We had hoped this pack would be a great budget-friendly option, but the Osprey Dyna 1.5 ultimately led to disappointment. Ringing in at $90, half the price of the Editors' Choice Award-winning Nathan VaporHowe, it was the Dyna's uncomfortable design and frustrating pockets that were responsible for its low-scoring performance. Despite its lack of storage, this product's appealing price and useful hydration system could make it a decent choice for runners looking for a pack to put the very bare essentials in, like water and a snack, but our testers found it unfit for most remote adventures and ultra marathon races.
Osprey Dyna 1.5 Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Inexpensive, great hydration system
Cons: Small storage capacity, not as comfortable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Dyna failed to win an award for us because of its uncomfortable fit that is hard to adjust, as well as its poorly planned pockets and lack of useful features. It has a decent hydration system, though, making it a possible contender for runners looking to ditch the handheld water bottles for a bladder but who still don't need all the space of the VaporHowe or Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta.
Comfort is paramount when you're on the trails for hours at a time. For this metric, we looked at materials and adjustability to get into the nitty-gritty of fit. And while we wouldn't describe the Dyna as overwhelmingly uncomfortable, it didn't stand a chance against the soft, form-fitting design of the VaporHowe.
The first thing we noticed when trying out the Dyna was the stiff plastic at the sternum and collarbones. The vest protrudes from the body at the collar which we found to be awkward, though we didn't notice it much when running. Similarly, where the sternum straps are attached is a stiff plastic rail. This led to a weird fit. It wasn't exactly uncomfortable, but missed the soft, form-fitting design of the VaporHowe. Where that vest formed to our bodies and let us forget it was even there, we were always aware of the Dyna. We felt a little bit like football players in this pack.
The Dyna's materials are soft and somewhat stretchy, and we appreciated the breathability of the back. One of our most important concerns with this pack is the frustrating adjustability. There are two lateral straps, similar to those of the Ultra Vesta, but the strap is elastic, making it very difficult to pull through the buckle or to release some pressure. And whereas the VaporHowe and Ultra Vesta have an infinitely adjustable sliding rail for the sternum straps, the Dyna has a clip system that gives the user six options. We found this system easy to use and as secure as any of the others we tested, but we docked points in this category for the more limited adjustability.
Additionally, the sternum straps are stiff, and without a way to secure them down, they stick out and flop around when we were running. This may sound like a small issue, but after a dozen miles, we were agonized by the bouncing of our straps and wished we had a way to secure them.
Features & Design
For this metric, we steered away from pockets, which have their section below, and looked at bulky item storage and bonus features. The Dyna is a trimmed-down pack without a lot of pizazz, and its 1.5-liters of storage left little room for layers.
While other female-specific packs we tested have tons of options on the rear of the pack for jackets and bulky layers, the Dyna has none. This model is available in a larger 6-liter version that more directly competes with the VaporHowe and Ultra Vesta, though we chose not to test this model because it has much of the same build as the smaller vest. While the Dyna is set up to be almost purely a hydration pack, a bungee for layers, like the one found on the Ultra Vesta could make it a much more versatile product.
The Dyna has a whistle like the other two packs that we tested. We appreciated that the whistle sits nicely in a pocket, as compared to the Ultra Vesta's whistle that bounced around when it occasionally escaped from its small pocket. One of our most important concerns with the Dyna was that we couldn't attach our trekking poles to it. This severely limits where we would take this vest and makes it more useful for training runs than races or backcountry missions.
This is the metric where the Dyna shines. With a simple, user-friendly hydration system, the Dyna makes itself a contender for short training runs or half marathon races. If you're looking for a hydration pack for running, and nothing more, the Dyna is a solid contender.
The Dyna uses a rear bladder system similar to that of the VaporHowe. The bladder sits in its own pockets and attaches to the vest with a small buckle. While we like that the bladder doesn't bounce around, we're afraid that the buckle could be a weak spot for durability, which would then render the vest useless. We prefer the VaporHowe's Velcro strap which seems like it would last much longer.
The hose of the bladder is easy to push through to the front, and a magnetic clip is used to secure it to the sternum straps. There are additional elastic straps on the front of the pack for extra hose storage. We liked that the tube can be twisted and locked, whereas the hose of the VaporHowe is always open. We don't lock it while running, as it would be annoying to open and close all the time, but we do think this is a useful feature. The pockets on the front of the Dyna are small, and we could not fit our soft flask bottles in them. This pack, therefore, is only compatible with a bladder.
The Dyna has relatively small storage capacity. And while we had to dock it points, it should be noticed that this vest is just a hydration pack that has been adapted for running. Its lack of storage makes it useless for long races or adventures, and though it may be the right product for you, we wish it was a little more versatile.
While you may be able to squeak by in an ultra with this vest, it is nearly impossible to carry any layers with you, so we'd recommend staying a little closer to home. There is no room for bulky items via a back pocket or bungee, and with only four small pockets on the front, we were unable to pack most of the items we'd normally want on a long run. Once again, this contender could be used as a way to get away from handheld water bottles, but its small storage capacity is going to make it difficult to travel very far.
We are obsessed with organization, and we awarded high marks in this metric for packs that let us sort our gear neatly and compactly. We appreciated vests with pockets in many sizes and shapes, as well as ones that keep our gear secure. The Dyna falls behind here, with only four front pockets and one small zippered pocket in the rear.
Our biggest problem was not with the number of pockets on the front of the Dyna but with their construction. The two outermost pockets are small and a decent size for gels or electrolytes. The pockets behind these are longer but slender, and we had a difficult time reaching the bottoms of them. Most importantly, we were concerned that none of these pockets close, whether via Velcro, bungee, or zipper, making us worried we'd lose some of our essential gear.
The rear zippered pocket is a good size for a phone and/or wallet, and we appreciated having this one secured area. To make the Dyna a more versatile product, we'd love to see an area to store layers or additional food.
Outdoor gear companies know that lighter is better, and here at OutdoorGearLab, we find that to be true in just about everything we test. Because we want to bring you reliable data, we measured each product on our scales. We found that the Dyna is a solid competitor in this category.
Without hydration systems, the Dyna weighs in at the same nine ounces as the Ultra Vesta, slightly behind the 8.2 ounces of the VaporHowe. Because the bladder weighs more than Ultimate Direction's soft flask bottles, however, the total weight of the Dyna is a little heavier than other women's-specific packs we tested. However, at 14 ounces, the Dyna is on par with any of the men's packs we reviewed.
While the Dyna received the lowest score of any product in this review, we do think that it could be a good purchase for a select audience. If you're a runner looking to ditch your handheld bottles or just be able to carry more water, the Dyna will do that for you. It is not, however, very comfortable or versatile, so we hesitate to recommend this pack to any hardcore, full-time runners. This pack could make a great training companion for your upcoming ultramarathon where hydration is key, but extra layers and tons of storage are not important. Compared to the other vests in this review, though, we would not choose this for ultramarathons or long days in the mountains.
The Dyna is priced just right. At $90, it is both significantly less expensive and less useful than other packs that we tested. In the running pack world, you get what you pay for, and with the Dyna, you get a basic pack with great hydration and a few good pockets. This is a training pack not intended for long runs or races, but a good choice for the sometimes-runner who is looking for a more sophisticated hydration system.
Though it received a low score, the Dyna could be a solid choice for the occasional user looking to upgrade their hydration system for longer training runs. With a less comfortable fit and a frustratingly small storage capacity, use of the Dyna is limited despite its appealing price point.
— Lauren DeLaunay