By: Jenn K.
Osprey provided this pack for the purpose of this review.
Osprey has updated their Hydraulic pack line with the Viper and Verve series. The Viper is a men’s specific pack and the Verve is designed especially for women (a shorter torso length). The Verve series is a multi-sport hydration pack for use while mountain biking, trail running, or hiking. The Verve comes in four sizes: 13, 10, 7, and 4.
I am reviewing the Verve 7 pack. The Verve 7 comes in one size, has a storage capacity of 400 cubic inches, and a 70 ounce (2 liter) Hydraform Reservoir. The Verve 7 is available in two colors: Sea Squall (green) and Lava (red). There are also some color coordinated reflective graphics on the front of the pack.
The outside of the Verve has a LidLock Helmet Clip. This is to secure a helmet in place. I have no idea why Osprey even designs a pack with this feature. It is a good idea, but I think a helmet should be on a head and not on a pack. The outside of the Verve has a bungee lacing system to hold extra clothing or other items to the outside of the pack. This is a great feature for me as I like to use a smaller pack, but sometimes I can not fit an extra jacket inside. There is a blinker light attachment on the outside of the pack. This attachment can also hold the hipbelt in place when it is reversed wrapped instead of removing it.
The dual zippered main compartment of the Verve has a panel (top) loading design. Inside the main compartment there are three pockets that nicely house a tire pump, multi-tool, and some snacks. Two of the pockets are slender and run to the bottom of the pack (this is ideal for a tire pump). There is a pocket in the center that is mesh that runs about half the depth of the main pack compartment. This depth is ideal, since I do not like digging around for my stuff. There is also a key clip inside the main compartment of the Verve.
There is a small zippered storage compartment on the Verve that is lined with a soft, easy to clean heat embossed fabric. The instructions state that there is a key clip in this pocket when actually the key clip is inside the main compartment.
The harness is made of slotted foam with a mesh covering. There is one stretch pocket on the harness to hold small items, such as an MP3 player or snacks. The sternum strap is adjusted vertically by easily sliding it up or down a fabric covered ridge. The sternum strap has some elastic stretch, is fastened with a traditional quick release buckle, and is equipped with a magnet to attach the hydration bite valve.
The backpanel is made of mesh except for a small, slender area where the hook and loop closure for the hydration pocket fastens. The backpanel is a flat design with no extra padding lumps or protrusions. After being on the mountain bike for three hours my back was comfortable and I had no pressure points!
The hydration reservoir is stored inside a top loading compartment with a hook and loop closure and is secured with load lifter buckles (which help keep the pack stabilized with sudden movement). This compartment is called the HydraLock System, which is designed to enable maximum pack storage capacity with a full reservoir. The HydraLock System is also designed to provide stability of the hydration reservoir, plus it squeezes the reservoir to obtain hydraulic pressure to increase the flow and help prevent water motion. Inside the HydraLock is an attachment strap to secure a different brand of reservoir and there is a plastic piece facing away from the backpanel that has indentations to match the fit of the reservoir.
The HydraForm Reservoir is made by Nalgene. It has a wide mouth opening and a spine that acts as a handle for filling and offers stability to the water load. The reservoir has a plastic sheet on the back with a layer of nylon fabric on the top. This side is to face the user’s back. This is designed to allow the reservoir to conform to the shape of a person’s back. The reservoir has anti-microbial properties, a bite valve with that can be turned on or off, and a magnetic clip on the bite valve. It is also BPA and PVC free. The magnetic clip attaches to the sternum strap.
One last feature of the Verve 7 is the removable hip belt. Some of my smaller packs have no hipbelt and at times I found that when my pack is light I really do not need one. This pack gives me the option of fully removing the belt, wearing it, or reverse wrapping it through the blinker light attachment.
I took the Verve 7 pack out on a mountain bike ride that was just over three hours. The Verve was very comfortable; especially the back panel. At times I barely noticed I was wearing a pack. When I went to use the pack for the first time I noticed that the hipbelt was reverse threaded through the one end of the fastener. This was easily fixed by removing it from the fastener and re-threading it. My favorite feature so far is the added stretch pocket on the harness. I was able to place my MP3 player in the pocket along with my lip balm. I could even access the controls of the MP3 player while it was inside the pocket.
A month has gone by since I received the Osprey Verve. The weather is warmer and it is the perfect time to be using a smaller sized pack for mountain biking and hiking. I absolutely love this pack for mountain biking; it is one of my favorites!
There are a few features of the Verve that make me love this pack. First of all, it is very comfortable and fits me well. Secondly, I love the shoulder harness pocket. It is easy to load and unload, even with the water reservoir full. Lastly, the reservoir is easy to use and the water does not shift around while riding or walking.
This backpack is stable enough while I am mountain biking that the hip belt is not needed. Actually I prefer to use the pack without the hip belt; just because I find that I am more comfortable and I do not feel any restriction. The HydraLock System keeps the water stable and limits excessive motion. This system uses pressure to have my water ready for drinking when I suck on the valve. The magnetic attachment keeps the valve secured to the sternum strap (for easy access) even while riding on rough terrain.
All my necessities that I carry for a one to three hour ride fit nicely inside the Verve. Now this is if the weather is on the mild side. On cooler days I found the external bungee cord handy to secure my jacket. Inside the Verve I carry my hand pump, tire levers, bike tool, spare tube, small sunscreen, lip balm, snacks, light vest, arm warmers, camera, keys, first aid supplies, and snacks.
The backpanel of the Verve is so comfortable. It seems to cradle against my back and does not put pressure on my back, hips, or shoulders. Many of the trails here in Southern California are long steady 8-10 mile climbs and comfort is the key to an enjoyable ride. There are times I would not even take a pack to have more comfort while climbing steadily; I would stuff my jersey pockets with my needed gear. However, the Verve really shines in the area of comfort and it allows me to carry my necessities and luxuries on rides that involve long steady climbing.
The harness of the Verve offers enough padding that my shoulders are comfortable and it does not cause any rubbing or irritation; especially on long rides. I just love the harness pocket! It is convenient to stash some snacks or my MP3 player for easy access.
I clean (with gentle soap and water)/hang the HydraForm Reservoir and disconnect the valve after every use. This is helping keep the reservoir mold free and smelling clean. There are times I placed the pack down on the ground and forgot to close the valve. Oops! So, I had a puddle of water since the pack was pressing on the valve.
I used the LidLock Helmet Clip to store my helmet while I was working a mountain biking event. I did not want to wear my helmet and I figured it would be great to store it on the pack instead of holding it or placing it on the ground. The helmet was easily stored and secured on the Verve using the clip. I just don’t see me using the clip often since I always wear a helmet when I ride.
Final Update 6/17/11
I am still enjoying the Osprey Verve 7 for mountain biking and short day hikes. I enjoy it so much that I wish I had a few more sizes to replace the other packs that I own. The pack has been worn while mountain biking for short rides lasting about an hour to rides that were over four hours in length. The Verve was also used on short day hikes under 8 miles.
The Verve fits all my needed necessities and enough water for mountain bike rides lasting four hours in a comfortable temperature range where many extra layers and my cold weather gear is not needed.
I love the backpanel design and the shape of the Verve pack. It fits me like a glove and does not give me any pressure areas. One of the flaws that I can find with this pack is how it significantly tapers down at the bottom. Thus when I have the pack loaded sometimes it can feel top-heavy as I am packing my larger and heavier items near the top of the pack. I like the tapered design, but the pack may feel less top-heavy if the pack was not tapered as much. I have not really found this to be much of an issue unless I am not wearing the hip belt and I am going downhill and a fast pace. I am not a fan of the helmet clip. It works well, but I do not see much of a use for it as I always wear a helmet when riding.
I generally like not wearing a hip belt with this pack, just because of how comfortable the pack is and the small size. However, at times a hip belt makes the pack more stable; such as when descending tight switchbacks and riding downhill at a high speed, but generally I would rather not use a hip belt when climbing. With or without the hip belt the hydration reservoir does not shift inside the Verve.
All the zippers are functioning; none have broken away from the track and the pulls are intact. All the clips and strap adjusters are working like they are new. The fabric has not torn; even after tossing the Verve on the ground and crashing hard a few times.
The bungee cord holds a jacket with no problem to the exterior of the pack while mountain biking. Even after bouncing my bike over rocks and going downhill fast, a jacket stays in place. The bungee cord storage allows me to ride in slightly cooler temperatures/longer distances and still carry all my necessities in the pack.
The HydraForm Reservoir with the magnetic sternum clip gives me hydration on demand. The reservoir and the valve are cleaned after each use and there have been no signs of mold or icky tasting water.
At the moment the Osprey Verve is my favorite pack. I have found it to be perfect for short to medium length mountain bike rides and short hikes.
For more information on the Verve 7 pack, please visit http://www.ospreypacks.com/.