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Looking at the Osprey raptor 10 or 14 litre hydration packs. Does anyone have any experience with these, and can suggest whether there is a significant advantage in the extra capacity offered by the 14? Will be using it for day-long rides as well as trail centres, so something that can carry tools, phone, food, an extra layer while still being light and comfortable to wear is essential.

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Could you be a bit more specific? I guess the 10L vs. 14L is not about the hydration bladder capacity but the additional storage capacity, isn't it? Therefore the "hydration pack" in the title as well as the "hydration" tag might be a bit misleading. So the question boils down to "is a 10L or 14L cycling backpack better?" actually, right? –  Benedikt Bauer Mar 17 at 20:35
    
Yes, that's right. I should have mentioned the question is really about the size of the backpacks, not the reservoirs. –  Rich Ashworth Mar 17 at 20:37
    
You can just edit your question to clarify this. –  Benedikt Bauer Mar 17 at 20:40
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Can't speak about those packs specifically, but I find that you really have to hold a pack in your hands to know how big it is, and preferably try to pack the things you want to pack. Some have many small compartments making things easier to find and to stop things from jostling around, but harder to fit in large items. Other packs are the opposite where you have 1 large pocket which allows you to pack large items, but everything gets lost inside. –  Kibbee Mar 17 at 23:31
    
@Kibbee: I prefer a main large compartment, one small pocket for car keys and wallet which is never opened on the trail, and maybe one other big enough for snacks. More than that and I never remember what I put into what compartment, so have to search the entire pack anyway :), but that's just me.... –  mattnz Mar 17 at 23:54
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I've got a Cambelbak MULE which has about 11l of pack capacity. I found that this is quite enough for day-long rides, far from any roads. I packed:

  • tools
  • spare tube
  • patch kit
  • pump
  • a spare tyre sometimes
  • some food (energy bars and similar low-volume-high-yield food)
  • small first aid kit
  • rain jacket
  • a warm undershirt if necessary

My fullface helmet could be strapped to the outside on long ascents. If you're feeling adventurous, you'll even get full size shin/knee guards strapped to the side of the pack, but then it will be a little unwieldy.

If you don't need to attach your helmet to the pack, you can roll up clothes and attach them around the sides and upper edge of the pack using the four compression straps.

Beware of one thing: If you fill the bladder up to the maximum, the back of the pack will bulge out, reducing comfort.

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The 10 liter has enough room for your tools and also a coat, a snack or two, and probably a shirt and a few other small items. If you're not worried about bringing much else, you'll probably be fine with the 10. Even if you are going to need to bring an entire change of clothes or more food, the 14 liter isn't really going to make much of a difference, in that case you'd be better off starting to think about 18 or 20 liters.

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It entirely depends on where you ride, weather conditions and how long you are out for. Your tolerance for discomfort an risk comes into it. e.g. If you are one hour riding time from the nearest road and you bike breaks, you break an arm, or leg......

Bigger pack carries more stuff. You want to carry the smallest amount possible, but still have room for the food, water tools, first aid kit, kitchen sink and warm cloths you need (not want). Note that if you have bag bigger than needed you will fill it with stuff you don't need.

A smaller backpack is better, provided everything fits in. It sits better on your back and is less obtrusive, moving around less and usually more comfortable. therefore get the smallest that will carry the stuff you need.

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thanks - any suggestions on what can be carried comfortably in a 10L pack? is that really just a few spare tubes and a phone, or would there be room for clothes etc. as well? –  Rich Ashworth Mar 17 at 20:51
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