Review by Tom Arch, photos by Wil Barrett
While the mountain bike market is continually being divided into more and more specialised gear each season, not all of us have the room (or the money) to have a garage filled with multiple bikes and different types of apparel for each day of the week. Sometimes you just want good quality equipment that can be used for anything and everything.
According to Osprey, the Escapist series is intended for “Active Light Pursuits/Biking/Bike Packing”, and the packs are built to be a versatile option for mountain bikers who like to explore the outdoors a little further off the beaten track. The Escapist pack is available in 32L, 25L and 18L sizes.
“The Escapist Series are highly versatile packs that are full featured and equipped for a variety of adventures. Loaded with organizational options, well ventilated and weatherproof, the Escapist Series are the go-to every day, every activity technical daypacks.” – Osprey
For the past 6 months, I’ve been testing the largest of the bunch, the 32-litre Escapist. It’s equipped with enough volume to pack in sufficient gear for all-day epic adventures, though it’s also big enough for overnight hut-to-hut bike packing trips.
Despite its generous size, the Escapist 32 comes in at just over a kilo for the pack, making it decently lightweight for a pack that’s built to take reasonably heavy loads. As most experienced hikers will know, pack weight becomes more and more noticeable as the day wears on, but it is especially noticeable when you’re hunched over some handlebars.
The pack itself is constructed from a tough 210D Nylon, though the liberal use of lightweight mesh and hollowed-out foam for the harness and back panels helps to shed some grams.
Taking cues from their all-day hiking packs, the Escapist is equipped with a supportive harness that helps to distribute the pack load around your hips. It goes a long way to making this a comfortable pack even when it’s stuffed full of water, extra layers, food and camera gear. Many mountain biking backpacks tend to be light-on for their harnesses, but the Escapist uses a generous hip belt with broad straps to help stabilise the pack.
Another advantage that the Escapist has over traditional mountain bike packs is the adjustable harness.
Being rather long in the torso, I personally appreciated the great amount of adjustability in the harness length. It allowed me to run the pack a little lower for cycling, but it was then a simple matter of adjusting some Velcro to raise the pack higher on my back for when I wanted to use it for hiking. Take the time to adjust the Escapist to your back length and you’ll enjoy better support and more comfort.
Being an Osprey pack, the Escapist is loaded full of features. Some of my favourites include the zippered hip pockets that were ideal for stashing quick-access food, while the additional pocket on the chest strap provided easy access for my phone or a compact camera. There’s a separate sleeve for your hydration bladder, and an internal divider gives you to separate compartments, or with the quick slide of a zip, one large one. Lastly, I love the super-simple elastic LidLock that makes carrying your helmet a cinch.
In conclusion, I found the Escapist to be comfortable for all day adventures, and roomy enough to pack gear for an overnighter (minus a tent). If 32 litres sounds like too much, consider the smaller 25L or 18L options that still provide you with the same functionality and comfortable harness.
But if you’re in the market for something with more carrying capacity than your usual hydration pack, then make sure you take a look at the Osprey Escapist 32.
Model: Escapist 32