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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Packs > Platypus Sprinter XT 25 Daypack > Test Report by alex legg

Platypus Sprinter Pack
Test Series by Alex Legg
Initial Report July 17th, 2013
Field Report December 12th, 2013


Tester Information:
Name:  Alex Legg
Age:  30
Gender:  Male
Height:  6'4" (1.9 m)
Weight:  195 lb (88 kg)
Email address:  alexlegg2 AT yahoo DOT com
City, State, Country:  Lyons, Colorado, USA

I have backpacked extensively throughout the southwestern United States my entire life.  I prefer a lightweight approach using tarp tents and trail shoes so that I can save my strength for clocking miles.  I hike on average 4 mi (6 km) daily from my back door and also enjoy trips up to 5 days in the backcountry.  I encounter elevation from 5,000 ft to 14,000 ft (1,524 m to 4,267 m) and temperatures from below 0 F to 90 F (-18 C to 32 C).

Product Information and Specifications:

Manufacturer: Cascade Designs, Inc., Platypus
Year of Manufacture: 2013
URL: http://cascadedesigns.com
Listed Weight: 2 lb 8 oz (1.1 kg)
Measured Weight: 2.10 oz (0.9 kg)
Listed Pack Volume: 22 L (1,340 cu in)
Listed Hydration Volume: 3 L (100 fl oz)
Listed Total Volume: 25 L (1,525 cu in)
MSRP: $139.95 US
Initial Report:

Product Description and Initial Impressions:

The Platypus 25L Daypack looks like a cool pack.  Rummaging through the different pockets and straps really fed my gear-head addiction.  There are pockets protected by a DWR water repellant, and pockets lined with a breathable mesh.  There are straps that clip in tightly and some that compress, many of which can be tucked into a hiding spot so that they don't flap around while I'm hiking.  The hip belt can also be stuffed into a hiding spot when not in use.

The bag I am reviewing is blue.  The Platypus logo is printed top and center on the pack, and the Sprinter XT 25.0 model name is printed near the bottom and centered on the large mesh pocket on the front of the pack.  I like this pocket and can't wait to stuff wet clothes in while on the trail.  There are two more mesh pockets on the sides that look perfect for a condensation spewing water bottle or perhaps crushed empty beer cans.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
The main compartment on the Sprinter opens to a generous 25 L (1,526 cu in) space.  It is accessed by two zippers that pull down far allowing optimal reach to the bottom of the pack.  The zippers have attached handles made of what looks to me like a thin paracord loop reinforced by a hard rubber casing.  All the zippered pockets on this pack have this type of access tool.  The zippers all work well gliding back and forth.  Inside the main compartment, there is a mesh pocket that spans the width of the pack.  This looks to me like a useful storage spot for small items.  I can already see myself storing small items like keys and my phone in this pocket.

On the top of the pack, between the Platypus logo and the main compartment there is another weatherproof pocket, this one is quite bit smaller and I can only fit one hand about half way in. 

The Hydration System:
                 

This is my first experience with a Platypus hydration reservoir and I have to say, I'm impressed with the many smart and user friendly aspects.  First, the 3 L reservoir is in its own compartment that has ample room for me to stuff random small items like extra food into.  This compartment is also protected by the weatherproof finish. 

The reservoir is hanging by two nylon straps that easily pop in and out of the SideLock closure.  They are mounted at the sides giving the best possibility of staying level.  The closure is a strong plastic and the reservoir slides out without much effort.  I love the sandwich bag style closure on the Platypus.  It opens and closes without trouble and I can stick my entire hand inside to clean the food safe plastic interior.  The literature that came with the hydration system tells me that the lining is a 100% taste free polyethylene with SlimeGuard anti-microbial treatment.  The material is also BPA free. 
                                                         
My favorite thing about the hydration system is the Quick-Connect drinking tube.  A simple press of a button and the tube disconnects from the reservoir with minimal spill.  This is a great feature that makes cleaning and drying the system a much easier thing than I am used to with other systems. 

The mouthpiece is equipped with a 90 degree shut off valve and a large rubber bite valve.  I am finding it easier so far to just grab the stem of the mouthpiece to turn the valve on rather than using the plastic lever provided.  The lever seems a bit small and difficult for me to operate.  The mouthpiece was initially difficult for me to get used to, but after it got broken in a bit when I tried the pack out it worked well.  I am however concerned about the kink in the tube right near the port in the top of the pack.  I have included a picture of this.

Suspension System and Frame:

The Platypus pack sports padded 3D air mesh shoulder straps.  I can actually see through the circular holes that have been punched through the mesh.  Small nylon straps on the shoulder straps help to guide and contain the drinking tube while a hinged plastic anchor secure the mouthpiece.  The shoulder straps can be adjusted easily using the thin nylon straps as can the sternum strap.

The waistbelt on this pack is extra cool to me.  I can fold the two sides up and stuff them into the back panel if I am wearing the pack around town or not in need of the extra support.  They can quickly by pulled out for my long trekking adventures giving me the support I need.  Both sides of the waistbelt have zippered pockets that are mesh lined and open to the air. 

The BioCurve back panel has two pads that run down the edge of the pack.  Inside the pack behind the hydration system a plastic panel is accessible and removed in a simple manner.  It looks like it could be a decent sitting pad, or maybe a plate, or a fan, or a dog dish, or a cutting board, or even a Frisbee.  Another section of the frame is sewn in and not accessible.  It feels to me like a thin plastic sheeting and it works well at keeping the pack's shape while the removable sheet is out. 

Trying it Out:

The day after receiving the Platypus pack I was so excited that I quickly planned a 12 mi (19 km) day hike into the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park.  I encountered a light steady rain for the majority of this trip.  When the rain would temporarily stop I stuffed my rain gear in the large mesh pocket in the front of the pack.  I felt secure that the wet gear would not penetrate my pack and it was nice to be able to access the stuff when the rain decided to pour down again. 

When I got back to the car I emptied the minimal contents of the pack onto my seat.  Other than the rain gear I had some food, a map, and my phone charger inside.  The charger just ended up in there when I left my house, it's not an essential hiking tool.  I ran my hands along the inside of the main compartment as well as the small compartment on the top of the pack.  I felt a small amount of condensation near the bottom of the pockets.  I was a bit surprised because I didn't have any items that were moist inside.  In the past I have found weatherproof bags to hold moisture from food and damp gear inside just as well as they hold the outside water from getting in.  I had stored my food in the large mesh pocket to avoid such issues, but I was still finding moisture inside these two pockets.  I am not sure if water was slowly leaking in, or if it was some sort of a condensation issue.  Either way, I don't think I would feel comfortable with electronics being stored in the pack during a heavy rain storm.

 As far as comfort and ease of use, this pack worked great.  I hardly noticed it on my back and it was easy to adjust.  Throughout the day I switched from using the hip belt and sternum strap to not using either at all.  It was nice to have the room to distribute the weight differently along the trail and to be able to air out my body a bit.

Summary:

The Platypus pack seems to be well constructed and comfortable.  The hydration system is awesome and looks like the smartest design I have seen yet.  I have some slight concerns about the dependability of the weatherproof finish, but other than that I really like the pack at this point.  I will be taking it with me on a lot of excursions in the months to come and I am excited to be reviewing it!

Things I like:

1.  Great organization of weather proof and mesh pockets.
2.  Smart, well engineered hydration system.
3.  Hipbelt and straps can be stowed.

Concerns:

1  Dependability of weatherproof finish.
2.  Drinking tube kinked but doesn't affect water flow.



Field Report:

Field Conditions:

Over the course of the reviewing process I have used this pack on many day trips and an overnight into my local hills.  I have also used it as a daily water source and essentials storage container for the plethora of items I found necessary to hoard during the recent floods in Colorado. 

I took the pack on 5 separate 7mi to 15 mi (11 km to 24 km) hikes in Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado.  The elevation ranged from 6,000 ft to 11,000 ft (1,829 m to 3,352 m).  The temperature ranged from 60 F to 45 F (16 C to 7 C). 

I also used the pack on an overnight trip to Pike National Forest, Colorado.  The elevation ranged from 9,300 ft to 11,500 ft (2,835 m to 3,505 m).  The temperature ranged from 57 F to 43 F (14 C to 6 C). 

This pack was carried daily for 9 weeks while I was displaced from my home waiting for utilities to be restored.  It served as a vital water source and storage companion.  I walked in severe rain lasting multiple days as well as in beautiful sunshine at elevations which ranged from 5,000 ft to 11,500 ft (1,524 m to 3,505 m).  The temperatures ranged from 55 F to 20 F (13 C to -7 C). 

Performance in the Field:

This is my new favorite daypack.  It is also my new favorite hydration pack.  The hydration reservoir is the best design, most practical to use and clean, and most logically thought out of any I've seen.  Platypus blows the main competition away in my opinion.  I honestly don't know why I have spent so many years trying to clean out other reservoirs that just aren't built practically.  Why hasn't someone thought of an easily removable water hose like the Quick-Connect drinking tube?  Or an easy to open and stick my hand in type of bag which I can actually clean using my hands and not some crazy brush on a stick?  Not to mention that it takes a special type of skill to fill the main competitors hydration pouch to the brim and then close the lid without making a mess.  This Platypus unit just seems so much more well thought out.  I expect to see more similar designs in the future.

The pack is decently waterproof, but nothing to write home about.  After the rain came down for four days during the long haul of the local flood I had more water in my pack than I'd like.  Actually more than I've ever seen.  I think maybe the DWR finish held it all in instead of it being absorbed into the fabric.  I could actually tip it upside down and dump the water out multiple times throughout the day.  I remedied the problem with two trash bags as pack liners to keep my stuff dry.  I had many things inside throughout each day.  Food and clothes were transported from place to place as well as water and copious amounts of beer.  At one point while the rain still fell, many of us heard from good sources that a local high country dam was set to break and bring a mountain of water down upon our town.  This was of course after we had 5 or 6 smaller dams break in succession creating a flash flood for the century late one evening prior.  As the sirens flared many had to grab what they had near.  I grabbed the Platypus bag as well as another larger bag and basically never let go of them.   Luckily the larger dam breach was just a rumor from an uneducated National Guard member, and although overflowing at a rapid pace, the dam held.  Throughout the entire ordeal, whether water got in or not, this bag was invaluable.

I really like all the storage in this daypack.  I think my favorite pocket is the stretchy one in the front.  I can put so many different things in it of all different sizes.  The straps allow me to tighten down the smallest and the largest of loads with equal ease.  I also like that the hydration reservoir pocket is capable of serving as a second large compartment.  I tend to stow my rain gear in here at all times just so that I know it is with me.  If I happen to pull it out to wear, it then gets stored in the front mesh pocket to dry.  The hydration pocket is also a good spot do store folded maps and such.  I really haven't used the side mesh pockets for much while backpacking.  I find that I don't need to carry any extra water most of the time due to the large size of the reservoir.  I have learned however, that the side mesh pockets serve as a great spot for crushed beverage cans. 

Easily the coolest thing for me is that I can fold and tuck the hip belt into the pack.  Friends are often surprised when I pull out the hip belt as if from nowhere.  The pack hides it well and its super convenient not to have it out flopping around all the time when I'm not using it.  When it is out and in use, I notice the change in weight distribution immediately.  I also use the sternum strap regularly.  When the pack is light, the strap stabilizes it so that is doesn't move around when I walk.  When the pack is heavy, the strap adds noticeable stability tightening the pack to my core.  Unfortunately half of the clip on the sternum strap broke after extended use, but the other half remains and allows for a tight connection still.

Summary:

I think that despite a few faults, this bag is great for what it is.  The quality design and novice-made-easy mechanics make my life enjoyable on and off the trail.  I like the compartment set up and the straps.  The DWR finish works well in a brief rain, but also traps water inside the pack much like other similar finishes I have experienced before.  Overall I really do enjoy this pack.

Things I like:

1.  Disappearing hip belt.
2.  Great storage compartments.
3.  Best designed hydration system I have used.

Things I don't like:

1.  Water gets in and gets trapped after heavy rain.


This concludes my Feild Report.  I would like to thank Cascade Designs and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to play with and review this product!



Read more reviews of Cascade Designs gear
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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Packs > Platypus Sprinter XT 25 Daypack > Test Report by alex legg



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