The Osprey Escapist 32 is light, well made, stable and stylish, and performs well at what it's designed for: multi-purpose load-lugging.
The first thing that struck me when I picked up the pack was how light it was for such a large volume model (32 litres in M/L back length, as tested). It's mainly aimed at the commuting and mountain biking crowd, but also riders looking to undertake multi-day epics. It's a slick looking pack, with subtle reflective markings on ripstop nylon and stretchable nylon mesh, all attached to a semi-rigid back panel.
Comprising three separate zippered compartments plus one large and two smaller external mesh pockets, it also sports two zippered pockets on the waist belt and a pocket for sunglasses/GPS/very small phone on one shoulder strap.
Of those three compartments, the large one at the front of the pack contains two elasticated mesh pockets plus a loop to hold a pump. A slightly larger compartment – big enough to swallow a 17in laptop, with room left over for smaller items – sits behind that, and contains a useful partition that can be zipped in place, splitting the compartment in two (Osprey suggests it's useful for separating dirty gear). Finally, there's a smaller compartment at the top of the pack. All three are accessed by top zips, and the largest one can also be accessed from a zip at the bottom, so you don't have to rifle through from the top.
The shoulder straps, hip belt and back panel are all well padded and comfortable, and I found the pack very stable when heavily loaded and commuting by road; it was only when I was riding over particularly technical off-road routes that it wobbled somewhat. On my 20-minute commute, it comfortably lugged a heavy laptop and other gear. It also faired brilliantly as the main bag during a two-week unsupported off-road epic in the High Atlas in Morocco, reinforcing Osprey's claims that it's a solid all-rounder.
The pack can be compressed easily using a set of two straps on each side, and the hip belt and shoulder straps allow ample adjustment too, as does the chest strap. The chest strap even comes with an integral whistle for mountain emergencies.
There's an additional pocket for a 3 litre bladder, sitting between the back panel and the three main pockets, and the slippery material lining the pocket is a nice touch, making it easier to slide a full bladder into an already loaded pack than is normally the case. It runs the length of the back panel.
Speaking of which... the back length is adjustable by about 10-15cm. The shoulder straps meet in a fabric 'yoke' Velcro'd onto the top of the back panel. To adjust, you unstick it, then reattach it higher/lower to the top of the back-panel. There's a video here.
The horizontal, slightly curved channels between the padding of the back panel don't seem to operate quite as well as some packs I've used with vertical channels, but it's still pretty good, even after many hours in the saddle riding hard. A mesh section sitting free from the padding and channels helps, so although there is some sweat it's perfectly manageable when wearing quick-wicking clothes.
An elasticated clasp ('LidLock') holds a helmet securely in place, and there's a loop to attach a small rear light, plus a bright yellow raincover housed in its own zippered pocket. The raincover is attached to the pack and held in place with a drawcord, though it's a less successful method than packs I've used which have hooks. Occasionally the raincover slipped off, even when the drawstring was pulled tight – not something I've experienced with raincovers attached with hooks. (I don't generally rely on raincovers anyway, preferring to keep everything in roll-top drybags.)
Without the cover, water beads pretty well on the ripstop nylon, and I didn't notice any working its way through the material itself, but heavy rain did sometimes get in through the zips, which aren't the waterproof type. It's a light pack, though, and adding waterproof zips would add weight, so it's a compromise I guess.
While £90 isn't cheap for a pack, I would wholeheartedly recommend this one. It comes with an Osprey warranty for the 'reasonable lifetime' of the product, and if any damage is down to normal wear and tear or Osprey deems the pack to be beyond its reasonable lifetime, then it says it'll offer to repair the pack for a 'reasonable price'). Personally, I don't mind paying extra for such peace of mind. And these packs can currently be picked up online for around £67.
A great pack, able to lug heavy loads with ease
Make and model: Osprey Escapist 32
Size tested: 32, Indigo Blue
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This pack is designed for riders who want to comfortably carry a lot of kit, whether for a multi-day mountain bike trip or their road commute with a laptop. It's a great load-lugger with plenty of great features and lots of adjustment.
Here's what Osprey has to say:
"The AirScape™ backpanel provides you with complete ventilation and support. The Biostretch™ hipbelt and harness keep the pack synched comfortably to your back. The Escapist's twin zippered hipbelt pockets mean you can quickly grab trail essentials on the go and firmly attach your helmet with Lidlock™. Keep your phone and sunglasses to hand with the scratch-free pockets in the harness and main compartment. The best rides inevitably result in dirty gear, store it separately with the Escapist's internal zipped divider. With quick access to the external hydration sleeve you can easily refill your reservoir. InsideOut™ compression and PowerMesh™ stretch pockets allow you to securely transport all your gear. An internal organiser means you can easily sort your tools, spares and pumps. The built in high visibility raincover deploys quickly to protect your pack and all of your gear. Keep yourself visible in low light with reflective graphics and blinker light attachment.
"The Escapist also features adjustable torso length, a chest strap with whistle, a carrying loop, a clip for keys, reflective graphics plus top and base zippered access."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
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
Water resistant zips / storm flaps
Built in high visibility rain cover
LidLock™ bike helmet attachment
Adjustable torso length
Base zip entry
Zipped pocket on harness
External hydration access
Internal key attachment clip
Internal organiser for bike specific tools and spares
Internal zipped divider
LED bike light attachment point
Side compression straps
Weight: 1.03 (M/L) kg
Maximum dimensions: (mm) 550 (l) x 250 (w) x 280 (d)
Three zippered compartments
Water resistant fabric
Front pocket fits 12" laptop
Main body section fits 17" laptop
Very good, lightweight materials with a quality finish.
Solid performance on the commute, mountain biking and for multi-day trips. Stable on all but the trickiest of technical mountain biking when fully loaded. Raincover could occasionally slip off, though, and could perhaps be better with clips rather than a drawstring to hold it in place.
Used hard for many weeks, day in day out, and no signs of damage. Warranty covers defects for "reasonable lifetime of product". Osprey's good reputation dates back to its foundation in 1974.
Feels super-light, a joy to wear in that respect. Lighter than slightly smaller packs of roughly the same spec from Deuter (Trans Alpine 30 litre) and Evoc (Explorer 30 litre) and similar weight to Shimano's Hotaka 32 litre.
Fantastically adjustable, feels comfortable for hours on end, even for taller riders. Perhaps more sweat build-up on the back than with vertical channels on the back panel or a mesh back with a void between pack and back. Slight wobble when very heavily loaded on technical mountain bike routes.
Competitively priced in the middle of the competition such as the Shimano Hotaka 32 litre, Deuter Trans Alpine 30 litre and Evoc Explorer 30 litre.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great performance. Reliable, multi-functional and now a go-to option for everything from commuting to epic days off-road in the high mountains.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lightweight, generally stable, good looking pack.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Can wobble slightly when fully loaded on highly technical mountain bike routes with drops and jumps.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, absolutely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, definitely.
Use this box to explain your score
A great all-rounder with a wealth of highly useful features. Lightweight and good value for the performance. Perhaps stabilisation for heavy loads could be slightly improved and the back panel vented more effectively. Otherwise a great pack.
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 170cm Weight: 60kg
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Giant Anthem X1
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax