/ REVIEW: Osprey Skarab 30 Pack
This versatile day pack is well suited to hillwalking and general outdoor life, says Dan Bailey. It'll even do you for a lightweight hut night...
You really do dislike "sucky tubes" don't you Dan? Was a it a traumatic accident with a curly-wurly straw when you were little or something? ;-)
On a couple of packs I have they do have little hip-belt pockets and I was surprised at how useful I found them - having previously survived 30+ years without them and never thinking "I really need a pocket on my hip-belt!" But once you have them, particularly on walking packs as opposed to climbing, you can put all sorts of things in them and soon get quite used to it. A little monocular is one thing I took once, almost by chance, but with it in the hip-belt pocket easy to grab, I watched more birds and other wildlife for longer on that walk than I would normally.
Like rain covers, it does seem an Osprey thing to have lots of natty little features on the pack, but I think Osprey do design well that there is no or minimal weight increase due to them.
Down with yucky sucky tubes.
I don't spend much time worrying about them, but yes I guess I do loathe them. If forced to declare my hand, I think they are: unsanitary, infantilising and vaguely medical-looking. The hose gets in the way, it's hard to keep track of how much water you've got left, and if anything they encourage you to drink too often.
Hip belt pockets: On a pack this small I'd be unlikely to bother with a hip belt (even assuming the back system was long enough for it to properly fit me), in which case pockets here aren't really going to be useful. On a big trekking pack I can definitely see the point. A monocular does sound like a good idea though, and that would be the logical place to keep one for quick use...
I'm with you on sucky tubes - too easy to drink all your fluids without realising, too easy to spring a leak in your bag without realising it, and too easy to rip the bite valve off brushing through narrow gaps and vegetation. I've suffered or witnessed all these things, and all could have serious consequences. As a consequence I now use 2 or more european refundable* fizzy drink bottles - 'free', and tougher than UK fizzy drink bottles (the plastic is thicker). Multiple bottles give redundancy if one is kept in the main compartment and another in a side pocket for easy access.
* Aside from feel, they're distinguishable by a chunkier flange at the neck.
Same goes for hip belts and tall people - generally a waste of time. The only time I've used mine was on VF where they help stop the sack swinging round to one side.