Friday 9 August 2013

Gear Review: Osprey Verve 5 Hydration Pack

Proof, if proof were needed, that wandering through an outdoor store is fraught with hazards.  Here's Nic's review of her new spontaneous purchase, the Osprey Verve 5 Hydration Pack.

For a long time now, I’ve been searching for the perfect running pack.  I’ve tried out several backpacks and a couple of waistpacks, with mixed results.  I am very short and fairly small-built, at only just 5ft tall.  Apparently I have a particularly short body, as I could not find a backpack with straps that were adjustable enough to pull tightly and avoid bounce.  I tried Inov-8, Deuter and Salomon packs, and none of them were good enough.  My Inov-8 RacePro 4 waistpack was an adequate compromise, as it obviously didn't bounce on my shoulders.  However, when the bladder is full, the bounce on my hips is uncomfortable and messes with my centre of gravity.  It occurred to me that there might be such a thing as a ladies’ fit backpack and I hit upon the Osprey Sirrus 24 pack.  As well as being pleasingly purple, it is extremely adjustable and comfortable to wear – for once I could tighten the straps enough to eliminate bouncing on my shoulders.  My favourite feature is that it is built on a frame, so the fabric of the pack sits away from one’s back, so sweat can evaporate.  Unfortunately, this pack is big.  Nearly as big as me, according to comments from other runners.  I was carrying around a large pack which was mostly empty, even with all the required kit, food and water for a trail marathon.  You could probably happily use this pack for a mountain marathon!

The Osprey Sirrus - more than enough pack for a coastal marathon. It did rather catch the wind, though.

I had given up on finding the perfect pack, accepting a compromise with a too-big but incredibly comfy backpack.  Then, during a browse around an outdoor shop, I saw the Osprey Verve 5  pack.  I was immediately excited as this seemed to be everything I’d been looking for, for at least two years.  A ladies-fit pack, the Verve is a deep purple in colour.  It is small and compact, with 5 litre capacity.  It has a large bladder pouch, which contains an Osprey Hydraulics bladder; a small waterproof pocket, which is big enough for phone, keys and Vaseline and probably a few other small items; a larger pocket on the front, which is big enough for quite a lot of snacks; and a mesh pouch between the front and back pockets, which is ideal for stuffing extra layers or a waterproof into.

The Verve 5 on a hot and sweaty trail run.

In terms of space, it is plenty for my requirements for most training runs and races.  The small first-aid kit and foil blanket that I normally carry will easily fit into the bladder pouch.  The only thing it lacks is a side pocket, which is really handy for easy-access to food.  It does have a small elasticated mesh pouch on the left hand shoulder strap – perfect for a phone, camera or a gel or two.

Main pocket on the outer, small pocket with zip at the top, big expandable open pouch in between.  Note the snazzy bike helmet clip.

The first few times I used it, I struggled with the Osprey Hydraulics bladder system.  I had a few leaks after failing to close the screw top.  It is a little fiddly and requires a bit more care than other bladders I’ve used when closing it up.  The feature I particularly love is that the bladder pipe has a magnet on the end, which fixes it neatly to the shoulder strap – no tubing dangling around while you run, you just clip it in place – very easy and very cool!

Magnet for the bite valve.  Not ideal for pacemakers, but otherwise very cool.

Bite valve just snaps on and off - sooo easy.

I’ve worn my pack for a few long runs and hikes now, and it is very comfy.  I usually wear a backpack with a vest which has a collar, to avoid neck-chafing.  I tried it earlier this week with a normal vest, just to see how much chafing I ended up with.  After nearly four hours of running, I had no chafing.  I certainly can’t say this about the Osprey Sirrus or any other backpack I’ve ever run with.  It did get pretty hot on my back, as there is no frame with this one, just a vented pad.  I think this is a compromise I can cope with, given the total comfort of this pack.  A few runs and hikes in the Appalachians this Summer were certainly hot and sweaty, but the pack remained comfortable in spite of the lack of a fully vented frame.

Vented straps and back pad - cooler than no vents.  Better than many.

Overall, I’m really pleased with the Osprey Verve 5.  It is aesthetically pleasing, compact, and comfy with a few added extra clever features.  For anything up to 50km, it will certainly do the job in most weather.


  1. Thank you for this review! I, too, need a pack to fit a petite build for 3-7 hr. hikes. I love my kids' sized Camelbak Mini Mule, but the 1.5L water capacity if not enough, and the larger Camelbaks are huge on me. I settled on the Verve, but didn't know which size to go with. Your review and photos have helped me choose the 5L with confidence. Thank you!