I was recently in the market for a backpack and my decision came down to the Synchro 12 liter backpack and the larger Manta 24 Litter pack. Both packs fit and felt great, but ultimately it came down to which one fit my use case better. I found better value in the synchro 12 Liter for my needs. It fit just the way I like and still holds a good amount of supplies. However based on how you plan to use your pack will determine which one is right for you.
Both of these are great backpacks. They both are going to serve you well and last you a long time. They are typical superb quality Osprey packs.
The Synchro 12 is obviously 12 liters, while the Manta is about double the capacity at 24 liters. But there are a few more subtle differences that can really change how you feel about the backpacks.
These backpacks have very well thought out features. They both have a suspension back system. Plenty of pocket storage and compartments. Thought out and useful. High quality zippers, mesh pockets, high quality stitching, and light yet tough fabric. All the normal basic stuff you expect out of an Osprey pack.
They both come with water bladders. Most packs now-a-days have a cutout or ability to add a bladder but many packs don’t come with one. Not the end of the world because you can buy one, but it’s one less thing to worry about with these packs. Both the Manta 24 and Synchro 12 come with hydration bladders.
The Synchro 12L
I liked the Synchro because overall it’s just a little bit smaller and more comfortable. I liked how the frame was a little less obtrusive. I felt more agile with the pack and frame on my back. I felt like I could still go run and catch a frisbee. The pack is a bit smaller and narrower. I prefer the freedom and less restricted feeling more than the more embraced, hugging feeling of the Manta.
However the Manta 24 feels very light and comfortable on my back. The frame obviously is wider and it does a good job being very comfortable. If I did need to load the pack up with gear, especially heavy gear then the Manta would be more comfortable.
The synchro 12 would work for a long day hike, like a 10 hour day hike and still carry everything I needed. It’s 12 litres but that is plenty of room for me after really trying to pack it up. It’s enough for another layer, food, a bunch of water, few handy tools, small medical supplies kit… Pretty much everything I plan to carry on a longer hike. As long as I’m only planning to carry the essentials. Just enough, just short of loads of extra layers, extra gear, excessive amount of food and overnight equipment.
I like to carry light and small. In my experience I have a better time on the trail the more agile I am. I can move around and go jump on a rock without worry.
The Manta 24
It’s a very comfortable backpack and really feels like it hugs your back when you’re wearing it (in a good way). The frame is a little bit more defined, as expected for a bigger pack. When you are wearing it it feels incredibly light and as the weight really is spread across your back and hips. Once it’s adjusted it distributes the weight very well.
If I had a lot of things to carry a lot of weight to carry I’m sure this backpack would be more comfortable, it’s gonna help get that weight more on your hips.
The Manta 24 has hip pockets. And those hip pockets have hip pads which are gonna hug your hips and distribute this weight, a lot better than the Synchro 12 which has very small hip pads, and no hip pockets. (basically only a waist strap).
The Synchro 12 is nice because if I don’t have a lot of things to carry, there are cinching straps two on a side, top and bottom. And I can cinch these in and get the backpack, pretty much completely flat.
This really makes the pack look a lot more slender, or sleek, which is something else I was looking for if I’m just walking around town with this or, or going on a small hike. I don’t want the full-on look of the Manta 24.
I think I could wear the Synchro 12L in more situations. I.E if I was going to the park or going to the beach or walking around town.
The look and the size of the Manta is a little bit bigger, especially with the hip belts. The hip belt and hip pockets just make the Manta 24L look like a more full-on backpack. The Synchro 12L has a much more casual look that lends itself to being appropriate in more settings.
The Synchro 12L does not have removable hip straps. However with a bit of cleverness you can tie them up or tuck them in the side pockets. You can even feed the strap under the back suspension and loop them and clip them around the back to get rid of any excessive hanging straps.
Ultimately the Synchro was found to be more useful in more situations, which was key for me. It still carries a lot for its size. You can put extra items tucked in the back panel or strapped to it’s exterior. For me the pack felt more comfortable and free while still providing enough room for a day’s worth of gear. Any more gear and I would probably just carry my backpacking pack which while much larger (50L) can be cinched to look smaller. That’s what I plan to do if I ever were going to go on an extended day hike. You’re not going to go wrong with either and depending on how you prefer to carry your stuff I’m sure you’ll find what’s right for you.