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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Osprey Volt 75 or Viva 65 > Test Report by Steven M Kidd

OSPREY VOLT 75
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M KIDD
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - May 16, 2013
FIELD REPORT - August 06, 2013
LONG TERM REPORT - October 01, 2013

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Steven M Kidd
EMAIL: ftroop94ATgmailDOTcom
AGE: 41
LOCATION: Franklin, Tennessee
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 173 lb (78.50 kg)

Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Image Courtesy of Opsrey Packs, Inc.

Manufacturer: Osprey Packs, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.ospreypacks.com/
MSRP: US $199.00
Listed Weight: 3 lb 12 oz (1.70 kg)
Measured Weight: 3 lb 11 oz (1.67 kg)
Volume: 4577 cu. in (75 L)
Pack Dimensions (HxWxD): 33x13x29 in -- [83x33x29 cm]* -- (84x33x74 cm)**
*Metric Dimensions Listed on the Osprey website which appear incorrect
**Proper metric conversions for pack dimensions
Available Colors: Stellar Blue, Fern Green (Testing Green)

The Volt 75 is a pack in a new series produced by Osprey. Complementing this pack, the line includes the Volt 60, and two women's packs called the Viva 65 and Viva 50. The manufacturer suggests they may be used from weekend to weeklong excursions in both backpacking and mountaineering. Each pack series produced by Osprey appears to have a key feature that is emphasized. The Volt/Viva series highlights the "Integrated Custom Fit" feature.

To further explain, the pack is offered in only one size, whereas many other Osprey series' come in the traditional small, medium and large sizes. The Integrated Custom Fit allows the Volt 75 to be adjusted up to 5 in (13 cm) for torso lengths ranging from 17 - 22 inches (43 - 56 cm). In addition the hip belt will fit a waist ranging from 28 - 44 in (71 - 112 cm) using a technology called Fit-on-the-Fly.

The Volt offers more than a handful of other nice features. Each hip belt has a small zippered pocket for quick access to smaller items. The left pocket has the stylized Osprey emblem on it. The main pack bag has two ice axe loops and a stretchable mesh kangaroo pocket with an adjustable clip to secure it. This pocket has a large stylized Osprey logo on it that has a reflective nature. There are both upper and lower compression straps on the outside of the pack bag that may be used to secure smaller loads and external items. There are three daisy chain loops on either side of the front of the main bag as well as a pair of paracord style attachment loops.
IMAGE 5
A view of the External Hydration Sleeve

The top lid of the pack floats with more compression straps for larger loads, and may be removed completely. This lid has both an external and internal zippered pocket for storing small gear. The external pocket has a key clip as well. The main pack bag has yet another compression strap on the inside, and the website notes it as a "Red" compression strap. The main pack has a large drawstring with a clip for closure and an internal divider for a sleeping bag compartment at the bottom. It may be strapped closed for a separate area or left open for one large bag. There is a half moon-shaped zipper for direct access to this lower area. The bottom of the pack bag has removable sleeping bag straps.
IMAGE 6
Stow-on-the-Go

There is a hydration sleeve on the back panel of the pack that is designed to simplify refilling a water reservoir. The company also states this protects the pack contents from spills. The main pack body does not have to be opened to access a bladder with this sleeve. Each side of the pack has mesh stretch pockets made with the same material as the kangaroo pocket. They have an opening at the top and on the side for quick access when wearing the pack.

One final key highlight is the Stow-on-the-Go technology. It is a system designed to stow trekking poles on the fly without having to stop and remove the pack. As I wear the pack, the poles are stowed on the left side using an elasticized cord and lock on the shoulder harness and another cord at the bottom of the pack bag. There is a PVC protector around the cords to protect them from wear and tear. The image to the right, courtesy of Osprey shows the technology as deployed.

FITTING THE PACK

The torso size is changed by adjusting the shoulder harness up or down the packs main body. The harness is attached to the body with hook and loop and two LightWire rails on either side of the pack bag. Simply pull the hook and loop loose, and slide the harness up or down along the rails to a desired fit. The LightWire rails appear to be a wire frame covered with a clear polymer sheath. I believe these also add to the pack's frame stability as well. My torso size has typically fallen right on the cusp of a medium and large pack, so without pulling out the measuring tape I checked a few comfortable positions and ended up setting this to one notch above the {M}. In the end this corresponds to a 21 in (53 cm) setting as the reader may note on the image below and to the left, and it is about perfect for my frame.

IMAGE 2
Notice the LightWire and the Adjustable Harness
IMAGE 3
The Hook and Loop Pulley Away to Show Available Sizing






























IMAGE 4
One Hip Fully Extended & Other in the Smallest Setting

There are two key ways to adjust the hip belt; one being is the Fit-on-the-Fly method. This entails the padded portion on each side of the hip belt having the ability to extend up to 3 in (7.5 cm) for a total of 6 in (15 cm) of padded hip comfort and protection. Webbing secures the extended pads to the actual pack body and they are further secured using hook and loop technology. Secondly, the waist may be tightened by pulling or cinching it toward the body's center mass. Osprey calls this Ergo Pull. Simply put, the belt is fed from the waist clip through two plastic guides closer to the pack frame that allows for a pulley or lever type tightening system. At this point I don't believe I will need to adjust the Fit-on-the-Fly settings beyond their smallest placement, but if I begin to feel any discomfort on the trail I do like the ability to quickly adjust, and to be able to do so without removing the pack.

My only concern with the Integrated Custom Fit on the Volt is the angle of the load lifter straps coming off the shoulder harness and onto the upper pack bag. Conventional wisdom and past tutorials from many outfitters have always suggested the load lifters creating roughly a 45 degree angle. As I have the pack set just above a medium setting this definitely changes this to closer to 65 - 70 degrees. This would be even more exaggerated for a person with a smaller torso. Time will tell if this affects the way the load is carried, and currently the fit feels great. The shoulder harness curves around my shoulder blades and the bag doesn't pull away from my body. I look forward to trail testing this concern under load in the ensuing months.





INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My first impressions of the Osprey Volt 75 are generally positive. The fact that it weighs in well under 4 lbs (~2 kg) for its size, and with the bells and whistles that accompany it excited me from the outset.

A few features from which I noticed an immediate benefit were the hydration sleeve and the Stow-on-the-Go system. For no reason other than the simplicity of refilling a reservoir on the go without having to dig into the pack bag impressed me. It certainly adds a minimal amount of weight over an internal pack pocket, but I'm intrigued by the concept. The manufacturer mentions protecting other gear from a spill, which it certainly would do, but even in this external sleeve I don't believe an all out bladder failure would keep the interior contents of a pack dry. I own an Osprey HdyraFrom reservoir already, so it should work perfectly with the Volt.

A feature I'm already familiar with and that I absolutely love is the Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole storage system. I've had an Osprey Exos series pack in the past with this technology and it is very handy on the trail. If I'm on level terrain or don't wish to use my poles I can literally stow them away without ever stopping. I simply pull the cord at the base of the pack out a few inches and slip the tips of the poles in. I then I place the handles through the loop on the shoulder harness and cinch it tight with the cord lock and trek onward without missing a beat. The stock image earlier in the report shows them in use.

I also like the external stretch mesh pockets on the Volt. The kangaroo pocket on the front of the pack is perfectly sized to hold rain gear and a pack cover for quick access if inclement weather arises. If I break camp with a wet tarp I can store it in this pocket without comprising the other gear in my pack. The side pockets are nicely sized as well and if I place a water bottle horizontally in either of these pockets I can actually reach back and grab it and...sometimes...return it. This is something many other packs aver, but I rarely have been able to actually accomplish without the aid of a buddy.
IMAGE 7
Mesh Side Pocket
IMAGE 8
Entry Points to the Side Pocket
























These are a few first impressions that excite me about the pack. The quality appears superb and it's hard to beat the Osprey "All Mighty Guarantee" that basically states the will repair or replace any product in any era for any reason. That's tough beat!

SUMMARY

I'm impressed and excited to start field testing the Osprey Volt 75. The volume is quite a bit larger than I've carried recently, but I have two young children that have started to backpack with me over the last year and I can use the pack to carry some of the additional gear I need for them.
IMAGE 9
As I've stated it appears to be a quality built product and I'm looking forward to getting a load in and out in the woods. In fact with much of my kids gear I can see myself closing in on the 50+ lb (23 kg) max load suggestion really soon and I look forward to reporting on it in the ensuing months.

There are plenty of roses I see in the pack to include:

*Pack Weight
*Stow-on-the-Go
*The hydration Sleeve
*The side and kangaroo mesh pouches

The only potential thorn I have with the pack is the angle the load lifters come off the shoulder harness onto the pack bag.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

22 - 23 June, 2013: Bear Island on J. Percy Priest Lake. The island is a fifteen minute paddle from Anderson Boat Ramp, in Davidson, Tennessee (a part of the Metropolitan Nashville Area). Lake elevation at full summer pond is 490 ft (149 m) and I used a tarp and the cot camping less than twenty yards from shore on this overnight outing. Temperatures rose as high as 91 F (33 C) during the day and dipped to around 70 F (21 C) at night. Most of my mileage was hiking around the island without my backpack.

2 - 4 July, 2013: Chesdin Reservoir Area, Matoaca, Virginia. This lake (reservoir) was created by a damming part of the Appomattox River in the late 60's and lies 108 ft (40 m) above sea level at full pool with a max depth of 45 ft (14 m). The three-day and two-night trip covered around 12 mi (19 km) of backcountry hiking with evenings camping near a beach. Temperatures ranged from around 95 F (35 C) in the day to around 70 F (21 C) in the evening. Conditions were dry.

1 - 4 August, 2013: Bear Island on J. Percy Priest Lake. A second trip to the island, this time with my 4 1/2 year old son and all his gear and mine in the pack. Temperatures were nearly identical to the June trip save a moderately rainy day on Saturday 3 August.
IMAGE 1

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Volt has been quite pleasant to use during the summer. I've used it on three individual outings, but got the most mileage and use on a multi-day trip around Independence Day in Virginia. During the hot summer months the volume has been a little overkill for my style of backpacking, but I know that will change as fall ensues and I begin to get both of my young children out into the backcountry.

I did use it on a four day trip with my son to do some island camping and it easily handled all our gear. On this trip I loaded it with two of nearly every item. As we were hammock camping I stuffed two hammocks, two under quilts, a top quilt, a sleeping bag and two tarps into the pack. I also had all our gear and clothing. The weight of the pack was nearly 50 lb (23 kg) and wore very well. In fact, since we boated to the island and camped on the beach I decided to take a hike in the pack to see how it reacted to the bulk and weight. The island is nearly a mile long and after hiking through the marshy center and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, I took the perimeter back around to my campsite for fresh air, water and minimal attacks. I'd estimate I logged around 3.5 - 4 mi (5.6 - 6.4 km) with the fully loaded pack. It felt great, although I did perspire quite a bit.

Adjusting the pack is quite simple and it may be done easily on the trail. However, save one adjustment on my trek in Virginia, I believe I pretty well have it dialed in to my own comfort level.

I do like the ability to access the hydration reservoir from the outside of the pack. It will handle a 3 liter (3.2 qt) bag that I have, but I rarely hiked with that amount as to date I have always had access to a water source.

A few things about the pack that came in very handy included: The waist belt pouches were very handy for items that I wanted quickly (knives, energy food, etc). The kangaroo pouch on the outer portion was great to stuff rain gear in for quick access. Finally, I absolutely love the Stow-on-the-Go technology for trekking poles! I've used it on previous Osprey packs and continue to admire it...more so for me than the Fit-on-the-Fly aspect. As I mentioned, once I set it up, I haven't needed to adjust my fit.
IMAGE 2
The back panel doesn't breathe as well as I'd love, and I do perspire quite a bit, but I foresee this being less of an issue in the fall months when the volume of the pack will really suit my needs. I mentioned earlier that it easily handled both my sons and my own gear for a multi-day trip, however, I'm fairly sure when I start taking trips late in the summer and early fall with both he and my 6 year old daughter it will meet its capacity. They will most likely have to carry their own food and clothing, or their own sleeping gear. I look forward to reporting on this in my final review.

SUMMARY

To date I've been quite pleased with the Osprey Volt. The pack has more volume and weighs considerably more than I typically carry, but it has been very comfortable to wear and handles a load quite well. I have enjoyed the volume when carrying two sets of gear and I'm certain I'll look forward to seeing how much it can handle when I begin to head out with both my son and my daughter.

Osprey has added some new features and reintroduced others that I'd seen only on their more expensive products. Cost is relative to the individual, but I believe the manufacturer has tried to make an affordable product that includes some of the features of their higher end packs. I commend them for this.

I truly admire the Stow-on-the-Go Technology, the external hydration sleeve, the kangaroo pocket and the hipbelt pouches. The only thorn I have to date is how much I perspire in the product. This is because the main pack bag sits close to my torso, but fortunately the material does wick some of the moisture away. I'd originally believed the angle in which the load lifters came off the pack due to my torso adjustment may cause concern, but I'm happy to report this has not caused me any trouble to date.

I look forward to continued use over the final several months of the test series and invite the reader to return for my final input as fall approaches!


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

23-25 August, 2013: The Fiery Gizzard Trail, South Cumberland State Park, Tennessee. A 3-day, 2-night outing; that covered around 6 miles (~10 km). With my 4 1/2 and 6 year old children along we hiked to the Small Wilds camping area. This was not their first mult-night trip, but it was the first experience that all three of us had not shared a 3-Person tent. Instead we all had individual hammock setups. I'd been out one-on-one using hammocks and with all three of us in the back yard, but now we all had our own rigs setup on individual trees. Elevations were a fairly constant 1750 ft (533 m) and temperatures were nice compared to normal August conditions in the south. It was dry and temperatures ranged from 68 - 82 F (2- 28 C).

13-14 September, 2013: The Stone Door area of the South Cumberland State Park, Tennessee. This was quick overnight trip to dial the nuances on a new hammock that a buddy made for me. In early October I'll be taking a 4 day trip in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park and I wanted to ensure my new sleeping setup is comfortable. Conditions were nastier than my August trip! Summer finally hit us in Tennessee at the beginning of September. I covered around 13 miles (21 km) and temperatures were as warm at 96 F (~36 C) and the humidity was intense.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

This cavernous pack has held up well to the experiences I've thrown at it throughout the testing series. I emphasize cavernous as for me, the volume of this pack was particularly spacious for summer (over even winter) use. The Volt is more pack than I'd typically ever need for the majority of my solo backcountry experiences. That stated it was an excellent commodity to have on the trips that involved my children!

I'll address that first as this was my favorite aspect of the product. My children are young, nearly five and just over six years in age, but they love to get out into the woods with me. At this point I like them to carry a little of their own weight to appreciate the experience, but for all intense purposes I am still the pack mule. I've also just begun to introduce them to hammock camping vs. sleeping in at tent. I state all this to clarify that with this form of camping we each need the following individual items: a hammock, a top quilt and an underquilt. We also need a minimum of two and sometimes three tarps for weather protection.

I typically have the children carry one of their own quilts, their clothes and a few other essential items. That leaves me with multiple hammocks, quilts, tarps, food and more. I try to be as minimal as possible on weight, but all this gear does add up in volume. The Volt has been able to handle all this gear without concern. Also, on my heaviest outset I measured the pack weight at 44 lbs (20 kg). At this I still found the pack very comfortable. It never pulled away from my body and in my opinion handled quite well. I would like to clarify that most of the terrain at this weight was relatively flat. This wasn't to minimize the testing experience, rather to keep my young children invigorated and excited about their early experiences carrying their own gear.

I've noticed no major wear on the pack, as I believe it is built quite well. I did perspire quite a bit on warmer days when hiking with the Volt. I prefer the suspensions that offer a mesh ventilation air gap between my body and the pack bag. Although several Osprey designs offer this, the Volt does not. I wasn't a deal breaker, but would have been nice. I'm not certain how the manufacturer could incorporate such technology into an adjustable framed pack and I presume this is the reason there is no such option with this design.

As I mentioned, the pack has held up well, and is made with what I find a durable cloth. This may have allowed it to hold up well to heavy use and heavy weight loads. That stated, with all the 'beefy' materials and options I find the weight to feature ratio to be acceptable for a product of this level. I've certainly carried packs with similar features and design that were quite a bit heavier!

As with my previous field report, I like the option of the Fit-on-the-Fly technology, but really didn't find a need for it that often. Once I had the pack 'dialed-in' it was good to go for me. I can't speculate on others' use, but could envision its use during changing environments. I'll reiterate that I do really like the Stow-on-the-Go technology for quick trekking pole deployment. I even noticed a mimicked version from a specialty vendor recently.

SUMMARY

Overall I was quite impressed with the Osprey Volt. I found it to be an excellent option when I'm packing large loads with my young children. I personally feel this pack is probably intended to be marketed toward the newer/entry level backpacker based on its pricing and versatility. However, as an experienced (...old?) hiker I'm happy to continue using it in the instances I've mentioned above. For my average outing when I do not have my children in tow it certainly will not be my go-to product, but this isn't a negative. I simply have no need for the massive volume when I'm packing for myself alone.

I'll summarize by reminding the reader that although in my opinion the pack is more entry level, it certainly boasts many features that to-date I've only seen on packs starting a much higher price point. The pack handles well.

This concludes my test and I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Osprey Packs, Inc. for allowing me the opportunity to test the Volt 75.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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