In the summer of 2011 I bought myself an Osprey backpack. Now I hate having multiples of things that essentially do the same job but in different ways. Aside from the expense and waste of having several different scenario specific items, the storage space when you’re not using your gear soon becomes a problem. So having a day pack that covered all my outdoor activity needs was essential when I bought the Escapist. And five years on, it still does a great job of carrying all that I need, and has proved to be the best and most versatile bag I have ever had, in fact one of my favourite bits of outdoor gear full stop.
Why choose the Osprey Escapist backpack?
The Escapist is designed with cyclists in mind, but is also really well suited to all outdoor adventurers. It seemed like the perfect fit for my cycling habits and general enthusiasm for getting outside, with loads of cool features and pockets to keep me and my ‘be prepared’ tendencies satisfyingly organised.
Design features of the Osprey Escapist backpack
The versatility of this awesome bag makes it ideal for every-day escapades, multi-activity adventures, exploring by bike, day hikes, overnight stays and casual sightseeing. The following features are what make it such a great all rounder:
Detachable rain cover
Base entry compartment
Side compression straps
Sternum strap with emergency whistle
Zippered top pocket
Front zipped pocket with internal organiser
External hydration access
Twin zippered hip belt pockets
Shoulder strap pocket
How comfortable is the Osprey Escapist Backpack?
To put it simply, it’s super comfortable! I tried on a few other biking bags that felt a bit restrictive in the cycling position – my helmet clashed with the top of the back panel. The lack of frame or rigid structure in the back panel helps with this, as does the ability to adjust the torso length of the bag for a personalised fit. Making this adjustment is well worth it as it also ensures that the BioStretch hipbelt and harness sits nicely on the hips for extra support.
I’ve worn this bag in many active scenarios and LOVE the Airscape backpanel. The foam ridges beneath the mesh panel enable loads of airflow when things start to get a bit sweaty, and they also add to the lightweight comfort that the bag provides.
A five year test of the Osprey Escapist backpack
I obviously fell in love with this backpack from the word go. Its first foray was a very active trip in Slovenia where it endured mountain biking trips, a week long Ultimate Frisbee tournament, hiking, sightseeing and moonlighted as hand luggage on my flights there and back. And it lapped up the challenges of excelling at all I threw at it. Impressed.
After three years
To say that this bag has been through the mill is an understatement. I’ve over-used and abused it time and time again, mostly during the first three years of its existence. During this time I worked as an outdoor personal trainer in London, cycling from park to park delivering gruelling training sessions in all weather conditions. And of course I carried all my training equipment with me, in my bag, for miles, everyday! This included an 8kg kettlebell and a yoga mat, amongst other things. And in between its daily tour of London’s green spaces, I took it on many trips out to the countryside, and further afield, for some ‘leisure’ time.
After four years
At the beginning of year four, needless to say, the over-use of my beloved Osprey Escapist started to take its toll. The lining between the main body of the bag and the water bladder compartment started to fray away from the top outer material. Everything else was holding up brilliantly still and there was no way I was ready to upgrade. So I sent it back to Osprey and they did a fab job of fixing it for me. A change in circumstances also meant that it no longer endured being dragged daily across London.
Five years and still going
My wonderful Osprey Escapist is now at the end of its fifth year in my care. And for the most part it is still going strong. It is a somewhat faded version of its former self, and the finishes on the shoulder straps are starting to unravel slightly. The main zip is reaching breaking point too. But structurally and functionally the rest of the bag does as good a job now as it did at the beginning of our adventures together! In all that time, there are only two things that I’ve not loved:
There are no clips on the shoulder straps to hold a hydration tube in place. Not a huge problem, but I have definitely had times grappling around for the tube whilst cycling along one-handed.
There are two side mesh pockets for holding water bottles. The pockets perform perfectly well when the bag is stationary and upright, but I’ve had many bottles fall out and hold little confidence in the security of a bottle when handling the bag. That said, Osprey have obviously recognised this flaw as the most recent version of the Escapist has much more secure and deep stretch mesh pockets with InsideOut compression straps that secure inside the pockets if needed.
There are a ton of great design features on the Escapist that make its unrivalled versatility hugely appealing for the everyday outdoors. And as with all Osprey products that I have come across, it is also an exceptionally well made and high quality item that is built to stand the test of time and, in my case, some excessive overuse.
I am loathe to give up on my backpack and hope that Osprey’s lifetime warranty will be able to restore my trusty adventure companion to its former glory without too much trouble.