I had been wanting a new cycling pack for a while, being a fan of Osprey Packs that was my natural first pick of brands. After really going over their selection and thinking about what I need in a cycling pack I landed between two of their packs. The first was the Syncro 15 and then I found the Raptor 14. They are both fairly similar and looking at them online didn’t help make a decision. Luckily the Chicago REI had both in stock.
Osprey Syncro 15 VS Osprey Raptor 14
From reading and watching videos about them online I came to two features I really liked … a lot. The Syncro came with a rain cover and pocket for it and the Raptor 14 had the ‘Shove-It’ pocket which seemed like a cool idea for a jacket, especially if it was wet, or a pair of sandals or shoes. However you can purchase the correct size rain cover for the Raptor 14 and stash it in the tool area at the bottom of the bag similar to the Syncro series, although that adds an extra $20 to the total cost which is already $10 more for the Raptor 14.
Looking at them at the store really didn’t yield too much extra insight. I did like the fact that the Raptor 14 had a separate compartment for the hydration bladder whereas the Syncro just had a pocket for it inside the zippered compartment but the Syncro had a screen that literally held the pack off of your back. This just adding to the complication of which one was right for me with size being pretty much the same. The Raptor 14 has four compression straps which would make it ideal for a low fill amount, but at 15 liter volume for the Syncro you really aren’t going to be left with a lot of empty space if you feel the need to carry a pack for something.
The fit test. Raptor was first; felt great on and against my back. The waist strap, no padding, felt as if it wasn’t there. Lovely right and as expected. So I put on the Syncro, initial thoughts was “Did I put this on wrong?” The small padding section of the waist belt, which isn’t removable even though the website says the waist strap was removable, felt like two lumps on each side of your waist. Not good at all. With that in mind it would be weird to use it without the waist strap because then you have those two pads / wings that would probably end up getting folded under the pack exacerbating the flaw.
I carry around the Raptor 14 around REI for a while, eventually wandering into the women’s clothing and clearly not paying attention to anything, thinking thinking and thinking more about, do I really need a new cycling pack … the old osprey waypoint bag works acceptable and the bladder while cycling isn’t something I’ve ever used or find myself in a dire need of. Of course it can be taken out and used without it. Then one of the employees starts talking to me and asks if I was going on a big trip somewhere. I responded with no and he said “oh most of the time when I see someone with one of those up here in the clothing they are using those for daypacks for some trip they are planning”. This got me to thinking, sans the blatter this thing sits pretty flat and could be shoved down into the back of my backpacking pack for a day pack if ever having a basecamp situation, and something I’d want the bladder for. So its easier to justify spending the money on something with multiple uses so I get down to the checkout and get out of there with the bag.
What the Osprey Raptor 14 Will Hold
I Get home with it and as always I like to play with things when I first get them, fill the bladder up to 3L and half the space in the bag is gone. Buyers remorse sets in! Take a nap, wake up and it hits me ‘I don’t need 3L of water in it for cycling!” I generally carry two Camelbak Big Chill water bottle so filled it up to 2L (that would be 3.5L of water on hand which is over kill) and there was still a good amount of space for things as the lump from the bladder, with the air removed, was to a minimal. As you can see in the photo below this bag will carry enough stuff for an all day adventure be it road cycling or mountain biking even a change of bibs incase you can walk away from a wreck you aren’t half naked from the pavement ground having their way with the pair you have on.
Please keep in mind that this photo isn’t a list of “things to take cycling” but rather just an illustration of what it will hold. Where you are going, weather and how far removed from society will dictate things you should bring, such cycling in a very rural area you ideally want to take a medical kit and perhaps a water filter. If you plan on using your cell phone for GPS mapping an extra long trip take along a cell phone batter charger. For clothing in this image I was able to fit the extra bibs and a lightweight merino wool shirt in the main compartment along with a cycling jacket in the stuff-it compartment. Now as you can see from the other image the bag wasn’t stuffed completely full with these items, so you could fit a more if you really wanted to pack it in however these items fit very comfortably and you won’t have to remove everything to get out one thing.
Buyers remorse gone! This is a fantastic bag and look forward to years of use and will be getting the osprey rain cover (XS) soon.
Let me know your thoughts and also if there is anything you would always take with you regardless of weather conditions in the comments below.