This summer I had the pleasure of testing the Strive Light Hydration Backpack from the Swedish company Silva. The backpack I chose to review was the Strive Light 10, named so because it has a 10-liter capacity. 5 liters might not be enough for me, mainly because I had to bring a camera on my runs.
All my thoughts are solely based on my experience of the Strive Light 10, thus I can only guess and make assumptions on how the Strive Light 5 would perform when put through similar tests.
Silva Strive Light 10
The Strive series comes in two sizes, XS/S and M/L. I tested out the M/L version and it was close to a perfect fit for me. I was actually amazed at how natural it felt on and how tight it fit around my shoulders. My chest isn't the largest, but when I had the backpack loaded with gear it was close to being too small and harder to close in the front. This can be an issue if you order it without trying it. Similar priced Salomon backpacks do not have this issue as their front straps are more adjustable, but this introduces the risk of having free straps flapping around when you run, which is very annoying in my eyes.
The pack performs variedly depending on what it is loaded with. While running with only a light load it is close to non-intrusive, but with a camera loaded in the back, it was more prone to movement. My solution to this problem was to load the backpack with a bladder in order to secure a tighter fit. Once I ran out of water, I just breathed into the bladder to keep the camera from bouncing. It will still move though. It is also fair to point out that carrying a camera is probably not the first thing the designers thought about when they made it.
This makes me think that the Strive Light 5 would be a better fitting option for those who purely need a backpack for running with a bladder. I am though very happy with my decision to choose the 10-liter option as I started using it not only for runs but also for small one-day hikes and as a travel backpack in the end.
Despite being made for hydration purposes this backpack actually isn't shipped with a good drinking solution. I got a small soft bottle that is ideal for the front pocket but I haven't used it as it holds far too little water to be of any use in my opinion. Such a small container is in my opinion completely useless unless it is used for energy on a long trip. This has sort of become the norm it seems, as I see similar solutions from Salomon shipped without a bladder.
The pack has one pocket for the drinking bladder and one 10L compartment that is fitted with an elastic band on the outside to give pressure and support as well as an extra storage option on the outside. My most used pocket during runs was a small net pocket on the bottom for a spare jacket in case of rain or wind. This pocket was very nicely placed, which made it possible to access even when running.
On the front, there are several pockets for soft bottles and other small gadgets as well as a zipped compartment I found out suited very well for a phone. These worked well and I used them for various items like a key, glasses or a GoPro without having any issues with bouncing and general annoyance.
The design is all black with white and blue details. It's very easy on the eyes but doesn't scream "I'm here" when you are on the mountain. This makes it harder to notice people from afar. Along the straps and on the back there are grey reflective stripes and a Silva logo that should make you more visible in twilight and the dark. A very simple and classy design that doesn't turn heads.
I'm overall very hyped about running with this backpack. The vest-like fit makes it far superior to anything I have run with previously. I actually started using this as a backpack for hiking during the last part of my vacation in Norway. It does have some size limitations though, and I would consider running in a 5 liter on the shorter trips if I don't have a need for a camera.
Visibility in the mountains could be an issue, more color options could solve this and the straps could be made more adjustable if they still decide to only produce two sizes, especially since the M/L is the largest one they offer.
All in all a very positive experience and a great supplement to the longer runs in the mountains and during summer. I will use this pack in many years to come!