Osprey Escapist Backpack

 

If you are looking for a cycling specific backpack that will take you from the daily commute to multi-day adventures, then you need look no further than the Osprey Escapist.

 

Osprey Escapist

 

We have had the Osprey Escapist on test for a few weeks now and we are pleased to report that all of our very high expectations, based on our first look here, have been met or exceeded.

 

The Escapist is the second backpack we have tested from Osprey.  Last year it was the Momentum (read our review here) and we have to be honest, it really is a pleasure reviewing kit that is made to such exacting standards.

 

A great example of the uncompromising standards that Osprey work to is in the two different size options.  By that we mean you can choose small/medium or medium/large to best fit your torso, and that is established by means of a simple measurement taken via the Osprey app.  Most backpacks are one size fits all but you only need to think about that for a moment to know that that is just plain wrong!

 

Once you have established the best size to fit your body, the Escapist is available in three capacities; 18l, 25l and 32l and we tested the largest size.  The 32 litre capacity gives you all the space you need for some serious adventures but we liked that there were compression straps on the sides, so that even when it is only part full you can keep everything tight and secure.

 

This flexibility makes the Osprey Escapist perfect for multi-day races, where you have to carry certain items of survival gear, plus emergency tools, clothing and food.  However you don’t have to be racing to enjoy this backpack, we wish we’d had it when we rode the Queen Charlotte Track in New Zealand, a breath taking 70km ride which we completed over two days.  Sadly we will not be repeating that for a while, so for now at least we have to be content with day trips in the Peak District and the Malverns, and in between adventures the Osprey Escapist works really well for commuting too.

 

Given the options of different sizes to fit different bodies, it is no surprise that the Osprey Escapist is the most comfortable back pack we have ever worn on the bike, bar none.  The fit can be further fine-tuned by moving the shoulder harness up or down and if that sounds complicated, don’t worry it’s not.  The harness is attached to the back of the pack by means of a vast quantity of very sticky Velcro that sits between the body of the bag and the back panel.  Simply pull this apart, move the harness up or down to suit your needs and press it back together again.

 

Of course the team at Osprey have also allowed for plenty of adjustment in the shoulder, sternum and waist straps as well and these are all really easy to grab and pull or release whilst wearing the backpack. 

 

The back panel of the Escapist is worth more than a passing mention.  It features Osprey’s Airscape system which combines panels of foam ridged material, which is covered with mesh, and together they do an amazing job of allowing air to circulate between the back of the pack and your body.  Anyone who has worn a backpack for any period of time on a bike will know what a bonus that is.

 

The Osprey Escapist has three zipped compartments, which allow for things to be found quickly – we really liked being able to organise this backpack so that we could find what we wanted easily.  However there are times when what you need is as much space as you can get and for those days an internal zipped divider can be opened to create one big compartment that incorporates the main body and the base entry pocket.

 

There is also a handy zipped pocket on the front of the pack, within that there is are mesh and elastic pockets and tabs that allows for the organisation of tools, spares, bars/gels or pens and phone, particularly useful when the pack is in commuter mode.  There is a really handy little clip in this pocket as well that is perfect for storing keys, which otherwise can be hard to find in a hurry.

 

The Escapist is ready to take Osprey’s Hydralics Reservoir bladder system and of course there are tabs on the shoulder straps to keep the tube tidy and within easy reach, but if bottles are more your thing (or if you need additional fluids) there are two stretch mesh pockets on the sides of the pack and the addition of compression straps make these very secure.  We found that no matter how dramatic our descents, nothing came out of these pockets and we tested that feature very extensively!

 

There are so many fabulous little features in the Escapist that we were left in no doubt that it was designed by people who really know what we need and who have anticipated a couple of things we hadn’t even thought of ourselves.  A couple of examples include the stretch pocket at the front, which is perfect for a map and / or a waterproof layer, the zipped sunglasses pouch that is made with a scratch free lining (very nice), the high vis rain cover that stows neatly into the base of the pack and the LED light attachment – admittedly some are more clever than others but all speak volumes about the attention to detail that has gone into the design and manufacture of this backpack.

 

Given that this is a cycling specific backpack the LidLock system that allows a helmet to be securely fastened to the pack is a must.  We also appreciated the reflective graphics and flashes, as well as the additional zipped pockets on the hip belt and on the shoulder straps.  And while we hope we never need to use it in earnest, the emergency whistle ticks a box on the must have equipment list if you are going on an off-road adventure.

 

Finally it is worth remembering that the Osprey guarantee “covers defects in material and craftsmanship for the reasonable lifetime and intended use of the product”.  So while the Osprey range may not be the cheapest, you can be confident their packs will stand the test of time and perhaps just as importantly, will offer the best function and fit when you are out on the trails – we don’t think you can put a price on that.

 

The Osprey Escapist is backpack art, beautifully designed and finished.  Think of it as an investment rather than an expense and whether you are into day trips or bigger adventures, this pack will become a trusted friend.  In between times it is just at home on the daily commute, with room for a lap top, spare clothes, lunch and more besides.

 

Sizes: 18l, 25l, 32l

Colours: Indigo Blue, Cayenne Red, Black

Price: 18l £60.00, 25l £70.00, 32l £80.00

Website: ospreyeurope.com - Escapist Series

 

Performance: 10/10 – we honestly could not see any way to improve this

Value for money: 9/10

 

Tested by Jan Birkmyre

 

Full feature list:

  • BioStretch™ hipbelt and harness
  • AirScape™ backpanel with foam ridges for ventilation
  • Sternum strap with emergency whistle
  • Stretch mesh side pockets with InsideOut™ compression
  • Zippered panel access
  • Zippered scratch-free sunglasses and electronics pocket
  • Stretch front pocket
  • Built in high visibility rain cover
  • LidLock™ bike helmet attachment
  • Reflective graphics
  • Twin zippered hip belt pockets
  • Adjustable torso length
  • Compatible with Hydraulics™ Reservoir
  • Base zip entry
  • Zipped pocket on harness
  • External hydration access
  • Front zippered pocket
  • Internal organiser for bike specific tools and spares
  • Internal zipped divider
  • LED bike light attachment point
  • Side compression straps
  • Zippered top access

 

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