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Osprey Syncro 12 Review

This comfortable, breathable, supportive, and full-featured hydration pack earns our highest praise
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Osprey Syncro 12 Review
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams
Price:  $160 List
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Manufacturer:   Osprey
By Tara Reddinger-Adams ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 20, 2023
73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 12
  • Ease of Drinking - 20% 8.0
  • Ease of Filling - 20% 8.0
  • Comfort - 20% 7.0
  • Storage - 20% 8.0
  • Weight - 10% 4.0
  • Ease of Cleaning - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Osprey Syncro 12 earns our Editors' Choice Award with its high-quality construction, breathable and supportive back panel, and excellent balance of overall storage volume and convenient organization features. Its 2.5-liter water capacity is capable of keeping you hydrated on longer outings, and the separate hydration pocket and quick-release drinking hose make refilling or cleaning a breeze. The well-executed storage design includes plenty of pockets, and the overall volume performs much better than other similarly-sized packs. Its versatile design features and consistent comfort and performance make it a great do-it-all option for everything from strenuous hikes or casual mountain bike rides to daily trips to the gym or occasional airplane travel. See it rated versus top competitors in our review of the best hydration packs.
REASONS TO BUY
Breathability
Excellent storage
Comfort and support
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Thin hip belt
Editor's Note: This review was updated in March 2023, to include photos from our latest round of testing in new colors.

Compare to Similar Products

 
osprey syncro 12
This Product
Osprey Syncro 12
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $119.95 at Backcountry
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$120 List
$89.99 at Amazon
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$80 List
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Bottom Line This model scores well in every rating metric and is our favorite overall hydration packThe biggest pack in our review carries large loads comfortably and is made for all-day hiking and bikingThis pack has all the bells and whistles to carry all your gear comfortablyA simple, effective design that is great for lighter loadsThis minimalist, lightweight pack allows you to carry the basics and stash a layer
Rating Categories Osprey Syncro 12 Deuter Compact EXP 14 Gregory Endo 15L Gregory Nano 18 H2O CamelBak Classic Li...
Ease of Drinking (20%)
8.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Ease of Filling (20%)
8.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Comfort (20%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
4.0
Storage (20%)
8.0
10.0
10.0
8.0
4.0
Weight (10%)
4.0
2.0
3.0
6.0
9.0
Ease of Cleaning (10%)
7.0
8.0
5.0
5.0
6.0
Specs Osprey Syncro 12 Deuter Compact EXP 14 Gregory Endo 15L Gregory Nano 18 H2O CamelBak Classic Li...
Pack Size 12 L 14 L 15 L 18 L 2 L
Bladder Capacity 2.5 L 3 L 3 L 3 L 2 L
Measured Weight 35.2 oz 41.6 oz 38.4 oz 25.6 oz 14.5 oz
Waist Belt 3/4" webbing Padded with two zippered pockets Padded with two zippered pockets Removable 3/4" webbing None

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Syncro 12 blends an effective 2.5-liter hydration system into a comfortable, well-supported, and well-organized backpack. This pack has a large enough storage volume to throw in an extra jacket or pair of shoes, yet also has all of the pockets and sleeves needed to keep your tools and gear organized and keep the hydration system easily accessible. This pack lands near the top of every rating metric, earning our Editors' Choice Award with its consistent top scores.

If you're in the market for something with a little more storage capacity for longer day hikes check out our review of the best daypacks. Looking for a new bladder for your pack? Our best hydration bladder review can help you narrow your search and find the right one for you.

Performance Comparison


osprey syncro 12 - testing the syncro 12 performance while mountain biking.
Testing the Syncro 12 performance while mountain biking.
Credit: Acacia Wytaske

Ease of Drinking


The Syncro 12 comes standard with a 2.5-liter Osprey Hydraulics LT hydration bladder made by HydraPak. Like on the other Osprey packs in our lineup, the HydraPak bite valve is a suitable mouthpiece and can deliver the goods efficiently and comfortably. While we were quite pleased with the performance of this system, it wasn't quite as impressive as some of the other brands that we tested. If you're interested in the best flow rate possible, you could switch out the bite valve for a different model, but we think most users will probably be satisfied with the standard hardware on most of the packs we tested.


The Syncro's 2.5-liter reservoir size provides a suitable drinking volume for most normal single-day outings. Adventurers in hotter, drier climates without any water sources may opt for a model with a larger 3-liter water capacity. The Syncro's flexible drinking hose efficiently routes through the pack to a shoulder strap where a magnetic bite valve attachment keeps it comfortably within reach.

osprey syncro 12 - the hydrapak bladder features a quick disconnect button for the...
The HydraPak bladder features a quick disconnect button for the hose, which makes removal from the pack and filling easier.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Ease of Filling


Having an Osprey Hydraulics LT by HydraPak 2.5-liter bladder with a wide-mouth opening, the Syncro 12 is among our highest scorers for ease of filling.


The large opening and attached handle on the bladder makes trips to the sink a breeze. While many other models come with a similarly designed bladder, this style stands out as clearly superior when compared to bladders with an older circular style opening. The wide-mouth opening comes in handy when adding ice cubes or when filling up on the go in a lake or stream.

osprey syncro 12 - the integrated handle and wide mouth opening make filling this...
The integrated handle and wide mouth opening make filling this bladder quite easy. The large opening also makes it possible to easily clean the inside of the bladder with a sponge or brush.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Another noteworthy feature on the Syncro is its separate, easily accessible hydration bladder pocket, and the amazingly well-placed quick-release button on the drinking hose. Combined with the well-designed hydration bladder itself, this button makes removing, refilling, and replacing the bladder incredibly quick and easy.

osprey syncro 12 - the reservoir pocket features a nylon clip to ensure the bladder...
The reservoir pocket features a nylon clip to ensure the bladder stays in place as the water level goes down. The hose can also be routed to the left or right side of the shoulder strap thanks to hose ports on both sides of the bladder pocket.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Comfort


Again, the Syncro finds itself near the top of the lineup in our comfort rankings. Our testers all prefer this pack's supportive open mesh back panel compared to the standard padded foam back panels found on most other inexpensive models.


This pack easily supports heavier loads with its hidden wireframe structural reinforcement. The padded shoulder straps provide a nice balance between comfort and support without being too stiff or bulky. The AirSpeed open mesh back panel conforms to the shape of your back and maintains two inches of airflow between the pack and your body, preventing or delaying the dreaded hot and sweaty back.

osprey syncro 12 - the mesh back panel holds the pack away from your back and increases...
The mesh back panel holds the pack away from your back and increases overall airflow and comfort.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

While this pack is indeed very comfortable, one of the only notable areas for improvement is the hip belt. For such a fully-featured and expensive pack, the tiny little hip belt straps are a bit disappointing. Adding a thicker padded hip belt with some zippered pockets like on some other high-end models would only enhance the Syncro's overall comfort and load-carrying capabilities. Note that our research shows that Osprey's larger Syncro 20 model, which is not a part of this review, does indeed have hip belt pockets.

osprey syncro 12 - the syncro distributes heavy loads well, making it a comfortable...
The Syncro distributes heavy loads well, making it a comfortable choice for day hiking. If the 2.5-liter reservoir is too small for you, additional water bottles can easily fit into its side pockets.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Storage


With 12 liters of storage volume, the Syncro 12 has plenty of pockets, large and small, to handle your all-day adventures. While not the biggest pack in the lineup, we are very impressed with how well it balances bulk storage as well as detailed organization features. While it doesn't have as much overall volume as some of the larger packs that we tested, it does fit bulkier items as well or better than many other models. While we love how you can stuff so much inside this pack, we also appreciate the two cinch straps on each side to tighten down and balance the load when you're heading out with less than full capacity.


Starting with the separate hydration compartment adjacent to the back panel, the Syncro has three other zippered external compartments. Near the top of the pack and next to the hydration compartment is a small zippered pocket suitable for your small essentials like keys, phone, or sunglasses. Next is the main compartment, with a substantial zippered opening, capable of holding a couple of jackets or a pair of shoes. Finally, there is a smaller gear compartment that has internal sleeves and zippered mesh pockets to house and organize your bike tools, keys, wallet, phone, or GPS. The front of the pack has a stash pocket and a helmet clip, while the sides each have some small bottle sleeves. The very bottom of the bag even has a small zippered pocket with a built-in rain cover.

An integrated rain cover ensures your pack will stay dry.
An integrated rain cover ensures your pack will stay dry.
Mesh pockets help to keep gear, food, and other items organized.
Mesh pockets help to keep gear, food, and other items organized.
The side pockets and compression straps can be used to carry hiking...
The side pockets and compression straps can be used to carry hiking poles.
The Syncro 12 has many pockets and features for easy organization on the go.

Weight


At a measured 35.2 ounces (2.2 pounds), the Syncro 12 doesn't score as well in our weight performance metric, and is slightly on the heavier end of the spectrum with its high-quality materials and an assortment of high-end features.


Not surprising for a pack with so many features, this probably wouldn't be your top choice if you were looking to go for a minimalist or ultralight approach. While the Syncro isn't the lightest fully-featured backpack that we tested, it is still nearly a full pound lighter than some of the heaviest contenders in our lineup. Its weight seems even more reasonable when you consider its impressive storage features and load-hauling capabilities.

osprey syncro 12 - the pack weighs in at 35.2 ounces of 2.2 lbs on our scale.
The pack weighs in at 35.2 ounces of 2.2 lbs on our scale.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Ease of Cleaning


Although a couple of other models score higher in our ease of cleaning metric with their slightly wider-mouthed openings, we didn't have any troubles or concerns with the ability to keep the Syncro's hydration system clean.


Similar to the ease of filling metric, the Syncro stands out here with its wide-mouthed HydraPak bladder that makes it easy to stick a washcloth or scrub brush inside. The easily accessible bladder compartment and quick-release drinking hose attachments both make it simple to remove the entire system from the back when it comes for cleaning. If you're interested in getting a more thorough cleaning, there are plenty of compatible drinking hose scrub brushes and chemical disinfectant tablets available from several different manufacturers.

osprey syncro 12 - a quick disconnect hose and wide mouth opening make cleaning with a...
A quick disconnect hose and wide mouth opening make cleaning with a brush easy.
Credit: Tara Reddinger-Adams

Value


The Syncro is certainly not on an inexpensive pack compared to the rest of our lineup. Still, with top-notch Osprey quality, and a full assortment of high-end features, we think this pack could provide dependable use for many years, making it an excellent value for the right user.

osprey syncro 12 - the syncro 12 is a versatile pack that can be used for hiking...
The Syncro 12 is a versatile pack that can be used for hiking, biking, and other activities.
Credit: Byron Adams

Conclusion


Scoring well across the board and taking home our Editors' Choice Award, the Osprey Syncro 12 is a top-quality, fully-featured hydration pack ready to help you tackle your next adventure. High-end features like an AirSpeed back panel, numerous storage compartments, and a high-quality hydration system make this one tough to beat. If you're looking for a dependable pack for years to come, check it out.

Tara Reddinger-Adams