Osprey Escapist 30: Go Big, Go Long: by Grannygear
With additional comments by Guitar Ted

Last Interbike I was able to touch and feel and poke at the newest expedition based, multi sport but MTB capable, hydration packs from Osprey, the Escapist Series.  With spring and big, epic rides just around the corner, I asked for a sample of the lot, specifically the Osprey Escapist 30, the bigger brother to the Escapist 20.  Here is the goods and a bit of a video:

Mountain pursuits, Adventure racing, Bike packing.

As the largest pack in the Escapist series, the Escapist 30 maximizes carrying capacity for day long bike adventures and overnight hut to hut bike packing trips.  Comfort features include a Bio-Stretch™ ventilated harness, mesh hipbelt with ErgoPull™ closure and an AirScape™ ventilated backpanel.  Internal organizer pockets for bike specific tools, a LidLock™ helmet attachment, blinker light attachment and reflective detailing  round out the Escapist’s bicycling oriented features.  An internal zipped divider and bottom zip entry make access and organization very convenient.

Volumes and Weights
US and International weight and volume specifications

Size cu. in. liter lbs/oz kg.
S/M 1648 27 2/1 0.93
M/L 1831 30 2/4 1.0

Dimensions are shown as length (height) x width x depth
S/M 50x25x28 cm.
19 11/16×9 13/16×11 in.
M/L 55x25x28 cm.
21 5/8×9 13/16×11 in.


So what we are going to do is give my take on the pack after a long day’s use, let Guitar Ted gives his thoughts on the pack, then I am going to break out the features and compare it to the closest competition in the Osprey line, the vaunted and much loved by endurance nuts Talon 22.  Here we go.

Grannygear dances with cactus:

I had a trip planned to the Arizona desert to do a 60 mile, self supported endurance race and, with almost no time to think about it, I grabbed the Escapist 30 and pressed it into service.  Honestly, it was a bit of an overkill for this event.  I never even scratched the capacity of the pack and it swallowed up all my clothing layers, food, a 100oz reservoir, and 4 bottles of energy drink.  What I found was that Tuscon has more variety and amount of cactus than anywhere I have ever seen outside of a desert nursery.  Oh my.  What is not a spiny plant is a sharp rock.  So add in 40 or so miles of rough Arizona Trail on an singlepeed, hike-a-bike sections, and 9.5 hrs in and out of the saddle and you may say I gave the Escapist a good breaking in.

What I liked:

  • Capacity.  Yep, it’s a biggy.  I never even used the ‘basement’ section.  It wore well and never caused me any discomfort.  It seemed to ventilate well too as the temps that day got into the low 90s in the hike-a-bike canyons and I never felt it was cooking my back. It obviously can’t fit bulkier gear like trekking poles and your mileage may vary, but I was pleasantly surprised.
  • The bike-specific organization was killer.  There seemed to be a pocket for anything and keeping things separated was easy and efficient.
  • It is obviously an Osprey product and that, in my experience, has come to mean quality closures, good adjustability, high quality materials, and well thought out touches like the adjustment built into the harness, the eyeglasses pocket, etc.
  • You could overnight in this thing, if you were packing ultralight.  Not too many packs get you there and still are good bike packs too.

What bugged me:

  • The side/hip pouches.  I love packs with hip pouches, but these were juuust too small to get my iPhone with protective sleeve in it.  What?  Should I have to take the protection off my expensive phone just so it fits in my pack so if I drop it or crash, I get to spend $$$ on a new one?  No.  And, I could not get a pair of reading glasses in it.  Now, I am old enough to need such things, so you may not care.  But if that pouch was just a bit bigger, then both would have been a good fit.  By the way, the Talon 22’s hip pouches will accept the iPhone and case or glasses as well.  Then the little zippy chest strap pocket, the one in the vid that accepts the iPhone (with no case)…I cannot recall if I tried my phone in there, but that is a PERFECT pocket for a pair of reading glasses.  Nope.  Fail.  Not big enough.
  • Ahhhhhh…what else?  Nothing, actually.  How about that?  Except for the fact that this is a very big pack and may be so much more than you need that it would be overkill.  Of course, there is the smaller brother, the Escapist 20.

Guitar Ted meets Texas:

I had a trip planned for the early part of the year to ride in the Chihuahuan desert near El Paso, Texas.  Having been there before several times, I knew that I would need extra room over and above what my Osprey Raptor 10 pack could carry comfortably. Grannygear suggested I take a look at the Escapist 30 model he was just done testing, and I said it sounded good.

Grannygear warned me that it was a very spacious pack, but until I actually saw it “in the flesh”, I had no idea exactly how spacious this pack is. I had more than enough room to store all the food, water, precautionary gear, and tools I needed for this desert mountain bike trip. In fact, the “basement” pouch never even was utilized! One could easily do a multi-day, backcountry trip with this pack.

I liked how I could organize my gear into the various compartments which made loading the pack and finding stuff later when needed a breeze. The hydration bladder and associated bite valve/hose was all familiar territory for me having been an Osprey pack user for a few years now. Good design and easy to use.

Fitting the pack was no issue. everything was adjustable, cinchable, and comfortable once fitted. The pack felt good, albeit large, on my back, but again, this is no dainty package.

Performance In The Field: The pack worked great on my rides. One thing surprised me, one thing worked as expected, and another thing was a bit of a letdown for me. First, the bad part….

The Osprey packs feature “wing pockets” on the waist strap, and the Escapist 30 is no exception. Unlike my Raptor 10, these actually had a zipper and would securely hold items that you wished to store in them. However; if you can not access the items with one hand, (especially as a cyclist), these don’t really work as well as you’d like. Unfortunately I found that it was nigh unto impossible to work the zipper closed with one hand. reaching around with the other hand to help the matter was a bit like playing Twister. (You all remember that game, right?) So, I was bummed to find that out.

The one thing I did expect to work was the comfortable feel while on the bike. My Raptor 10 is nearly invisible while riding, and the Escapist 30 was as well. I was apprehensive about this matter, seeing as how the Escapist is such a large pack, but no worries at all once I started riding.

Finally, the one thing that surprised me was the “Airscape” panel which rests on your back. This pack covers so much of one’s back, that I figured there was no way it wasn’t going to be a sweaty mess. Much to my surprise, I have to admit that the Airscape panel not only works, but it seems to work better than my Raptor 10, which is a much smaller backpack. I could discern airflow across my back at  times, which being in the desert, was a much appreciated feeling indeed!

In the final analysis the Escapist 30 seems to be the “pack mule” of hydration packs since it carries such a huge volume of stuff, if you want. It is comfortable, easily adjusted to fit, and not as hot to wear as I expected it to be. Now if they could just figure out those wing pockets…..

Comparing to the Talon 22: Grannygear again

If there is one pack that is legend among endurance junkies, it is the Talon series and mostly the Talon 22.  I have one and love it.  I just did a self supported 103 mile ride with it and while it was at its limit cargo wise, it was stellar to live with.  It is light, big enough, expandable, comfortable, durable, and it is an Osprey so it works pretty darn good all around.  What it does not do is offer much in the way of compartmentalized storage…basically you get one big compartment, a stuff section/marsupial pouch on the front side, and a couple of wing/hip pockets and two smaller sections in the pack for securing snacks, a wallet, or whatever stuff.  So, keeping your tools, pump, etc in there can be a bit of a free for all.  So how does the Escapist 30 compare to the Talon 22?  Lets take a look.

The pics will help, so refer to them below as we go.  First of all, the M/L Talon 22 is rated at 1343 cu. in. and weighs 1lb 11oz.  The Escapist 30 in the M/L size is 1831 cu. in. and weighs 2lb 4oz.  So you pick up some bulk in the Escapist and you will see why.  Looking at this pic with the three packs, you can see the Talon 22, the Escapist 30, and for comparison, a Camelbak H.A.W.G NV, something one might consider to be a big hydration pack.

Looking at the Airscape back panels you can see that there seems to be more room for air flow on the Escapist 30.  You can also see the hip/wing pockets and that the Talon 22 has a longer and taller pouch.  Bravo.  On the other hand, the Escapist 30 has a zippered shoulder strap pouch.  But I stuffed a set of reading glasses in the Talon’s version and rode for 12.5 hours across Utah desert and never lost the specs.  They would not fit in the Escapist zipped pouch.  Call that a draw.  When you start looking at compartments, the two packs really begin to diverge.  The Escapist gives you two main compartments and a removable divider between the basement and above.


There is also a built in rain cover housed below the basement on the Escapist. Looking inside the differences continue.  More divided pockets, key keepers, etc.  A soft scratch resistant pouch is on the Escapist as well and below that, even another separate pouch.  The back compartment houses the reservoir and is where you can adjust the harness height.

Just for fun, I grabbed two sleeping bags I have.  One is a Deuter Dreamlight 500, a 1 pound summer rated bag and the other is an ancient Blue Kazoo 20 degree down bag.  I stuffed both of them into the basement one at a time.  The Deuter bag fit easily with room to spare.  I did not think the 20 degree bad would fit, but it just kept on stuffing in there and the zipper closed over it.  It did intrude ever so slightly into the compartment above the basement, but it fit.  How ’bout that?

If you like the Talon series but would like more organization (and likely load carrying capacity), or are just in the market for an all day and maybe all weekend pack, the new Escapist series from Osprey is worth a hard look.  The biggest trick is planning rides that are worthy!

Note: Osprey sent this pack to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for test and review. We were not bribed, nor paid for this review. We strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.