Plus size hydration pack
When I took the Siskin 8 out of its packaging I wondered if it’s a hydration pack or a backpack. It’s larger than the narrow hydration packs I know. But at the same time it’s a bit small for a backpack. Now, after having used it for a couple of months … I still don’t know. Is that a bad thing? Not at all! Here’s why.
First of all the Siskin 8 is fairly large for being solely a hydration pack. With dimensions of 47 cm in height and 22 cm in width it covers a large part of your back. To me, that’s a plus. The fit is very comfortable and feels much more like a decent backpack. The first reason for this is the Airscape backpanel with ribbed supports on both sides and a mesh cover to keep the air flowing. Featured on many Osprey packs we already liked this on the Escapist 25. The second reason is the harness with narow hipbelt and vertical(!) adjustable sternum strap.
One thing that annoys me about hydration packs is the difference in fit when the water reservoir is filled up. Instead of a tight pack it feels much more like a wobbly water balloon on your back. Having filled the water reservoir of the Siskin 8 with exactly 2.5 litres and shoving it back in its compartment, I was surprised the pack still felt exactly like the small backpack I wore beforehand. That’s 5 regular water bottles on your back, enough for many hours of riding.
The seperate water reservoir compartment zips shut leaving a small opening for the water hose over your right shoulder. This makes for a clean look and no hose sticking out. The downside: this leaves no option to change the routing to your left shoulder. In order to prevent a dangling water hose in front of you, the bite-valve at the end of the hose is held in place with a magnetic retainer on the sternum strap. A nice extra feature the Osprey brand is known for.
That’s hydration taken care of. For all of the rest there is the front compartment that zips open all the way. Inside there is a large pocket that can easily hold rain gear and an extra layer of clothing for example. Or for photo geeks like me, a small tripod. Now exactly this makes the Siskin 8 a much more versatile pack you can use all year long. On the other side you will find a mesh pocket with key-clip and a closed ‘scratch-free’ pocket with zipper for your phone, a compact camera or sunglasses.
On the frontside of the pack there is a large pouch you can use to stuff your gloves, wet clothes or bulky items such as the lunch you just bought. The front pouch is secured by buckles on both sides. The downside is you need to unbuckle both of them every time to get full access to the inner compartment.
You can carry even more on the outside. Osprey’s LidLock in the middle allows you to strap your helmet to the pack in a second or two. And at the bottom there is a loop to attatch a rear light.
Unfortunately there is no raincover supplied with this model.
In conclusion, the Siskin 8 is a plus size hydration pack for long days in the saddle, carrying everything you need for the day on your back, well organised. With plenty of room for extra layers of clothing and rain gear you can use this pack all year round. In summer, the small weight penalty in comparison with a lightweight dedicated hydration pack is easily made up for by the very comfortable and stable fit, even with the large 2.5 litres water reservoir topped up.
Osprey Siskin 8
MSRP 90.00 Euros
Available in ‘Obsidian Black’ and ‘Slate Blue’ (tested)
Need a bit more space? Its bigger brother is called Siskin 12.
For the ladies the sisters Salida 8 and Salida 12 complete the family.