DECEMBER 2015:

Osprey Escapist 32

 

This is, without doubt, the best daypack I have ever used. So far it has been tested hiking, mountain biking and ski touring, and it excels on all front. I selected this pack, initially, for multi-day mountain bike routes: I needed enough capacity to carry gear, with the option to compress the pack when it wasn’t full. It worked brilliantly, full and near-empty, and it quickly became my go-to pack for hiking as well.

Every feature is well considered. It is available in two back lengths – I am 5’2” and took the S/M, Duncan at 6’ needed the M/L – but since it is also adjustable, on a Velcro back-pad, it can be fine-tuned to fit. The pack has a variety of pockets and compartments;  normally I like my packs stripped-down but I’ve found these all to be useful. The top pocket is perfect for stashing sunglasses so they don’t get scratched; the front compartment is for money, maps, energy gels, fast-access gear; Duncan carries bike tools and spares in his. The main body is also divided; if the pack is loaded I open out the divider but if I’m not carrying much I zip the divider shut so the small load is carried in the middle of my back, not against my backside (this works really well on a mountain bike). A small pocket on the shoulder strap is ideal for iPhone or compact camera. Pockets on each side of the waistbelt take energy bars, compass, lip salve, tissues. A stretchy mesh pocket on the front is for a windproof or wet stuff. The main body zips wide open for easy access; zips also work for side access.

Load carrying is exceptionally good for such a lightweight pack. The hipbelt cinches in by pulling toward the neat central buckle, top tension straps are correctly placed and the side compression straps can go inside or outside the two stretchy side pockets. The sternum strap has a whistle, too.

Supremely useful mountain bike extra: the helmet carrier. A neat plastic toggle tucks through the back of a mountain bike helmet, securing the helmet to the outside of the pack - see the picture below. This can be done in seconds, and is infinitely better than dangling a lid over handlebars or trying to lash it (usually unsuccessfully) to the pack. On a recent mountain biking trip in New Zealand, we were on and off the bikes on a semi-rideable track, and must have used this gadget 20 times in one morning. Truly worth its weight in gold!

It’s definitely worth buying Osprey’s Hydraulics Reservoir with this pack. It’s easy to fill and clean, the tube clicks out from the base and – best of all – it has a magnet on the nozzle which clicks onto the sternum strap so the tube isn’t flapping around in the dust and mud. This is absolutely awesome; I got the 1.5 litre (£20, also available in 2,5 litres, £22) and won’t use anything else.

I can’t rate this pack highly enough. 15 out of 10, minimum.

 

Best for: Everything! Hiking, mountain biking, ski touring, via ferrata

Price: £90

Colours:  black, red, blue

Weight:  1.07kg

 

Features:

BioStretch hipbelt and harness

AirScape back panel 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

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

 

Stockst information: www.ospreyeurope.co.uk

Tel: +44 1202 413920

Osprey JA-helmet-1 JA-4 JA-1 JA-2 JA-3

Left: helmet carrier.

Above: phone/camera pocket with reservoir magnet on chest strap.

Above + right: Mountain biking in New Zealand on the Queen Charlotte Track. Top right: hiking on the French/Italian border (Mt Blanc behind)