It’s possible to make any piece of outdoor gear that can be used for mountain biking “mountain bike specific” with a few small changes, and that’s just what Osprey did with their new lumbar pack. Mountain bikers have used Osprey lumber packs, like the Talon and Tempest, but now the brand has a better option for us.

Osprey introduced the Savu and Seral packs last year at Interbike and now they are ready to ship. The Seral comes with a 1.5L hydration reservoir and magnetic hose that wraps around a rider’s waist. It has about 7L of carrying capacity.

The Savu is what I tested, and it’s smaller than the Seral, but not really that small. It holds two water bottles, rather than a hydration reservoir, and has roughly 4L of carrying capacity.


  • Two designated bottle holders
  • Zippered hip-belt pockets on each side
  • Zippered stash pocket
  • Angled hip-belt
  • Organizational pouches in the zippered main compartment
  • Vented, foam back panel
  • Waist strap closures for fit
  • MSRP: $55 (compare prices)

On the trail

I opted to test the Savu versus the Seral for two reasons: I like to bring a bottle of hydration mix on some rides and don’t want to dirty a reservoir, and I have too many bottles lying around that need to feel some sense of purpose every once in a while.

There are a few features or capabilities I need from a lumbar pack in order to consider riding with it. Ideally, I want to carry the bare minimum I would want in a backpack, but in a smaller package. I’ll need to have a room for a tool, tire levers, tire repair kit, a tube, a mini-pump, water, and a snack or two. That’s pretty much it. Any room left over sweetens the pot.

The Savu fits all of these items in an organized manner, with room left over for a few extras. I can fit even more snacks (very important), a small, packable wind breaker, keys, and maybe another small item. Depending on your mini-pump size, it could be a challenging fit. Mine is 9.25″ in length and I have to shove it in diagonally.

Then, of course, there is the need to bring water bottles. When I first unpacked the Savu the bottle holders looked very tight and I wondered if it would be challenging to fit a bottle or take one out while riding. The bottle holders maintain their circular form though and it is easy to take a bottle out and pop it back in. They also stay in place and I haven’t lost any yet.

The pinnacle of the pack, for me, was when I took it out for a 20-mile ride and still felt like I had everything I needed. I packed two bottles, with another bottle of water on my frame, and had enough snacks in the pack. I probably could have ridden another five or 10 miles without needing anything else.

Venting on the back panel is phenomenal and lets a lot of air in, and the angled straps make the pack comfortable for all-day wear.

Final word

Photo: Hannah Morvay.

The Osprey Savu checks all of the boxes and more. It’s more comfortable than wearing a full pack and I can still carry everything I need for big rides. Having room on the bike for another bottle becomes important if you’re going out for two hours or more, but for sub-two-hour rides, the Savu is an easy choice. I have a feeling it’ll see a lot of use this summer.

# Comments

  • jaredmente

    I still don’t understand most rider’s need for a backpack or hip pack or fanny pack. Consider your list of essentials: tool, tire levers, tire repair kit, a tube, a mini-pump, water, and a snack or two. That all fits on my bike frame. Now, for a really big ride, I would consider something like this. But, for me, I go packless on 95% of my rides and I tell you it’s the way to go!

    • Matt Miller

      I agree, packless is hard to beat. Loading a bike with the essentials is the best for a minimal set up. I’ve had bikes that just can’t hold a lot though due to frame design (i.e. no bottle cage mounts or room for bags), which then some sort of pack is a must. Nice to have everything in one bag also if you’re someone with a few different bikes who doesn’t want to re-strap or mount stuff on another bike all the time 🙂

  • vapidoscar

    I’m still sorting out my set up. I have bottle cage, with hand pump mounted to the side. I have some old inner tube holding a cheap multi tool on the bottom of the bottle cage. Currently, cell phone, keys and snack go in a very small under saddle bag.
    Last year I was carrying a spare tube under the nose of my saddle but eventually I rubbed a hole in it.
    Want to move the tube behind the saddle and wrapped in something to protect it.
    Been kicking around idea of small frame bag but will limit me to one water bottle. Hope to carry cell phone, keys, snack, extra tools (including hand chain saw for trail maintenance) and light jacket.
    Perhaps a bar end flat repair kit could be added to the mix eventually.

    • Matt Miller

      That’s great you’re trying different things to see what works best. It’s something I do a lot of too, to try and maximize comfort and utility. Hopefully you didn’t find out that there was a hole in your tube when you really needed it! There are a ton of good products out right now that help also. We’re working on some small frame bag reviews, and bike set up articles as well to see what else is worth trying.

  • Jetmo

    I wish I could go pack-less. It all comes down to water. Aside from not having a wb cage on my frame, in the summer months especially, I’m consuming easily 1.5L (humid northeast or dry southwest). But you have me considering going more minimal in cooler months where water consumption is pretty minimal actually. I seem to load it up as a matter of habit more than anything.

    As far as the hip pack goes, I’ve been using the Seral despite initially wanting the Savu. I decided since both are realitively minimal, I preferred the extra water capacity (1.5L bladder), the quicker access to hose, and I didn’t love the idea of the protruding water bottles which seemed to cancel out the initial lower profile of the seral. Two years ago I switched to the Osprey Syncro backpack from years of various Camelbak packs, and it was a revelation in ventilation and fit. Their hip pack improves on this and having my back free and my gear at a lower center of gravity, is a pretty big improvement in general and especially when your nose is pointed almost straight down from a roller or a drop.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.