Osprey Syncro 15 Hydration Pack
With a roomy main compartment and an additional zippered front pocket with organizer slots, the Syncro 15 lets you hit the trail fully prepared for the day’s journey. The AirSpeed suspension and BioStretch ventilated harness maximize breathability keeping you cool and comfortable all day long.
Main fabric - Lightweight 100D Triple Ripstop High Tenacity Nylon
BioStretch ventilated harness
Padded spacer mesh hip wings with straight ErgoPull hipbelt
Integrated high-visibility rain cover with blinker light patch
LidLock helmet clip
Roomy main compartment with hydration sleeve against backpanel
Zippered front pocket with organizer for tools, camera, tire pump, etc.
Small zippered pocket keeps keys, wallet, and cell phone handy
Large, stretch mesh side pockets
Blinker light attachment patch on front panel
Reflective details improve nighttime visibility
Magnetic sternum buckle holds bite valve
3-Liter Hydraform Reservoir included
Weight – 255 g (9.0 oz)
Tested size M/L
Weight – 760 grams (26.8 oz) without reservoir
Volume – 15 liters (915 cubic inches)
Dimensions – 47 cm Tall x 25 cm Wide x 20 cm Deep (18.5 in x 9.8 in x 7.9 in)
Retail - $109
Mesh Back for breathability
Everyone out there probably knows who Osprey is. They are one of the large pack manufacturers with a range of packs varying from urban to the backcountry and much in between. Over the last couple of years, they have been focusing more on their Hydration line and in 2012, they introduced the Syncro collection. This collection is made up of three packs varying from 10 to 20 liters in size. I worked with Osprey to test the middle one, the Syncro 15 Pack.
The Syncro Series of packs are a multi use hydration series aimed first at cyclists and then hiking and other activities. I tested the Syncro 15 mainly on the bike but also took it out on the trail and even used it commuting. For my rides, they varied from 15 to 100 miles in a variety of temperatures. As I tested the pack through the summer, I did not have any real rain to deal with, lucky me!
The Syncro 15 Hydration Pack is a unisex pack for cycling and hiking. Unlike some other hydration packs by Osprey, the Syncro series is designed base on torso size rather than sex. This is not the first Osprey Hydration pack I have used, I previously had a Raptor 14 pack that I was borrowing from my brother. One of the biggest differences between these two series of packs is the AirSpeed Suspension in the Syncro Series Packs. The AirSpeed Suspension is a mesh backpanel that is supported by a LightWire frame system. This creates a frame with small vents on the side and horizontal carat ridge foam backing which creates a comfortable fit and also keeps you back cool. The pack uses Osprey’s BioStretch Harness with perforated EVA foam that has large holes in it for increased breathability and a comfortable stretch. The straps are made of a breathable spacer mesh that has been wrapped over the edges of foam to create a soft, irritation-free contact surface against the body. The Syncro hipbelt uses spacer mesh in the hip wings with a straight ErgoPull hipbelt. Te ErgoPull hipbelt allows you to pull forward rather than backward to tighten; this is an easier and more natural method of pulling the straps. The Syncro 15 uses a 20mm wide webbing strap to help take some of the weight off of the shoulders.
Included Rain Cover
The Syncro 15 has a large main compartment accessible by double zippers located at the top of the pack. Inside this main compartment sits the hydration reservoir. There is a sleeve up against the back panel where the reservoir hangs and two exit ports at the top depending on what side you would like to route the tube out of. The next zipper down from the main compartment is the NoScratch Top Slash Pocket. This pocket has been lined with a soft, easy to clean heat embossed fabric so it will not damage your sunglasses or electronics. The last pocket on top is a single zippered pocket that opens down one side and has two stretch mesh pockets and a pump tube inside for housing tools and other important items. At the top of this pocket, the outer section has a more robust padding to help it maintain shape and be able to carry a helmet better. Osprey uses their Lid Lock technology in this padded section to carry your helmet conveniently. The plastic locking piece is connected to an adjustable bungee cord and can but routed through the vents on a bike helmet and therefore, carry it snugly against the back of the pack. Take a look at the picture to get a better idea how this works.
At the bottom of the pack, there is a blinker light attachment strap as well as some reflective accents to help with visibility. At the very bottom is another zippered pocket. This one houses the integrated rain cover so your pack is never without protection from the elements. This rain cover is high-visibility yellow with its own reflective accents. It also has a blinking light patch so you can put a light on the outside still. The rain cover has a bungee cord threaded around the outside that can be adjusted to make sure it stays securely on the pack. It even has a water drainage hole at the bottom just in case water gets inside. If, for some reason, you do not need the cover, it can be removed. The final pockets on the pack are stretch mesh pockets located on each side of the pack. These can be used to stuff extra water, food, tools, or anything else you need to keep handy into. Even though the Syncro Pack is small it still has a robust fitting system. As mention before it has a removable waist belt. On top of that there is a four-way adjustable sternum strap with a magnetic chest buckle for connecting the hydration hose to. At the top of the straps there are even load lifters to get a precise fit in the shoulders. This is something not often seen on smaller packs like this.
Main Compartment with Reservoir
The Syncro 15 comes with a 3 liter (100 oz) hydration reservoir. The HydraForm reservoir has been made by Nalgene for Osprey. It has been built to pharmaceutical biocompatibility specifications to ensure taste and odor-free hydration. The inside of the reservoir contains AquaGuard anti-microbial formula to prevent bacteria and mold. Most importantly the reservoir is made with BPA and PVC-free plastics to keep bad things from leaching into your water. The HydraForm Reservoir has a different design than most reservoirs. The first thing you will notice is that it has a plastic structure that runs down the length of the reservoir. This gives it some structure and makes it easier to manipulate. This back of the reservoir also has a structured plate in it. The cap screws into the front of the reservoir and the retention strap that holds it on also double as the strap in which the reservoir hangs by while in a pack. The reservoir has a tube that exits from the bottom and has a bite valve on the end which can be opened or locked shut by just twisting it. The bite vale also has a magnet built in that can be used to secure the valve to the appropriate spot on the chest harness. As I mentioned before the tube can be routed down either shoulder strap depending on preference. There are stretch straps on both sides to keep it secure.
While the Syncro 15 is made from many different materials. The main fabric of the pack is a Lightweight 100D Triple Ripstop High Tenacity Nylon. This material is very abrasion resistant, and in case it does get torn, it will not rip any further open due to the ripstop construction. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any information about this material or any of the others being from green or sustainable sources. When it does not say I have to assume they are not. Osprey, however, has been making great strides to become more sustainable as a business. They already support many worthwhile organizations and are very active in the community. Going forward they are making plans to become more sustainable. One of a few of the things already done is buying two bicycles rather than cars for transport between their buildings, which are several miles apart from each other. They are also looking to add solar panels and using different packaging solutions. I am excited to see them making this effort.
Soft Valuable Pocket
I tested the size medium/large on the Osprey Syncro 15. The pack comes available in two sizes, and the M/L is the larger one. According to Osprey, it is for a torso length above 48.5 cm (19 in) and a hip measurement above 81 cm (32 in). The S/M is for sizes below this. Since this is a hydration pack, I would definitely recommend putting more emphasis on the torso length as the hipbelt will only slightly be used. I am right at the line between the two but have found that it generally felt better with larger pack form Osprey rather than a smaller on. I am glad I chose the M/L as it fits me well. Of course in an ideal situation I would try both sizes on, but I am pretty confident to say that if you are around the middle point between the two sizes, go with the larger one.
The pack has excellent adjustability assuming you have the correct size. It can be fine tuned in several ways to get the fit the way you would like to. The straps are comfortable and have enough cushioning for a normal load. I really like the way they feel with the vented EVA, and the mesh wrapped around the sides for comfort. Even on a couple of 100 mile rides this summer, the pack was never an issue. I did find that I would normally wear the hipbelt loosely as it did not support much weight and did make it a bit uncomfortable when tight and bent over the bars. The strap is removable if you wish. When wearing the pack it does a good job staying out of the way. It is not very big so it does not take up a large portion of my back, which helps it seem out of the way more. On my rides, I did not feel obstructed or restrained by the pack. Even hiking with it, I could use trekking poles and swing my arms as usual.
Gear Storage Pocket with Sleeves
The Syncro 15 has been good for all the activities I have used it for. It is a very comfortable carry, even with full of 100 oz of water and extra gear. Even when stuffed the pack has the same feel as the AirSpeed mesh back is the only section in contact with your body. I have not loaded this pack up with too much weight but the amount I have stuffed in there has carried well. The wire suspension system helps keep the weight distributed, and the foam straps to cushion the weight well. I used the pack hiking and cycling, and I liked how the waist belt can be buckled out of the way. When hiking it was great to have, but on the road bike, I preferred to strap it around the back and out of the way. The blinky patch can double to hold your straps out of the way.
The pocket setup on the pack works well. There are two mesh pockets and a pump sleeve in the outer pocket. This pocket has enough room to stuff other things into it as well. It has a curved opening which makes it easy to get into, but I did have issues with the zipper sticking halfway down, right when it passed over the stretch pocket. The valuable pocket worked as it is supposed to. I did not have any issues with my iPhone or sunglasses getting scratched in there. The main pocket has a good amount of room for storage. Since the pack is 15 liters you can carry more than you think. It even has the subtle details such as a key clip inside and a blinky patch on the rain cover. Speaking of the rain cover, I was not able to thoroughly test it as it has been dry all summer. I can say that it fit the pack very well with the bungee around the outside. Now what sets this hydration pack apart from the previous one I used from Osprey is the breathability. The mesh back panel keeps your back cooler than a regular one does. It does not keep you sweat free but does help. Even the shoulder straps breathed better than before.
Magnetic Chest Valve
The Hydraform Reservoir is one of my favorite reservoirs that I have tested. It does not have any plastic taste, which is important. The other thing I really like about the reservoir is the valve. It can be locked to prevent water from dripping out when you do not want it to. It is an easy twist to open or lock it. It also has a magnetic on the valve that connects the valve to the sternum strap. The magnet is really easy to use; I have been excited to see others using this idea as well. To my knowledge, Osprey was the first to do this. Since the reservoir is made with a long plastic piece on the front which makes it easy to maneuver around and fill up. One of the drawbacks with the reservoir is getting it dried out when you are done with it. I also like to carry water bottles on some of my hikes and the stretch pockets on the outside work great for the bottles. I like having this option.
Helmet Lid Lock
Overall, I really liked the Syncro 15 Hydration Pack. The pack carries very well, which is the most important thing. Since it is a hydration pack the other important part is the reservoir, and this one is solid. It does not impart any taste and is easy to use, just not dry. The reservoir has a great valve system with a magnetic retention system. They both work outstanding and make the system what it is, easy to use. The Syncro has similar fit features of a much larger pack with an adjustable sternum strap, hip belt, adjustable shoulder straps, and load lifter straps over the shoulders. This allows the user to adjust the pack and the load the way they want. The other feature that works really well is the mesh shoulder straps and AirSpeed back panel. These help the pack breath better than standard straps and back panels. At 15 liters, I felt like the Syncro has plenty of room for all I needed. The only drawback to the pockets was the outside zipper got stuck a little halfway down. If you are looking for a do it all hydration pack, this one is pretty good. It retails for $109, which is a fair price. As always, your mileage may vary.
Breathable back panel and shoulder straps
Bite valve can be locked so it does not leak
Magnetic valve retention mechanism
Integrated rain cover
Side stretch pockets
Sticky zipper on outside pocket
Tough to dry out the reservoir
Reservoir is a little bulky