Saturday, July 5, 2014

Osprey backpacks

Well, here's a thing.  More of a rant, actually.

As some of you may know, I live in the French Alps, and work as a chairlift driver.  When I'm not working, coding, or playing ice hockey, I can often be found trekking up and down mountains.  Backpacks, and particularly technical backpacks, are a pretty large part of my life.  I've got a good few of them, and use them almost daily.

So, anyway, my old 30L pack has died.  My last trip involved 3 days with the damned thing held together with bits of string.  Not fun, especially as it was mostly raining, so my stuff was getting wet.  Time to replace.  List of requirements:

  • 30L ±
  • Ventilated back (gets hot around here in the summer)
  • Integrated rain cover
  • Hydration system

Now, I'm a fan of Osprey packs, and have been since I bought a "Variant" 52 litre pack.  Well designed, comfortable, and built to last.  So the first place I started looking was Osprey.  I ended up looking seriously at Osprey's "Manta 28" pack, which had pretty much everything I wanted,  a few things I hadn't thought of, and one thing I didn't really want but could live with (it's a framed pack).  It's sold as a "hydraulics" hydration pack.  All the reviews mention the included 3 litre hydration sleeve as being one of the best on the market.  The goddamned Osprey website mentions its "Internal Hydration Sleeve".  So, when I ordered one (not direct from Osprey, but through an Amazon seller, tight-ass that i am) for 85 euros, I was expecting to find a hydration sleeve in the pack or its packaging.

I was disappointed.

"Hrm", I thought.  "The seller must have forgotten it.  Or maybe 'forgotten' it".  So I contacted them.  

"Osprey don't include the hydration sleeve in Europe.  We can sell you one for 35 euros plus shipping"

What the fuck?  Osprey's official Eurozone price of 100 euros is very close to the US-market price.  Nothing on the Osprey europe site indicates that the hydration sleeve isn't included.  "Maybe I've misread", I thought, and went off to compare between and  Problem - redirects to immediately.  In order to hit without a redirect, I eventually had to use a US-based proxy.

Keep that in mind.  A european client cannot hit without taking specific and non-obvious technical steps to do so.  Which is a shame, because on the page for the Manta 28, we find the following, in bold italic text :

Reservoir sold separately in European and Asian markets

Yep.  The one thing a customer from Europe might want to know, before ordering, about this pack, is not available to them.  A bit more "spot the difference" gives us the following 2 images from on the left, and from on the right.  Can you see the difference? 

That's right. The version has had the visible bit of hydration tube photoshopped out. Well, nearly all of it, anyway - there's still a bit visible on the right shoulder strap. Beyond that, and the fact that the euro site doesn't explicitly say "Hydration system" as opposed to "internal hydration sleeve", which latter apparently means the place in the pack where you'd put an - ahem - hydration sleeve, there's bugger all difference.

So I've got a new pack (and, if I might say so, a bloody good one), but I'm feeling ripped off.  Because my "Hydraulics" "hydration pack" has a 75cl bottle of water in each side pocket, rather than the 3l hydration pack I was supposed to have.

Adding in the supposedly supplied 3l sleeve is going to cost me half what I paid for the pack itself, and bring the price up to twice that of a more or less equivalent pack with a separately bought sleeve.

So FUCK YOU, Osprey.  You've lost a client.   Yeah, I know.  First world problems.  Call a whaaaambulance.  But fuck you anyway.