An Osprey Escapist 30 allows a user to soar on trails, making way to destinations unknown with newfound maneuverability. Hovering and diving like the bird, one covers distance on foot or two wheels, continuously going forward with all cares temporarily locked away and life supplies provided comfortably on one’s back. This pack rides with you in mind; its wanderer enjoying discovery, seeking adventures more than just a walk in the park.
Lighter than a bird, the Escapist Multi-Sport barely registers its 2-pound, 4-ounce (three ounces less for the smaller version), almost half the weight of its raptor namesake. The pack rides lightly on the shoulders with a breathable mesh wrapped over slotted foam. Wearing comfortably on the back is an absolute with the AirScape™ Suspension feature. Instead of heat gathering on the back, building between the pack and your body, a series of mesh-covered foam ridges provide passages for fresh-air circulation.
I’m one of those people who almost exclusively uses a backpack when traveling. I simply prefer carrying my gear on my back rather than dragging it behind me in a piece of luggage, particularly when navigating through a busy airport. Over the years I’ve managed to collect a number of packs in a variety of sizes, which makes each of them useful depending on the length of the trip. Whether it’s a weekend escape to the coast or a month’s long expedition to the Himalaya, I have a pack suitable for the journey.
My favorite pack by far is my trusty Atmos 50 from Osprey. Not only is it comfortable and spacious, but it is also rugged enough to withstand the rigors of the road. It is so good in fact that it has been a constant companion on trips to six different continents. When I heard that Osprey had updated the Atmos with a new model I was eager to discover if they had managed to improve on the already great design or if their tinkering was ultimately detrimental to the product that I already loved. I needn’t have worried one bit.
How to Pack to Climb a Volcano in the Congo
I’m so excited to be traveling with some Kenyan friends to the Democratic Republic of Congo to climb two active volcanoes. We’ll be sleeping on the rim of the 11,380-foot Nyiragongo volcano; to get there means a five-hour hike that starts in lush forest 12 miles outside of the town of Goma, continues in a steady rise over lava fields with a steep incline at the top of the caldera, from where we’ll have an awesome view of the world’s largest lava lake, which glows so brightly that it can be seen from neighboring Rwanda at night. We’re also going to hike the lower slope of Nyamulagira, a volcano that has been erupting from a side fissure since last November.
Some of the gear I’m bringing:
A new Osprey men’s Stratos 24-liter capacity daypack, frame size small. A friend who climbed Kilimanjaro recommended this pack to me because of its sweat-free back netting and overall well-balanced construction; it’s big enough for cameras, a change of dry clothes, water, snacks, and rain gear. I would have bought the women’s version, but it only came in blue and purple—colors you can’t take to countries where there are tsetse flies, because those awful biting bloodsucking creatures are attached to those hues. (Osprey: please think of your African clients!) I’m not using a bigger backpack because there will be porters carrying our tents and cooking equipment.
For runners tackling a life-list race like, say, the Great Wall Marathon, the versatile OSPREY MERIDIAN 22″ ($299) helps you (or at least your gear) arrive intact. The bag wheels along via a retractable handle, or it can strap to your shoulders as a backpack with a supercomfy hipbelt. Once you’re checked into the hotel, you can zip off the daypack, which is roomy enough for a few changes of clothes (with a mesh pocket to stash wet, stinky items). This clever trick also lets the Meridian meet strict airplane carry-on requirements.
Osprey’s latest offering, the Syncro, is essentially a lighter, more streamlined version of their Raptor series packs. Three different capacities are available – 10 (tested), 15 and 20L – and each pack comes in both small/medium and large/XL sizes, which is great for riders at either end of the body spectrum.
Once the correct size is chosen, the pack fits quite comfortably thanks to multiple strap adjustments and padding on both the shoulders and hips. The one weak link is the thin, flimsy and removable waist strap, which seems out of place when compared to the rest of the retention system. And speaking of retention, there’s nothing to keep all the strap ends from flapping around in the wind.
The ski season in the Eastern U.S. was horrifically bad this year. I haven’t seen so many days in the 70-degree range in March for some years.
I’ve warmed up to skiing packed granular conditions for years since there isn’t much choice for east coast skiing. This year was no different. Osprey Packs’ line of Karve packs are designed for a full day of front mountain skiing (and riding) with sidecountry mixed in. The pack accompanied me for plenty of granular runs.
I took out the Osprey Packs Karve 16 for a few days of resort skiing. The conditions were mostly soft and wet in late February and early March but still fun.