Thinking of getting a new mountain bike fanny pick? Or perhaps this would be your first one?
In either case, the Osprey Seral 7L hip pack is one of our favorite hydration packs–fanny pack or otherwise.
It’s comfortable (so, SO comfortable), doesn’t bounce or move around, offers ample storage, and does what it’s supposed to do: provide water that makes it to your mouth and doesn’t leak all over the place.
May 2023: Updated to include information on long term durability and updated pricing.
Review in a Nutshell
- Super comfy, stays in place
- “AirScape” back panel prevents sweating and keeps pack stable
- Tail light attachment
- More storage space than most hip packs
- Killer customer service and warranty
- Long-term durability
- Magnetic “clip” for bite valve is weak
- No way to secure excess waist strap
Price & Where To Buy:
Comfortable on the Trail
The best thing about the Osprey Seral? It’s comfortable. And that’s really what you’re looking for, isn’t it?
I decided to switch to a hip pack after suffering from a lot of back pain and shoulder/arm numbness while riding. Not only did the Seral get rid of that problem, I was shocked at how much lighter and freer I felt on the bike.
Jumping felt safer. I was better able to stand and maneuver. There were a couple times when I started out down the trail, only to stop in horror thinking I had forgotten my pack. I hadn’t–the thing just doesn’t even feel like it’s there.
The Seral does an awesome job of keeping my back sweat-free. Especially when compared to a traditional style hydration pack, but even when compared to other fanny packs.
The back of the pack has a special “airscape” lumbar pad that provides tons of ventilation and holds the pack away from the small of your back. As a result, I’ve had virtually no back sweat. This lumbar pad also does a good job of keeping the pack stable so that it doesn’t rotate or bounce up and down.
Magnetic Bite Valve Latch Misses the Mark
The only real big negative about this pack is the magnetic valve latch. In theory, the latch should hold the valve (and hose) in place. In reality, it holds for about 30 seconds down the trail and then comes loose.
If the valve isn’t attached, the whole hose hangs loose, and danges down precariously close to the rear wheel. Not only is this obnoxious, it’s dangerous too.
The magnetic latch might work a little better, if there was a secondary attachment point for the hose. There isn’t.
I solved the issue by simply tucking the hose thru the waist buckle. This works fine, keeps the hose out of the way, and still provides enough slack to drink while riding.
It looks a little dorky though…..and it really shouldn’t be up to the rider to make it work. Osprey should just create a pack that works.
Not sure what they were thinking on this one…..
Bladder, Tube, and Bite Valve are Leak Free
I’m not sure exactly what’s wrong with me, but I’m pretty much the queen of leaky hydration packs. I struggle to get the screw tops properly on bladders and manifest drippy bite valves right and left.
So it’s somewhat of a miracle that I’ve yet to have an issue with the Osprey Seral. The bladder, tube, and valve, all hold water just like they should.
The thing I like best is the 1.5 L bladder. Instead of the dreaded screw closure (that I can never got on just ride), the Seral’s bladder has a ziplock-type closure that manages to close correctly every time.
The hose and bite valve provide good flow, but don’t keep squirting once you’re done drinking. In fact, I’ve had so few problems with the valve, that I don’t usually even turn it to the off position.
Enough Storage Space for the Essentials
Here’s what I have in my Osprey Seral right now:
- Cell phone
- Energy bar
- Mini tool
- Tire levers
And even with all that, there’s still some extra space. In fact, I managed to stuff a big sandwich in last week, and yesterday, I jammed in a lightweight jacket.
And really, that’s all I need for most rides. For an all-day, backcountry epic, where I know I need to be self-sufficient, I’d still take my Osprey Raven, but for (most) everything else, the Seral works.
The pack has two main compartments. The largest one included a pouch for the water bladder and has an open area for tools and maybe a light jacket.
The smaller front pocket includes a key hook, a zippered phone pocket (that is too small for my massive iphone), and a mesh pocket for….I’m not sure what. I stick snacks in there.
There are also two small zippered side pockets that wrap around your hips. These are great for stashing some gels or cash or anything else that’s small.
But Nowhere for a Rain Jacket
The only time I’ve really had an issue with the storage space has been during this endless, wet, cold spring we’ve had. There’s nowhere on the pack to store a heavy-duty Gore-Tex jacket or extra layers. Some hip packs include exterior loops or straps to store jackets or pads, but the Seral doesn’t.
Waist Strap is Comfortable….But Looks Goofy
Before I even hit the trail, I knew I had an issue with the waist strap. This boggled my mind because I had read other reviews and nobody mentioned it. Evidently, the reviews were written by men with thicker waists and less style than I? 😉
The problem with the waist strap isn’t it’s functionality or comfort level, it’s the fact that there isn’t any way to secure the excess strap. After I tightened the waist, there was bunch of extra strap that just dangled there.
For now, I’ve secured the straps with hairbands (which looks rather goofy). I’m sure eventally I’ll cut and hem the straps, but it would sure be nice if they just had a way to secure the extra strap.
Extra Loops for Blinky Light and Carrying
The Osprey Seral also has two additional straps or loops. The first is on the front of the pack and is intended as an attachment point for a blinky light. You could also use it with a carabiner to secure something small.
The second loop is on the back of the pack, and provides a way to carry or hang the Seral when you’re not wearing it.
We had an exceptionally wet, muddy spring here in Utah, so I had plenty of opportunity to get the Seral dirty. I’m happy to report, however, that it’s super easy to clean. Thanks to the slick, water-resistant fabric, I was able to clean a really muddy pack with only a wet rag.
Despite some of the issues with the Seral, it still ranks high amongst my favorite hip packs, largely due to the company that stands behind it. Osprey has amazing customer service and a rock-solid lifetime warranty. They will either repair or replace your pack if it gets damaged in any way.
When my Osprey Raven was attacked by squirrels (true story), Osprey gave me a replacement. I just filled out a form, sent it in, and walah!, brand new pack.
I’ve heard stories like this from another other riders to be super impressed with the company.
Long Term Durability
I first wrote this review in 2019, and now 4 years later, I’m still using it on a near daily basis. The pack has gone with me on countless rides including the Smoke N Fire 400.
As you can imagine, the pack has seen it’s fair share of mud, sweat, and exploded gel packets. Every time I think it might be beyond saving, I give it a good wash and voila–good as new!
I can’t speak highly enough of Osprey products and their long term durability. If you want a pack that will last, this is it.
Comparison: Osprey Seral vs Other MTB Fanny Packs
I’ve tried my fair share of hip packs and the Osprey Seral is my favorite. Why?
It’s proven to be the most durable, most comfortable, and easiest to clean. Other fanny packs, like the Dakine Hot Laps, hasn’t held up as well over time.
It also has the most carrying capacity. While I don’t always use it all, it’s certainly nice to have for big backcountry rides. The Dakine Hot Laps, for instance, has 5L of total capacity and the Camelbak Repack only has 2.5L.
For more options, check out our list of the best mountain bike hip packs.
Bottom-Line: An Extremely Comfortable Hip Pack with Minor Issues
As long as you’re willing to deal with a semi-faulty magnetic bite valve latch and excess waist straps, you’ll love everything else about the Osprey Seral. It’s extraordinarily comfortable (so much so you might forget it is even there). Compared to other hip packs, it offers a significant amount of storage and doesn’t bounce around.
Other Stuff You Might Like
- 5 Best Mountain Bike Fanny Packs
- 7 Best Hydration Drink Mixes For Cycling
- Everything You Need To Know About Cycling Hydration
About The Reviewer
Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.
An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.
Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life. Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son. If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.
Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.