Osprey’s latest offering, the Syncro, is essentially a lighter, more streamlined version of their Raptor series packs. Three different capacities are available – 10 (tested), 15 and 20L – and each pack comes in both small/medium and large/XL sizes, which is great for riders at either end of the body spectrum.
Once the correct size is chosen, the pack fits quite comfortably thanks to multiple strap adjustments and padding on both the shoulders and hips. The one weak link is the thin, flimsy and removable waist strap, which seems out of place when compared to the rest of the retention system. And speaking of retention, there's nothing to keep all the strap ends from flapping around in the wind.
Ventilation on the Syncro is fantastic, thanks to a combination of Osprey’s Airspeed mesh back panel and vented mesh shoulder straps. Almost like a mini trampoline, the back panel is under enough tension to bow the pack off of the rider’s back, allowing for almost unrestricted airflow between the two – to the extent that we found splatters of mud between the mesh panel and the back of the pack.
Storage is divided into two zippered main compartments, a zippered slash pocket up top and two open-top mesh side pockets. The largest pocket is also the access point to a sleeve that houses the 100oz reservoir (included with US packs, has to be bought separately in UK), and has enough room for a lightweight jacket, hat and pair of gloves.
The second compartment features three internal pockets and is great for storing a pump, tubes and tools. The slash pocket is made of No-Scratch material to keep glasses or phone/camera screens relatively safe, and is big enough for both. The two side pockets are low, angled and stretchy enough to grab items from while riding – something we greatly appreciated.
Though the pack isn’t water resistant, it does come with its own rain cover, stashed in a zippered pocket at the bottom. The ability to remove this cover allows for easy cleaning after getting covered in mud, and means it can be removed for extra cargo space for rides unthreatened by splatter. Osprey have even added a blinker light strap to the cover, which really is a nice touch.
Riders who like to keep their helmet strapped to their pack will like Osprey’s LidLock clip, which works well with a typical vented mountain bike helmet. It does take a little bit of double-checking, though – on our first trial run it failed to keep a helmet from falling to the floor.
The Syncro's back panel may be well ventilated but it's also rather rigid, as with other Osprey packs. This, in combination with their Hydraform reservoir that has a support system designed to allow easy removal and insertion, makes for a specific ride feel. On less aggressive rides, the pack was a pleasure. But on more technical rides, or in situations where more body English was applied, the pack tended to get pushed up over the shoulders, where other packs would have bent and formed with the body.
The Syncro 10 is a good choice for anyone looking for a hydration pack, with its great quality and well thought out features. The rigidity may be an annoyance for some, but overall it’s a very trailworthy option.