The Osprey Skimmer 20 is a hydration backpack designed for day hiking and travel that includes an optional 2.5-liter wide-mouth hydration system. To save space inside the backpack, the hydration system fits into a pocket behind the shoulder straps, making it easier to pull out and refill without having to empty your pack contents and repack. The Skimmer 20 (also available in 16L and 28L sizes) has a die-cut foam back panel to keep the pack close to your back for load transfer while still providing for ventilation, with an optional webbing hip belt to keep the pack close to your hips.
Specs at a Glance
- Volume: 20L
- Weight: 1 lb 6 oz
- Gender: Women’s (the men’s model is called the Scarab 22)
- Type: Internal Frame
- Exterior pockets: 2 side pockets + main and small stash pocket
- Torso sizing: 14”-19”
- Waist sizing: 25”-50”
- Max carry weight: 15-20 lbs.
The Osprey Skimmer 20 is a top-loading backpack with a U-shaped zipper at the top and a small stash pocket for storing sunglasses and other valuables. The 20-liter volume is fine for a summer day hike, or plane travel, and can easily hold your essential gear. There are two side stretch pockets that can hold thin water bottles, with front cutouts so you can access them while wearing the pack. You’ll want to be careful using tall bottles, however, as they can fall out.
The Skimmer 20 has one side compression strap on each side toward the top of the pack that are good for securing tall items stored in the side stretch pockets. You can also attach other items to the front of the pack using carabiners on a pair of daisy chains that run along the front of the backpack. The 20-liter Skimmer does not have a front stash pocket or hip belt pockets. These are available on the Skimmer 28 if those features are important for you.
The Airscape back panel is die-cut foam covered with mesh and offers some ventilation, though not as much as a true ventilated pack. The belt is fine for keeping the pack close to your torso but does not offer support for your load like a true hip belt. The shoulder straps are female-specific and also made of die-cut foam covered with airy mesh.
As mentioned previously, there’s a hydration pocket located behind the shoulder straps to hold your water reservoir and make it easier to refill. The hydration hose loops through keeper straps on the shoulder straps and the mouthpiece connects to a shoulder strap with a magnetic connector. The hydration hose is rather long though, so you’ll probably want to trim it down to a more reasonable length so it doesn’t flop around when you take off the pack.
The Skimmer 20 comes with an Osprey 2.5 liter hydration reservoir. However, there is no quick connect feature on the hose which is available on the standalone reservoir that Osprey sells separately. I like to disconnect my hoses after using them to dry, so this is a bit of minus for me. The hydration reservoir fits in a pocket between the foam back panel and the pack bag. This can make it a little easier to put the reservoir in after you’ve loaded the pack unless the pack is full and you also fill the reservoir. Then it’s a tight squeeze. The space is just barely long enough to hold the 2.5 liter reservoir. A slightly smaller reservoir would fit better, so I would recommend not filling it to its full capacity.
The reservoir opens with a fold-over flap & sliding clip at the top. There is a handle melded onto the reservoir. The bite valve has a twist on/off switch to reduce leaking. It does not come with a bite valve cover, but they are available for purchase separately. The reservoir has interior baffles to help it maintain a flatter shape that is easier to carry in a pack. However, their placement on diagonal at the side of the reservoir makes drying it out with a towel difficult. I simply dry it out as much as I can, then hang it with the top propped open so it will dry out.
Comparable Women’s Hydration Packs
|Make / Model||Reservoir Capacity||Ventilated||Price|
|Camelbak Helena 20||2.5L||No||$100|
|Camelbak Sequoia 24||3L||No||$155|
|HydroFlask Downshift 14||2L||No||$145|
|Osprey Skimmer 20||2.5L||No||$100|
|Osprey Skimmer 28||2.5L||No||$130|
|Osprey Mira 22||2.5L||Yes||$160|
|Osprey Mira 32||2.5L||Yes||$180|
|Gregory Juno 24 H2O||3L||Yes||$140|
|Gregory Juno 30 H2O||3L||Yes||$150|
|Gregory Swift 25||3L||No||$100|
|Gregory Swift 30||3L||No||$120|
|REI Trail Hydro 20||2L||No||$90|
|REI Trail Hydro 30||3L||No||$100|
I was satisfied with the Osprey Skimmer 20 on very short, easy day hikes, and it can hold plenty of essentials. However, I see it filling a specialized niche in my gear closet as a pack that can go from the plane to the trail. It is basic and lightweight and will make a great travel backpack next time I take a plane somewhere. If that somewhere offers the opportunity for some outdoor adventure, this pack will easily transition from a travel pack to an acceptable pack for short hikes and light outdoor adventures. For more serious hiking, I really miss having hip belt pockets to store a snack, a map & my phone. When I want to access any of those things, I have to remove this pack to get them out. However, I’m not really that impressed with the included hydration system. It’s not best of breed and seems poorly sized for this pack since it barely fits into the space behind the pack’s back panel.
Overall, I think you’d be much better buying the Osprey Mira 22 hydration pack which I reviewed previously (click for my review). It’s a much better, ventilated, women’s hydration backpack that can go the distance for hiking and can also be used for travel purposes.
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Disclosure: The author owns this backpack.