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Osprey Hydraulics: Doing My Own Study on Plastic, BPA and Our Health

June 13th, 2011

Alison at Gears and Beers Bike Parade

It was a love/hate relationship with my former hydration pack for biking. The hose hit my leg and got water everywhere except my parched mouth, the bladder was hard to fill, hard to clean, tasted like plasti, and became a bloated sausage that wouldn’t squeeze into my overfilled pack.

Then one day Osprey founder and head designer extraordinaire Mike Pfotenhauer had an idea: to design the world’s best hydration pack. A few years ago, he laid out the conceptual plan to a focus group of active Osprey dealers from around the world, U.S. champion athlete ambassadors and the ever-exploring, outdoor-loving Osprey staff. What did we think? Would it be worth spending four years designing, testing and then forging into a new market?

We all eagerly agreed, and excitedly talked for days about what we didn’t like with existing hydration systems. Mike went to work with his design team and now, many years later, we are all reaping the benefits.

As an avid cyclist, the Raptor was a dream come true for me. Jeff Fox, Osprey’s bike marketing whiz (pictured below), laughed at me during my green trivia contest, while I explained water reservior technology, how our “sausages had now become rigid”. But besides the endless laughs, we have a product that everyone is so proud of — and really stands up to real-world hard-core riding in the mountains.

But beyond the technical wizardry of the Osprey Hydraulics™ series, there is an important environmental component often overlooked.

Jeff Fox - Osprey's Bike Guru and Bike Marketing Manager

As a known eco-alarmist, I’m always looking at potential plastics that may mimic estrogen — causing everything from increased breast cancer to decreased sperm counts. Lumped together they are called phytoestrogens, and many plastics have them, even when labeled as BPA-free. Osprey has partnered with Nalgene to create the Hydaform™ reservoir for the pack series. Here is some info: http://www.ospreypacks.com/PackTech/OspreyHydraulics

I had an endocrine disruptor chemist look at the BPA-free plastics in this bladder and see how this liner compared. Her response “They are really trying!”, which was great to hear. I also found out that as part of Osprey’s testing and re-testing of their reservoirs, the company reached out to the Breast Cancer Fund to have them check out the product — estrogenic activity is one of the things they look for. No BPA, PVC/phthalates or triclosan are used in the reservoirs (or any) of Osprey’s products.

So enough of my enviro rantings. We all do the best we can with the information we have. Until we have a glass or stainless hydration bladder, I’m thrilled with the progress that Osprey and Nalgene have put forth.

Side Note: if you want to test your company’s plastic to see if it has phytoestrogens, PlastiPure is a technology company that works with clients to design plastic formulations so products can be certified to be free of estrogenic activity.

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