The Bike List

Osprey Zealot 15 Backpack £60

Tested by Ben Horan, tester for The Bike List

Redundant; that's how all my other back packs feel since I got hold of the Osprey Zealot 15! I have had this pack on test now for around 5 months, and can't say a bad word about it. I already own a range of Camelbak packs including the Rogue, Lobo and Mule, but I have to admit, these have sat on the shelf since getting the Zealot on test.

From the outset, the Osprey Zealot 15 looked great. Taking it from the packaging, I instantly noticed the good quality build of it, and noted the material was tough compared to some of the other packs I have used made with lightweight 'ripstop' type material. The pack inclusive of the 2.0ltr bladder came to a weight of 802g. It comes in two colours, one version is predominantly grey and black, and the other Orange; both are spiced up with bright green here and there, and look wicked!

The Zealot is a 15ltr pack and as such has plenty of space in the main compartment for carrying pretty much whatever you may need for a full days riding. A waterproof, pump, spare tube and packed lunch doesn't even touch the sides! On the inside of the compartment is a mesh pocket to keep stuff still and zippered access to the compartment for Ospreys Hydraulics reservoir (sold separately). With 4 neat tensioning straps, when all the space isn't required, the pack can be pulled in so that it's neat and tidy and not flapping around on your back. In addition to the main compartment, there's a small scratch-free zip access pocket ideal for anything such as a mobile phone or sunglasses, or a small multitool.

On the outer most position of the pack is positioned a large padded compression pocket. This is suitable for popping clothing or armour into if required, but foremost, perfect for carrying either a full face helmet or xc/enduro helmet. The Zealot has what Osprey call the 'LidLock' helmet attachment for securing your lid; this is basically an oval of durable plastic fastened on by elastic. Pop it through a hole in your lid, and boom, it's securely fastened on there. I particularly use this feature when grabbing that post ride beverage at the pub!

To keep the pack stable, there is not only a chest strap but waist belt too. The mouthpiece from the hydration pack attaches to the chest strap with the nifty use of a magnet, which is a feature I really liked. And the waist belt has zippered mesh pockets either side in the area of your hips, which are perfect for holding essential riding snacks or energy gels. The shoulder straps were nicely shaped, and so comfortable that I often forgot I was riding with a pack. The front of either strap contains a mesh pocket, again useful for bars or gels. The top of each shoulder strap has adjustment to keep the fit perfect, although sometimes the forward facing lose end of adjustment strap would blow up with the oncoming breeze from riding. This would give the effect someone was tickling my neck; nice if you're on the sofa at home, but distracting when hitting lines at warp factor 9!

Keeping your back cool is the 'AirScape' back-panel, which basically consists of lumps of foam with mesh over the top allowing some air flow between your back and the pack. I can't say that I ever felt like I was overheating or that my back felt hot, but I did test this pack throughout the winter.

The Osprey Zealot 15 is packed with loads of other little neat features such as multidirectional loops on the rear for attaching a light, and covers over most zips to keep grime out, but my personal favourite, which my mates also love, is the integrated roll-out Toolwrap. The Toolwrap is stored neatly away in its own zipped compartment at the bottom of the pack, accessible from the outside! Perfect for storing tools or gas canisters, and keeps the weight at the lower end of the pack keeping it stable.

As mentioned above, the Hydraulics Reservoir for the pack is unfortunately sold separately, but is of very nice quality and design. It has a rigid plastic handle running the length of it, making filling it a doddle, and meaning that when you drink it dry, you don't find it slumped in a heap at the bottom of your pack! It slides into the Zealot easily and stays still. The hose can be run out of the pack at either shoulder, so you can choose whether to have it on either the left or right. I found it quite handy to store my helmet light battery in the main compartment mesh pocket keeping it dry, and to run the cable to my helmet mounted light out of the opposite side to my reservoir hose.

At a glance

Verdict At £60, this pack is an absolute bargain, and packed with loads of great features. The quality is superb, and Osprey have really put thought and Mountain biking into their design of this pack. I suspect when people actually see this pack in person, they’re going to fly off the shelves; go out and get one now!
Value
Performance

Osprey says:

By definition a Zealot wants it all, everything, so why not own the Mountain? We went about designing the Zealot 15 in exactly the same way you'd look at your next descent, what limits could we push? The need to have features and durability, but remain lightweight and comfortable. Zero compromise. Riding fast means the slightest movement has an effect; relax knowing our AirScape™ backpanel with tri-section ridge-foam provides relentless ventilation and support. The BioStretch™ shoulder harness and spacer-mesh hip-fins listen to your body, securing the pack to your back. You'll be kicking out a lot of energy, so keeping hydrated is important and you can safely store your reservoir away from other gear using the dedicated sleeve. You have full access to your spare clothing through the backpanel opening design. A handy top pocket lined with 'heat-embossed nylon' provides a scratch free zone for your sunglasses, whilst a harness pocket lined with the same fabric provides a useful storage solution for electronics such as phone or GPS. The built in ToolWrap™ organizes and stores your greasy tools/spares away from your other kit and ready for the next 'pit-stop'. A front padded shield pocket can extend & compress as required designed to carry body armour and even a full-face helmet. The built in lightweight Osprey LidLock™ quickly and securely stows a XC bike helmet. Lastly, a mix of 'Nail-Head' and 'Air-Textured' nylon ensure that when you've pushed it a little too hard, your pack won't need the same hospital treatment. Challenge your limit, don't limit your challenge…

Features:

  • AirScape™ backpanel with foam ridges for ventilation
  • BioStretch™ hipbelt and harness
  • Sternum strap with emergency whistle
  • Zippered panel access
  • LidLock™ bike helmet attachment
  • Twin zippered hip belt pockets
  • Integrated roll-out ToolWrap™
  • Zipped pocket on harness
  • Backpanel entry to main compartment
  • Internal hydration sleeve
  • Internal key attachment clip
  • LED bike light attachment point
  • Padded front compression pocket for armour and full face helmet carry
  • Side compression straps
  • Stretch mesh side pockets
  • Weight: 1.26 (M/L) kg
  • Maximum dimensions: (mm) 510 (l) x 280 (w) x 260 (d)

Find out more:  ospreyeurope.com / 01202 413920