Our Osprey Escapist 18 Rucksack Review details a biking focussed back from rucksack experts Osprey. It has features designed to keep you in control on technical terrain while also allowing comfort on longer rides. Please do read on to find out more about this versatile option.
Osprey produce a range of biking focussed backpacks and in recent years we’ve used and reviewed a number of them. The Raptor 14 reviewed here will fit all you need for a full days riding. The Siskin 8 reviewed here makes a great option for more stripped down adventures. The Escapist 18 is at the higher capacity end of the Osprey biking line up.
It shares some familiar features with the options mentioned above, but the beefed up capacity makes it great for more equipment heavy adventures. This could be a multi-day trip or for mountain bike guides needing to carry group equipment. It is also perfect for those needing to pack plenty of clothing layers. It packs a lot considering its small overall size.
Having said all that, a lot of what makes the Escapist 18 great for biking also makes it great for a broad range of other activities. If you like a one pack fits all solution this could be it. Please read our Osprey Escapist 18 Rucksack Review on to find out how we got on with this versatile option.
The Escapist 18 is made from 210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop fabric. 420D fabrics are added at high wear points. It utilises Osprey’s tried and tested AirScape back panel. The hip belt is a Biostretch model designed to keep the pack pulled close to the back. There is also a sternum strap with attached whistle.
As with all Osprey packs, storage options are comprehensive and well designed. The main storage is separated into two compartments. A front pocket opens via a clamshell zip. This pocket features an internal organiser which allows compartmentalised storage of tools, snacks, spares and pumps. There is plenty of additional space for other items such as spare inner tubes. Another zip accesses a large main storage compartment. This will swallow clothing or other equipment. A further zip pocket is lined with scratch free fabric. This is a great place for items like small electronics or sunglasses. It will also fit goggles.
On the outside there are PowerMesh stretch pockets and what Osprey call InsideOut compression. There are two stretch side pockets and a further large stretch front pocket. The InsideOut compression straps is an interesting system. This allows the two compression straps to be fed either through the front or the back of the mesh pockets.
The Escapist 18 is hydration system compatible. For this there is an external reservoir sleeve which allows access to the hydration bladder without entering the main compartment. It’s designed to work with Osprey’s Hydraulics and Hydraulics LT reservoirs. It will also work with models from other brands. We reviewed the Hydraulics system here.
There is an additional base zip entry storage pocket ideal for everything from snacks to tools. This also houses a high visibility rain cover. This is a useful addition and it can be quickly deployed to protect the pack contents. Finally, reflective graphics keep you visible in low lights and there is a rear light attachment point.
The dimensions of the Escapist 18 are 48L x 23W x 28D cms and it weighs 0.8 kg. The pack I tested came in a vibrant blue colour called Indigo Blue. It is also available in black. It retails for £90.00 and comes in a single size.
Like all Osprey packs, the Escapist 18 is a distinctively stylish liking pack. The vibrant indigo blue colour looks great and all the contrasts and design details are well thought out. The 210 denier fabric seems to strike a good balance between robustness and weight. It’s also great that reinforcements are added at wear points using 420 denier fabric.
Osprey market the Escapist 18 as a biking pack and that is how I have tested it. However, it is also a pack which could be used for many other activities. The same features that work for a mountain biker will often suit a trekker or traveller. But, my focus for this review has been mountain biking. Of course, for a biking rucksack carrying performance rules. I wanted this to be the first main consideration in my Osprey Escapist 18 Rucksack Review.
The harness revolves around the AirScape back panel. This is a system I have experienced on a number of previous test packs and really like. The Airscape system combines a ridged moulded foam back panel bonded onto a more rigid framesheet. This in turn is covered with a soft breathable mesh fabric.
By raising the foam sections Osprey have been able to maximise ventilation. Airscape also strikes the right balance between firmness and comfortable padding. Items from inside won’t poke through and yet it has sufficient support to maintain the pack shape. I have found my back still gets damp when cycling hard in hot conditions, but the Escapist is easily as good as any pack I’ve used with a solid back panel. It is the trade off you have to live with for the close fit and the supportive carry.
The shoulder straps are very comfortable. Again, they feature mesh covered perforated EVA foam. They are contoured for a snug fit. Top straps allow a good level of adjustment. I often pull these in tight on technical sections and loosen them a little on easier terrain.
I am a big fan of the Biostretch waistbelt. This is a winged mesh design that is extremely comfortable. I also love the way it pulls the pack into the torso. For a biking pack the mesh fabric is a great choice. This, combined with the well sculpted shoulder pads and sternum strap, make for a superb carry.
I’ve used the pack for mountain bike rides in the Peak District National Park where there is a lot of technical terrain and fast flowing trails. For a larger pack the Escapist 18 glues itself to your back really efficiently. It is very impressive. The various adjustment options and the compression straps all help to pull it into the back and keep it there.
Storage is another area where Osprey Packs stand out from many other products on the market. Let’s explore the options from the main compartments outwards. The front compartment opens with a long and chunky clamshell shape access zipper. Loading and unloading is very easy and the various mesh pockets and sleeves make storing tools and spares simple. I might have liked a small mesh pocket for spares inside the flap of the front panel, but that’s a small detail.
This is actually a really useful pocket and it keeps tools and spares away from other equipment and clothing. None of the compartments in this section have closures and yet this doesn’t matter. Things would fall out if you tipped it upside down but I can’t imagine why you’d do this anyway. Inside the front panel are some other zipped storage pockets. One is a mesh pocket ideal for storing snacks or other smaller items. The other pocket has a scratch free lining which makes it ideal for small electronics.
There is then another zipped main compartment which offers plenty of additional storage space. It is easy to fit a spare warm layer along with waterproofs in here. Even then, you’ll still have additional storage. I’ve used this pack for guiding work and this compartment easily swallows up additional spares, spare clothing, a first aid kit and bothy shelter. A pack this size can also easily provide enough storage for a multi-day trip staying in hostels or similar accommodation.
Another smaller zipped pocket accessible from outside sits at the top of the main compartment. This is lined with a scratch free fabric and will happily fit small electronics or sunglasses in. Infact, it is big enough for larger vulnerable items like goggles.
On the outside of the Escapist 18 there is more storage. Two stretch mesh side pockets offer storage for anything from additional water bottles to clothing. In addition, a third and larger stretch mesh pocket at the front will store additional items and is easily big enough for items like OS maps. Infact, you’ll be surprised how much you can fit in these.
On the left shoulder strap there is a smaller zipped pocket lined with scratch free fabric. It is great for snacks or a compass. It may fit smaller phones but won’t fit larger models. I was a bit worried that, given the position of this pocket, it would get in the way. It actually it doesn’t at all and I have found it really handy.
As my Osprey Escapist 18 Rucksack review shows, this pack does exactly what it is designed for. It carries superbly and has brilliantly thought out storage options. It certainly suits biking adventures where a larger capacity is needed, but will also be a trusted companion for many other activities.
Full details on the Escapist 18 are available on the Osprey website here. Please also take the time to watch the well presented review video below.