If you're anything like my boyfriend and I, and you like to go off the beaten track (or trail) for a few hours then no doubt you'll be needing a hydration pack. There are loads on the market at the mo, but Osprey are leading the way with the addition of a women-specific range. I've used the men's Osprey Viper 9 all summer, but now have the women's version of the same backpack; the Osprey Valkyrie 9.
So is it really worth buying the women's specific or is it just another marketing gimmick?
Left: Osprey Viper 9 (mens) £58.50 (reservoir included) with discount card at Go Outdoors
Right: Osprey Valkyrie 9 £40.00 at Cotswold Outdoor (3L reservoir separate for £28)
Osprey Viper 9/ Valkyrie 9 features:
Lidlock Helmet Attachment - this little bonus feature securely snags hold of your helmet, pull it through the helmet vent sideways and release, it will snap back into an upright position and no way will your helmet fly free from this little baby!
Top Stash Pocket - waterproof lined and perfect for phone, glasses, keys etc.
Shove-It/ Front Panel Pocket - adjustable clip straps fasten this open-top pocket on either side, perfect for a waterproof jacket/gilet etc. The adjustable side-straps mean you can pull the pocket tight around your stuff to hold it in safely, whilst the quick-release clips on the straps mean you can get in and out of the pocket quickly and easily.
The Viper 9 comes with the 3L reservoir inserted, I added an identical one to the Valkyrie 9 as well, the Osprey reservoir has the handy feature of a Magnetic Bite Valve, which I love, not only does it mean that the bite valve is always to hand whilst riding, but it keeps it helps prevent those awful (I've done it myself, so I know how awful they are) 'dropped in the mud/sheep-poo at butty-time, and then stuck it in my mouth for a drink after' woopsies! Eeuw!! And of course it's lockable.
Boys V. Girls
There isn't much difference between the women's and the men's version, but the subtle changes that have been made do make a difference. Especially to the smallest of the female species, like me!
Side by side you can see that the women's version is shorter and slightly wider in shape, when wearing this translates to a far comfier fit. I found that I needed to lengthen the shoulder and hip straps of the Viper 9 so that it sat lower than it probably ought, low-slung around my hips rather than my lower-back. Before making this adjustment the top of the rucksack hit the nape of my neck and when in riding position, the back of my head - not ideal! Furthermore, the narrower width of the Viper 9 meant that the shoulder straps rubbed either side of my neck, even after all the strap adjustments I could never get the top of the bag to hang quite low enough to avoid this.
To conclude...if you're a short-arse (like me) then the extra tenner for the women's specific version is worth the splurge. It sits at a nice comfy position on my back and it does not touch the back of my neck, head or rub at the sides of my neck.
However, if you are nice and tall, man or woman...then I don't really think you're gonna feel the benefit of the difference and you may as well save yourself a tenner.