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.
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
- Magnetic “clip” for bite valve is weak
- No way to secure excess waist strap
Price: $101.95 (Last updated: 2020-12-29 at 05:40 – More Info)
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.
Comparison Chart: Osprey Seral vs Other MTB Fanny Packs
Here’s how the Osprey Seral stacks up against the competition. For more information on these other hip packs, check out our list of the 5 Best MTB Fanny Packs.
|Fanny Pack||Water Capacity||Total Capacity|
|Dakine Hot Laps 5L||2L||5L|
|Osprey Seral 7L||1.5L||7L|
|Patagonia Nine Trail 8L||1.5L||8L|
|Evoc Hip Pack Race with Bladder||1.5L||3L|
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.