GEAR | Osprey Sylva 5 Women’s Multi-Sport Pack – Review

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Osprey Sylva 5 Women's Multi-Sport PackWhat we tested

Osprey Sylva 5 Women’s Multi-Sport Pack in Zodiac Purple RRP: £70
Buy it here


  • AirSpeed™ ventilated trampoline suspended mesh backpanel
  • Compatible with Hydraulics™ LT Reservoir
  • Designed for Women
  • Front panel organiser pocket
  • Internal hydration sleeve
  • Front stretch compression pocket
  • Internal key attachment clip
  • Internal organiser for bike specific tools and spares
  • LED light attachment point
  • LidLock™ bike helmet attachment
  • Light weight peripheral frame
  • Reflective graphics
  • Sternum strap buckle with magnet
  • Stretch front pocket
  • Zippered scratch-free sunglasses and electronics pocket

What I thought

There’s a long story behind how and why having a small, light multi-sport pack is very useful for me.  I have become a multi-sport athlete almost accidentally and I’m sure that over the course of the year I will share some more details of that particular story.

For now, let’s just say that I swim, cycle and run – the component parts of triathlons. When I’m training I really felt I needed a small pack that I could wear whilst on my bike or when running. Since I started my training at the beginning of last year I’ve managed to wean myself away from taking everything including the kitchen sink on the bike or on the trail with me. My friend (who is also my coach) says I still need to streamline!

But even though I’m (still) streamlining there are some essentials I’ve just got to have with me. Water, for one. I’m still a thirsty runner because I’m relatively new at it. My house keys, because the house insurance demands that I lock my door when I leave home. My wallet contents – which now lives more or less permanently in a the cutest race pack that I was given for Christmas. Bike stuff when I’m cycling: inner tube, tyre levers, puncture repair, waterproof jacket. My inhaler, because I’m still a certified asthmatic, even if I’m running the heck away from active symptoms.

Osprey Sylva 5 Women's Multi-Sport Pack

So let’s talk about the Osprey Sylva 5

This is a lovely dainty offering from Osprey (more detail about the sizing later on). It has a mesh back to go against your own back and then a nice gap, supported by a rigid shaped panel, to create air flow. This prevents the pack creating a nasty sweaty hot mess while you’re active.

Good sized pockets

The pack has two main pockets. The one closest to your back contains all the fittings necessary to load in a bladder pack: a clip to stop it moving around and a special opening to feed out the bladder pack tube.

Osprey Sylva 5 Women's Multi-Sport Pack

The second main pocket contains a delightful array of web/mesh inner pockets, elastic loops and a plastic clip. So you can organise in here to your heart’s content. There’s room for me to stuff in most of my running outfit, but not the trainers, even when I’ve got a bladder pack full of water in the rear compartment.

Size matters

The new Sylva comes in two sizes and I tested the smaller of the two. The back panel has been constructed with a rigid angle to keep it away from your own back. It works great at allowing the air to flow between you and it, but this great feature also makes the internal space less malleable as a result.

I could fit the following in;

  • Running leggings
  • Socks
  • Sports bra
  • Sleeveless vest
  • Running jumper
  • Race pack holding my wallet contents and inhaler
  • My work pass (I run home from work and need to get back into the office the next day!)
  • My phone
  • An Osprey internal bladder pack holding up to 2 litres of water

Osprey Sylva 5 Women's Multi-Sport Pack

For me, the size works well. It enables me to run home from work, even if I can’t fit my trainers in it. I have a trusty Orla Kiely floral fabric shopper bag that I use for triathlon transition, and as my swim bag, and now that shopper carries both the Osprey Sylva 5, my lunch bag and my trainers to work with me on the bus. (What can I say – that floral shopper just screams middle aged housewife, so I find it entertaining to see it at triathlon transition with all the technical bags.)

I wasn’t able to fit my size 7 running trainers into the Sylva 5. Some later experimentation reveals that the angle of the back panel makes this unsuitable to get them in even when otherwise totally empty. So if you can’t do without that extra capacity then I’d recommend going for the Sylva 12 instead.

A couple of things I wasn’t too keen on were the ends of the straps which I found to be flappy. They have a neat sewn loop to stop them fraying, but there are no strap, uh, what’s the word? Retainers? so those loose ends ended up flapping around my elbows like crazy. On my second run I tied them up and that was better, but they could definitely need a little loop to tuck them away solidly into.

Osprey Sylva 5 Women's Multi-Sport Pack

The other thing, and it might sound a bit nit-picky but the colour on the label is “Zodiac Purple”. Maybe it’s a bit like that dress that people disagreed on the colour of a few years back, but I wouldn’t call this bag any shade of purple, it’s more of a bright, royal blue colour, so if the colour is really important to you, I’d advise going and looking at it in person rather than relying on the label colour.

Finally, Osprey sent over a sample bag for us to test and this didn’t come with the integrated high visibility rain cover which made it into the production version – so I haven’t been able to test this.

The final verdict

The Osprey Sylva 5 is definitely a keeper, despite minor niggles it’s been a great addition to my training kit. The bag didn’t shift when I ran, and the AirSpeed back also meant that I didn’t overheat. It’s the same great Osprey quality that you always get with the brand, and of course, it benefits from the Osprey All Mighty Guarantee.

Osprey Sylva 5 Women's Multi-Sport Pack

Thank you to Osprey who provided us with the featured product. We were not paid to write this review.

Suse Hammond-Pears