The mighty Osprey are back with a new range of packs for day hiking this spring in the form of the Skarab and Skimmer, which come in 22 and 30 litre versions in the men's fit Skarab, and 20 and 28 litre versions in the women's Skimmer. We have the Skarab 30 on test, other variants are likely to have very similar feature sets and load carrying ability.
The range is touted by Osprey as simple and stylish, we like simple and stylish, especially if the technical aspect is still there and the thing actually works, so on the face of it everything sounds good.
On to testing and Osprey weren't lying when they said the packs had a simple aesthetic. Despite the usual feature set of hipbelt, sternum strap and a range of pockets the lines are clean and the 30 litre version looks immediately welcoming and usable.
And usable it is, carrying the Skimmer 30 is about as comfortable an experience as you're going to get in a daypack, despite the low tech looking AirScape backpanel. 'Bump foam' creates air channels for ventilation but also provides very comfortable cushioning and together with the mesh overlay panel they make for a close-fitting but airy surface which conforms well to the countours of the back. The shoulder straps comfortably wrap over the tops of the shoulders and offer good cushioning and ventilation and are secured by a sternum strap mounted on each side to adjustable rails. The hipbelt wings are generously sized and hug the waist and the quality of the fit allows you to easily distribute some of the packs weight down onto the hips.
In terms of storage the Skarab has it all. We absolutely love the bucket-zip top opening which allows you to open the top of the pack right up for easy, unimpeded access to the main compartment. We also love the deep side pockets which are zipped for security. A water bottle can still be housed in here, but the presence of a zip and the cavernous size makes them much more versatile and useful in our eyes than a conventional stretch pocket. Two decent sized hipbelt pockets, a small internal mesh pocket, sunglasses pocket and front bellows pocket adjusted with the side compression straps completes the array of storage options which should be enough for any keen hiker.
Cleverly Osprey have sited the hydration bladder externally, this makes packing and unpacking it with a full load much easier, as well as having the obvious benefit of keeping liquid out of the main compartment.
To top it off there's a rain cover included which is stored out of the way at the bottom of the pack, it's also removable to save weight in dry weather.
Overall the Skarab is one of our favourite packs of the year so far thanks to its easy, intuitive and practical storage options and great levels of comfort. The 30 litre size is bang on for day hiking, especially if you carry camera kit or extra clothing for winter weather and there's no reason not to use it for other activities like cycling or just general day-to-day use.