This Product was provided by Platypus for this review.
Platypus (a Cascade Designs Inc brand) currently offers 5 hydration packs: the Origin 3, 5, 9, 22, 32 with the number indicating the volume of the pack in liters.
I received the Origin 9 to review. This pack is touted as an ultralight hydration pack with 9 liters of dedicated storage area as well as a 3 liter (Platypus Big Zip hydration reservoir) hydration bladder.
The pack is advertised as weighing 1 lb 2 oz / 497 g and 5.8 oz / 165 g, on my scale I measured 18.6oz / 529 g for the pack, and 5.8 oz / 164 g for the pouch.
The main compartment of the pack is described as being weatherproof with welded all weather zippers and taped seams. The pack is intended for short hikes or ultralight all day outings (and looks to be targeted at cyclists). Along with many smaller details, it has a dedicated hydration compartment, a main storage compartment with a small mesh inner pouch, an outer expandable pouch, and two small side pockets in the hip belt.
The shoulder straps have two different attachment points on the hip belt and at the base of the pouch to accommodate different torso sizes. The main sections of the shoulder straps are filled with foam padding containing holes (to cut weight and provide ventilation?).
I have used a few Platypus hydration products over the years (I love the wine preservation pouches) and believe the Origin line is the first time they have offered hydration packs. If so from looking at this pack it looks like they sure did their research and intend to be a player in this field. This pack has many features and details that I will do my best to describe and review.
To start, this is a very good-looking pack, and looks well designed and constructed. The main material is shiny and embossed on the outside while the inside is coated very much like a raincoat, with what inner seams in the main compartment fully taped. The secondary material is a smooth stretchy material, similar to lycra workout cloths, but thicker and maybe not quite as stretchy. The Platypus brand name, logo and “ORIGIN 9” are all printed on the pack, and are highly reflective. As is the decretive stitching in the fabric attachment loops on the shoulder straps. The external zippers are all weather zippers without covering flaps similar to what I have been seeing on many of the soft shell jackets that I have been dreaming about getting. On the back of the pack, in addition to two helmet attachment loops on either side of the pack there are two other attachment points, one near the top and one near the bottom, that are little more than double slits in the material. They are backed with patches to maintain the weatherproof feature of the pack. There are 5 different openings that the drink tube can pass though from the inside of the pack. The primary one is at the top center of the pack and the opening is at an angle. I presume to help prevent water from entering. The other four are at the bottom of the pack on either side, one at the top of the hip belt and the other at the bottom corner of the pack. All on the inner side of the hipbelt, again presumably to help keep water from working its way into the pack.
The 3L Big Zip hydration reservoir that comes with this pack is an item that could stand to get a review of its own. I have owned many hydration bladders over the years and this one looks to have all of the features have been looking for. To start is the Big Zip opening at the top. The problem with early bladders is that the opening was not large enough to adequately clean and dry it properly between uses. The result is that I had to dispose of them when they would begin to mildew after extended storage. This bladder has a large zip opening (think resalable freezer bag on steroids) with a plastic clip that slides on to reinforce the zip opening to prevent it from accidentally opening as well as provide a convent way to carry/hang the pouch. The drink tube is attached to the pouch by way of a quick disconnect that has an integrated auto-shutoff valve. When the drink tube is removed the valve is closed, this way the tube can be removed from the pouch without the remaining liquid spilling out. This allows the pouch to be removed from the pack to be filled or emptied while not having to remove the hydration tube. The mouthpiece has its own valve to help prevent it from accidentally leaking. I have had a mouthpiece leak when it was in the back seat of my car on the way to a trailhead, and so this is a feature I can appreciate. The pack contains two toggles that fit through eye holes in the plastic closure clip to hold the pouch in place when inside the pack.
The 3L size of this pouch is a bit of over kill for most of my adventures. 3L of water is rather heavy and a bit much to carry most of the time, but it is not necessary to completely fill the pouch every time. However in camp I like to have additional water capacity so I can have all the water I will need for the night with a single trip to the stream or lake. In addition, I am planning a long (~15hr) all in one day of Mt Adams this summer, and for that the 3L size of this pouch is what I was planning to carry anyway.
I am looking forward to using this Hydration pack over the next two months and invite you to return in one month when I will be posting the 2nd of 3 installments to this review.
[Update July 12 2011]
While on a day hike with my kids I found the pack size to be good for our basic items; 10 essentials* (see note below), and snacks. Since we hiked up out of the canyon to a local winery, I found it even had enough room to bring home a bottle of wine. The gear plus 3L of water and bottle of wine not only all fit well, it was also quite comfortable despite the weight. I brought the pack along on a recent backing trip to use for day hiking. I spent a full day hiking in cool weather with light rain. The light rain simply beaded up and rolled off the pack so I had no worries of any of my gear getting wet. The pack was quite comfortable despite almost a full day on the trail so I decided to do some trail running. I managed to only run about half a mile before a snake shot out and barely missed striking my leg. During the brief period I did manage to run, I found the pack to ride quite well not shifting or bouncing at all. I don’t normally wear a pack while running and was quite surprised at how comfortable it was and how it had little or no affect on my running.
There is one feature of the pack that I have found lacking, and that would be the whistle. It is a nice touch to include the whistle, but the whistle that came with the pack does not work very well. The way it is built, unless I get my lips positioned just right, it seems best to put the whistle in my mouth sideways, most of the air bypasses the whistle and makes no sound. Even when I do get my lips positioned right, the whistle is still not very loud. So at the end of the review period I will probably be replacing the whistle with one that works better.
The hydration system works flawlessly. The large opening has made it easy to fill, empty, clean, and dry (I like to store my pouches open with some paper towels inside them to help keep them from mildewing). I really like the quick disconnect on the drinking tube. It allows me to remove the pouch for filling without having to completely remove the drink tube. The only trouble is that the water that is in the tube can drain out into the pouch, but that is at worst only a minor nuisance.
The hip belt pockets, at first seemed a bit small and their position looked like they could be difficult to access. However, I have not found this to be the case. I found the pockets quite convenient for items like snack bars, lip balm and even my camera. I like hip belt pockets and so far have found them to be sized well to fit the overall storage size of the pack.
So far I am quite impressed with this pack. The design and construction so far has exceeded my expatiations. The size is great for my shorter and/or lightweight day hikes. I look forward to the rest of the testing period and invite you to return in about a month when I will be posting my final review of this product.
On a side note, my teenage daughter has been bugging me about this pack. She loves the design and color and has repeatedly asked me if she can have it when I am done reviewing it. I told her that she can have this one only if she buy’s me the Origin 22. [grin]
* 10 Essentials
- Navigation (map and compass)
- Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
- Insulation (extra clothing)
- Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
- First-aid supplies
- Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
- Repair kit and tools
- Nutrition (extra food)
- Hydration (extra water)
- Emergency shelter
[Update Sep 1 2011]
NOTE: I have a very light weight 18L frameless pack that I normally use as a summit pack. Turned inside out it functions as a stuff sack (I use it for my clothing in my multi-day pack). But for my 3rd ascent of Mt Adams this year (in just over a month) I chose to use the Platypus in its place.
The Platypus is a bit stiff and bulky for stuffing inside a pack, but since over the last 2 years I have greatly reduced the weight & bulk of my gear so I easily had room for this in my Osprey Ather 70. After arriving at camp I removed my clothes from the Platypus and repacked it with what I would bring for my trip to the summit (10 Essentials, wind jacket, down jacket, lightweight crampons, rain/glissading pants, snacks & lunch, & ski gloves). I filled the hydration bladder with 2L of water for the climb and clipped my camera to the chest straps. I have been carrying my camera in on side pocket of the pack (sunscreen & snacks in the other) and while this works really well, for this trip I did not think it a good idea since the plan was to hike up and glissade down (in one section we descend over 2000 vertical feet in less than 10min).
While the Platypus may not be ideal for stuffing in another pack, its comfort was welcome during the ascent to the summit. As I have come to expect, soon after putting the pack on I can completely forget about it. No matter what amount of bending and twisting I do the pack stays firmly and comfortably in place. When stopping, I really appreciate the internal storage pocket, as it makes it easy to locate smaller items even when perched on an icy 70 deg slope. During the glissade down, its compact size and ability to stay firmly in place was even more appreciated. At one point there was a bit of a roadblock in the glissade trough (climber decided to stop halfway down to chat with friends), forcing me to self-arrest. While my normal summit pack would shift during a maneuver like that, it was not until I had gotten past the climber and resumed my glissade that I remembered to check that my pack and all its contents were still with me.
Since receiving this pack I have stuffed it with various loads and found that if I really overstuff it, I can make it ride uncomfortably. When overstuffed the pack tends to ‘round’ and no longer sits firmly on my back, but since this requires way overstuffing the pack, I can’t fault the pack of that.
I have been really impressed with the design and construction of this pack and can find little to complain about in that area. Despite is apparent small size it fits my larger frame quite well, and while this pack has not really experienced the level of abuse that many of my day packs do, it appears to be quite durable. The only complaint I have in that area is that while packing for my Mt Adams trip I noticed a few loose treads on one of the bottom corners of the pack. I plan to take a closer look to see if this is a sign of the seam coming loose, and if it does not look like trimming/melting the loose threads will take care of it I plan to contact the manufacture to see if it can be repaired (and if it is covered under the warranty), and will update this review.
As for the Big Zip? Well there is really not much I can add to what I have previously said. It has performed flawlessly. No leaks (not even the mouthpiece), no odor (though I have used it exclusively for plain water, no flavors or additives). The Zip opening is still easy to open/close, makes the bag easy to clean and dry, and creates a leak free seal. After using this, I am considering purchasing one or more of the Platypus water bottles that I can use for things like short trips, sports drinks, etc.
I will conclude this review the way I started it in saying that Platypus really hit a home run with this line of packs. The design, materials, and workmanship are clearly the result of some research with a focus on the end user.
I would really like to thank the folks at 4AllOutdoors.org and Platypus for the opportunity to test this fine product. I expect this pack to be a standard part of my day trip gear (unless my daughter steals it from me as she has been threatening to do ever since I received it). Now I need to find a way to get my hands on the Origin32 as it looks like the ideal pack for things like long day trips, travel, and snowshoeing (I have a birthday coming up, maybe someone will mention this to my wife…).
Dave (the turtle) Wilkes