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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Packs > Platypus Sprinter XT 25 Daypack > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto

Sprinter front view

Sprinter XT 25
by
Platypus

Reviewed by Jamie DeBenedetto
Updated January 6th, 2014

Sprinter back view


Report Contents

INITIAL REPORT
July 24th, 2013

FIELD REPORT
October 30th, 2013

LONG TERM REPORT
January 6th, 2014

Reviewer's Information

Field Tests July through October

Collective Use and Field Conditions

Product Information & Description

Pros and Cons

Long Term Conclusions

Arrival Condition

 

Final Thoughts

First Impressions

 

 

Initial Report
July 24th, 2013


Reviewer's Information

Name

Jamie DeBenedetto

Background/Experience

Me and the Saguaro

Age and Gender

40 year old female

I spent many hours of my youth fishing, rafting, creeking, and day-hiking in the wild places of Arizona. I caught the backpacking bug in high school. Presently I work as an exPAWdition leader so I'm in the field, usually with a pack of dogs, about sixteen times a month. Primarily I'm a day-hiker with the occasional family camping trip mixed in throughout the year. When backpacking I prefer hammocks over ground sleeping and I gravitate toward multifunctional gear that enhances my comfort level with minimal fuss and weight. My total pack weight is typically less than 25 lbs (11 kg).

 

Location The Grand Canyon State - Phoenix, Arizona USA

Personal webpage www.mydog8az.com

Height

5' 11" (1.8 m)

Weight

170 lb (77 kg)

Torso Length

18.5 in (47 cm)

Email

jdeben@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Product Information Back to contents

Manufacture URL

www.cascadedesigns.com

Year of Manufacture

Presumed 2013

Made in

Pack: China; Reservoir: USA

MSRP

$139.95 (US dollars)

Size and Color Options

S/M or M/L; Limoges Blue or Golden Yellow (I'm testing a Yellow M/L one)

Style

Internal Frame, Hydration Compatible

Care Instructions

Hand wash only with non-detergent soap, hang dry

(Listed Specifications - Taken from the included product tag and website)

Volume for M/L size 1340 cu in (22 L) or 1525 cu in (25 L) with included reservoir
Weight 34 oz (965 g) or 40 oz (1134 g) with reservoir
Load Capacity Not given
Torso Range S/M up to 18 in (46 cm); M/L up to 20 in (51 cm)
Pack Materials Outer shell: 210D PU-Coated Diamond Ripstop Nylon; Inner Lining: 210D PU-Coated Oxford Nylon; Zippers: YKK Aquaguard
Reservoir Materials Food-grade laminate - BPA and Phthalate free
Reservoir Capacity 100 fl oz (3 L)

(Observations as Received - Measured weights taken with a digital office scale)

Pack Weight 33 oz (936 g)
Reservoir Weight 5.8 oz (164 g)

 

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:

hipbelt pocket hydration suspension internal pouch
  • The back section is supported by a removable frame sheet made from a lightweight Polyethylene (LDPE to be exact). The actual part of the pack that touches the user's back has a reflective logo and 3D air mesh padding along the sides and lumbar areas. There's an air channel down the middle.
  • The load lifter strap, which is very slender, sits in the conventional location at the top of the pack between the shoulder straps.
  • The shoulder straps are lightly padded with the same 3D air mesh. They have a slight curvature with extra padding along the neckline. The interior of the straps is pocked with 3/8 in (1 cm) diameter holes, presumably for added ventilation and weight savings. Running down the front of each shoulder strap are two (four total) guide strips for the reservoir hose and a removable clip (although I have not figured out how to remove them yet). There is also a very slim hydration port at the top of each strap. Lastly is the sternum strap which is adjustable and has a bit of stretch.
  • The Sprinter has an interesting hipbelt. First off it's padded and has a zippered cargo pouch on each side. (Pictured top left) The pockets are made with a stretchy mesh material. The interesting part about the hipbelt is that it's fully or partially stashable. If the user wishes the entire belt or just the pocket portion can be pushed back into the frame sheet compartment. Playtpus uses an open buckle system to secure the webbing in place when the pocket portion is hidden. At max extension the hipbelt is 58 in (147 cm), at minimum, with pockets exposed, it is 29 in (74 cm).
  • Coming around to the sides of the Sprinter there are two open top pouches both made with the same stretchy mesh as the hipbelt pockets. These are about 8 in (20 cm) deep; width is hard to measure because of the stretch. I was able, with some effort, to insert a 1 L Nalgene bottle. It's a cozy fit! This leads me to believe they may have been designed with gear storage in mind more than water bottles.
  • Near the base of these pockets are additional hydration ports, one on each side, where the drink tube can be poked through and brought up the shoulder strap from below.
  • Also along the sides, one slightly above and one running across the bottom of each side pouch, there are two (a total of four) adjustable compression straps. These, like the hipbelt, can be stowed in the back frame compartment via nearby slits.
  • The Sprinter is a top loading pack with three larger compartments and two smaller pockets. I did not count the back panel where the frame sheet lives because it's a very tight space with little room for anything other than the sheet, although with that removed it could be used for gear. The first interior compartment is meant to house the hydration bladder. Although it's a slender space the zippered opening is easily wide enough to accommodate the filled Big Zip. At the top of the pocket are two toggles that hold the bladder in place. Based on the design I'm guessing this suspension system is specific to Platy reservoirs. (Middle picture)
  • The main cargo section is next. The opening is much wider than the hydration sleeve with zippers running down to about mid-pack. This space is simply an open area, no dividers, organizer panel, or any other clutter. One exception is a small zippered mesh pouch near the opening with a key fob inside - dimensions for this niche are 11 x 6 in (28 x 15 cm). (Pictured top left)
  • At the very front of the pack are the remaining two compartments. On top is the second of the smaller zippered pockets, which measures about 9 x 5 in (23 x 13 cm). Just below that is the open top quick stash pocket. The same stretchy mesh used in the hipbelt and side pockets runs down the sides. Just inside the opening, one on each side, are two elastic cords with cordlocks. These are the trekking pole or ice axe lash points. Further down, near the bottom of this compartment are the counterparts to the cords. On one side are two semi-circles of red cordage for pole tips and the other is the axe strap, which is stashable in a little slit situated just below.
  • Finally, there are 2 in (5 cm) bits of red cordage strategically placed around the front of the pack offering gear attachment options of all kinds.

Big Zip 3LThe Big Zip SL (pictured bottom right) has a few features of note:

  • Foremost is the size, Platypus included their largest reservoir - 100oz (3 L) so when they say it's hydration compatible, they didn't skimp. The bladder fills from the top where the wide-mouthed "zip" is located. The trademarked "Slidelock" runs along the opening pinching the two sides together for a secure seal. The Slidelock component also has a handle and the two holes used in conjunction with the toggles inside the Sprinter to make up the suspension system.
  • The food-grade container, which is BPA and Phthalate-free, has been treated with an anti-microbial agent.
  • The drink tube attaches via a "Quick-Connect" port that won't allow fluid to escape the bladder when the hose isn't connected. This allows the tube to remain joined to the daypack while the reservoir is removed.
  • Lastly, the mouth piece has a high capacity bite valve affixed at a 90 degree angle. A simple locking mechanism, a partial turn of the valve, is used so liquid can't accidentally run out through the line.

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.

Back to contents

Field Report
October 30th, 2013


To date I have used the Platypus Sprinter XT 25 on one kayaking trip, twenty-nine day hikes, and eleven walks along urban washes. While kayaking and on eleven of the day hikes I included the Big Zip SL.

Field Tests Back to contents

My very first outing with the Sprinter was a moonlight paddle / short night hike. This took place at Lake Pleasant located in Peoria, Arizona; elevation 1,700 ft (520 m). Thanks to an earlier thunderstorm the temperature was only around 87 F (31 C) while we were on the water, which was about an hour. Since the Sprinter and I were still getting acquainted I was glad to have the opportunity to both wear the pack (for the roughly one hour hike) and carry it between my legs inside my kayak for water access and emergency clothing storage. Although the main compartment of the Sprinter is marketed as waterproof I didn't feel good about trusting all my spare clothing to an untested claim so only my bandana was left unprotected in the main pocket for the journey.

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). Phoenix Mountains Hike

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…

  • Hydration capacity
  • Reservoir performance and ease of use
  • Uncomplicated compartment set-up
  • Comfort
  • Hipbelt and side pockets

Aspects I'm underwhelmed with…

  • Undersized reservoir attachment toggles
  • Tight hydration hose ports and guide straps

Back to contents

Long Term Report
January 6th, 2014

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 Sprinter in use

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.
Jamie DeBenedetto - 2014

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