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Osprey Skarab 18 Review

An all-around pack that successfully blurs the line between hydration pack and daypack
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Price:  $85 List | $85.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, large storage volume, solid hydration system
Cons:  Limited organization, poor back panel ventilation
Manufacturer:   Osprey
By Nick Bruckbauer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 7, 2020
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 15
  • Ease of Drinking - 20% 8
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Storage - 20% 6
  • Weight - 10% 7
  • Ease of Cleaning - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Osprey Skarab 18 has you covered with reliable all-around performance in a large volume hydration pack. With a daypack sized 18-liter storage volume, a well-cushioned back panel, and a dedicated reservoir sleeve with a 2.5-liter HydraPak hydration system, the Skarab is a solid choice for hiking, scrambling, travel, or general daily use. During our testing, we used it as a daily gym bag, a carry-on for weekend trips, a daypack for long track meets, as well as a carry-all bag for our local bike rides and neighborhood walks. While there are lighter packs and more fully-featured packs, the Skarab can do it all with comfort and versatility.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Skarab 18 blends a 2.5-liter hydration system with a large capacity daypack. The 18-liter volume is among the largest in our lineup, providing enough space for a puffy jacket, a pair of shoes, or a gourmet lunch. While not necessarily standing out in any one category, this pack is a solid performer across the board.

Performance Comparison


The Skarab is a comfortable choice for hiking and all-around use as a daypack.
The Skarab is a comfortable choice for hiking and all-around use as a daypack.

Ease of Drinking


The Skarab 18 comes standard with a 2.5-liter Osprey Hydraulics LT hydration bladder made by HydraPak. It also has a magnetic drinking hose attachment point that keeps the hose secure and easily accessible while on the move.

The Osprey Hydraulics LT hydration system is a high-quality performer.
The Osprey Hydraulics LT hydration system is a high-quality performer.

Like on the other Osprey packs in our lineup, the HydraPak bite valve can deliver you your water with comfort and efficiency. While we had no problems with this hydration system during our testing, we noted that it's not quite as impressive as some of our top-ranked hydration systems. And although the 2.5-liter reservoir is adequate for most day outings, we would have preferred a larger 3-liter reservoir on what is one of the largest backpacks in our lineup.

Ease of Filling


The Skarab scores towards the bottom of our lineup in the ease of filling category. While it comes with the wide-mouthed opening HydraPak 2.5-liter bladder, it lacks some convenient features like quick-release drinking tubes, and an easy to use hydration compartment. While the hydration compartment is in an easy to reach location, we found that the hanging clip is too short, making it difficult to remove and replace the bladder.

While the hydration sleeve is easily accessible  the hanging clip is a little short  making removal and replacement a bit challenging.
While the hydration sleeve is easily accessible, the hanging clip is a little short, making removal and replacement a bit challenging.

Comfort


The Skarab is a comfortable pack with its foam-padded back panel and padded shoulder straps and balanced load-carrying ability. While not as comfortable in hotter weather as some higher-end models with their mesh back panels, the Skarab is a suitable choice in a variety of conditions, as long as temps don't rise too high.

The foam back panel is very comfortable but not very breathable.
The foam back panel is very comfortable but not very breathable.

Storage


With 18 liters of storage space, the Skarab is among the largest capacities in our lineup, with plenty of volume to serve you not only as a hiking and biking hydration pack, but as an all-around daypack, gym bag, or travel bag. While we love the huge main storage compartment with its giant U-shaped zipper, we are a little disappointed with the lack of external zippered pockets. There is one internal mesh zippered pocket for stashing valuables, but this makes it a little inconvenient to grab your phone or camera, and it would be preferable to have an external pocket that is a little more easily accessible.

The larger capacity of the Skarab 18 comes in handy for doubling as a gym bag.
The larger capacity of the Skarab 18 comes in handy for doubling as a gym bag.

While we were pleased with the overall storage volume of the Skarab 18, there are other models available with similar overall capacities that have additional pockets and options for organization that keep your necessities within reach.

Weight


At a measured 1 lb, 9.5 oz., the Skarab 18 scores well as a lightweight, full-size hydration daypack. While it's not as light as some of the minimalist options that we've reviewed, it's much lighter than many other fully featured packs.

The lightweight versatility of the Skarab makes it a solid choice for hiking and biking.
The lightweight versatility of the Skarab makes it a solid choice for hiking and biking.

Ease of Cleaning


Similar to the ease of filling category, this pack comes away with average scores in the ease of cleaning category. While the HydraPak bladder has a nice large opening for easy cleaning, the bladder and hose system is a little tedious to remove from the pack, and the drinking hoses lack quick-release buttons. While removing the hydration system is a little more difficult than others, once the system is removed and disassembled, the bladder itself is easy to clean.

The lack of quick-release drinking tubes makes disassembly for cleaning a bit more tedious.
The lack of quick-release drinking tubes makes disassembly for cleaning a bit more tedious.

Value


The Skarab is not the lowest priced pack in the lineup but certainly comes with a smaller price tag than a lot of the higher-end models. While there are similar designs with a few extra features that are less expensive, we think that the Skarab is a capable pack for a reasonable price.

The Skarab provides a big 18-liter volume in a reasonably light package.
The Skarab provides a big 18-liter volume in a reasonably light package.

Conclusion


With one of the largest volumes in our lineup and one of the top-performing HydraPak hydration systems, the Osprey Skarab 18 is a solid general use pack for the town or the trail.

Nick Bruckbauer