The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

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 | $84.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, storage volume, hydration system
Cons:  Limited organization, poor ventilation
Manufacturer:   Osprey
By Nick Bruckbauer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 17, 2019
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 11
  • Ease of Drinking - 20% 8
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Storage - 20% 7
  • Weight - 10% 7
  • Ease of Cleaning - 10% 7

Our Verdict

When it comes to reliable all-around performance in a large volume hydration pack, the Osprey Skarab 18 has you covered. With daypack sized capacity, a comfortable frame, and a dedicated hydration bladder sleeve with a HydraPak hydration system, the Skarab is a solid pack for general use hiking, scrambling, travel, and even some light biking.

The Skarab scores well in most categories, but was beaten out by the Gregory Nano 18 H2O for our Best Buy Award. While the Skarab is a strong performer, the Nano 18 has a couple of extra features and comes in at a slightly lower price.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Osprey Skarab 18
Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $84.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$139.95 at Amazon$129.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$101.25 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$69.95 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Lightweight, storage volume, hydration systemComfortable, good organization, great hydration systemBreathability, excellent storage, comfort and supportExcellent organization, supportive, comfortableBig volume, lightweight, great price
Cons Limited organization, poor ventilationPricePrice, thin waist beltHeavyFewer pockets, average hydration performance
Bottom Line An all-around pack that successfully blurs the line between hydration pack and daypack.Our Editors' Choice all mountain hydration pack - for good reason.A lightweight yet fully featured hydration pack that just missed out on our top ranking.A beefy hydration pack that is the most substantial in our test.An excellent volume to weight to price ratio makes this our Best Buy Award winner.
Rating Categories Osprey Skarab 18 Platypus Duthie A.M. 10 Osprey Syncro 12 Deuter Compact EXP 12 Gregory Nano 18 H2O
Ease Of Drinking (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Ease Of Filling (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Comfort (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Storage (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Weight (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
4
10
0
2
10
0
7
Ease Of Cleaning (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
6
Specs Osprey Skarab 18 Platypus Duthie... Osprey Syncro 12 Deuter Compact EXP... Gregory Nano 18 H2O
Pack Size 18L 10L 12L 12L 18L
Bladder Capacity 2.5L 3L 2.5L 3L 3L
Waist Belt Removable 3/4" webbing Two zippered pockets on the waist belt 3/4" webbing Hip belt with pockets Removable 3/4" webbing
Weight (measured) 25.5 oz 30.4 oz 34 oz 44.8 oz 25.5 oz
Weight (claimed) 17.6 oz 34 oz 27.5 oz 37 oz 18.4 oz

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Skarab 18 blends a 2.5-liter hydration system with a large capacity daypack. The 18-liter volume tied for 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 was 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. Like on the other Osprey packs in our lineup, the HydraPak mouthpiece can deliver you your water with comfort and efficiency. While we had no problems with this hydration system, we noticed it wasn't quite as impressive as the Crux system with its Big Bite valves found on Camelbak's lineup of packs. For a similar sized pack with CamelBak's hydration system take a look at the CamelBak Cloud Walker 18.

The Osprey Hydraulics LT hydration system was a quality performer.
The Osprey Hydraulics LT hydration system was a quality performer.

Ease of Filling


The Skarab scored towards the bottom of our lineup in the ease of filling category. Although 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 was in an easy to reach location, we found that the hanging clip was too short, making it difficult to remove and replace the bladder.

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

For the ultimate in easy access and refilling, check out the models with quick release drinking tubes, the Editors' Choice Platypus Duthie, the Osprey Syncro 12, and Hydro Flask's Journey Series 10L.

The Skarab (left) has the same hydration bladder as the more expensive Syncro (right)  but lacks the quick release drinking tubes.
The Skarab (left) has the same hydration bladder as the more expensive Syncro (right), but lacks the quick release drinking tubes.

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 the supremely well-ventilated Platypus Duthie and Osprey Syncro with their mesh back panels, the Skarab was a suitable choice in a variety of conditions, as long as temps didn'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 tied for the largest capacity 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 loved the huge main storage compartment with its giant U-shaped zipper, we were a little disappointed with the lack of external zippered pockets. There is one internal mesh zippered pocket for stashing valuables, but this made it a little inconvenient to grab your phone or camera, and it would have been nice to have a pocket that was a little more easily accessible.

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

With the same overall storage volume and a similar cavernous main compartment, the comparable Gregory Nano 18 has two external zippered pockets that keep your valuables within a little closer reach. High-end packs like the Platypus Duthie, Osprey Syncro, or Deuter Compact have more pockets and options for organization.

Weight


At a measured 1 lb, 9.5 oz., the Skarab 18 scored well as a lightweight, full-size hydration daypack. While it's not as light as our minimalist options like lightweight CamelBak Rogue or the ultra minimalist CamelBak Classic, it's much lighter than other fully featured packs.

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

Ease of Cleaning


Similar to the ease of filling category, this pack came 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 tubes lack quick release buttons. While removing the hydration system was a little more difficult than others, once the system was removed and disassembled, the bladder itself was easy to clean.

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

Best Applications


The Skarab 18 would make a solid do-anything, go-anywhere daypack with its comfortable support and huge volume. 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.

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.

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 we thought the similar design in our Best Buy Award Winner Gregory Nano 18 H20 provided a few extra features for a little lower price, we think the Skarab is a capable pack for a reasonable price.

Conclusion


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


Nick Bruckbauer