Clothing and bags are pretty personal in my opinion, everyone has a different body and style comes into play. I feel like there are two approaches to cycling gear… go cheap and make it work or go expensive and scrutinize the details. Well, I spent over a week searching online and trying hydration packs on in stores like REI before I finally settled on the Osprey Syncro 10. It won me over with color and size choices, a lifetime warranty and features that are so well thought out and useful I felt like I couldn’t pass them up. Features like reflective paint, a loop for attaching a reflector light, an brightly colored integrated rain cover with reflective paint and a second light loop! At $110 this is not a cheap bag but in many ways it’s like a purse and I know people who spend thousands on those! I could have bought five of these for roughly the same price and achieved most of the same surface goals: carry gear, bring water. But after unscrewing the different lids on other hydration bladders and struggling to get them to thread properly… reading about leaking bladders in online reviews and simply testing for comfort the Osprey line proved its worth.
The most important thing to me was comfort but most packs feel roughly the same at first, I loved that I could choose an appropriate size for my torso with the Syncro 10 and I’m guessing some people with shorter torsos will appreciate not having a pack that sags way down or has to be cranked so high up that it collides with the back of their helmet. That’s the major difference in size by the way, the height of the pack. Inside the fabric is a metal rod that props it up and creates an open space between the fabric mesh resting on your back and the contents of your bag. It’s a very cool design with the added benefit of spreading your gear out inside. You don’t end up with a big pile of junk bunched up at the bottom that’s difficult to search through. Instead, three compartments help you organize and separate abrasive heaving items like pumps and keys from sensitive light things like glasses. As alluded to earlier, one of the other important aspects of a hydration pack for me was how the water reservoir could be reached and used. The Syncro 10 makes it very easy to access thanks to long zippered sections with strings and finger loops on the zippers themselves (great for if you’re wearing gloves!) note that most sections on the pack have short zipper sections to help you avoid spilling and to sort of prop the interior up. The largest section where the bladder is opens further to make filling easy. Once you’re inside there’s a disconnect point on the straw and a tiny strap with a buckle actually holding up the water pouch. It compliments the metal frame design perfectly.
Once the pouch is out you slide a clip horizontally off the top and unfold the rubber opening. It reminds me of a dry bag often seen on rafting trips. The resulting opening is very large and easy to work with. You can get water in there, big ice cubes or a cleaning brush if you’d like and holding the pouch is easy thanks to an integrated handle on the front. Watch the video review above to see it in action! Having used the pack on many bike rides (on and off-road) I’ve come to appreciate just how convenient it is. Before this I was using a thin single-pouch bag that didn’t have a hydration reservoir and I would toss water bottles, keys, cameras and other junk in there which did get a little bit scratched up and was often difficult to find. I had to take the entire pack off and set it down to locate the exact item in question. Now everything has its place, the bag is keeping me safer thanks to the reflective paint and I’m enjoying water at my finger tips. This is a solid pack for me but I’d still recommend checking them out in person because Osprey makes multiple versions like the Syncro 15 with a bit of extra space. I’d love to see CamelBak and others adopt a similar reservoir lid system vs. their screw on design. I struggled to get it working and even employees at REI had a difficult time. Had their system been more like Osprey I would have had a more difficult time choosing.
- Amazing warranty, Osprey will repair or replace your pack for any reason forever… they have the motto “Any Reason, Any Product, Any Era” you are only responsible for shipping charges
- Available in two sizes including a Small/Medium and a Medium/Large to improve fit, you can dial it in even more with the adjustable shoulder straps and sliding chest harness where the hydration straw attaches
- The hydration pack is extremely easy to use, I found myself struggling to open then re-seal CamelBak packs and some others but the slide-on top that Osprey uses is fast and provides plenty of space to fill and put ice in (or clean)
- The bladder can be completely removed from the pack without difficulty thanks to a small buckle (that holds it up inside) and a disconnect point in the straw right near the top, it’s a sweet system
- I like the color options, you get three choices that are vibrant but cool, I chose the gray color to match my stuff but appreciate the reflective paint and green accent foam in the shoulder straps that improve visibility
- Even though this is meant to be a light weight pack, it has a hip strap with side bolsters to keep it straight and reduce rubbing, it feels way better than packs without them
- The pack has an integrated rain cover that stows in the lowest compartment! This is an awesome feature because it’s always there when you need it (the cover is actually attached to the pack), it’s brightly colored to improve visibility when you need it most… darker wet conditions
- Unique helmet bungee clamp on the back reduces the swinging back and forth motion that often results from clipping the helmet with straps, it’s a cool system that’s easy to use but requires longer vents, small holes may not be large enough for the oval plastic clamp on the pack
- I love the small padded glasses pouch at the top of the pack, I used to put my shades away in a hard case after every ride but this little stow compartment is much more convenient and has protected them well
- Two elastic side pouches could be stretched for water bottles but I use them for snacks, this was a trade-off for me because some packs have zippered hip pouches that are great for phones, my phone was too large for most
- A solid wire frame props the pack up and creates a large flat surface for the mesh weaving to push the pack away from your back… this results in lots of airflow making it a cooler backpack than most even when full
- The zippers all have strings and plastic finger pulls at the end which is super useful when you’re wearing cycling gloves, they are easy to open and close and not so long that you lose the form of the bag
- For whatever reason, I found that the shoulder straps cut into my collar bone a bit… it’s not a deal killer and might just be my body type but that’s the one area where comfort isn’t quite perfect
- At $110 MSRP this is one of the more expensive hydration packs, that can be difficult to justify given the slew of affordable similar-looking packs available online, for me the easy open bladder was a big factor
martinet7 years ago
$82 at REI Garage, perhaps still no bargain.Reply
Court Rye6 years ago
Ouch, yeah… it’s an expensive one. I like to buy second-hand and used whenever possible just to be sustainable and even a few dollars saved adds up. But that’s not as low as you’d expect O_oReply