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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Packs > Platypus Sprinter XT 25 Daypack > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto
Product Information Back to contents
Product Description Back to contents
The Platypus Sprinter XT 25 is the second largest hydration capable daypack Platypus offers. It comes with a 3 L Platypus Big Zip hydration bladder and has several waterproof features like the coated nylon shell, taped seams and Aquaguard zippers. The Sprinter, as part of Platy's Cross Trail Series, is being marketed as "the ultimate weatherproof panel-loader" designed for "any adventures from trail to summit". Although the manufacturer uses the word, "simplicity" in their description, the bag has tons of features. Here they are from back to front as I see them:
The Big Zip SL (pictured bottom right) has a few features of note:
Arrival Condition and Informational Material Back to contents
The Platypus Sprinter XT 25 arrived in mid-July in perfect condition. After an initial inspection I found no defects or anything odd to report. The included Big Zip hydration bladder also was in good condition with the exception of a small kink in the hose. I don't think this indentation will cause any use problems but if so I will note them in my report.
Included with the pack were two bits of helpful material, the product hang-tag and the Owner's Manual. The hang-tag offers the reader information in both English and French. The OM was in English only. Both were easy to understand. The OM offered further explanation of the pack and the Big Zip's features. Pictures accompanied the written info and although they are black and white, they do the trick. I found the tutorial on how to stow the hipbelt very beneficial. Unlike most of the other features, this one wasn't entirely self-evident at first glance, at least not to me.
Expectations and First Impressions Back to contents
At first glance the Sprinter looks well thought out and constructed. Because I've used Platypus hydration reservoirs for several years with positive results my expectations are high for their daypack too. I'm not overly rough on my packs but since I use my equipment four to five times a week for work in addition to play, I feel like I live in my pack. It has to be comfortable and practical. I expect whatever "bells and whistles" the manufacturer included to be well made, functional, and durable.
While tinkering around with the pack getting things set-up and adjusted I noticed it took a bit of work to thread the drink tube through the guide strips on the shoulder straps. But the amount of patience that required was nothing compared to what it took to push the hose through the hydration ports at the top of the shoulder straps. The slit is super tight. I haven't tried the lower ports yet but they feel tight as well. I'll post an update in my Field Report when I've had a chance to try them out.
The Sprinter experienced three different water bombardments on this outing which challenged its hydrophobic qualities: First, I had light rain intermittently pecking away at the outside of the pack while I hiked. This was easily shed. Second, because I was in a sit-on-top boat, the outside of the pack was also hit quite a lot by lake water dropping from my paddle and collecting on the floor of the craft. Lastly, the inside of the pack housed the 3L Big Zip which had a large chunk of ice inside. When the evening was over I checked the state of the bandana and it was indeed wet as was the inside of both the hydration and main compartments. I do not know for certain if this was a result of the condensation built up from the bladder, it was certainly humid that evening, or because water seeped in from the outside. I am hoping the opportunity to use the Sprinter again during a rain storm will present itself giving me a means to test the waterproof nature of the fabric in a way more consistent with how this pack is more likely to be used.
All day hikes have taken place in the Sonoran Desert within 30 miles (48 km) of Phoenix, AZ . Elevations for these areas is anywhere from 1,500 ft (450 m) up to 3,400 ft (1,040 m). I've experienced temperatures as low as 65 F (18 C) up to the low 100's F (39 C). Weather has been sunny and clear with zero precipitation. Use time per trek ranged between 1.5 and 5 hours.
At its core the Platypus Sprinter XT 25 is meant to be a serious hydration pack so I think that aspect is a good place to begin. As previously mentioned the 3 L Big Zip SL that shipped along with the pack had a slight kink in the hose. This has not created any performance issues whatsoever. In fact, the Big Zip works as expected with regard to holding water and dispensing it effectively. It's also fairly easy to fill and clean since the opening is large enough to fit my hand inside. The "Slidelock", although often in the way when cleaning, is super painless to use and helps immensely with closing the bladder tightly, even with gloved hands. Where I've run into a problem is the taste quality of the water. I rinsed the bladder and hose before using it the first time and I have never left water in the reservoir/hose for more than a couple of days (inside my pack stored in my house). In an effort to fix the problem I flushed it out with bleach water allowing the full 3 L to pass through the hose and mouth piece, then a second and third time with clean water. This did not work. I split up the components to determine whether the problem was with the bladder or the hose, it's the hose. I have been unsuccessful in getting rid of the funky taste so far.
I've had mixed results with the pack components that compliment the reservoir. I think the separate hydration pocket is a great idea because it keeps the bladder snug and protected from other items that could damage it. It also allows me to store food I want to keep cool next to a pre-frozen bladder without having it smashed by my other gear. Both 2 L and 3 L sizes fit nicely in the sleeve. The attachment toggles are iffy, however. The idea is simple enough, sure, but the practical application of hanging the reservoir is another matter. It seems the toggle length is a bit too short. Even with small hands and thin fingers I have a hard time manipulating the toggle to fit into the holes on the Slidelock. I definitely could not do this with gloved hands.
The most frustrating feature of the whole system is the ridiculously tight tube ports. The two at the top by the shoulder straps barely accommodate the small end of the hose; forget about threading the mouthpiece end through. I own a different hydration tube that feeds into a water bottle instead of a bladder and I tried to use that but it doesn't have the "skinny end" option. I had to work for several minutes bending and pushing before I could get the mouthpiece through. On the way out it separated entirely. I have yet to use the lower ports because they have not worked with my set-up but I will check them out over the next two months and see if they are more useful. The hose guide strips on the shoulder straps are also pretty snug; I'd like to see them expanded a tad too. Conversely, the clip is very handy. It's simple and placed high enough up on the shoulder strap to keep the mouthpiece out of the dirt on the few occasions where I have to set my pack on the ground (I prefer to hang it).
Beyond its hydration ups and downs the Sprinter as a day pack has been fairly impressive so far. Although the padding is lightweight, the pack is relatively comfortable. Not being specifically designed with a woman's upper body in mind I've had some minor rubbing from the shoulder straps but not enough to be problematic. The hipbelt does a nice job of taking a bit of weight off the shoulders, which is much appreciated. It's also easy to buckle and adjust, even while wearing gloves and the stretchy pockets are a complete winner in my book. I honestly can't see myself ever owning a backpack without them. Overall gear capacity has worked well for me too. I generally carry about 15 lbs of gear, mostly water, but more importantly I have a few items I must keep quickly accessible for cacti emergencies. The hipbelt pouches work brilliantly for this. I also use the side mesh pockets quite a lot. Their location and stretch allows me to retrieve items and return them without taking off the pack. I've yet to use the trekking pole loops, the lower hydration ports, and the stow-away hipbelt, as well as to fully test the waterproof claims of the pack material. I will do what I can in the last phase of this test series to evaluate those things along with anything else that seems relevant.
Pros and Cons Thus Far Back to contents
Aspects I'm pleased with…
Aspects I'm underwhelmed with…
Collective Use and Field Conditions Back to contents
During the final two months of testing I've been able to use the Platypus Sprinter XT 25 on 33 more day hikes bringing my total days of trail use up to sixty-two. Of those treks the 3 L Big Zip SL was used in total or in part an additional 21 times, giving me 32 total outings with that component. All hikes lasted between 1.5 and 5 hrs and took place within the Sonoran Desert near Phoenix, Arizona. I visit several different preserves and national forests each week so elevations vary from 1,500 ft (450 m) up to 3,400 ft (1,040 m). Climate has been mostly sunny with temperatures in the 45 to 70 F (7 to 21 C) range. On a handful of occasions I experienced rainy and windy conditions.
Long Term Conclusions Back to contents
If the Sprinter was simply a day pack I'd have to give it very high marks, however, it's meant to be a hydration pack first and foremost, it's this aspect that I feel needs most improvement.
Notable among its long list of positives is durability. I found the pack held up well to my numerous days of wear and tear including several off track jaunts through overgrown desert washes. I haven't experienced any workmanship defects or material failures to date. Admittedly, I was expecting some snagging, especially from the stretchy material that makes up a fair sized chunk of the back and sides of the pack. The side pockets seemed especially vulnerable since they stick out. Thankfully, the Sprinter was sturdier than I thought.
I'm happy to give more kudos in the area of function. This includes: The straps, once adjusted, they stayed put; all zippers have worked flawlessly, although I found it difficult to close the ones on the hipbelt pockets one-handed; gear attachment points functioned well for strapping on hats and a medium sized canine backpack; the haul loop is adequate, not overly generous but big enough to hang the pack from smaller diameter tree branches; the stretchy side pockets were a bit snug for a Nalgene sized bottle but were perfectly suited for a square 1 L bottle; lastly, the stowaway option for the various straps was very convenient. I never found a need to stow the entire hipbelt but I did stow some of the other straps here and there. This gave the pack a much more stream-lined exterior.
Regrettably, the trekking pole loops were never used as intended although I'm happy to report they did function quite well as a camera tripod holder. I've carried both a full size tripod and a much smaller Joby Gorillapod using one of the adjustable cord lash points. Haven't lost any equipment so far.
One neat subtlety I have to praise is the use of different pull tabs for the zippers. I know this seems like a very minor issue, mistaking one pocket for the other, but it drives me crazy when I do it. What a time saver it is to just simply outfit the zippers so they can be easily differentiated. Another of many well considered features on this pack.
As a final positive, I was able to get a few more outings in rainy weather and as far as what I experienced the manufacturer's waterproof claims are accurate. In light rain for less than an hour the contents of my bag stayed dry, at least in the main compartment and small upper pocket. The stretchy "quick stash" area is not designed for waterproofness and indeed it was not.
Having written so many constructive comments I hate to end with a list of things that bugged me but we must forge on so here goes. Thankfully the list is short and mostly centered around the Sprinter's hydration options. First, let me be clear that the 3 L Big Zip SL functioned perfectly as far as holding and dispensing water. As mentioned in my Field Report I did have a problem with a foul taste coming from the drink tube. This I was never able to fix, even after several attempts at cleaning it. I eventually abandoned that tube and replaced it with a slightly older style I already own. Secondly, I found the black hose clips on the shoulder straps often poked me in the arm. They do work to keep the drink tube in place but the discomfort doesn't outweigh the function in my opinion. Lastly, I found the lower hydration ports to be just as frustrating to use as the upper ones. They weren't as absurdly tight as the upper set but darn close. Plus in this configuration the hose also hits my arm as it hangs near the base of the shoulder strap. On the positive side threading the tube this way kept it up and out of the dirt.
The only other nitpick I found with the Sprinter came from the small front zipper pocket. This pocket was a little clumsy. If I stored anything heavy inside it had a tendency to pull away from the pack body and flop over the quick stash compartment below. I also felt it was too small, or possibly the inside mesh pouch was too small. Either way, it would have been nice to have one of these be slightly bigger for those few items that need to be kept separated and/or protected from the gear in the larger compartments.
Final Thoughts Back to contents
I'm not at all unhappy with the Platypus Sprinter XT 25 or with the 3 L Big
Zip SL. I will likely continue to use both but probably separately. The Sprinter
works great as a day pack. I am underwhelmed with several of its hydration features
but since it has very generous side pockets that easily hold two to three liters
of water I don't foresee missing the bladder. Furthermore, the Big Zip is fantastic.
I think the design is the best on the market. If not for the funky taste in the
tube I'd have used it a ton more. I think Platypus put a lot of thought into this
pack and with a bit of tweaking it can really be something special. My thanks
to Backpackgeartest.org and Cascade Designs for giving me the opportunity to be
part of this test series.
Read more reviews of Cascade Designs gear
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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Packs > Platypus Sprinter XT 25 Daypack > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto
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