osprey syncro 10

That emblem means you are getting a solid, well made pack.

We will be running a couple of packs through the mill here as summer is nearly upon us and summer out in So Cal means we need to carry a lot of water for longer rides.  I am a habitual hydration pack wearer.  Even among our other testers at TNI.com, many eschew the lowly but useful backpack way to carry water and ‘stuff’.  I am not sure if I have EVER seen JeffJ use one.  I am a ‘stuff’ carrier first class…got the badge and the t-shirt.  And accordingly I need a pack for said stuff.

So I reached out to two of the pack makers I know best, Osprey and Camelbak.  Both companies are established in the market and both have a good range of packs to choose from.  All the samples we have to review are what I would call a ‘daily driver’ pack.  They are momma bear sized…not too small, not too big; the perfect size for an after work quicky to a weekend mini-epic.

We begin with the Osprey Syncro 10.

From the Osprey website:

The Syncro 10 is the perfect all around pack for carrying enough gear to put a few hours in on the bike or short adventures.  The AirSpeed™ ventilated backpanel maximizes breathability keeping you cool and comfortable all day long.

osprey syncro 10I have the M/L size which at 610cu in/10L, will hold a good amount of clothes and supplies.  I weighed it at 1 lb/12 oz with the reservoir enclosed.  Standing back and taking stock of the Osprey Syncro 10, it is a good looking pack and the large zipper pulls and helmet holder show nice touches along with the reflective accents and blinky strap.  The pack has two stretchy pockets, one on each side, that easily carry a water bottle.

Moving from the ‘top’ down, we have the main reservoir compartment that divides off to two pouches, if you will.  One is just for the reservoir and one is pretty good sized for whatever else…jackets, etc.  In front of that compartment is a section about 2/3s as large that has a pump strap arrangement, two small netted pouches, and a key clip.  Then in front of THAT compartment is a soft pouch for cell phones, etc.  It has a non-scratch material so sunglasses, etc, should be relatively safe in there.  Lastly, at the very bottom of the pack is a rain cover stored in its own compartment.

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The most striking feature is the AirSpeed back panel.  A mesh panel that is held in tension, it is unique and should allow a lot of air movement back there.

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Included is a 2.5 Hydraulics™ LT reservoir*.  It has built-in baffles to reduce sloshing and barrelling and a detachable hose connection which allows for fast and easy removal of the reservoir from the pack

DSC06573Interesting that the hydration reservoir…no one says ‘bladder’ anymore except urologists…is a bit of a tweener as the choice typically is between 2L and 3L of water storage.  More Momma Bear going on here.  The reservoir is a step up from the ones I have seen from Osprey in the past.  Seams within the reservoir keep it from being the dreaded sausage shape once it is filled and the fill cap is nicely done. easy to open/close, and is sealed well.  The hose quick disconnects in the middle of the tube length. This allows for easy removal of the reservoir for filling without unthreading the hose out of the shoulder straps. It also would allow you to swap reservoirs during a marathon event quickly and easily.  And, in the event that the quick connect would fail, you would not dump all the water out of the reservoir the way it would if the quick connect was at the bottom of the hose. The opening at the filler area is pretty big…enough for ice cubes, etc, but it is not as big as a Camelbak opening.

The bite valve turns 90° to the hose to ‘open’ and allow water to flow and that lets you see from a quick glance if the valve is open or closed.  That is nice when you are transporting the pack to the ride, helping prevent the dreaded “I set my pack on the bite valve which was open and now I have no water in my pack and I have a wet car seat” blues.  It’s a country song by now, no doubt, except in that song it is a truck seat that gets wet.  It is pretty easy to open the valve with one hand as you ride.  I never had it leak even a tiny bit while I was under way and it allows for a decent amount of fluid volume with a pretty comfortable bite effort.  The other trick deal with the bite valve is that is has a magnet in it that ‘snaps’ to the pack harness at the chest strap, helping the hose to not dangle in space when you are riding.

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The hose can be run down either shoulder strap for righties and leftys.

So after many hours of riding in the Osprey Syncro 10, mostly in pretty warm weather for Spring, I have some thoughts.

The good:

  • No doubt at all about the construction of the pack…first class.
  • There is enough storage to swallow jackets, food, essentials, etc.  This will do the job for most rides up to all day epics where you need the kitchen sink.
  • The AirSpeed back panel is very effective and nothing else I have tried lately allows air flow like this does except wearing no pack at all.  It also does a pretty good job of supporting the pack weight too, although if the waist strap is not snug, it does slide a bit on your back during fast trail moves.
  • The magnet is pretty cool for keeping the hose/bite valve from swinging around wildly.  It is surprisingly easy to ‘find’ its place again after taking a drink.
  • The two stretchy side pockets kept two full small bottles in place with no issues.  Very handy.

The not so good:

  • Although the storage is big enough in total, I found it kind of wonky.  Once I have my multi tool and pump in there, and maybe one other thing in the small mesh pockets, that leaves very little room for the other things I want to keep close at hand.  Where does my wallet go if I want to keep that secure?  I would load up the pack and have my snacks ready to store but there was no really good spot for them.  The same compartment as the multi tool/pump/key clip would be the obvious place but it is pretty deep and things like a single Payday or Bonk Breaker bar kind of got lost in there.  And the ‘J’ zip of that compartment that allows for you to see the bottom of the pouch also allows for things to dump out during a tire repair, etc, as you lay your pack on the ground.  I would not mind another net pouch across the two smaller ones for small snacks and a secure pouch big enough for an ID wallet, etc.
  • The stretchy side pockets are good for bottles but not much else as they are not tight enough for snacks, gloves, or whatever.  So I used them for bottles but nothing else.
  • The magnet bite-valve thingy…neat idea, but I prefer the hose to route on the left side and then the magnet was at odds with the hose routing and would not hold, popping free when I moved my arm around during riding.  I put it back on the right side but it would still not always hold itself there.  So, its kind of a hit and miss for me.
  • For some reason I never figured out, from the very beginning the pack bothered my shoulders right at the trapezius muscles…just a bit of an ache.  I think it just hit different points than the last pack I used and that was enough to trigger some discomfort.  Oddly enough, I would only notice it on occasion and on multiple hour rides it was not a big issue.
  • This is not unique to this pack, but anything in the rearmost main compartment that is at the bottom requires a deep sea fishing trip to find it or you remove all the stuff on top to get it out. I only noticed this extra effort after using the innovative Shimano Unzen pack with the side access zippers that allowed you to get to things on the bottom without disturbing the topmost stuff. But keeping extra tubes, etc, at the bottom and jackets, etc, on top is the natural stacking order for most packs, this one included.

The final word – The standout features of the Osprey Syncro 10 pack are the AirSpeed back panel, the wide feature set including a rain cover and helmet holder, and the typical Osprey build quality.  While I found it a bit less than I wanted it to be for organizing smaller items, it still is a great choice for a daily driver/weekend pack.

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The Syncro 10 gets an early start into a semi-epic day.

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Note: Osprey sent over the pack for test/review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being paid nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.