The rising popularity in alpine tour racing (read: skinning up and then blasting down a snow-covered mountain) has inspired Osprey to create a pack specifically tailored to this high-octane activity. Aptly named the Kode Race 18, the pack excels at making transitions as easy as possible while boot packing by letting you carry—and remove—your skis without taking off the pack. Simply slip your skis in the high-strength loop that rests on the left side of the pack, and sling them diagonally over the strap on the top right. Done. The rest of the pack should prove to be just as easy to use, with a shoulder harness that wraps the ribcage, adjustable/removeable dual chest straps, a front harness pocket for small gear, another for your skins, and a single ice tool attachment with a bungie tie-off, all for a measly 15 ounces…
Right now, nobody is making better hydration packs for mountain bikers than Osprey. The Raptor 10 is the case in point. Besides the usual Osprey quality in materials and detailing, this 10-liter pack features a stretchy, breathable harness; hydration sleeve designed for fast loading (up to 100-oz); helmet stowage clip; and a cool roll-up tool pouch.
Osprey’s Exos has long ranked as a personal favorite among our team—a fast-packing weekend pack that shaves weight with every feature, but has a suspension that handles even heavy and poorly packed weekend loads. Osprey‘s Ultra-Light Exos updates the old model (introduced in 2008) by refining its innovative Superlight AirSpeed suspension, which employs a trampoline-like mesh back panel and a light, half-internal frame that runs parallel to your back. The company has also paired it with a new “Exoform” harness and hipbelt, which work together to dramatically improve the pack’s comfort and support.
The Escapist 30 is the larger of Osprey’s line of multi-use packs with some features that make it attractive for longer mountain biking trips. The pack has Osprey’s usual diligent construction and abundant nice touches. It worked well enough for hiking, and it would be a great choice for long backcountry bike rides where you’re carrying a lot of gear.
The Escapist takes on a number of ideas and features from other packs in Osprey’s line, like adjustable-for-length suspension (discussed farther down). The zipper pulls and bayonet clips are light and hand-friendly. The main compartment has a zip-away divider to either help organize gear or open the entire compartment for bulky loading. There’s a semi-circular access zipper for easy access to the lower part of the pack. If you carry a large DSLR camera, the lower main compartment would be a good place to stash that gear.
The pack has a lot of compartments and pockets. A well-designed external compartment allows for easy insertion and removal of your reservoir. A compartment on the front panel takes all kind of smaller gear – it’s especially nice for bike tools and inner tubes. There’s a small pocket on the top with soft padding for your shades, electronics and things like that. Compression straps trim the pack down when it isn’t stuffed. Three mesh pockets – two on the sides and one on the front – can catch small water bottles and other miscellaneous items. (…)
Osprey promotes the Escapist for long mountain biking trips as well as general day pack use, and it would be well worth a look if you’re going on a bike trip where you want to carry a lot of stuff or some overnight mountain bike hut touring. The pack’s overall organization has some real bike-friendly features – plenty of pockets for tools, reflective detailing, light clip points, and a nice helmet attachment system so that you don’t have to wear your helmet in the brewpub.
Five Top Gifts for Campers and Hikers
The holidays are the perfect time to outfit your family and friends with new camping and hiking gear, as these are the kinds of gifts that keep giving long after you take the lights and ornaments down.
Here are some the top rated products we tested for camping and hiking this year. (…)
The Osprey Argon 85 backpack is a good choice for those wanting a comfortable backpack that is large enough for an expedition but isn’t overbuilt or unnecessarily heavy. Compared with other packs in the heavy load category, the Argon 85 performed at the top of the class, especially in terms of comfort, stability and storage.
The Karve 16, the largest in Osprey’s Karve line of ski and snowboard packs, is a stable and intelligently designed slackcountry and inbounds tool, with just enough volume for an extended sidecountry trip. The attention to quality and craftsmanship are clear, and the price is fair.