As we'd expect from Osprey, the Seral 7 lumbar pack boasts excellent quality construction and a well-considered design with great attention to detail, like the reflective light loop and handy little strap to pick it up. This is all backed up by Osprey's ‘All Mighty Guarantee’ which promises to repair any defect or damage, within its reasonable lifetime, free of charge, and if they can’t repair it they will replace it. Repair turnaround is very fast so you should get your pack back in around a week. On my original reservoir, which is made by Hydrapak for Osprey, the bite valve leaked and a replacement was sent to me straight away without issue.
This generously sized waist pack has plenty of room, which is well organized with a spacious main compartment, outer zipped compartment and two useful easy to access zip pockets on the wings. The main compartment has a sleeve and hook for the included HydraPak bladder, while the outer zipped pocket has a zipped valuables pocket and another open mesh pocket with a keyring hook. There are side compression straps to cinch in the pack for added stability, and you can also use them to carry stuff externally, such as knee pads or a muddy waterproof.
It’s made from a durable ripstop material coated with a PFC-free DWR, and the manufacture process adheres to Osprey’s ‘Sustainable Design’ policy, using high-quality recycled, bluesign-approved fabrics. The padded back is very comfortable, with ventilated mesh material at the sides and two foam panels with a central ‘Airscape’ vent in the middle. The waist straps are nice and wide too.
Moving on to the 1.5l reservoir, it’s easy to fill, big enough for a decent length ride and is shaped to extend around your sides, which further aids the stability of this pack. The replaceable bite valve allows you to trim the drinking hose to the right length to fit your waist, which is handy, and it’s a new design with a push lever to open and close the valve, rather than the previous twist style. You can slide the magnet to your desired location on the hose, and it snaps to a magnet securely attached to the left hip pocket.
The Seral comes in three colors, although this intriguingly named Aprium purple pack is actually more of a russet red.
I love this pack because I can fit in everything I need for a day ride in summer: lightweight waterproof, extra layer, multi-tool, sandwiches and snacks alongside 1.5 litres of water to supplement my water bottle. And it all stays secure and stable on my back without digging in anywhere – it is super-comfy to wear. (If you don’t need as much storage, Osprey make a smaller-capacity Seral 4.) The fabric feels hardwearing and mud brushes off easily at the end of a ride.
Being picky, the adjustable webbing belt is comfy and has handy strap tidies, but its design means you can't tighten it one-handed while riding, as you can with some of Osprey’s riding backpacks, which is a great feature if you like to loosen the belt on mellow sections and tighten it for the descents. You can loosen it one-handed though. Also, the hip pockets aren’t quite big enough to fit a smartphone, although I didn’t find this an issue as I usually carry mine in a shorts or pants pocket.
The bladder has a nice wide Ziplock-style opening and the magnet for the drinking tube has been updated and is much stronger than the one on my old Osprey Raven backpack, which makes it easy to snap the hose in place without having to look, and means it doesn’t get knocked loose. One niggle is that the red plastic structure of the bladder is quite tall, so if you're stuffing the pack to capacity with water and kit, I needed two hands to close the main zip, using one to hold the two sides together.
The fabric’s DWR finish will shrug off splashes but won’t hold off persistent rain. Also, there’s a gap at the end of the main zip where the hose is routed which lets water run in in. Not being waterproof isn’t really a problem, but be sure to stash spare clothing in dry bags if you’re heading out on a wet ride.
This is a brilliant hip pack for riders who like to travel light-ish, with loads of well-organized storage space in a comfortable design that means it doesn’t bounce around, even on the roughest descents. The price tag sounds quite steep, though when you factor in that it includes the reservoir and this pack is built to last, manufactured in a sustainable and ethical way, plus backed up by a lifetime guarantee, then it actually seems quite good value.
Also, you can currently find last season’s Seral 7 pack on sale, which is the same except for the colors and the bite valve being the older twist-open style.
Tech specs: Osprey Seral 7
- Price: $110 / £95
- Weight: 369g (+ 147g for bladder and hose)
- Colors: Aprium purple (tested), black, Postal blue
- Size: 21.5 x 32 x 15cm