Us bike commuters are a passionate breed, especially here in Minneapolis. We have 92 miles (and counting) of on-street bikeways, 85 miles (and counting) of off-street bikeways and in the winter, most bike paths get plowed before the streets.
Osprey gets this passion loud and clear and consistently dedicate a great deal of energy and effort to ensure us bike commuters have the most comfortable and functional medium in which to carry our change of clothes, grooming essentials, MP3 player, phone, laptop (sometimes), keys, lunch and bike lock.
The latest result is the Osprey Radial 26 ($159) and here’s what I love about it:
Backpanel: Osprey’s back panels are what keep me coming back for more. It’s ingenious. The suspended mesh AirSpeed™ backpanel design allows air to pass between you and your pack to help keep you comfortable when you work up a sweat. That’s the concept. The reality? NOTHING will keep you 100 percent dry. But I have used many packs over the years and the Osprey design is the best thus far.
Padded laptop/tablet compartment: My preference is to carry neither laptop or iPad on my back but on days when I have to lug my laptop home, the Radial’s laptop compartment can hold up to a 17-inch laptop. The iPad compartment, accessible by the same zipper, is padded and zippered.
Main compartment: The inside of the Radial’s main compartment is roomy enough to carry my clothes, shoes and lunch pack. Granted, I’m using this pack during the summer months and summer office clothes tend to be less bulky (shoes tend to be sandals). In winter, when clothing gets bulkier (and shoes become fashion boots or Dansko clogs), I will probably wish I had gotten the larger size (34L).
LidLock™ helmet clip: This is a nice feature and quickly secures your helmet to the pack after your ride. Just pull the LidLock away from the pack, pass it through an air vent in your helmet and voila. Hands-free helmet transport through the office doors or the grocery store aisles. This feature is on just about all Osprey’s cycling packs.
Blinker light attachment: The best way to get hit by a car is by being invisible. Attaching your blinker light to your seat post works, but cars can see you a lot easier when your blinker light is at their eye level. A car’s eye level is just about at your back—which is why Osprey put the blinker light attachment there. I actually don’t use this feature because I attach mine to the back of my helmet. But I like that it’s there.
Harness: The other thing that keeps me coming back to Osprey products is their harness system. The Radial has a foam BioStretch™ harness with breathable, comfortable mesh. You have three points of adjustment to make this pack fit like it was molded to you. A proper fit means a comfortable commute. The website says the Radial has a magnetic sternum clip to hold a quick bite valve attachment but for the life of me, I can’t find it on the 26L. Maybe it’s on the 34L?
Integrated rain cover: Rather than build a waterproof backpack, which adds weight and compromises aesthetics, Osprey added a retractable rain poncho. It’s highly visible (neon yellow) with reflective materials and a built-in blinker attachment tab to increase safety. It will keep all items inside the pack dry, including your laptop. On sunny days, it stashes in its own compartment at the bottom. When you’re riding, it doesn’t make any noise either. Genius! It also detaches for easy washing.
This is an impressive pack. For the bike commuter, it has almost everything you need and everything you need is conveniently and thoughtfully located. Except for the two side pockets. They’re intended to hold items that you need quick access to, but are overly optimistic. When the pack is on my back, I need longer arms to reach them.
I have been using a first-generation Momentum for three years, commuting to work mostly every day by bike and year round so I’m confident in Osprey’s materials, design and durability. Osprey even backs up their product with the All Mighty Guarantee. They will repair any pack, for any reason, free of charge, any damage or defect—whether you purchased the pack last week or 1974. If Osprey is unable to repair the item, it will replace it.
The Radial comes in two sizes (26 and 34) and in two colors: black and very-visible-to-even-blind-drivers neon green.