack that had a lower part that rotated frontward in one direction out of a pouch. Maybe that’s the ticket.

  4. […] after holding out for years against more gadgets I must admit that the quick disconnect that came with the latest Osprey is darn handy, if not altogether foolproof.  For multiday backcountry pursuits (aka backpacking […]

  5. […] Osprey Rev 18 is my favorite daypack, ever.  It has all the great things at which Osprey is the best-ever at, […]

  6. Benjamin Caplins Avatar
    Benjamin Caplins

    FYI: Also the Rev 18 is on REI for $60. Perhpas discontinued, but still available on the cheap.

Leave a Reply to The best packs of the last five years – Bedrock & Paradox Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s