Versatile backpack for multiday bike touring
The American brand Osprey updated their Escapist bike backpack. The 2015 model is available in red, blue and black, in three sizes: 18, 25 en 32 liter. We took the 25 liter version for a test ride.
Osprey claims they improved the material of the pack since the last model. The Escapist feels very sturdy and is nicely finished. We didn’t find any flaws in the fabric or stitching. Also the buckles, straps and zippers are strong without being too big or heavy. A good first impression. Now let’s get on the bike!
When you’re riding offroad for longer periods at a time, a backpack should be a perfect fit to your back. Osprey knows this all to well and the Escapist is another example of the company’s broad experience with backpacks. First of all the Escapist 25 is available in two sizes: S/M and M/L.
Once you’ve picked the right size you can adjust the position of the pack on your back. It’s easy. Just pull off the velcro end of the shoulder harness inside the pack and reposition it to your liking. The whole thing is secured by two straps on top above your shoulders.
The hipbelt is wide on the sides and offer enough support on your hips. On both sides there are triangular pieces of mesh. Those are not just for design purposes. During the testride I noticed they keep the pack better in place.
The smaller sternum strap is adjustable in height on a kind of rail. A small but very important feature, because the position of the strap determines the comfort a lot.
Mesh – Osprey must have lots of it! Turn the pack around and you practically don’t see anything else. The whole backpanel is mesh with five foam ridges underneath. Osprey‘s ‘Airscape’ backpanel delivers support and forms to your body.
Besides that the shoulder harness is made from mesh, both on the front and the back. Air can flow freely through it.
Of course there is room for a water reservoir in the Escapist. Not like most other backpacks on the inside with a hole through the fabric for the water hose. The Escapist has an external compartment between the shoulder harness and the pack itself. No hassle disconnecting and reconnecting the hose. Just slide the reservoir with hose and all in the top. A refill turns out to be quick and easy. The compartment is designed for Osprey’s own Hydraulics Reservoir, but my 2 liter Camelbak Reservoir fits easily.
Space – and lots of it!
On top, behind the zipper to the main compartment, there is a top compartment from ‘scratch–free’ fabric. This compartment is meant for vulnerable items. For example sunglasses and electronic devices such as a camera.
One zipper to the front is the main compartment. And that is a big compartment! In the picture above: on the left my sleeping mat, in the middle a lightweight tent (Nordisk Telemark I, review here) and a 3-season sleeping bag. You can zip open the main compartment to halfway the pack for easy access to your stuff. And when you head out with less stuff, you can pull four straps to reduce the size of the main compartment.
In front op the main compartment there is a front compartment for stuff that you want to keep at hand. Between the two mesh pockets are two elastic loops for your mini pump. Very handy, since that thing always finds a way to get lost in a bag. Same goes for keys. Osprey has solved this with a neat keyclip – both simple and effective. The front compartment is relatively deep. I also tucked my rain jacket in there (which I luckily didn’t need).
At the bottom of the Escapist you’ll find another compartment. This one is great for keeping your dirty clothes seperated from the rest. To give you an impression of its size: during this ride I could easily fit my fullframe DSLR with 50mm-lens in there. If you prefer one big main compartment you can zip away the divider between the compartments.
Both left and right the waistbelt has pockets for smaller stuff, like small food items (bars and gels). Most important: you can open the pockets quite easy without taking off the backpack. And that is right: the inner side is made out of mesh too!
On the left shoulder is a zippered compartment for a smartphone. My (ratter greasy) iPhone 4 fits in there, even with a cover. It probably will be a little tighter with a current larger smartphone. Actually you don’t need a phone cover or sleeve, since the inside of this pocket is also made of ‘scratch-free’ fabric. If you want to be within phone reach this compartment is a great solution. You can hear a ringing phone much better than when it’s put away in a back pocket.
Bad weather? No problem!
In a separate compartment at the bottom of the Escapist you will find the rain cover. It’s neon yellow and with reflective markings for safety. Another handy feature: you can disconnect the cover from the pack, to let it dry or clean it separately from the pack.
More smart features
The ‘LidLock’ is Ospreys special bike helmet attatchment. Just pull the plastic clip through one of your helmets ventilation openings and the attatched bungee cord will keep it in place. Simple and effective. I always wear my helmet on my head (and hopefully you too), but since the pack is also suitable for cummuting, I can imagine situations where it comes in handy. For example when you bike to work wearing your suit and your hair in style to catch some nice trails on the way back.
More about safety. Near the bottom of the Escapist you’ll find a loop for a rear light. Besides that the backpack and neon yellow raincover have reflective elements.
But there is even more. How about this smart feature: the grey part of the sternum buckle is also a whistle!
Less than a kilo
With all the extra features it’s very admirable that Osprey managed to keep the weight of the Escapist 25 including the rain cover below a kilogram (995 grams, checked).
The Osprey Escapist 25 is a versatile backpack with enough space for a multiday bike tour. It is highly adjustable which is very important for a comfortable ride. The materials are of high quality. I have a weakness for smart extra features. This pack offers plenty of those! I also like the color ‘Cayenne Red’. It’s a safe color in traffic, but it’s not too flashy red.
The recommended price of the Osprey Escapist 25 is € 100,00. The pack is offered for less in various (web)shops. Check Osprey’s website for more information.
Text and photography: Stephan van Raay