Backpacks; for most of us they’re a common part of cycling. They used to be part of my daily commute, until I switched to panniers. Nowadays I mainly use one when riding to races or trips ‘up town’. Whether stuffed full with a day’s clothing and packed lunch, or last-minute shopping, backpacks have to deal with it all. I’ve been using the Osprey Momentum 26 for a while now and have grown rather attached to it.
Osprey packs have been around since 1974, when founder Mike Pfotenhauer started making his own day sacks. News spread of the brands quality and the business grew. Osprey have never been the cheapest bags, believing that quality materials and construction methods make for a more durable product. That focus on quality has an environmental as well as performance advantage. Using more expensive materials stops over production and means material wastage is kept to a minimum. These materials also produce longer lasting products, so you’re not replacing them as often. Also their All Might Guarantee programme means they will repair rather than replace items.
The backpack I was testing, the Momentum 26 comes under Osprey’s Everyday and Commute range, which includes messenger bags as well as backpacks. Aimed at the everyday commuter, the Momentum 26 is as happy on or off the bike. Coming in two colours, orchard green or black, the Momentum is also available in a 32 litre size. Osprey have taken the compartmentalised route with the Momentum 26. The pack is split into three main compartments, I called them ‘stuff’, ‘main’ and ‘laptop’.
On the front of the bag is the ‘stuff’ area, or Front Panel Organiser Pocket, as Osprey would say. This has a zipped, strong mesh pocket for keeping a few tools. It’s wide enough to take a mini pump and strong enough that your multi tool won’t puncture the mesh. Keeping it all in one place helps when it comes to checking you’ve got everything you need before a ride. Two open pockets sit underneath, one is mesh and both have reflective tabs, handy when rummaging in the dark. A key attachment clip sits here, so no more lost keys at journey’s end. On the inside of the flap is the end of the LidLock™ adjustable attachment. And there is still plenty of room in here for a packed lunch.
The ‘main’ compartment has a few little extras inside, oh I do love an organised bag! Running across the middle are two mesh pockets, handy for your socks and pants, nothing worse than getting to work with no under-crackers! Behind these sits what I think is a document sleeve, it’s thin enough to slip a few pages in without them creasing. I found it handy for keeping race numbers in. Dangling from the top, but only accessible from outside is the sunglasses pocket. This handy little area is meant for keeping your sunnies safe and scratch free. Better than chucking them in with your keys, it’s also useful for keeping bananas bruise free! The ‘main’ compartment will take a full days clothing and a pair of shoes; depending on how big you are. I actually managed to fit four days of clothing in there, which was impressive.
The ‘laptop’ area is meant for keeping your laptop or tablet in. It runs the full height of the bag and has another zipped and padded pocket in it. This is handy for carrying smaller tablets, drives or power supplies. I don’t often ride with a laptop, but I made the effort and didn’t notice it through the bags padding. All the zips have handy little loops with plastic semi-circular loops that I really liked. A small thing I know, but I liked them.
Moving to the outside of the pack and there are more features to play with. The two mesh side pockets are surprisingly roomy. I was able to fit in four race bottles, that’s pre, during and post race sorted. If you have less, then compression straps will keep the contents in place. They are also great for stashing dirty kit that you don’t want in the bag.
On the left hand side and easily accessible while on your back, is a side pocket. Handy for stashing anything you need quickly while the Momentum 26 is on your back, such as wallet, tickets or keys. It even comes with a retractable key holder.
So that’s the storage sorted, and it is great for sorting your kit, it makes finding your stuff that bit easier. How does the Momentum 26 feel once it’s loaded and on your back? As well as a pair of ventilated stretch yoke and load lifters – straps to you and me – there’s a sternum strap and elastic hip-belt. All of these are adjustable and offer plenty of scope to get the fit just right. Both the shoulder and hip straps have elastic attachments to the pack. This keeps the back from moving about without having to over tighten the straps. The pack sat at just the right height on my back, no annoying helmet hit when I rode.
The shoulder straps are wide and have a padded foam interior, which has holes in, presumably to allow some cooling. The backs have a mesh lining and feel comfortable, with no irritating rubbing going on. The chest strap is height adjustable and I found it handy when the pack was fully loaded, it helped keep everything in place without feeling restrictive. The buckle even has a whistle built-in to it, handy if I ever need to attract the attention of search and rescue. Ok, pretty unlikely I’ll need it on the daily commute, but you never know.
The back of the pack uses Osprey’s AirScape™ back panel, which has a ridged foam panel. This has an S-shaped profile, with horizontal ridges running across it and a long vertical cutout down the centre, plus some side cut-outs. The cut-outs are there presumably, to keep the weight down and allow some cooling. The whole panel is covered by a mesh panel. The shaped back I found to comfortable on and off the bike, you’ll still get a sweat on while riding, but it doesn’t feel hot.
Other details include a handy LidLock™ bike helmet attachment on. This little clip is a lozenge-shaped piece that slips between your helmet’s ventilation slots. Once through the slots the elastic cord keeps your helmet held tight against the bag. I found it very handy, although it did result in a few “where’s my helmet?” moments.
A rain cover hides under the bag and kept my gear dry while in the pits during a rain-soaked ‘cross race. Also, if you know it’s not going to rain it can be removed, another handy bit of storage. There’s a loop for attaching a rear light if you need and the rain cover also has one. That loop was also useful for running a strap through when carrying an extra pair of wheels to races! The top grab handle was a nice design as well, when I hung the momentum 26 on a hook it didn’t have that look like it was about to burst it’s stitches.
The overall feel of the Momentum 26 is a of a very robust bit of kit. Osprey’s All Mighty Guarantee shows they have faith in their products and it shows in the details. Most of my time with the Momentum 26 has been fairly straight forward commuting, on or off the bike. However it has also become my race bag, Although I’m used to a bigger bag, it made me think what do I actually need? With all it’s storage options I could open it and quickly check that I had what I needed And it could handle four bottles and a set of wheels, with ease. Being thrown in the back of the car, or riding to events it handled it all. Well done Osprey, a great bit of kit!