As the weather across the country heats up, it’s more important than ever to stay hydrated while you ride your bike. The last thing you want is to get to your office or picnic sweating, dry-mouthed and thirsty. You’ll be behind the eight-ball all day, trying to rehydrate and feeling out of it and tired. Drinking water on your bike, especially on hot days or long rides, is essential to performing your best, and coming back to your bike over and over again. That’s why a hydration pack like the Osprey Seral 4 might be the perfect answer to your commuting or weekend adventure needs.
A lumbar hydration pack sits comfortably on your lower back, perfect for staying in place as you bend over your handlebars, or sit upright. A lumbar pack also gives you the option of carrying a few essentials along with your water. This means you can have everything you need without needing to wear a cycling jersey with pockets, or covering your bike with racks or bags.
The new Seral 4 from Osprey is a great option to meet the needs of commuting, mountain biking or just weekend cruising. The low-profile lumbar pack features a 1.5-liter bladder and a drinking hose plenty long to reach your mouth while you ride. The bladder itself is exceptionally wide for 1.5 liters. It reaches to the far corners of the bag and wraps around the back of your hip bones. This allows the bag to stay slim, and also helps keep the load secure and close to your back.
The mouthpiece is easy to drink from with a slight bite on the nipple. There is a plastic twistable switch on the mouthpiece that will seal off the hose, but we found this more useful when tossing the bag in the back of our car rather than twisting it closed mid-ride. The hose is exceptionally long, which is great for cyclists of all sizes, but if it is too long, it’s easy to pull the mouthpiece off, cut the tube to size, and reinsert the mouthpiece, Osprey even includes instructions on how to do it at home.
We love the magnetic button on the throat of the mouthpiece that allows you to wrap the hose around your waist and secure the mouthpiece to another magnet on your opposite hip’s belt. It makes it easy to grab the hose and put it back on your hip with one hand in one swift motion. And when you aren’t drinking, the hold is impressively strong, a rough ride won’t shake your hose loose.
We didn’t love how the hose comes out of the bag though. While many similar packs have a discrete slit somewhere in the top of the bag that you feed the hose through, instead the last inch of the Seral’s main zipper isn’t a zipper at all. The zipper pull comes to a stop an inch from the end of where the two sides of the pack meet, and that’s where the hose slips out. It works, but seems inelegant compared to the rest of the pack, and means the hose flops around considerably should you need to access the pack’s main compartment.
Inside the main compartment, the bladder sits inside a sleeve with a buckle at the top that goes through the frame of the bladder to keep it held up in the bag without bunching towards the bottom. The rest of the interior is simple. A main compartment makes the majority of the 4 liters of space for whatever you need, a book, spare tubes, a rain jacket, etc. The side of the bag has a bungee pocket for your tools, and opposite the bladder there is a small zippered pocket perfect for change or your ID. The compartment also has a key holder so you’ll never go fishing to unlock your bike.
The pack also fits exceptionally well and comfortably. The hip belt is wide, but made out of mesh that conforms well to the bumps and bends of the waist, while also staying exceptionally breathable. The Airscape back panel allows your back to vent, even with the pack on, thanks to a mesh suspension and deep contoured foam that also keep the pack locked in place so it doesn’t swing under your gut mid ride.
We really enjoyed the Seral 4 and see it as a great option for your spring and summer commuting, weekend long rides, and even afternoon hikes where you want to be sure you stay hydrated as you go. Plenty of water and plenty of comfort, what more can you want out of a bike bag?
$75; 3 colors; osprey.com