Welcome to our Osprey Siskin 8 Rucksack Review. We’ve tested many of the Osprey technical cycling packs range and this smaller capacity model has become a firm favourite. We hope you find the review helpful.
What size pack you need for a particular ride depends on a number of factors, but surely none of us want to carry more than we need. For many rides I don’t need to carry as much and was keen to try a smaller model from the Osprey range. They suggested their Siskin 8 could fit the bill and kindly sent one across for review. After using it over the late autumn of last year through to Summer I feel I’ve lived with it plenty long enough to put my cards on the table.
As is typical of Osprey packs, their ingenious designers seem to have ticked every box. The Siskin 8 is a low profile back hugging shape with all the features you might need, but nothing you don’t.
The main fabric is made from 210D Poly Honeycomb which is a durable and yet lightweight material. It is designed to take the rough and tumble of all two wheeled activities including mountain biking.
The main storage compartment opens via a burly U-Zip zipper. Once open, internal baffles allow the pack to open wide enough to remove things but cleverly stop the front lid panel flopping forward for everything to spill out.
There is a hydration sleeve designed to house up to a 2.5 litre Hydraulics bladder (although I’ve happily squeezed a 3 litre bladder in there without issue) and a 2.5 litre Hydraulics hydration system is included with the pack.
At the front there is a zippered scratch free sunglasses or phone storage pocket and the very front panel houses Osprey’s ingenious Shove-It storage panel. This panel secures tightly via the side compression straps but allows plenty of extra storage. Finally, the Siskin 8 features Osprey’s Lid Lock helmet attachment and an internal key clip.
The harness comprises an Airscape back panel. There is a removable sternum strap with incorporated magnet (to secure the drink tube) and removable unpadded waistbelt. Final details include reflective graphics, a carry handle and light attachment point.
Over the last year I have made concerted efforts to carry less on my back and store more kit on my bike when out for longer rides. It also means that for many shorter rides I don’t need to carry a pack at all. However, for longer rides I still prefer the facility to carry some extras. This might include some clothes, emergency equipment, additional tools and spares and some food and extra water. A pack often still rules and my Osprey Siskin 8 rucksack review needs to consider this.
The majority of rides undertaken with the Siskin 8 have been mid duration rides on my local Peak District National Park trails although I did take it across the border to Wales a few times. It also accompanied me on a recent trip to Maribor in Slovenia. The riding has varied from muddy wet winter trails to slick dusty dry singletrack and some downhill trails. It has been well tested.
So, to the crux of my Osprey Siskin 8 rucksack review. How does the Siskin 8 perform? Let’s look at the features in detail with the hydration system first. Fluid consumption will obviously vary depending on the ride, but I find the included 2.5 litre Hydraulics bladder is a great size for a mid range ride in mid temp conditions. On longer days in really hot weather I might add an additional water bottle. I also found that the sleeve would happily house a 3 litre bladder when needed.
I have used the Hydraulics bladder system on a lot of packs and really rate their durability and performance. The bladder supplied with this pack is, however, a slightly different version to the standard option as this doesn’t have a semi solid panel. I imagine Osprey have done this to make the pack lighter and so that it moulds more comfortably in a soft backed pack. I am a big fan of the semi rigid style and wondered how I’d get on with this. In reality I needn’t have worried as it works really well.
The Osprey Hydraulics bite valve is excellent. It also combines with a brilliant magnet keeper system on the sternum strap. I especially love this for mountain biking. You can access the bite valve instantly when cycling but can clip it securely so it doesn’t flop around. Or, when you put the pack down, it doesn’t dip into the mud. It is a genius system.
The Hydraulics bladder is also proving to be plenty durable. I store my bladders in the freezer between rides and this happily bounces back to life every time I pull it out. I also like the large opening which allows for easy cleaning and for the addition of hydration tablets or ice cubes. Full marks for everything to do with hydration.
The harness system is equally impressive. Osprey’s Airscape back panel is designed to be rigid enough to be supportive but soft enough to be back hugging. Also, due to the large central ventilation channel, it is designed to vent well. Again, I really can’t fault this system. It is comfortable for long rides and yet it vents as well as any back hugging pack.
On my recent trip to Maribor the heat was intense. This meant there was inevitably heat and sweat build up, but I don’t think any pack would have coped any better. On packs this size I tend to leave the sternum strap on and remove the hip belt. I don’t find I need both. Of course, the beauty of them both being removable is that each user can make their own choice.
And so to the load carrying options on the Siskin. As mentioned earlier, I now store some equipment on my bike. So, I would see the Siskin needing to carry some lightweight spare clothing, spares and tools. I’d also want to fit in first aid equipment, my phone, keys, wallet and some food.
The main pocket easily stores a selection of tools, spares, first aid kit and food. Then, there is room around this to add additional items like a waterproof jacket. The small additional pocket will happily hold my phone, keys and wallet. Alternatively, it could be used for sunglasses, goggles, Go Pro accessories or keys. It can take a bit of jiggling to get everything in there when the bladder is full, but it does fit. Also, as you guzzle the water during the day the space increases anyway.
For me the Siskin 8 has become the perfect size, although you won’t be able to take the kitchen sink! The large chunky clam shell style zip also means everything can be accessed easily. It is also possible to access that tiny thing you need without removing everything else.
And so, the final major feature, and this is a stroke of design genius. It is the front ‘Shove It’ pocket. This is a sturdy fabric panel which works in so many ways. If you’ve maxed out the internal space you can simply tuck your extra food or shell layer into this. It can also be used to stash items you need quickly such as a map or guidebook.
Next, because the panel secures with the side compression straps, whatever you store behind this can be secured quickly. I’ve never had any problem with anything coming out of the panel. Also, the side compression straps allow you to clamp the pack to stop items inside jiggling around if it isn’t fully loaded. It really does do exactly what it is designed to do. Please Osprey – don’t ever stop making packs with this feature!
Oh, and finally, the LidLock helmet retainer works a charm and having a light attachment point is essential for night rides or for commuters.
So, my to conclude my Osprey Siskin 8 rucksack review, it is time to draw a conclusion. I wanted a small to medium, lightweight and durable pack that is comfy for medium to longer rides and with intelligent features to suit off road riding. Well, I really do feel the Osprey Siskin 8 ticks ever box and is a perfect pack. Is it for you? you have to consider how much kit you need to carry and the duration of your rides, but I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I also think it represents excellent value at £90. Full details are available on the Osprey website here.
If you after a larger capacity biking pack please do check out my Osprey Raptor 14 rucksack review here.