Tests‎ > ‎Backpacks‎ > ‎

Platypus - Sprinter XT 25

posted Jul 5, 2014, 3:28 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Jul 13, 2014, 12:38 PM ]

The Platypus Sprinter XT 25 is a backpack designed for short and fast hikes, where a few litres of capacity are sufficient to meet the demands of a day in the mountains... in addition, since it's made by Platypus, of course it is also a hydration pack! 
...That sounds really nice! ... Let's try it!

Technical Description

The body of the backpack has a waterproof construction utilising 210 Denier Diamond Ripstop Nylon and Oxford Nylon, both coated with polyurethane
The Sprinter 25 XT also features:
  • YKK® waterproof zippers
  • Taped seams
  • Internal zippered mesh pocket
  • Easy-access panel load
  • Ventilated/padded suspension
  • Independent hydration pocket
  • Ice-axe/helmet/trekking-poles carrying system
  • Waist belt pockets
  • Mesh side pockets
  • Mesh stash pocket on back
Volume: 22 L Gear + 3 L Hydration = 25 L Total

S/M - 45 cm torso, 1.05 kg 
M/L - 50 cm torso, 1.13 kg 

Provided Hydration System: Platypus 3.0L Big Zip™ LP reservoir

Our Test

We tested the Sprinter for 7 months, primarily for hiking, but also for mountain biking, climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing. To fully test the waterproofness of the backpack several times we "forced" ourselves to go out even when the weather
was so bad that common sense would have suggested to stay home. Apart from the standard one-day-hike gear, we also loaded the Sprinter with skis, ice axe, helmet, and we have even tried to carry a snowboard! The backpack has been used mainly with the provided Platypus Big Zip ™ 3.0L LP hydration system, but we also used it with other systems to check their compatibility.

First Impressions 
The materials used on the Sprinter are exceptional! You immediately appreciate the difference compared to the usual Nylon seen on many other backpacks: the texture is more dense, it feels more "plastic-like", and tougher. When you put it on your shoulders the pack is very comfortable. The first thing you notice is the softness of the shoulder straps which have the capability to adapt to your shoulders. It is a light, but sturdy backpack that has lots of accessories, giving it also a quite "technical-look". Judging from some of the choices in the design, one has the impression that the entire backpack has been designed around the hydration system.

Some of the first comments of our testers:
  • “Light and technical!” 
  • "The shoulder straps are fantastic! I find them really comfortable."
  • “It has everything you need for a day hike!” 
  • “Very good for many purposes and very comfortable on your back!” 
More than 1 kg for a 25L-pack may not sound so impressive. However, if you take into account the amount of features and accessories available, including the rather "massive" 3L hydration system, without a doubt the Sprinter can be considered a light pack. Many of those features are anyway quite functional. In the search for the perfect balance between toughness and lightweight, priority has been given to the toughness of materials, which generally also helps to enhance durability.

Design & Functionality
We liked right away its shape. The upper part of the body is wider and the lower part narrower, therefore fitting very well on the shape of the back: smaller waist and wider shoulders. Because of this, the Sprinter fits well on your back and even when packed with heavy
loads you can always easily keep it in the correct position and close to the body. This also creates a good overall feeling with the backpack: you perceive it almost like a "part of your body". However, it must be said that in the most dynamical uses and when fully loaded the more voluminous upper part tends to sway a little. 
The shoulder straps are very soft and very well fitting. They never cause discomfort around the neck and shoulders, even when you carry a heavy load. Thanks to the ample zip that gives access to the main compartment, even the items stored at the bottom are always easily and quickly reachable. This solution is obviously much more practical than the classic opening from the top only.
The stretchable stash mesh pocket on the back is a really handy feature: you can use it to load some extra gear safely and keep it handy, without an actual increase of the capacity of the backpack. All the hydration systems we tested (both the Platypus and other systems) fit really well into the dedicated pocket without bothering or moving around. Very practical are also the multiple hose retention points. 
Our only complain: the ice-axe/trekking-poles carrying system is not very functional.

Hydration System
The hydration system provided with the pack is the Platypus 3L Big Zip™ LP, that obviously couples perfectly with the Sprinter. A great feature of this system, that sets it a step ahead of many others, is its ability to fully open, thanks to a clever, though quite bulky, sliding hermetic closure. This allows you to easily fill the reservoir in any situation and, even more importantly, to easily clean it and dry it after each use. The quite flat shape of the bag also contributes to a greater versatility, optimising the volume inside the backpack. When it's attached to its dedicated hooks, it remains firm behind the back without bouncing too much, even when full. At sub-zero temperatures we also used another hydration system with an insulated sleeve on the hose. Even these bulkier hoses fit through the retention loops without any problem.

The Srinter is always very comfortable, even when fully charged. Back panels, shoulder straps, and hip belt are ergonomic, very soft, and lined with breathable mesh. None of the elements of the backpack bothers or causes annoying pressure nor chafing. Even during the hottest days the ventilation on the back is always adequate. The tapered shape of the body allows for total freedom of movement of the arms and elbows in all the directions.

It's not a dry bag, but the waterproof inner coating, the taped seams, and the waterproof zippers definitely place the Sprinter a step ahead of many other backpacks for what concerns weather resistance. After about an hour under pouring rain we noticed a bit of humidity inside the main compartment. However, in more than 95% of the outdoor situations the Sprinter protects very well the load from the water. Even after months of use, when the water-repellent coating has started to become weaker on some of the parts most subject to wear, no water has penetrated inside to an alarming extent. In conclusion, we have been more than satisfied with the degree of protection from water, which can be definitely considered of extremely good level.

The nylon chosen by Platypus is excellent: quite thick, rip-resistent, good-looking, and highly durable. After months of heavy use, we did not notice any damage, neither to the fabric nor to any seam. Even if the Sprinter is not designed to carry skis, we used it for some backcountry skiing and we have been amazed to find that even the ski edges have caused no trouble to the straps and the fabrics! We were really impressed!

The Sprinter is really an all-rounder! It would be a real shame to limit its use to a single activity. It is well-suited for many outdoor uses or even simply for travelling. Where it excels is, of course, the use for which it was designed, that is hiking. It is a simple and lightweight pack, which is, at the same time, also functional and very tough. With the Sprinter you can really free your imagination and invent countless uses for it!

Our Verdict 

The Sprinter is a backpack that offers many advantages: it is very well-designed, versatile, super durable, light enough, and with a remarkable resistance to the elements. In many ways it is ahead of many other comparable backpacks. Given the large number of true qualities that we could appreciate during our long test and the lack major flaws, we are convinced that the Sprinter has everything it takes to become your faithful companion of many adventures!

+ Great weather resistance
+ Excellent durability
+ Ergonomic and functional design

- Not very functional t
rekking-poles carrying system
- Unstable top during more dynamic

 Lightness   7/10
 Design & Functionality   8/10
 Comfort   9/10
 Waterproofness   9/10
 Durability   9/10
 Versatility   9/10
 Total Score  8.5/10