Platypus packs are very pretty. They obviously put a lot of effort in to streamlining designs and pairing materials to make the packs as good looking as the very expensive jackets we’re seeing lately. They’re objects of desire, but they’re also very practical.
The Origin 9 is designed as a small pack for either a short adventure, or for those of you who like to travel very light. 9 Litres isn’t an awful lot of space at all, and once you’ve stuffed a decent jacket and lunch in there you’re not left with much more room, so this size of pack isn’t for everyone.
Platypus is a brand which is known for its Hydration Bladders, and their pack range is a vehicle for this technology. Their bladders and drinking tubes work very well and are easy to clean and remove from the pack, which is one of the most important things to consider. But Platypus have gone beyond what some Hydration Pack designers do, and offered a multiple configuration for their bladder, with three possible exit points for the drinking tube so you can tune the pack to your activity. You get a left-shoulder, right-shoulder and waist-level option, seen in this picture:
Platypus have made the Origin pack in waterproof materials and it’s sold with a “waterproof” sales label. My test pack would certainly hold off hard rain for a few hours, but unfortunately was supplied with a tear through the pack material at the upper lashtab, so did leak somewhat through there. It looks to be damage caused when they applied the Waterproof label, which is sort of ironic…
Inside the main pocket of the Origin is a small mesh pocket for wallets and phones, which also has a key-ring to reduce any fears of getting home and being locked out as your house keys sit in a puddle somewhere.
Outside the pack is a stuff pocket made from stretchy softshell material. You could manage to cram a thin mid-layer into here, but it’s not closeable in any way, so you’d need to make sure that it was secure. Also, and this is a theoretical problem, but the external pocket doesn’t have a drainage hole, so could possibly fill with water if it was stuffed with something that left the opening wide.
There are two small softshell pockets in the waiststrap which again, don’t have any way of being closed, so whilst they’re fairly form-fitting and snug, there is a potential of losing valuables from them if you sling the pack around too much.
Platypus have gone a long way to make sure that the Origin 9 is suitable for cyclists, as well as trail users. The pack contains lashtabs for a light and for attaching a helmet which are strong and subtly designed.
The straps and back support on the Origin 9 are solid foam with holes punched through it, and covered in more softshell material. They’re not the most comfortable straps I’ve ever worn because they’re fairly stiff, but they’re not the worst. The back support runs in two channels down either side of the pack with your spine sitting in a gap. If the pack is stuffed too much, with a full bladder, the middle bit can bow outward and press on your spine. Not a massive problem for me, but I guess some people could complain that it negates the design.
SUMMARY: Platypus packs are very pretty and designed with some nice touches, but I’d like to have seen a bit more security (for peace of mind) on the external pockets. The straps aren’t the most comfortable and I’m not sure why they’ve put a large reflective logo up against your back… but the bladder works really well and the finish is great. Seems quite expensive, but you do get a 2L bladder and tube system. My sample had a hole in it.