Last Updated: May 27, 2020

Osprey Escapist Review (A Backpack For Everyone?)

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Osprey Escapist 18L & 32L

The Osprey Escapist is a great options for biking, hiking or travel. It’s made from premium materials, has loads of organizational features, is super lightweight, ventilated and comfortable to wear. View Latest Deal
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The Escapist is one of many biking backpacks Osprey has to offer. But the funny thing is that this is only listed as a biking backpack – in reality, it is so much more. 

So, it’s a great choice for all of you who are looking for an all-in-one type of backpack. It can save you a lot of money, since you won’t have to buy 5 different types of backpacks for each occasion. 

In this review, we’ll talk about all of its features in detail, and about all the little things that you might love or hate. 

Product Rating

89Overall Rating
Materials & Durability
9,5
Comfort
9.5
Storage & Organization
8
Versatility
10
Value for Money
8
ESCAPIST 18LCapacity 976 cubic inches3 / 18 L Weight: 1.65 lbs / 0.75 kg Dimension: 17 x 9 x 11 inches
ESCAPIST 32LCapacity 1831 cubic inches3 / 30 L Weight: 2.23 lbs / 1kg Dimension: 18 x 13 x 12 inches

Osprey Escapist Overall Rating

No backpack is perfect, but the Escapist sure does come pretty close. With an  overall score of 89, it’s one of our highest rated packs so far.  Check out the ratings of its individual features above.

Obviously, the Escapist 18L is not exactly the same as the larger two packs. But that’s to be expected, since Osprey usually makes the smallest pack in a series super-lightweight, and focusing on adding features with the larger two. Which is exactly what we see here.

I’ll tell you about the exact differences in more detail a little bit later. But for now, you should have a good overview of what to expect from these packs.

Size Variety – 18L & 32L

The Escapist backpack is available in two sizes – a larger 32L and a smaller 18L. The smallest backpack is stripped of some features, and I will tell you about those differences in a later section.

Materials And Durability

The Escapist 32L is just the right size for daily commute, but also large enough that you can take them hiking, or wear when you’re riding your bike.

The 18L backpack is the way to go if you are specifically looking for something really small. It has the least amount of features, and it can fit much less gear than the 32L backpack. But on the other hand, it is also the best choice if you are looking for something for mountaineering or serious biking – it won’t slow you down as much as the others.

As you’ll see later in this review, these are pretty versatile backpacks. Which means that you’ll be wearing any one of these quite often, and not just when you are riding your bike to or commuting to work. And they should be more durable than your average daypack, precisely because they are going to be used more often. And the good news is that they are– the Escapist packs are made from premium materials, which are designed to withstand the test of time, along with all kinds of torture you can put it though.

Both the body and the accents on the packs are made from Nylon, which is generally used really often in backpacks and other type of luggage. It’s one of the most durable fabrics out there, and it is water resistant by nature. Additionally, the Escapist is made of 630D Nylon, which is actually a pretty thick material that does not rip easily.Overall, this is an exceptionally durable backpack, and you can expect to use it for the next several years at the very least.

Anyway, that’s enough numbers and specs for now. I bet you’re more interested in the actual features of the Osprey Escapist backpacks, so let’s move on to the fun part of the review!

Comfort

Every decent backpack, regardless of its purpose, should feel comfortable while you are wearing it. And comfort mostly depends on two things – the breathability and padding of the backpanel and harness.

We’ll focus on all the little (and big) things that impact your carrying comfort in this section, and which we find in all Escapist backpacks

Airscape Backpanel

Escapist AirScape Backpanel

These Osprey backpacks are equipped with the AirScape backpanel.

The AirScape is one of a few different technologies Osprey uses for its backpanels. It features foam padding with evenly spaced out ridges that allow the backpack to breathe even when you get really sweaty.

The foam padding feels soft and really comfortable on your back, as it should. It’s also really supportive, and it helps the pack feel lighter even when it is at full capacity.

Additionally, the entire backpanel is covered with mesh, which only improves its ventilation. Overall, this is one of Osprey’s best technologies for backpanels, and it really performs at the highest standard.

BioStretch Hipbelt And Harness

Escapist BioStretch Hipbelt

It is also important for the hipbelt and harness to breathe and feel comfortable, since they are also constantly in contact with your body. And they will – BioStretch is also Osprey’s proprietary technology, and it is used in some of their best-selling backpacks.

It consists of EVA foam, which is perforated with large holes, that improve its breathability, stretch and comfort. The foam is covered with spacer mesh, which wraps up over its corners, and creates a comfortable and breathable contact surface.

Generally, you want to use your hipbelt whenever your backpack is at a larger capacity. It transfers the load of the pack from the harness to itself, and it feels much lighter that way. Hips are the largest muscles in your body, and it is much easier for them to carry around 25+ lbs than it is for your poor shoulders.

*Note: The hipbelt of the Escapist 18L does not feature BioStretch ventilation. It does, however, have padding and is generally ventilated, just not with this particular technology.

Sternum Strap

AirScape Backpanel And Sternum Strap

A sternum strap has the purpose of holding the two shoulder straps in place while you are wearing the pack, and ensuring that they don’t budge while you are on the move.

This is especially useful in backpacks with larger capacities – you do not want one shoulder strap to accidently fall of if you carrying 20+ lbs. You will feel the weight of that mistake.

The sternum strap of the Escapist backpacks also doubles as an emergency whistle. Which is pretty cool actually, since you don’t need to use your hands to reach it.

Adjustability & Fit

Everything about this backpack is adjustable – the shoulder straps, the hipbelt and the compression straps. Additionally, it’s a unisex backpack. So, it should fit everyone nicely. And it will, as long as you manage to adjust it just right.

You want the back panel to lie flat against your back. You should adjust the length of the shoulder straps until there is no space between then and your upper back. But don’t tighten them too much – you definitely won’t feel comfortable if they are cutting into your skin!

You can usually find two size options for each backpack – S/M and M/L. The dimensions listed in the table at the beginning are for the M/L version. The S/M is exactly the same size as the M/L, and just a couple ounces lighter.

A sternum strap has the purpose of holding the two shoulder straps in place while you are wearing the pack, and ensuring that they don’t budge while you are on the move.

This is especially useful in backpacks with larger capacities – you do not want one shoulder strap to accidentally fall off if you carrying 20+ lbs. You will feel the weight of that mistake.

The sternum strap of the Escapist backpacks also doubles as an emergency whistle. Which is pretty cool actually, since you don’t need to use your hands to reach it.

Storage & Organization

In this section I’ll tell you everything about storage and organizational capabilites of the Escapist backpacks. There are some features that are unique to the larger two packs, and you can find those at the bottom of this section.

Generally, you want your backpack to have plenty of different pockets and compartments, so that you can easily organize your stuff. Nobody wants to spend half an hour looking for a pen when they need it!

Top Loading Main Compartment

Top Loading Main Compartment

The main compartment of the Escapist is top loading and it is pretty spacious. It actually features a divider inside, so it is kind of separated into two smaller compartments.

I think that’s pretty useful, since you get to organize its contents pretty easily. But, I also think that Osprey did this to make up for the lack of a dedicated laptop sleeve. This way, you can put your laptop in one part of the main compartment, and everything else in the other.

The lack of a laptop sleeve is a glaring downside. But, the inside of the backpack is quite heavily padded, and would provide good impact resistance in case of a fall. Additionally, the divider is pretty useful if you are going two different places in a day with this pack – one side is for books and notebooks, and the other one for your must-have hiking gear!

Front Compartment With Organizer

Front Compartment With Organizer

There is also a separate, zippered front compartment on the two Escapist packs.

It features an organizer panel, with plenty of different slip pockets and stretch loops for your necessary biking gear. Which actually makes this backpack pretty versatile – you are not obligated to use it for biking gear.

It is also great for any of your daily necessities. The pockets in it are spacious enough to fit chargers, pens, your wallet and basically anything you want to be able to reach easily.

Apart from the organizer panel, there is also some free space in the actual compartment. Great for any stuff that you can’t fit in the main compartment!

Scratch-Free Top Pocket

Another shared feature of all Escapists is a scratch-free top pocket.

It’s zippered, so it is pretty secure. And it is really small, but its main purpose is to hold your sunglasses or phone – anything that you really don’t want to accidentally scratched.

The insides of this pocket feature scratch-free, heat embossed fabric, hence the name. Overall, it’s a pretty useful addition, and you can actually use it whether you’re heading to school or just riding around on your bike.

Stretch Side Pockets & Compression Straps

Stretch Side Pockets

All three Escapists are equipped with a stretch pocket on each side. We generally see these in various outdoor backpacks, but also pretty often in daypacks.

These are also called water bottle pocketswhich is their main purpose. And, as you can see in the photo, they also feature bottom compression straps that are designed to hold their contents in place.

For the 18L Osprey Escapist, these are the only two compression straps. The larger packs have two additional pairs, but I’ll tell you about that a little bit later.

Quick Stash Front Pocket

Quick Stash Front Pocket

The quick-stash front pocket is pretty much a signature feature on Osprey backpacks. It is designed to hold a spare layer of clothing – maybe a hoodie or a light jacket, when you get too hot on the trails.

The pocket is made from stretchy fabric, so it’s pretty big. I think you could even fit a winter jacket inside this if you tried.

Also, there is a buckle at the top of this pocket that secures it to the body of the backpack, and which ensures that its contents won’t fall out.

Zippered Pocket On Harness

Pocket On Harness

All three Escapist packs feature a tiny zippered pocket on the left shoulder strap. It is easily accessible and so it’s great for any stuff you want to have handy at all times – just like the hipbelt pockets.

This is a pretty cool feature, that I frankly wish we saw more often on backpacks. It allows you to have some of your smaller necessities at your fingertips at all time.

And it kind of makes up for the lack of hipbelt pockets on the Escapist 18L – which is our next topic.

 

Features Not Included In The 18L Pack

In this section I will tell you about the features that you see on the Escapist 32L but not on the 18L. Keep these in mind when deciding which one to purchase!

Hipbelt Pockets

Hipbelt Pockets

The larger two Escapist packs both have pockets on the hipbelt.

I’m a big fan of this features, because it allows you to have some things handy at all times. You can use them for your phone, GPS, keys, snacks – pretty much whatever you can fit inside them.

And you never have to stop and take off your backpack to reach them, which is what makes them so incredibly convenient!

There’s one pocket on each side of the hipbelt, and both of them are zippered. Additionally, they are exactly the same size, on the 32L backpack.

Zippered Bottom Compartment

>Zippered Bottom Compartment

Escapist 18 lacks a zippered bottom compartment, which is completely separate from the rest of the backpack.

It features drop down opening, and it allows you to keep some gear completely separate from your things in the main compartment.

This is very useful for hiking and other outdoor activities – in case you get something dirty or wet, and you don’t want to store it with your other gear.

Upper & Inside Out Compression Straps

Unique Compression Straps

The smallest Osprey Escapist only has one pair of compression straps. However, the larger two packs have two additional pairs.

There are the lower Inside Out compression straps, which allow you to easy secure the contents of the stretch side pockets. They do so by creating tension when you tighten the webbing strap.

And there is also a pair of upper compression straps, which help with stabilizing the load of the entire backpack. The smallest backpack doesn’t really need those, since it can’t fit as much things as the larger two.

But Escapist 18 sure could have used a pair of Inside Out compression straps! Just because it’s smaller than the other two doesn’t mean you’re don’t want your things in the side pockets to stay put!

Versatility

If you’re getting a high-end backpack, then you want to be able to use it whenever you want, and not just for daily commute. Versatility is very important, especially if you are looking to get good value for money.

The Escapist is much more than just a biking backpack. It has several features that allow it to transition from an everyday backpack to a hiking pack, and then a biking backpack. So, let me tell you a little bit about each of those features.

LidLock Helmet Attachment

LidLock For Helmet

All Escapists packs have an attachment point for your helmet on the top. It’s a really convenient feature, which is especially useful for those who use a bike to commute to work/school. Or for all of you that want to use this exclusively as a biking or mountaineering backpack!

Plus, it’s super easy to use – you pull out attachment point, pull it through your helmet, twist it sideways and that’s it.

It guarantees that your helmet stays in placeand it doesn’t take any space away from the internal capacity your backpack.

Reflective Graphics And Blinker Light Attachment

Blinker Light Attachment Point

These two features are a must for biking backpacks, so it’s a good thing that they are included here.

The LED light attachment is crucial for everyone who rides at night, as it helps them stay visible in the dark. Which is a priority, especially if you tend to ride your bike on the main roads. There is an attachment point for the blinker light in the lower parts of these packs.

And if your light stops working for whatever reason, the reflective graphics are there to save the day. They sort of glow in the dark, so you won’t be completely visible in the dead of night. Overall, these inclusions are seen on pretty much any other pack for biking there is, so it’s no surprise that Osprey decided to also include them in this one.

External Hydration Sleeve

External Hydration Sleeve

A passionate hiker knows how convenient it is when you have a hydration sleeve in your pack. It allows you to set up hands-free hydration, meaning that you never even have to stop to take a sip when you’re on the trails.

The Escapist does have an external hydration sleeve, but it does not come with a hydration pack –you’ll have to use one you already own, or buy it separately.

But the key word there is external. It’s just behind the backpanel, allowing you to carry both your laptop and hydration bladder wherever you go. Now you don’t have to worry that the bladder will leak and damage your laptop – the padding inside the main compartment provides a solid barrier between water and expensive electronics.

Value For Money

I would have given this pack a 5/5 for value for money in a heartbeat if there was consistency in the pricing.

Another thing that bothers me here is that the smallest Escapist pack, which is stripped of some features, is in some cases more expensive than the larger two backpacks. Again, that pricing inconsistency is the second reason why it didn’t score a perfect grade in this aspect.

The Escapist is a backpack that you can use both in the city and in the mountains. It’s built for both environments, and it’s made from materials that can endure pretty much everything except fire. Because it is so durable and versatile, I think you get amazing value for your money – especially with the discounted versions that are less than $100.

In addition to that, you also get a raincover with this backpack, which alone has a price tag of about $30. In my opinion, that significantly increases the value of this backpack – if you already own one of those, you could always sell it and earn some money back.

Overall, I think that this backpack is priced accordingly to its features and quality. It’s not the cheapest backpack you can get, but by no means is it overpriced.

Osprey Escapist: Is It Really For Everyone?

Yes! Because it has so much to offer, it can fit into your life perfectly regardless of what you are looking for. It can be a daypack, a hiking backpack, a biking pack, and even a good carry on. It’s made from premium materials, it exceeds my expectations for organizational features – which does not happen often! And it is super lightweight, ventilated and comfortable to wear.

Everyone will something they love about this backpack. For me, it is the abundance of little pockets and compartments, which allow you to organize all of your gear however you want. For you, it might be the external hydration pocket or the included raincover.

The Escapist is an awesome all-in-one backpack. If that’s what you are looking for, then definitely get it. There are three sizes to choose from, but I think that the 32L Escapist is the best choice. It has all the most features and the best bang for your buck in my opinion!

If this review helped you figure out that this is not the type of backpack you are looking for, don’t leave just yet! We can recommend a few other everyday backpackshiking backpacks and even some really good hydration packs!

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ESCAPIST 18L
ESCAPIST 32L
Osprey Escapist 18L & 32L
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